11/24/2004

Report: Conditions at Shebarghan Prison

On the basis of direct observation, contact with the prisoners, and interviews prior to and subsequent to this inspection, Physicians for Human Rights reports that conditions at Shebarghan are in grave violation of international standards for those held in detention or as prisoners of war. The facilities are entirely inadequate for the care of the number of people now held there, the food is insufficient in quantity and nutrition, the water supply unclean, sanitation virtually absent, clothing meager, and barred walls open to the elements expose the inhabitants to winter conditions. Disease is rampant. Each cell block contained a series of 18 rooms on one side of a central concrete floored corridor that ran the length of the structure. Each cell was built for 10-15 men, according to General Jarobak, the commander of the facility who escorted the PHR team in the prison, but some now held up to 80-110 men.

Capacity to provide medical care is hampered by insufficient supplies and primitive facilities. Dysentery and yellow jaundice, probably due to Hepatitis A, are epidemic. When PHR asked what the death rate was, General Jarobak said that he did not know numbers but that "many, many, many prisoners" had already died, mainly from dysentery, some from pneumonia.
The prison administration is aware that the life supports provided are not only inadequate but alarmingly deficient. The commanding officer has submitted requests for further assistance and additional resources to the international community but reports that the response has been minimal.

PHR found no indication that the prisoners are being deliberately abused, tortured, or psychologically tormented, although there were many prisoners whom they did not observe, and they were not able to conduct in-depth interviews with detainees in private.

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