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European MPs Continue to Press Bahrain’s King over Political Prisoners

European lawmakers’ movements continue to pressure Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa regarding the ongoing violations against political prisoners.

Twelve members of the European Parliament sent a letter to the King of Bahrain expressing their deep concern over the government’s management of the current outbreak of COVID-19 in prisons, notably in Jau Prison.

The letter was signed by members of the European Parliament from different European political parties and an independent member of Parliament.

On March 11, the European Parliament adopted a draft resolution condemning human rights violations in Bahrain, after it was voted on by an overwhelming majority.

633 deputies out of 689 supported the draft resolution condemning the increase in the use of the death penalty, the continued use of torture against detainees, and the persecution of human rights defenders in Bahrain.

According to the letter, MPs expressed concern over the prolonged poor conditions in Jaw Prison and other facilities.

They criticized the lack of transparency regarding the health of prisoners, amid detailed reports published by human rights organizations documenting the spread of COVID-19 in prisons.

The European members urged the Bahraini to adopt an approach to public health informed by international human rights standards rather than a punitive approach against prisoners who were convicted after unfair trials.

Furthermore, MPs referred to their complaint about the death of prisoner of conscience Abbas MalAllah, after authorities prevented him from receiving medical treatment over the years.

50-year-old MalAllah died in Jau Prison on April 6, despite repeated calls from his family for his release. Before his death, his health was deteriorating after being shot by a security officer during the 2011 uprising.

He was arrested on May 17, 2011, and later sentenced to 15 years and six months in prison for his participation in the popular protests.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights called on the Bahrain authorities to open an impartial and independent investigation into the circumstances that led to his death.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner also stressed the need to re-evaluate the health conditions in prisons to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.

It further urged the release of all prisoners of conscience, especially at time COVID- 19 is spreading inside prisons and the health system in prison is deteriorating.

Members of the European Parliament recalled the recommendations issued by Parliament on March 11, 2021 regarding the human rights situation in Bahrain, particularly the cases of prisoners under sentence of death and human rights defenders.

They urged the King of Bahrain to release all prisoners of conscience or those convicted after unfair trials in previous years.

MPs also demanded that an independent investigation be conducted into each of the deaths in custody, including Abbas MalAllah.

They called for using what they described as a “critical moment” to re-evaluate and reset the commitment of the Bahraini government to international human rights standards, as stipulated in the reports of the United Nations human rights treaty bodies.

The message sent by members of the European Parliament comes at a pivotal moment, as around 100 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in Bahrain’s Jau Prison to date.

According to Bahraini Salam Organization for Democracy and Human Rights and the Bahrain Forum for Human Rights, the information received regarding the number of cases with COVID-19 in prisons is much greater than the number publicly declared by the government.

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