Under the headline “This isn’t humanity: Inside the Bahraini women’s prison overseen by officials trained with UK money” the British Independent newspaper wrote about conditions of detention in the “Isa Town” prison.
The report highlights the issue of the Bahraini female detainee, Hajer Mansoor, and the conditions of her detention, which she described as inhuman. The newspaper also published the testimony of “Medina Ali,” who was released at the end of last year after more than two years in Isa Town, where she shared a cell with Ms Mansoor. Ms Ali said that the prison experience was cruel and tragic.
The newspaper told the story of Hajer. The 51-year-old has been jailed in Isa Town, a notorious Bahraini prison condemned by the United Nations for its degrading treatment and poor conditions, for almost three years.
In Isa Town, she says she is kept in her cell for almost 24 hours a day, with no drinking water outside of mealtimes. In Isa Town, she says guards refused for months to tell her whether the results of a breast scan showed if she had cancer.
The newspaper quoted the British Foreign Office saying it “monitors the situation closely, and has raised Ms Mansoor’s case with the Bahraini government.”
The newspaper pointed out that since 2012, £6.5m of British taxpayers’ money has been spent on training Bahraini public institutions, including the Ministry of Interior Ombudsman and Special Investigation Unit, which have been condemned by human rights organisations for covering up a slew of torture allegations, including the case of Ms Mansoor, as well as unlawful executions.
Two human rights bodies had demanded a British university, a few days ago, to stop a program to train Bahraini officers after receiving certificates of human rights violations.
This came after 10 Bahraini political detainees testified that they had been tortured in Bahraini prisons between 2016 and 2019.
Last month, the UN special procedures raised serious concerns about the situation in Bahrain’s prisons and the treatment of Ms Mansoor and Ms Ali, in a letter signed by eight UN experts.
Husain Abdulla, Executive Director at Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), argues Ms Mansoor continues to “languish in arbitrary detention” being “subject to treatment which may amount to torture”.
Ms Mansoor was left with bruises all over her body and hospitalised after being assaulted by prison guards in September 2018. The assault took place just days after her son-in-law briefed MPs in the UK about the mistreatment of female prisoners in Bahrain.
Human Rights Law:
Amnesty International has previously urged the authorities at Isa Town and all other detention facilities in Bahrain to follow international human rights law in how they treat detainees and prisoners.
A spokesperson for the Bahraini embassy in London says the allegations of mistreatment against Ms Mansoor and Ms Ali have been investigated by Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior ombudsman and found to be without substance. They say Ms Mansoor was convicted of planting fake explosive devices.
The representative says: “It is also wrong to characterise the Kingdom of Bahrain as ‘repressive’ or to claim that it practises or tolerates the mistreatment or torture of those in custody.
In reality, no person is detained or prosecuted in the Kingdom of Bahrain for peaceful freedom of expression, nor for legitimate peaceful activism.