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HRW: Bahrain denies health care to jailed opposition members

Prison cell door [File photo]
Prison cell door, 8 August 2019 [File photo]

Authorities in Bahrain are denying prisoners adequate health care, Human Rights Watch warned in a statement on Tuesday.

HRW said Bahrain’s prison authorities arbitrarily deprive prisoners of urgent health care, refuse to allow them to be examined by specialists, do not disclose the results of their medical tests and withhold medicines as a form of punishment.

The international organisation said it prepared the report, in cooperation with Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), which included testimonies of two detained human rights activists and the families of four detained opposition activists.

The statement noted that the six prisoners were serving prison sentences related to their prominent roles in opposition groups and pro-democracy protests which have rocked the country since 2011.

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“It is outrageous that Bahraini authorities are denying detainees medical care that they urgently need, in some cases putting their lives in danger,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division.

“Many of these people should not have been imprisoned in the first place, and arbitrary denial of medical care may amount to extrajudicial punishment,” Stork added.

He explained that denying a prisoner needed medical care violates the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, known as the Mandela Rules.

Bahraini authorities have not commented on the report. They often say they respect the rights of prisoners, ignoring accusations by international organisations of their ill-treatment of detainees and prisoners.

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