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Rights group: Bahrain has highest number of political prisoners among Arab states 

Bahraini men hold up a national flag [MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH/AFP via Getty Images]
A Bahraini man holds up the national flag [MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH/AFP via Getty Images]

Bahrain has the largest number of political prisoners among Arab states, an independent human rights organisation said.

According to a recent report by the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) there are an estimated 4,500 political activists currently imprisoned in the Gulf state.

The report noted that the Bahraini authorities have arrested nearly 15,000 people for their political views over the past decade or so.

Bahrain was also ranked number one among Arab countries with the highest number of prisoners based on a report published last year by the Institute for Criminal Policy Research.

Since the pro-democracy protests which erupted in 2011 against the ruling Al-Khalifa family as part of the wider Arab Spring was brutally repressed by the Bahraini authorities with the intervention of neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the case of prisoners in Bahrain has become one of the most important that local and international human rights organisations continue to highlight, the BCHR said.

READ: Bahrain is yet to normalise ties with its own people

"Yet neglect is widespread in terms of providing adequate medical care," it explained, adding that the group has compiled a list of prisoners whose health has deteriorated over the past years as a result.

"We have recorded cases of deaths inside prisons as a result [of] systematic neglect, delay, interruptions, intentional mistreatment or/and deprivation of adequate care for both detainees in detention centers and prisoners in the central prison. No legal action or a proper investigation took place by the authorities to stand upon the actual cause of deaths," the report stated.

Recently, Jalal Feroz, a former member of the Bahraini parliament, said over 2,500 political opponents are incarcerated in Bahraini prisons, and they are subjected to the most vicious forms of torture.

These claims were corroborated by a joint report published in July by the BCHR, the Persian Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) entitled 'Prison conditions in Bahrain'.

"There have been continuous violations of defendants' due process rights, including enforced disappearances, coerced confessions, torture and inadequate access to legal counsel. Women human rights defenders have not been spared torture, abuse and sexual assault," the report stated.

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