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Bahrain: ICRC to start visiting detainees

08-12-2011 News Release 11/255

Geneva/Kuwait (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Bahrain's interior ministry today signed a memorandum of understanding allowing the ICRC to start visiting detainees in the country soon.

"This agreement will allow ICRC delegates to visit all detainees in all places of detention under the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior," said Gérard Peytrignet, the head of the ICRC regional delegation in Kuwait. "Under this agreement, visits will be carried out in accordance with the ICRC's standard working procedures, allowing us, for example, to meet with any detainee of our choice, to talk to him in private and to repeat the visits. Our visits will also give detainees the opportunity to send messages to their families through the ICRC."

The aim of the visits is to assess the conditions in which detainees are being held and the treatment they receive. The ICRC will share its findings and observations with the detaining authorities in bilateral and confidential dialogue, as it does wherever it visits detainees – in more than 80 countries all over the world.

"Following the outbreak of violence in Bahrain last February, we immediately offered our services to visit detainees and initiated discussions with the authorities concerned," said Mr Peytrignet. "We also reminded the authorities that medical personnel, vehicles and facilities must be respected and protected by all."

During several visits to the country, the ICRC met with representatives of civil society organizations and with opposition leaders in order to impartially assess the situation and share its views and concerns. Last March, the ICRC sent surgical and first-aid supplies to the Bahrain Red Crescent Society for distribution, mainly to public health facilities.

For further information, please contact:
Fouad Bawaba, ICRC Kuwait, tel: +965 9787 9434 or +965 253 22 062
Hicham Hassan, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 41 or +41 79 536 92 57