The Independent Ombudsman Office stated that it monitored news published on social media regarding the hunger strike by some inmates in some of the buildings in the Reform and Rehabilitation Center in the Jau since last Monday, August,7, 2023. The Office were also notified by the Center's administration on the same issue, in addition to receiving a number of assistance requests from the inmate’s families.
Based on the above, the Independent Ombudsman Office began its investigations in accordance with its professional working mechanism to ensure that the inmates obtain all their rights, whether from health care, visits or contact with their families and are not being subjected to ill- treatment. A team of investigators from the Monitoring of Reform and Rehabilitation Centers Directorate at the Independent Ombudsman Office visited the Center in Jau on Thursday morning, August 10, 2023, the team commenced its investigation by interviewing the officials in the Center, gathering information on field through inspecting the place and observing directly the CCTV footage, in addition observing procedures taken in dealing with inmates on strike medically and administrability, and medical efforts made by the Center's personnel and medical staff of the Government Hospitals. A group of inmates who were on hunger strike were also interviewed and their statements were taken in a random manner, on that basis the following resulted from the conducted investigations:
1- The Independent Ombudsman Office’s team monitored the procedures in dealing with the inmates on strike, whether by members of the public security forces or by the medical staff of the Government Hospitals Directorate, and according to the procedures followed in cases of hunger strike, it was found that the Center's officers communicated with the inmates on strike to offer advise to end the strike in order to preserve their health and safety, and they were also interviewed to find out their requests and the extent of their legitimacy, in addition to taking all measures to provide health care in anticipation of any emergency situations, such as the presence of doctors and nurses in the medical clinic located in each building equipped with an ambulance and closely following up on the health status of the inmates on strike according to the medical protocol, all these procedures are documented through CCTV security surveillance cameras, whether installed in the place or portable.
2- The inmates who were interviewed in private and away from the members of the public security forces reported their hunger strike in order to achieve a number of requests including the return of a number of inmates of one building to other buildings, increasing the time of visits and removing the glass barrier, increasing the allowed contact numbers, adjusting the price of the call tariff, increasing the time allocated for sunbathing, opening all rooms around the clock, as well as some requests related to their access to medical care and the practice of religious rituals. While none of them mentioned that they were subjected to ill-treatment or failed to obtain any of their rights, the Independent Ombudsman Office has verified these requests and it has been found that most of them are in violation of the Reform and Rehabilitation Institute Law No. 18 of 2014, Regulation No. 131 of 2015, as follows:
First: The request for the return of some inmates and their transfer to other buildings is a matter related to the classification of inmates in general, which is governed by Article 16 of the Executive Regulation of the Reform and Rehabilitation Institute Law, where the Independent Ombudsman Office has already launched its investigations on the inmates and found that they have committed a serious violation, and the Public Prosecution was notified of the incident to take its actions, and the Center’s administration has taken its administrative measures to reclassify them as stipulated by the Reform and Rehabilitation Institute Law No. 18 of 2014 and they are not subject to any kind of isolation.
Second: As for the periods of sunbathing and going out to the outdoor yard, the Center's administration organizes the sunbathing mechanism equally to allow all inmates and to ensure their security and safety by completing the full two hours a day in their exit to the outdoor yard according to the text of the Executive Regulation.
Third: In regards to allowing inmates to pray and perform religious rituals, the Independent Ombudsman Office has shown the commitment of the Reform and Rehabilitation Center administration to this issue, according to Article 27 of Law of the Reform and Rehabilitation Institute No. 18 of 2014, which stipulates that "the administration of the Center must ensure respect for the feelings of inmates and detainees by giving them the right to perform their religious rituals at their time, provided that this does not prejudice the security and order of the Center". This is evidenced by the recent events in the Ashura season, which was witnessed by independent bodies such as the Independent Ombudsman Office and the National Institution for Human Rights.
Fourth: With regard to the amendment of the system of visits and the addition of categories other than those with the second degree of kinship, Article 17 of the Executive Regulation of the Reform and Rehabilitation Institute Law specified the details of visits, and also Article 18 of the same Regulation stated that "an inmate or a detainee is visited by his relatives up to the second degree", and accordingly there are no violations by the Center administration in this regard.
Fifth: As for requests for medical care and education, the Government Hospitals assumes the task of providing health care to inmates in the Reform and Rehabilitation Center according to medical protocols followed in health clinics outside the Center, while the role of the Center’s administration is limited to transportation, coordination, and organizing the movement of inmates to and from the Center, and as for requests for education, Articles 44 and 45 of the Executive Regulation of the Reform and Rehabilitation Institutions Law guarantee that inmates enjoy the right to education up to secondary level in coordination with the Ministry of Education as well as university studies at the inmate's own expense, where any inmate has the right to apply to the Center’s administration and all of requirement and documents to commence their studies will be provided.
Sixth: In regards to reducing the cost of calls, this matter is outside the jurisdiction of the Reform and Rehabilitation Center administration since it is related to the price cost set by the selected service provider’s company.
At the end of the statement, the Independent Ombudsman Office confirmed that it continues to follow up on the cases of some inmates who are on strike at the Reform and Rehabilitation Center at Jau in coordination with the Center's administration to notify the Office of the most important developments taking place in this issue, to verify that the actions taken by the Center's administration and medical staff are compatible with the procedures in accordance with law and the Executive Regulation, and in with medical protocol in dealing with these cases.
The Independent Ombudsman Office communicated with the inmates families reassuring the stability of their health status, and calling the inmates to end their strike stressing that the Office’s doors are open and there are multiple means to receive their requests, and taking appropriate actions in their regard in coordination with the relevant authorities in the Reform and Rehabilitation Center administration as long they are within the scope of its legal and functional competence.