The Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls for an independent and urgent investigation into the death of 23 year old Jaffar AlDurazi during detention. The BCHR received information that AlDurazi was subjected to torture and the bad conditions of the prison as well as ill-treatment. The BCHR also calls for an independent investigation in all the deaths that have occurred in detention, which have now reached four deaths since December 2013.

On the 26th of February 2014 the head of the Rehabilitation and Corrections Department announced the death of Jaffar Mohammed Jaffar AlDurazi while receiving medical treatment at the Salmanniya Medical Complex. The statement said that AlDurazi, who has the Sickle Cell Anemia Disease (SCD) was “admitted to the hospital on February 19. He died this morning at around 3:15am.”[1]

The Public Prosecution stated: “The death resulted from complications caused by the sickle cell disease which led to a lung clot, according to a medical report issued by the hospital. The Public Prosecution's coroner affirmed that the death was natural away from any criminal suspicion.”[2]

Jaffar AlDurazi was arrested at the end of December 2013, after he and a group of other people who caught on a boat attempted to escape Bahrain via sea according to the Ministry of Interior[3]. AlDurazi was wanted by the Bahrain authorities, although not clear on what charges. AlDurazi told his family during a visit that he had been subjected to severe torture during his detention at the Criminal Investigations Directorate after his arrest. He reported being subjected to severe beatings with bare hands as well as with plastic hoses, kicking, electric shocks, forced to stand for long hours, stripped naked, threatened with sexual assault, and put in the “freezer” (a very small room that is extremely cold) after having cold water poured on him. During his detention, AlDurazi’s family were not allowed to bring him warm clothes, as has been the case in general with all prisoners political and criminal, despite the cold weather and his health condition. His family stated that they had no information about his whereabouts or situation for seven days after his arrest until he was moved to the Dry Docks prison. They added that the SCD crises symptoms started after that, and that he looked thin and fragile when they saw him at Salmaniya Medical Complex.

“Stress, dehydration, pain and subjection to cold weather are main causes of the Sickle Cell Anemia crises complications” – SCD Doctor.

AlDurazi’s father told the BCHR that his son’s SCD symptoms were never severe; he usually would only be subjected to a crises once a year, when he would visit the hospital to receive IV treatment. Since his arrest though, he was moved to the hospital three times due to SCD crises, the final time lasting one week in the hospital before he passed away[4]. AlDurazi was in the emergency room for the first five days during which his family was not allowed to see him. When they finally visited him in the ward, he complained of medical negligence, stating that his IV would finish and he would repeatedly ask for it to be changed but was ignored by the hospital staff. The AlDurazi family publicly stated that they hold the authorities responsible for their son’s death due to the torture,  they submitted an official complaint to the Khamees police station as well as the ombudsman’s office[5].

According to the official records, the death of the detainee Jaffar AlDurazi is the fourth death of people in custody since December 2013; a death was announced on the 26th of December 2013 due to “ailment”[6], another on the 8th of February 2014 due to “heart disease”[7], followed by the death of Jaffar AlDurazi on the 26th of February, and finally the last case on the 28th of February 2014, when a defendant charged in a criminal case died due to “hepatitis”[8].

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights has documented in numerous statements and reports the unsanitary and bad prison conditions at the Dry Docks prison as well at Jaw Central prison[9]. Furthermore, numerous cases were documented voicing serious concern about the lack of access to medical treatment for political prisoners; for example in the case of deceased detainee Yousif AlNashmi in October 2013, who was reportedly tortured then refused adequate medical treatment[10]. Another such case was detainee Mohammed Mushaima who also died reportedly due to lack of access to adequate medical treatment having suffered from SCD[11]. The BCHR continues to receive cases and complaints about torture at the CID during which victims are usually subjected to enforced disappearance[12]. In the absence of independent investigations into these cases, and the lack of transparency and supervision of the detention centers, the BCHR holds the Ministry of Interior completely responsible for all the deaths and health crises that occur during detention.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights reiterates the importance of the international conventions related to the protection of individuals subjected to incarceration, specifically “all prisoners shall be treated with the respect due to their inherent dignity and value as human beings”[13].

Based on the above, the BCHR calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and all other close allies and relevant institutions to apply pressure on the Government of Bahrain to:

  1. Immediately initiate and impartial and independent investigation into the death of Jaffar AlDurazi, as well as others who have died in custody.
  2. Schedule a visit for the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to Bahrain as soon as possible.
  3. Immediately halt the use of systematic torture as a methodology to extract confessions, and to guarantee the safety and wellbeing of those in custody.
  4. Hold to account all those implicated in torture, including those who hold administrative responsibility.
  5. To sign the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture opcat (OPCAT), which states that there should be a committee which supervises prison conditions and allows for surprise visits.
  6. Immediately allow access to adequate medical treatment for all prisoners as stated in Article (22) of the “Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners: “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.”
  7. Improve the daily living conditions as stated in Article (60) of the “Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners:: “ (1) The regime of the institution should seek to minimize any differences between prison life and life at liberty which tend to lessen the responsibility of the prisoners or the respect due to their dignity as human beings.” And article (10): “All accommodation provided for the use of prisoners and in particular all sleeping accommodation shall meet all requirements of health, due regard being paid to climatic conditions and particularly to cubic content of air, minimum floor space, lighting, heating and ventilation.”

Finally, it is important to note here that these recommendations regarding prison conditions do not in any form or shape eliminate the main issue that all political prisoners must be immediately and unconditionally released.