Bahrain panel seeks better facilities in prison
Manama, August 27, 2014
One of Bahrain's main prisons has come under fire for its levels of cleanliness, maintenance and the lack of expertise among its staff.
The Dry Dock Detention Centre in Hidd was subject to a surprise inspection by the Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission (PDRC) earlier this year, the results of which were revealed yesterday (August 27), said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
In its report, the commission highlighted a list of 21 issues that required urgent action at the prison, including the need for additional training so that staff are better able to deal with elderly detainees, those with special needs and juveniles and the need for surveillance cameras to be installed in all areas.
"We conducted the unannounced inspection based on principles backed by Bahraini and international laws and based it on the Bahrain Ombudsman Office's standards for prison visits," said PDRC chairman Nawaf Al Moawda at a media briefing held in the InterContinental Regency Bahrain yesterday.
“We gathered first-hand evidence from detainees and staff through unmonitored interviews and free interactions with them to understand their difficulties in the centre.
“We also accessed documents and records in all sections, and reviewed the administrative system in the centre, as well as inspecting all buildings within the facility.”
Al Moawda said that during his commission's inspection of the Dry Dock Detention Centre from April 21 to 24, the prison held 991 detainees - just 29 shy of full capacity - which included 108 aged between 15 and 18.
Of the detainees, 765 were Bahraini while 226 were foreign nationals.
The number of officers on duty per shift was one, while the number of guards on duty per shift was 22.
In addition to concerns over cleanliness at the prison, the staff also drew fire for their use of force and limited knowledge of risk management.
“There is no theoretical or practical training on how to use force when necessary to prevent risk and maintain order,” said the report.
“Medical examinations are performed on staff and detainees following the use of force to verify if there are subsequent injuries or health risks.
“There is no special record for the use of force.”
Where self harm was concerned, the prison's employees were said to 'have knowledge' about it, 'but lack training on how to deal with such cases.'
“There are no plans to assess and manage risks,” the report said.
Inadequate natural lighting and ventilation in some places, an inconsistency in appropriate temperatures across cells and an insufficient number of telephone booths for all inmates were also recorded.
The report's recommendations in full:
* Urgent action is required to ensure the cleanliness of the prison's wings and periodic overall maintenance.
* The number of administrative staff with expertise in dealing with detainees should be increased. Special measures for detainees aged between 15 and 18 is a necessity for visits, communication, activities and motivating them to complete their studies.
* Training for staff on dealing with elderly detainees and those with special needs, foreign nationals or those aged between 15 and 18 should be in place. Staff should also be trained in managing and assessing risks.
* A suitable waiting area for visitors should be provided.
* Measures should be taken to ensure detainees can contact their families upon arrival.
* Procedures to ensure detainees can inform their lawyers and families when they are transferred should be established. Risks should be assessed during transfer.
* Waiting areas should be provided for detainees at courts.
* Urgent action should be taken to install surveillance cameras to cover all the facilities of the prison.
* Written procedures and measures for the delivery and exchange of personal necessities of detainees should be put in place.
* Educational and cultural plans and programmes for all detainees should be developed. Detainees should also be motivated and encouraged to take part in such programmes.
* Well-trained and qualified staff to oversee the learning and skill acquisition programmes should be provided with the provision of suitable places.
* Procedures for the legal use of force should be established with the provision of proper training for the staff.
* A library should be provided as well as proper procedures to guarantee the delivery of reading materials.
* Publications covering rights and duties in several languages, and in Braille for the blind, should be given to detainees upon arrival.
* Written procedures for complaints and grievances and for the protection of complainants to ensure privacy should be available.
* Increase the number of medical professionals, provide a dental clinic and a trained mental health team.
* Establish programmes for health promotion and awareness among the detainees and the staff.
* Take the necessary measures to raise the level of awareness among staff and detainees on ways to deal with patients and explain the concept of medical isolation.
* Increase the number of administrative staff at the health centre, provide an infection control team and activate the administrative supervision over the clinic and its staff.
* Develop measures to ensure the provision of translation services for detainees during their visit to the health centre.
* Develop a mechanism to guarantee the provision of special diets for detained patients. - TradeArabia News Service