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Rehabilitation urged for women prisoners in Bahrain

MANAMA, July 6, 2015

A lack of rehabilitation programmes for female prisoners in Bahrain who have been victims of sexual abuse or domestic violence has been highlighted in a new government report.

It also exposes insufficient training of staff in the legal use of force, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

The Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission report released yesterday (July 5) was compiled following a surprise inspection at the Women’s Reformation and Rehabilitation Centre (WRCC), in Isa Town, in January.

It said a total of 119 women were incarcerated, but four of them who were looking after their children in prison were not included in the visit.

“Mother and child are allocated special cells, with clean beds and bedding, and also taken into consideration is the environment and requirements of the child,” stated the report.

Of the other 115, 58 are aged 25 to 35, followed by 42 in the 35 to 45 age category and six women aged 18 to 25. A total of 101 are non-Bahrainis.

Prostitution was the most common offence, with 29 women behind bars for working in the sex trade.

Another 24 were arrested for illegal residence, 28 for financial cases, 12 for narcotics, three for public disorder, 13 for theft and six for murder.

The WRCC opened last year with a capacity of 168 inmates and inspectors selected inmates randomly for interview.

According to the report, there is a waiting room for visitors and prisoners are transferred in clean and safe vehicles.

“Prisoners are not handcuffed during their transfer and are allowed to carry cash only,” it says.

“However, they are prohibited from carrying official documents and personal belongings.”

Cameras are installed in common areas, but the report found they did not cover the entire facility.

It also criticised prison staff for having “limited awareness” of self-harm and being “unaware” of the risk some prisoners might pose to themselves or others.

“Some female staff have limited knowledge on their responsibility towards assessing and managing the risks arising from dealing with prisoners,” it said.

“In general, there are no plans to assess and manage risk.”

It also highlights issues with determining the proper use of force.

“In case a prisoner is involved in an incident which led to the use of force, there is no special record for the use of force and its degrees,” it says.

Facilities were described as clean with appropriate lighting and temperature, proper lockers for inmates, provision of clean blankets and bedsheets and rehabilitation programmes for prisoners to continue their studies – either through home schooling or distance learning.

“However, limited support is given to prisoners to improve their lifestyle, thoughts and behaviour positively,” it said.

“There are no programmes on rehabilitation for prisoners who suffer from mistreatment, sexual assault or domestic violence.”

In addition, the report says prisoners had access to legal assistance and could submit complaints in a special box, but cites a “lack of supervision” regarding services and administrative procedures.

There is also no specialised training for staff on prisoners’ health or diseases they might have.

Furthermore, while there is a 24-hour health centre there is no pharmacy and cases related to dental and psychological care are transferred to the main health centre at the Interior Ministry headquarters in Manama.

The existence of just one Interior Ministry infectious diseases specialist and a long waiting period to access dental services at government health clinics were also documented, while medicines were said to be stored in policewomen’s offices in an unsafe manner and were not dispensed appropriately.

“Storage and distribution procedures that are followed in Bahrain are not observed,” the report said.

A list of 16 recommendations are attached to the report, including better staff training, better healthcare services, installation of cameras to cover the entire facility, provision of education programmes, increasing the number of phones, creating a department for complaints and administrative issues, and establishing a pharmacy. - TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | Rehabilitation | Women | Prisoner |

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