Human Rights Watch (HRW) has blasted the Bahraini regime for conditions at its notorious Jaw Prison, calling on authorities to allow prisoners to contact their families.
The rights group said in a statement on its website on Thursday that a number of prisoners have not contacted their families since a protest at the jail last month.
HRW said relatives of four inmates have spoken to its representatives, saying that they have not received any phone calls from them and have been told by police and prison officials that they cannot visit. The rights group noted that credible sources have reported that the number of these inmates who have not been in contact with relatives may be as high as 80.
Joe Stork, HRW’s deputy Middle East and North Africa director, said families who have not heard a word from their detained relatives “are understandably becoming very anxious.”
”The Bahraini authorities need to allow all Jaw Prison inmates to contact their families at once to let them know they are safe,” Stork added.
On March 10, Bahraini regime forces fired birdshot at protesting prisoners in the facility and used tear gas against them. Local rights groups said the contributing factors to the protest include security’s use of excessive force against the detainees and poor prison conditions.
The notorious Jaw Prison, Bahrain’s central detention facility, is where the regime keeps hundreds of people behind bars only for participation in the peaceful protests against the kingdom.
Since mid-February 2011, thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations on the streets of Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifah royal family to relinquish power.
Many people have been killed and hundreds of others injured and arrested in the crackdown on peaceful demonstrations.
The Manama regime’s crackdown has intensified since the arrest of the country’s senior Shia opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman last December. Sheikh Salman is accused of plotting against the Bahraini regime – an allegation which the opposition leader denies.