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Bahraini Authorities must Launch Independent Investigation into Circumstances of Hussein Barakat's Death: Amnesty Int'l

2021-06-15 - 6:30 p

Bahrain Mirror: Amnesty International demanded the Bahraini authorities to investigate whether Hussein Barakat received timely and appropriate medical treatment, indicating that his death proves the need to more preventive measures to protect prisoners.

"Bahrain's authorities must immediately launch an effective, independent and impartial investigation into the circumstances of Hussein Barakat's death, including to determine whether he received timely and appropriate medical treatment," said Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

Despite the availability of vaccination to prisoners in Bahrain, many have not accepted it due to distrust of the prison authorities and lack of information about the type of vaccine offered.

Lynn Maalouf said "The Bahraini authorities' continued failure to provide prisoners with face masks or hand sanitizer to protect against Covid-19 is unacceptable."

Amnesty stated that Hussein Barakat was serving a life sentence after his 15 May 2018 conviction on terrorism-related charges along with 114 other defendants after a grossly unfair trial known as the "Zulfiqar Bridgades" case. Bahrain's definition of terrorism is overly broad, does not require an element of violence, and has at times been applied to non-violent acts of political opposition. 

Hussein Barakat's wife told Amnesty International that there were 15 other prisoners in his cell, which had only 10 beds, forcing some of them to sleep on the floor.

In late May Hussein Barakat told his wife in a video call that he could not breathe properly. He told her he had complained repeatedly to the guards that he was sick but they had not transferred him to a hospital. "He told me: ‘I'm tired, I can't even breathe, I can't stand up. I'm dying'," she said.

She told Amnesty International she was only allowed two calls with her husband during the period of his illness, which lasted from late May until his death. She said that he was not transferred out of Jaw prison until after he was too weak to walk.

His wife said that the officials who called her to tell her about her husband's illness had said he was in a stable condition, but that in a subsequent call when she managed to speak to a nurse, the nurse said he had been placed on oxygen to help with his breathing.

A Bahraini human rights activist who is in close contact with prisoners and their families, told Amnesty International that prison guards at Jaw have accused prisoners of faking their sickness. She also said that prisoners had only been given masks when a government film crew was touring the prison. After the film crew left, masks were taken back from the prisoners. 

"The right to adequate health care is a human right. Bahrain's authorities must urgently take further steps to ensure that all prisoners receive prompt medical care and are protected from the threat of Covid-19," said Lynn Maalouf.

 "They need to also take the long-overdue step of releasing everyone who has been imprisoned for exercising their right to peacefully protest and criticize the government and to address overcrowding."

Arabic Version