Phil Robertson from HRW to Bahraini Gov’t: Prisons will be Container Boxes for COVID-19 if you Don’t Release Prisoners


Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch in South Asia urged the Bahraini government to release prisoners after the Coronavirus outbreak.

In an interview with the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR), Phil Robertson said “we have been calling not just in Bahrain, but around the world, for governments to release political prisoners, to reduce populations in their prisons, to reduce overcrowding, and to recognize that if they don’t act very quickly, these prisons could be container boxes for COVID-19 infection that will infect a large population of inmates and detainees.”

Commenting on the visit carried out by the National Institution for Human Rights and the statements of its chairperson, Maria Khouri, Robertson confirmed that “there is plenty of documentation that show that in fact Bahrain prisons don’t respect human rights,” indicating that “this is a game that have being played by the Bahraini authorities, the reality is that the human rights abuses still happen in the prisons.”

He stressed that political prisoners should be released, because they were convicted for exercising their rights. “They should not face a potential death sentence because of the covid-19 outbreak,” he added. Robertson note that “the reality is that covid-19 is going to get into the prisons in Bahrain and is going to cause significant damage.”

“Political prisoners deserve to be released, they don’t deserve to be sentenced to sickness and possible death from COVID-19.”

He explained that “by throwing community leaders in prison, the government of Bahrain is shooting itself from the foot,” stressing that “these people should be released, they should be allowed to help their communities, and they should be allowed to speak up, voice their opinions and act to protect the rights of the community that they represent.”

The interview with Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch in South Asia, Phil Robertson, comes within a series of interviews carried out by the GIDHR in the framework of #Release_Bahraini_Prisoners campaign, launched by a group of Bahraini activists days ago on social media outlets, to call on the Bahraini authorities to release Bahraini prisoners amid serious concerns over the Coronavirus outbreak and the poor conditions they are suffering from inside the prisons. It is noteworthy mentioning that Bahrain has pardoned more than 900 prisoners following the Coronavirus pandemic, however, only one third of them are political prisoners. Bahrain’s prisons are still overcrowded with prisoners of conscience and political prisoners.