Prosecution in surprise jail visits to ensure international standards are applied
- By Habib Toumi, Bureau chief
Manama: The head of Bahrain’s Public Prosecution’s Special Investigation Unit said that 15 policemen have been charged with mistreatment of prisoners.
The charges followed a Public Prosecution investigation into claims made by 15 medics working at Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC), Bahrain’s largest hospital, in a case relating to last year’s unrest, Nawaf Abdullah Hamza said.
“Some cases were sent to medical examiners for the alleged mistreatment, and nine prosecution witnesses were summoned to give evidence,” the prosecutor said. “Based on the above procedures, the 15 defendants were questioned, and the necessary procedures for the final disposal of the case are currently under way.”
The move is part of the “serious commitment to punish all human rights violations”, Hamza said.A delegation of department heads and members of the Public Prosecution made a surprise inspection visit to Jaw Prison and other detention centres, where they evaluated prison facilities and spoke with prisoners.
Some complaints were voiced, one of which was concerning the air conditioning in one of the wards. Immediate action was taken and a new cooling system was installed, the prosecution office said.
“The surprise inspection visit came as part of the Public Prosecution’s commitment to the proper treatment of detainees and prisoners, in alignment with international and regional standards. The government is dedicated to ensure the delivery of suitable conditions for all prisoners, especially with regard to securing their rights during criminal proceedings.”
According to the statement, these actions by the government are in line with its commitment to fulfilling the recommendations made by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) with regard to respecting citizens’ rights and to hold all wrongdoers accountable for their actions, without any discrimination.
The BICI, a panel of international legal experts, was set up by King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa in June 2011 to look into the events that hit Bahrain in February and March and their consequences. The commission, headed by Egyptian-American expert Sharif Bessiouni, issued a scathing report in November following a four-month field study and thousands of interviews. A series of recommendations to help Bahrain overcome the consequences of the political events and to ensure they are not repeated were included in the report.