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Campaign is launched in Bahrain to free blind detainee

THE LEVANT – Nine Bahraini human rights organizations, along with human rights activists in Bahrain, have launched a campaign for the release of the blind Bahraini detainee Jafar Matooq, who is in urgent need of medical treatment.

This campaign was launched as a result of the deteriorating situation in general, found in Bahraini prisons, and particularly concerning the lack of medical treatment provided for prisoners. Many of the prisoners live in a constant state of crisis out of a neglect for their health by the prison administration.

 Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights states that “everyone has the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”[1], which Bahrain has ratified. The Standard Minimim Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners also states that “Sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals (article 22.2). Furthermore, the government of Bahrain has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in which article 10 states that “all persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.[2]

The undersigned NGOs and individuals believe that the human rights situation in Bahrain has reached a point where civil society and human rights organizations are not able to document all abuses against individuals that are occurring. Therefore, the undersigned group of human rights organizations, civil society institutions, activists and bloggers in Bahrain and abroad have adopted the case of the blind detainee, Jafar Matooq, through a human rights media campaign that will include several events, which will be announced soon. We hope that this campaign will empower others to adopt similar techniques to ensure that the rights of all detainees are respected, and treated as individuals.

Jafar Matooq, lost vision in both of his eyes in an accidental explosion. He was later sentenced to ten years in prison in a trial that lacked the international standards of due process. Matooq was not present at the trial, but receiving medical treatment in the hospital. In May 2014, a court decision was issued for him to be examined by an eye specialist to assess his health. He has yet to been allowed to visit the eye specialist, and his lawyer has subsequently submitted a complaint against the Criminal Investigations.

This campaign calls for his unconditional release from prison, and immediate access to adequate medical treatment outside of Bahrain in order to attempt to recover his sight in as far as this is still possible.
The undersigned organizations hope for an extensive interaction with this campaign including its programs and events to succeed and to establish a collective action to defend the victims and try to let them receive their rights and to stop the injustice actions against them. The campaign will be launched on 19 August 2014.

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