Originally published by Reuters – Aziz El Yaakoubi on 08 Apr 2020
The article notes that Bahrain has freed some prisoners considered at risk, such as pregnant women, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the 1,500 freed so far exclude individuals jailed on national security grounds. This is unfortunate because Bahrain has sentenced hundreds of opposition politicians, activists, journalists and human rights defenders in mass trials. As a result, rights groups, including Amnesty International, last week jointly called on Bahraini authorities to release those who “peacefully exercised their rights to freedom of expression”, particularly elderly prisoners or those with existing health conditions.
In response, the government said it is “absolutely committed” to protecting those in its prison system, and that it does test the prison population regularly. Other precautionary steps that they have taken include banning family visits. To date, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Bahrain’s prisons.