Medical negligence in Bahrain leaves prisoners...
A new investigation by Amnesty International has revealed a shocking pattern of medical negligence in Bahrain’s prison system, where individuals with serious conditions like cancer, multiple sclerosis and sickle-cell anaemia are being denied specialist care and pain medication.
The organization has confirmed details regarding lack of medical care and other ill-treatment with relatives or family members of 11 prisoners, and has received credible allegations of failure to provide adequate medical care in multiple additional cases from local human rights organizations and exiled Bahraini activists. Their accounts, and supporting documentary evidence, paint a picture of frequent, ongoing, and in some cases willful medical negligence in Bahrain’s penitentiary system. In addition, prisoners and families report a range of lesser abuses which range from petty harassment to needless cruelty.
“The reports we heard from prisoners’ relatives paint a stark picture of medical negligence and intentional ill-treatment in Bahrain’s prisons. Although medical treatment is provided, it is far from adequate, and prisoners are frequently subjected to disruptions, delays and needless, petty cruelty,” said Devin Kenney, Amnesty International’s GCC researcher.
“In one appalling case, a man with stage-three cancer was sent back to prison just days after a biopsy- the same individual recently had to wait for more than a month for his medication. Another man has lost at least seven teeth since being detained, due to denial of dental treatment. We are urging Bahrain’s authorities to take immediate steps to ensure all those in state custody can access adequate health care, as they are obliged to do under international law.” said Devin Kenney.
Health care in Bahrain’s prison system is marred by regular instances of negligence, delay, and arbitrary exercise of authority, which in specific cases rise to the level of intentional ill-treatment, and which result in an overall lack of adequate care for detainees and prisoners. Medical treatment is provided within the prison system, but is far below the level of need and is frequently subject to bad-faith disruptions, delays, and denial.
Amnesty International is calling on the authorities at Jaw prison, the women’s jail and prison at Isa Town, and all other places of detention in Bahrain, to abide by international human rights law and standards in their treatment of detainees and prisoners.
As a state party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Bahrain is legally obliged to respect, protect and fulfil “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.” Rule 24 of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Nelson Mandela Rules) clarifies that “The provision of health care for prisoners is a State responsibility” and that “Prisoners should enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community” without discrimination. The Nelson Mandela Rules also provide that prisoners who require specialist treatment must be transferred to specialized institutions or outside hospitals when such treatment is not available in prison (Rule 27).
The failure to provide adequate health care to prisoners may violate the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including under Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Bahrain is a state party. This is particularly true when such failure is the result of a deliberate act by officials.