23 January 2019 – Two Members of Parliament have requested “urgent intervention” from Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in the case of two Bahraini political prisoners who are entering the 70th day of a hunger strike to protest their continuing lack of access to medical care.
Today Lord @PaulScriven & I have written to @Jeremy_Hunt urging him to act on behalf of political prisoners Ali AlHajee & Naji Fateel as they completed 63 days of hunger strike demanding medical care in #Bahrain. pic.twitter.com/nJGCHVgvCg
— Lloyd Russell-Moyle (@lloyd_rm) January 18, 2019
In a letter sent on 18 January, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, a Labour MP, and Lord Scriven, a Lib-dem Peer expressed great concern that inmates Ali AlHajee and Naji Fateel “are putting their lives at risk to get their basic entitlements”. Mr AlHajee needs surgery to his lower jaw and dental implants while Mr Fateel needs surgery to extract iron splints from his leg which were placed to help him recover from a fracture he suffered in 2012. However, the prison administration is ignoring their demands.
The two flagged how the “inhumane” conditions in Jau prison, including poor medical care, are well-known to the human rights community for being in violation of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.
They also added that “oversight bodies have been completely ineffective in addressing the case” despite Mr AlHajee having completed a number of hunger strikes in the past to protest his poor detention treatment
Lord Scriven, in particular, reached out to the UK-trained Ministry of Interior Ombudsman on 2 January 2019. Despite the Ombudsman acknowledging receipt of the email, Lord Scriven’s follow up communication was ignored.
Commenting, Lord Scriven said “I tried to constructively engage with the Ombudsman who benefits from British taxpayers’ money. However, their lack of response and apathy in addressing the cases of Ali and Naji clearly show that the Ombudsman doesn’t have a genuine interest in human rights. The British government’s policy is a fig leaf of legitimacy for Bahrain”.
The two parliamentarians urged Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to make representations to the Bahraini Government “to grant both inmates immediate access to medical care and release them”.
Read The Morning Star Piece on the letter
Read Full Letter Below
Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London, SW1A 2AH
18 January 2019
Dear Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt,
We write to request your urgent intervention in the cases of Bahraini political prisoners, Ali Husain Ahmed Jasim Marzooq AlHajee and Naji Ali Hasan Fateel, who have been on a hunger strike for over 60 days to protest their continuing lack of access to medical care. We understand that Mr Fateel will stop taking fluids if his demands are not met by Monday 21 January.
Mr AlHajee and Mr Fateel are constantly being denied basic entitlements while in detention in Jau Prison. While Mr AlHajee needs surgery to his lower jaw and requires urgent dental implants, Mr Fateel needs surgery to extract iron splints from his leg which were placed to help him recover from a fracture he suffered in 2012. We understand that oversight bodies have been completely ineffective in addressing the case, despite Mr AlHajee detailing his demands to the Ministry of Interior Ombudsman in a meeting on 30 December.
Despite the multiple requests put forth by both inmates, the prison administration refuses to treat them with humanity. It is not the first time Mr AlHajee has launched a hunger strike to demand full access to his rights to medical care and family visitation, the most recent protest ending in August 2018. He has not seen his family since February 2017. In addition, since Mr AlHajee and Mr Fateel’s protest began on 15 November, we learned that at least 20 other inmates have launched their own protest and all their demands have been met.
The inhumane conditions of Bahrain’s Jau Prison are in violation of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. The international human rights community has voiced their concerns multiple times. For instance, in July 2018, the UN Human Rights Committee expressed concern for the “inhumane prison conditions, including serious overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, inadequate access to drinking water and unhygienic toilet facilities, particularly in the Jau prison”. Amnesty International has echoed these concerns by further highlighting a general neglect for prisoners’ health and welfare as a new worrying pattern of abuse implemented in Bahrain against political prisoners.
In May 2017, The UN Committee against Torture (CAT) called for the immediate release of Naji Fateel.
It is highly concerning that Mr AlHajee and Mr Fateel are putting their lives at risk to get their basic entitlements. Therefore, we urge you to act swiftly on behalf of Mr AlHajee and Mr Fateel by making representations to the Bahraini government to grant both inmates immediate access to medical care and release them.
Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP