2.22.2005

Verbal Permission Indeed !

A story appeared in today's GDN claiming that human rights activists got a "verbal" permission to visit prisons and speak to prisoners about their conditions.

Don't know what to make of it: Should I laugh or cry ?
Verbal permission indeed.
What are they trying to cover up ? What are they hiding ?
Why do they continue to pose a direct threat to the citizens of Bahrain ?
What is the end of this charade ?
How long do people keep quiet knowing and seeing such atrocities being committed and human rights broken every day ?
Will they check the infamous Guantanamo Bay branch in Adliya ?
Will they be able to really speak to prisoners held for about a year without access to a fair and just trial ?
Will the prisoners really speak to them, knowing that they will not get away with it ?
Come on. Who are we kidding ?

Anyway, here is what appeared in the Gulf Daily News:

"Rights group may be allowed to visit jails
By ROBERT SMITH
A HUMAN rights group says it has been granted verbal permission to become the country's first independent organisation to inspect Bahrain's prisons.
However, it has still not been given the go-ahead in writing and is now waiting for a meeting with senior Interior Ministry officials to find out when the inspections can take place.
It is the first time authorities have said yes to the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS), which had similar requests turned down in 2003 and last year.
The organisation submitted its latest application to inspect the country's prisons over a month ago and is hoping to receive official confirmation this week.
"We got a verbal response just before Muharram, which is about two weeks ago," said BHRS member Dr Abdulla Alderazi.
"There was a telephone call from the human rights committee at the Interior Ministry and they gave us a positive response.
"But they said that the Minister or the Under-Secretary wants to meet us beforehand to talk about things.
"We hope that will happen in the next few days so we can actually go into the prisons."
The BHRS submitted its request to the Interior Ministry after its members were not allowed to visit hunger-striking prisoners being held at the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID), in Adliya, last December.
It wants to see how conditions compare with international criteria set out by the United Nations and its findings will be included in its annual human rights report for this year.
However, the purpose of the visits is not only to inspect conditions of the prisoners.
The BHRS also wants to meet prison staff to discuss ways of avoiding unrest inside Bahrain's jails and improving relations with inmates.
"We know there have been improvements in the jails, but we want to go in and meet the prisoners themselves," said Dr Alderazi.
"I am talking about all of Bahrain's prisons.
"We have the official government side but if we go in and see for ourselves, there is more credibility.
"We have waited years for this opportunity."
Meanwhile, a group of MPs is still waiting for permission to visit Jaw prison to investigate claims that inmates have been mistreated.
Parliament's Islamic Bloc submitted a request to parliament chairman Khalifa Al Dhahrani, who forwarded it to Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa over a month ago.
However, their request has since been passed to the Public Prosecution and they are now hoping to get a reply this week.
"We are still waiting for them to agree," said Islamic Bloc president MP Ali Al Samahiji, who is also vice-chairman of parliament's legislative and legal affairs committee.
"They still have not given us any feedback, but maybe we will go this week or next week."
In August 2003, Jaw prison was the scene of a stand-off between police and prisoners, who barricaded themselves inside Block Four for over a week and threatened to torch it because of alleged bad treatment and poor facilities."