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UN demands investigations after riot police allegedly attack prisoners in Bahraini jail

BAHRAINI authorities should launch “a thorough and effective” investigation into violence against protesting prison inmates, a UN human rights spokeswoman has said.

Marta Hurtado said on Friday that the world body was disturbed by reports of the violence inflicted on prisoners who were demanding access to medical treatment following the death of an inmate on April 5.

Riot police reportedly entered Jau prison, one of Bahrain’s most notorious jails, to break up the peaceful demonstration on April 17.

Ms Hurtado said that they “threw stun grenades and beat detainees on their heads, badly injuring many of them.

“The authorities reportedly took 33 protesters to another building in the prison, where they are being kept incommunicado and have been unable to make contact with families or lawyers, in violation of both national and international law.”

Some 60 prisoners are still missing, according to the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy. 

Hundreds of prisoners have been on hunger strike in Jau prison since August 2020, accusing Britain of complicity in their suffering because of the training it provides.

Earlier this year, the jail’s governor, Brigadier Abdulsalam al-Arifi, was invited to visit British prisons and “develop rehabilitation programmes.”

A spokesperson for the Bahraini government told the Morning Star: “The government of Bahrain has a zero-tolerance policy towards mistreatment of any kind and has put in place internationally recognised human rights safeguards. A range of institutional and legal reforms have been implemented in close collaboration with international governments and independent experts, including the establishment of a wholly independent Ombudsman – the first of its kind in the region – which will fully and independently investigate any allegation of mistreatment.”

It described the April 17 demonstration as a “violent and planned disruption ... orchestrated by a small but highly organised group of inmates at the Reform and Rehabilitation Centre, in which they closed a number of corridors and used violence to disrupt the provision of health services and communication services to other inmates.
 
“Orchestrated disruption of this kind is designed to trigger a security response and generate media attention, caring little for the lives of other prisoners or prison staff placed at risk.”

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