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Bahrain: Denial of medical care for seriously ill imprisoned activist ‘latest act of cruelty’

The Bahraini authorities’ inhuman denial of urgent medical treatment for seriously ill Bahraini academic and opposition activist, Dr Abdel-Jalil al-Singace, is a denial of his right to health and an act of intentional cruelty, said Amnesty International today.

The authorities must immediately grant Abdel-Jalil al-Singace access to the medical care he so desperately needs and ensure that the necessary medication is available to him
Heba Morayef

Abdel-Jalil al-Singace has several chronic illnesses, including post-polio syndrome, sickle cell disease, and a musculoskeletal condition. Additionally, since 22 August 2019, he has been experiencing severe chest pain, numbness in his fingers, and shaking in his left hand – which he relies on to move with his crutches.

The denial of medical treatment to a seriously ill prisoner is shockingly cruel and puts his life in danger. It can also violate the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment
Heba Morayef

On 28 August he was taken to the prison doctor who diagnosed serious tension of his heart muscle, causing him severe pain. On 3 September he was due for an appointment with a heart specialist in the Bahrain Defense Force hospital. However, when he refused to put on the prison uniform or wear shackles, the prison’s administration informed him that they had ‘changed their mind’ and refused to let him attend the appointment.

“The denial of medical treatment to a seriously ill prisoner is shockingly cruel and puts his life in danger. It can also violate the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment.” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“The authorities must immediately grant Abdel-Jalil al-Singace access to the medical care he so desperately needs and ensure that the necessary medication is available to him.”

Abdel-Jalil al-Singace and indeed the other prisoners of conscience, including Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and Hassan Mshaima, who were convicted solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly must be immediately and unconditionally released
Heba Morayef

Abdel-Jalil al-Singace was amongst 13 opposition activists arrested between 17 March and 9 April 2011. The High Criminal Court of Appeal in Manama issued its verdict on 4 September 2012, upholding the 13 defendants’ convictions and sentences of between five years and life in prison on unfounded charges including “setting up terror groups to topple the royal regime and change the constitution”. The Court of Cassation upheld the sentences on 7 January 2013.

“Abdel-Jalil al-Singace and indeed the other prisoners of conscience, including Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and Hassan Mshaima, who were convicted solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly must be immediately and unconditionally released.” Said Heba Morayef.

Background

Dr. Abdel-Jalil al-Singace, is an academic and was an active member of al-Haq Movement, which is an unauthorized Shi’a political opposition group. He and its leader, Hassan Mshaima, are serving life sentences in Jaw Prison. Amnesty International considers them both to be prisoners of conscience.

Dr ‘Abdel-Jalil al-Singace was previously detained with 22 other leading Shi’a from August 2010 until February 2011 then released by order of the King after the clampdown on the first round of protests.

According to Rule 47 of the Mandela Rules: “The use of chains, irons or other instruments of restraint which are inherently degrading or painful shall be prohibited.”

* United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Mandela Rules), specifically Rule 27(1) which states: “All prisons shall ensure prompt access to medical attention in urgent cases”.[…] and Rule 27 (2) “Clinical decisions may only be taken by the responsible health-care professionals and may not be overruled or ignored by non-medical prison staff.

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