Bahrain: Political Detainees between Suffering and Deprivation of Medical Care
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses great concerns over the increasing complaints of political detainees over depriving them of medical care in Bahrain’s prisons and refusing to take them to hospitals.
BCHE has documented many cases in which the prisons’ authorities neglected the health-related complaints of the detainees.
Elias Faisal Al-Mulla, 26 years old, was arrested on the 11th of May 2012, after raiding his house without presenting an arrest warrant. Elias was taken to the General Directorate of Criminal Investigation where he was subjected to psychological and physical torture that included, kicking, deprivation of sleep and food, preventing him from praying, forcing him to stand for long hours and pressing him to sign false confessions.
On the 5th of May 2013, Elias was sentenced to 15 years in prison for allegedly killing a member of the security forces and setting fire to a security patrol.
In May 2015, he started to have a severe stomach ache but he was not taken to the Military hospital until the 1st of August 2015.
Despite the fact that Elias was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer, and as a result suffering from ongoing vomiting, he was taken back to Jaw Prison [as he told his mother in a phone call].
On the 12th of August 2015, Elias’ doctor informed his mother that he suffers from cancer and that he needs to undergo chemotherapy treatments.
More about Elias health condition on the following link:
Elias’ mother said that her son told her on the phone on the 16th of October 2017, that the administration of Jaw Prison refused to take [his] stool samples to Salmaniya hospital, the main public hospital in Bahrain. The hospital has already instructed to collect these samples on the 10th of September 2017 for examination in order to determine whether Elias has been cured or not.
Not collecting and analysing these samples can significantly impact on the type of medications he is supposed to take. Elias was also deprived of getting his medicines which were previously prescribed by the hospital.
The postponement of collecting and transferring the samples for more than a month and at the same time depriving Elias of medical care have significantly affected his mother, causing her mental disorders.
His mother said that he has started to suffer from the same symptoms he was suffering from before, such as abdominal swelling, pain on the right side of the upper abdomen and pain in the joints, back and stomach. He has also been suffering from severe diarrhoea since the 9th of July 2017, which has forced him to refrain from eating. In addition, he is still unable to have rest or sleep because of nausea, constant dizziness, blood clots in ankles and shortness of vision.
Despite all that both the administration of Jaw Prison and Salmaniya hospital refused to give Elias’ mother any updated medical report about the health status of her son. As a result, on the 17th of October 2017, she has lodged a complaint with the ombudsman and National Foundation for Human Rights over the deterioration of Elias’ health and the delay in allowing access to medical treatment.
Elias Al-Mulla is not the only one who has been denied medical care as BCHR has documented many other cases in which political detainees complained about being deprived of medical treatment [despite the fact that some of them have chronical diseases such as Sickle Cell Anemia]. It should be mentioned that the detainees usually go on hunger strike in order to be allowed to seek treatment in hospitals or to have access to medical care.
Ahmad Mirza, 33, who was born with Sickle Cell Anemia revealed to his family on the phone, on the 7th of May 2017 that the authorities in Jaw Prison do not provide the medications that he needs when he has severe pain.
Ahmad, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison, said that he needs a gallbladder removal surgery. He was supposed to do the surgery in 2016. However, whenever Ahmad had an appointment, the Jaw administration did not allow transferring him to the hospital. The last missed appointment was in March 2017.
His family said that the health status of their son is deteriorating as the level of the bilirubin reached 985 whereas the natural level should be at 21 only. This, according to doctors during an examination in January 2017, has affected his liver and spleen.
Ahmed told his family that, although he has sent several letters to the prison’s authorities, demanding to take him to the hospital on time, they have not responded to his calls and letters. On the 3rd of December 2017, his family received a call from him saying that he had severe pain and that he was not taken to the hospital in spite of his insisting requests.
Habib Yaqoub, 24, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and was born with Sickle Cell Disease, told his family that the authorities of Jaw Prison barely provide medical care although he usually suffers from severe attacks. This has led to worsen his health condition.
Based on the statements and complaints of many political prisoners, BCHR states that this negligence is in violation of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, including article 22 which states, “Sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals. Where hospital facilities are provided in an institution, their equipment, furnishings and pharmaceutical supplies shall be proper for the medical care and treatment of sick prisoners, and there shall be a staff of suitable trained officers.”
It is also in violation of article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which emphasises on the right to have access to medical care.
Based on the above, BCHR calls on the government of Bahrain and Commission on the Rights of Prisoners to be adherent to the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners especially when it comes to providing medical care and treatment.