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Digital Afro Media
Bahrain: Impunity for Torture
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Category: Ethics



July 8, 2013 – Last week, a Bahraini court acquitted two officers of charges that they tortured doctors. The verdict is the latest indication that despite evidence of torture and the government’s domestic and international obligations to uphold the rights of prisoners, Bahraini authorities foster a culture within the justice system and law enforcement that perpetuates cruel, degrading, and inhumane treatment of detainees.

Since Bahrain’s pro-democracy uprising began in 2011, thousands of Bahrainis have been detained, often without charge, as authorities have violently repressed the protest movement. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) reports that in many cases the victim is taken to an isolated place, tortured, then released, in an apparent effort to scare others from protesting. One hospital in Manama was taken over by the military and used to torture doctors and activists.

On video and in testimony to human rights defenders, former detainees recount being beaten, subjected to electric shocks and waterboarding, suspended from the ceiling, sexually violated, threatened with rape, and held in solitary confinement. Such treatment is often used to force them to sign false confessions. One video of an interrogation recently went viral in Bahrain. An expert with Physicians for Human Rights examined the video and concluded that what appear to be wounds on the detainee’s bare chest and an anxious mental state indicate that he filmed was giving a false confession obtained through physical and/or psychological abuse.

After international condemnation of the government’s repression of protesters in 2011, the king formed a commission to investigate allegations of human rights violations. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) found systemic torture, including abuse leading to five prisoner deaths. Yet the government has done little to implement the recommended reforms, and has repeatedly refused visits from human rights monitors. Rather than investigating or punishing abusers, the government often rewards them, as was the case with Bassan Al-Muraj, a member of the security forces who was promoted after being charged with torture.

Human rights advocates including the BCHR point out that as a party to the UN Convention against Torture as well as other international and regional treaties, Bahrain must fulfill its obligations to protect human rights.

Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Report on Torture

Analysis of a Forced Confession Video

Bahrain Watch
Government Inaction in Administering the BICI

Human Rights Watch
Detained Activists Allege Torture


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