Kuwait: Improving health care in prisons

26 November 2014

Kuwait (ICRC) – At a three-day regional seminar in Kuwait that ended today, prison authorities and health professionals came together to discuss mechanisms to improve health care in places of detention in the Gulf. The seminar was organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in close cooperation with Kuwait's Ministry of Interior and the General Secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The aim of the seminar was to present and discuss international standards of health care in places of detention, to provide a platform for exchanging views about issues relating to prison management, and to share experiences and best practices intended to ensure suitable conditions of detention and safeguard the physical and mental welfare of prisoners. "Detainees have a right to health care and, once sick, they should be considered first and foremost as patients," said Gérard Peytrignet, head of the ICRC regional delegation in Kuwait. "It is crucial to strike a balance between working within security constraints and meeting the health-care needs of detainees, and to understand the challenges faced by prison authorities."

About 25 health and security officials from the GCC countries took part in the seminar, the first such event organized at the Gulf regional level. The participants discussed such important topics as access to health care, physical and mental health, stress management, and the role of medical doctors in places of detention. A field visit to the Central Prison in Kuwait also took place in connection with the seminar.

"Prisoners have a right to receive the health care they require," said Major-General, Khaled Al-Dayeen, assistant undersecretary for reformative institutions and execution of criminal sentences at Kuwait's interior ministry. "The main challenge is how to provide it in the places of detention."

Dr Mohammed Al-Khashti, assistant undersecretary of the public medical services at the health ministry of Kuwait, declared that his ministry was keen "to provide proper health care and specialized medical services for prison inmates in places of detention."

The ICRC maintains an effective dialogue with the authorities in the Gulf region to support them in their efforts to make any improvements needed in living conditions, including medical attention, for prisoners in various places of detention in compliance with internationally recognized standards.

In its capacity as a neutral and independent humanitarian organization, the ICRC carries out regular visits to prisons and other places of custody in Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar to assess the general conditions of detention and treatment, including the health care provided, and to address any shortcomings or challenges through confidential dialogue with the authorities concerned.

For further information, please contact:
Fouad Bawaba, ICRC Kuwait, tel: +965 9787 9434 or +965 2532 2061