Manama: More than half of the prisoners held at Jau Rehabilitation and Reformation Centre (JRRC), Bahrain’s main prison, have committed crimes related to terrorism and rioting or theft, a report indicates.
The report released by the Prisoners and Detainers Rights Commission (PDRC) on Wednesday was drafted following an unannounced inspection visit on November 15-22 to the facility in the southeast of Bahrain.
According to the report, Jau prison had at the time of the visit 2,468 prisoners, even though the actual capacity of the facility was 2,145.
There were 1,021 prisoners who committed crimes related to terrorism and rioting, 663 who committed drug crimes, 224 who committed theft, 48 who committed murder, and 512 who committed other offences — related to traffic violations, illegal residence, financial embezzlement and sexual assault, the report said.
Figures showed that the number of Bahraini prisoners was 1,944, compared with 524 non-Bahrainis.
PDRC said that it had gained major practical experience in inspecting places of custody.
“This experience assisted the commission in forming a detailed inspection plan for the visit to Jau Reformation and Rehabilitation Centre,” PDRC said, adding that the report published in September 2013 by the Ombudsman’s Office inspection of JRRC was also taken into account during the visit.
The PDRC said its team also took into account several issues raised in reports issued by some NGOs on allegations related to the treatment and conditions of detention.
The PDRC said its report assessed the extent of the implementation of previous recommendations regarding the place, including the replacement of the existing buildings with new ones, as well as installation of surveillance cameras throughout the facility, corridors and wings and maintenance and renovation of existing buildings, as well as the separation of younger prisoners.
Highlighting the method used in collecting information on the place and the detainees, the commission said that its team had met prisoners, who were randomly selected from various buildings, wings and cells by the PDRC team without any interference from JRRC staff.
“Meetings with the prisoners were held independently in groups, and without the presence of any of JRRC staff. The prisoners were briefed on the PDRC team role as well as the purpose of the interviews, ensuring them of privacy and confidentiality,” the report said.
The team also had access to all facilities, in accordance with international standards in this regard.
The recommendations included in the report were:
- The replacement of old buildings should be completed as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the conditions in some of old buildings should be improved.
- Ministry of Health should provide adequate health care that meets the needs of all prisoners for safe and respectful care, in coordination with JRRC the allocation of a new building for a medical clinic should be speeded up, issues with medicine prescriptions and storage of medicines should be rectified.
- Evacuation procedures should be understood by all staff, emergency equipment should be maintained. A qualified paramedic ambulance driver should always be available for emergencies.
- There should be enough education, work and other activities to occupy prisoners purposefully and help them to participate in society after release. The Ministry of Education should coordinate with JRRC administration to provide education for all prisoners who need and want it.
- Safety and accountability should be enhanced by more surveillance cameras in all of the buildings, walk paths and wings. There should be written rules that determine the walkways for prisoners. The paths should be fully covered by surveillance cameras.
- Staff should be trained on practical procedures to use legal force inside the prison and on risk assessment and management plans. All use of force should be properly documented
- A clear and specific system for complaints, grievance and the protection of complainants should be set up. The system should include written guidelines that define the steps and methods to make complaints as well as details on how to deal with complaints and inform the complainant about the outcome. Privacy and follow up should be ensured at all stages.
- Staff should be trained to deal with prisoners in all age groups and with special needs such as disability. The rights and care of young prisoners (15-18) should be especially considered.
- Waiting areas for prisoners should be allocated at courts.