|12 August, 2019

75% of women in Bahrain's prison ‘are expats’

The Women’s Reformation and Rehabilitation Prison has 116 inmates, 29 Bahraini nationals and 87 foreigners, according to figures released by the Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission

Handcuffs can be seen on the infirmary bed inside of the maximum security federal penitentiary in Brasilia, Brazil March 27, 2019. Image used for illustrative purposes.

Handcuffs can be seen on the infirmary bed inside of the maximum security federal penitentiary in Brasilia, Brazil March 27, 2019. Image used for illustrative purposes.

REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

Bahrain - Seventy-five per cent of inmates at the country’s main women’s prison are expatriates, it was revealed.

The Women’s Reformation and Rehabilitation Prison has 116 inmates, 29 Bahraini nationals and 87 foreigners, according to figures released by the Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission (PDRC). The report, based on an unannounced visit to the facility in Isa Town, showed that 110 of the inmates were listed under ‘civil and criminal’ convictions and six prisoners were categorised under ‘terrorism’ cases.

The PDRC team visited the prison on February 18 and February 19 of this year, where they interviewed random female prisoners, checked their records and toured the facility.

The report, a copy of which was obtained by the GDN, showed that psychological counselling and religious lectures were also conducted for inmates who were allocated cells based on the type of crime, length of sentence and age group.

Rehabilitation

The team also inspected the types of food served, along with rehabilitation activities, including sewing, embroidery and computer courses.

“The prisoners are given appropriate training to help them reintegrate into society after their release, however, they were not given any certificates,” said the PDRC report.

It also mentioned other issues such as lack of translators to assist expatriate inmates, but added that foreign embassies provided that service.

“Non-Bahraini female prisoners do not have access to interpreters who speak their language,” it said.

“The prison officials use their staff who know other than English and Arabic to help the expatriate women.

“The embassies provide translation services and access to lawyers to the inmates, so that they are aware of their rights.”

It said visitation rights were also granted to all inmates along with phone calls to their families – adding that female prisoners were also allowed MP3 players inside the facility.

The report also showed the centre can accommodate 160 occupants, but the number of female inmates at the time of the inspection was 116, representing a 73pc occupancy rate.

This figure, however, does not include an infant who was with his mother at the facility, where the commission found that they were provided with adequate health care, including baby products.

“Mother and child are allocated special cells, with clean beds and bedding, and take into consideration the environment and requirements of the child,” said the report.

“Bed sheets, blankets and pillows are clean and there are clear procedures in replacing and changing linen.

“All inmates are treated fairly without any discrimination based on religion, race and colour.”

The report has listed nine recommendations for the Interior Ministry to improve development of the facility and maintain security, including training staff on legal force, upgrading educational and health services, and involving civil societies in the rehabilitation of female prisoners.

“Staff should be trained on the use of legal force and risk management in the facility,” said the PDRC in the report.

“There should also be a clear mechanism set for complaint registration and protecting complainants.”

Another recommendation was related to the glass barriers in visitation rooms, which inmates claimed made it difficult to communicate.

In its response to the recommendations, the Interior Ministry said it has addressed or was working on tackling a number of the highlighted issues.

Monitoring

PDRC chairman Nawaf Al Ma’awada said his teams will continue to monitor prisons in the country and notify bodies concerned of any shortcomings.

“The (women’s prison) is not overcrowded with inmates and provides all facilities according to international standards,” said Mr Al Ma’awada.

“A set of recommendations was issued that were addressed or being dealt with by prison authorities.

“The PDRC will continue with its mandate of conducting announced and unannounced prison visits this year.”

The PDRC was set up in 2013 by a royal decree with a mandate to monitor prisons and detention facilities to assess the conditions of inmates and ensure their rights were respected.

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SEVENTY-FIVE per cent of inmates at the country’s main women’s prison are expatriates, it was revealed.

The Women’s Reformation and Rehabilitation Prison has 116 inmates, 29 Bahraini nationals and 87 foreigners, according to figures released by the Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission (PDRC). The report, based on an unannounced visit to the facility in Isa Town, showed that 110 of the inmates were listed under ‘civil and criminal’ convictions and six prisoners were categorised under ‘terrorism’ cases.

The PDRC team visited the prison on February 18 and February 19 of this year, where they interviewed random female prisoners, checked their records and toured the facility.

The report, a copy of which was obtained by the GDN, showed that psychological counselling and religious lectures were also conducted for inmates who were allocated cells based on the type of crime, length of sentence and age group.

(Image: Majority of convicts at the women’s prison are expatriates)

Rehabilitation

The team also inspected the types of food served, along with rehabilitation activities, including sewing, embroidery and computer courses.

“The prisoners are given appropriate training to help them reintegrate into society after their release, however, they were not given any certificates,” said the PDRC report.

It also mentioned other issues such as lack of translators to assist expatriate inmates, but added that foreign embassies provided that service.

“Non-Bahraini female prisoners do not have access to interpreters who speak their language,” it said.

“The prison officials use their staff who know other than English and Arabic to help the expatriate women.

“The embassies provide translation services and access to lawyers to the inmates, so that they are aware of their rights.”

It said visitation rights were also granted to all inmates along with phone calls to their families – adding that female prisoners were also allowed MP3 players inside the facility.

The report also showed the centre can accommodate 160 occupants, but the number of female inmates at the time of the inspection was 116, representing a 73pc occupancy rate.

This figure, however, does not include an infant who was with his mother at the facility, where the commission found that they were provided with adequate health care, including baby products.

“Mother and child are allocated special cells, with clean beds and bedding, and take into consideration the environment and requirements of the child,” said the report.

“Bed sheets, blankets and pillows are clean and there are clear procedures in replacing and changing linen.

“All inmates are treated fairly without any discrimination based on religion, race and colour.”

The report has listed nine recommendations for the Interior Ministry to improve development of the facility and maintain security, including training staff on legal force, upgrading educational and health services, and involving civil societies in the rehabilitation of female prisoners.

“Staff should be trained on the use of legal force and risk management in the facility,” said the PDRC in the report.

“There should also be a clear mechanism set for complaint registration and protecting complainants.”

Another recommendation was related to the glass barriers in visitation rooms, which inmates claimed made it difficult to communicate.

In its response to the recommendations, the Interior Ministry said it has addressed or was working on tackling a number of the highlighted issues.

Monitoring

PDRC chairman Nawaf Al Ma’awada said his teams will continue to monitor prisons in the country and notify bodies concerned of any shortcomings.

“The (women’s prison) is not overcrowded with inmates and provides all facilities according to international standards,” said Mr Al Ma’awada.

Mr Al Ma’awada

“A set of recommendations was issued that were addressed or being dealt with by prison authorities.

“The PDRC will continue with its mandate of conducting announced and unannounced prison visits this year.”

The PDRC was set up in 2013 by a royal decree with a mandate to monitor prisons and detention facilities to assess the conditions of inmates and ensure their rights were respected.

sandy@gdn.com.bh

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