On October 7th Shia Rights Watch attended a high-level UN event on the implementation of the Mandela Rules on the Treatment of Prisoners. The Mandela Rules are a revision of the 1955 Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. These non-binding guidelines for how states treat their prisoners had not been updated since it implementation by the United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders.
Some important revisions to the Standard Minimum Rules are provisions for the prohibition of torture, and the improvement of health conditions for detainees. UN officials stated that one of the purposes of these revised rules was to ensure that despite the fact that people lose their liberty when they enter prison, they should not lose their dignity. For example, despite the fact that one may be detained, the Mandela Rules state that prisoners are entitled to the same state of health care as people in the community. This is especially true for diseases such as HIV and Tuberculosis.
The revision on the Standard Minimum Rules is an important milestone for criminal justice reform. In many places around the world, prison conditions fall well below the standards set before the 1955 standard minimum rules. This applies to Shia Muslims in Bahrain who have been arbitrarily arrested and are forced to endure well horrible prison conditions for years. Shia Rights Watch will continue to advocate for the improvement of prison conditions around the world while continuing to call for the release of prisoners of conscience detained under oppressive regimes.