Recommendations for improving prison conditions

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The Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission (PDRC) has just issued a report on prison conditions in the Jau Rehabilitation and Reformation Centre (JRRC).

The PDRC was set up in mid-2013 under the auspices of the independent Ombudsman Office to “assess the conditions and treatment of detainees and to deter and help prevent torture, inhumane or degrading treatment in places of custody”. The organization has legal powers to monitor detention centres and work to improve prison conditions and prevent abuses.

Members of the PDRC in November 2015 spoke to detainees and staff at the Jau detention facility and published an extensive report which can be found in full here. The report discussed all aspects of prisoners’ lives, including recreational facilities, access to legal counsel, family visits and detainees’ welfare.

The report cites instances were abuses were reported. For example, prisoners described cases of assault on arrival at the prison facility. This led to investigation of the officers involved and imprisonment of staff members. In several cases prisoner complaints were verified by study of CCTV footage, leading to prosecution of those responsible.

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The benefits of civil society for Bahrain and for you

Why was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights important?

The Universal Declaration was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10 December 1948. The Declaration commands that human rights be seen as universal, to be enjoyed by all people, no matter who they are or where they live. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. The Declaration allows all states to be held to account in how they treat their citizens.

The Universal Declaration led to a succession of other human rights treaties, concerning rights of the child, torture, women, civil and political rights, economic social and cultural rights and racial discrimination. Some states like Bahrain are in almost full compliance with international human rights treaties, while other have abstained from certain conventions in full or in part, or have yet to sign up fully.  

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 On 22 May Bahrain’s Shura Council approved a law which prevents serving clerics from being members of political societies and from having any kind of involvement in political activities. The draft bill was passed by the elected Parliament on 17 May.

The bill dictates that is a religious figure wanted to play any kind of political role, they would have to desist from religious activity altogether – including on a voluntary basis.

As the Justice Minister Shaikh Khalid Bin-Ali Al Khalifa argued during the Parliament session, the religious pulpit had previously been exploited by those pursuing their political interests, including by some candidates during the 2014 elections. A mature political system should not be subject to the influence of religious leaders telling their supporters which political society or candidate to vote for.

As Citizens for Bahrain has previously reported, although Islamist MPs are a small minority within the Parliament, they have often succeeded in being disproportionately influential by enlisting the support of conservative MPs. For example during the vote last month on implementation of the CEDAW UN women’s rights convention, Islamist MPs were only two votes short of securing a parliamentary majority and defeating the bill.

This new law therefore is arguably a historic step in cementing the separation of religion and politics – a move which is also to the benefit of the religious domain in keeping it pure of the dealings and compromises necessary for the political sphere.

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Clerics barred from politics: A week in politics

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12 – 18 May 2016

This week marks a significant milestone in efforts to prevent the exploitation of religion for political ends, with parliamentary approval for a bill banning serving clerics from engaging in politics and being members of political societies.

The below report also extensively discusses proposals for changing the law to prevent rapists escaping punishment by marrying their victim.

Politics ban for clerics

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