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Despite assertions to the contrary, torture continues in Bahrain, and UN is denied access

United Nations Human Rights Council logo.

United Nations Human Rights Council logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As reported by Human Rights First’s Human Rights Defender Program director Brian Dooley in his article for Foreign Policy on March 22, 2012, torture by security and police forces continues to take place in Bahrain, despite the government’s assertions that real progress has been made.

The (dozen teens) said they had been severely beaten by the police in the previous two days. “They beat us until they got tired, then other policemen would take over and beat us more,” said one boy….

…Several showed me severe bruises on their backs and arms, marks they said were from the beatings.”

Bahrain Denies UN Access to Investigate

Tellingly, Bahrain formally requested a delay of the official visit of Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, who was to visit Bahrain in early March 2012 to investigate. Mr. Mendez has had an illustrious career in international law, including a current position teaching American University’s College of Law and 15 years of work with the humanitarian group, Human Rights Watch. This action effectively prevented Mr. Mendez from entering the country and making his independent investigation on behalf of the United Nations.

According to a UN spokesperson, Bahrain’s excuse was that they were “still undergoing major reforms and wants some important steps, critical to the special rapporteur’s mandate, to be in place before he visits so he can assess the progress that Bahrain has made to date,” as reported by Andrew Hammond, senior correspondent for Reuters, on March 1, 2012.

Bahrain has rescheduled his visit for July 2012.

Bahrain Fails to Prosecute Those Guilty of Torture

Meanwhile, Alex Delmar-Morgan (a Wall Street Journal reporter who was infamously arrested by Bahraini security forces while he was covering the protests in Bahrain in March 2011), reported on March 11, 2012 in the Wall Street Journal that Cherif Bassiouni, former United Nations human rights lawyer and head of the royally-appointed Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, stated that the Bahrain regime had failed to act on his recommendations that members of the government involved in systematic torture and homicides be brought to justice and called for accountability.

Please, Take Action

The use of torture by police and security forces in Bahrain has been, and continues to be, extensive, egregious, and systematic, and apparently, sanctioned by the government. If you are inclined, please write to Mr. Mendez at this address, or take other action as you see fit:

Mr. Juan Mendez
Special Rapporteur on Torture
c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

Email: sr-torture@ohchr.org

Bahrain will prosecute medics who treated protesters; US and human rights organizations object

Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State f...

Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy and Human Rights, speaking at a press conference. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Andrew Hammond of Reuters reported on March 20 that Bahrain will prosecute 2o medics who treated wounded protesters, despite international protests and allegations of torture.

On February 9, 2012, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner said that Bahrain should seek “alternatives to criminal prosecution” in the case.

“However, more needs to be done in several key areas. First, there are hundreds of pending criminal cases stemming from the events of February and March, including a substantial number where individuals remain in detention. The BICI report recommends that the government drop charges against all persons accused of offenses involving political expression. The government should fully comply with this recommendation. Also in this area, the government continues to prosecute 20 medical professionals. Though we are not privy to all the evidence in this or other cases, we suggested that alternatives to criminal prosecution be considered in the cases of the medics.”

Read the account of their trial in this report from Brian Dooley of Human Rights First.

Do you think this is wrong?

Take action by signing the petition with Human Rights First.

NGOs refuse too-short visits in Bahrain; push for more time

Coat of arms of Bahrain.

Coat of arms of Bahrain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Representatives from Amnesty International, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, and Physicians for Human Rights will not be visiting Bahrain, as planned, a decision they made because of constrictions placed on how long they may stay.

Here is the text of their letter, which explains their objections:

2 March 2012

Her Excellency Fatima al-Balooshi
Minister of Human Rights and Social Development

Your Excellency,

We, the undersigned human rights organizations, would like to thank you for your 28 February 2012 letters and your offer of assistance with arranging our upcoming visits to the Kingdom of Bahrain.

At the same time, we must object to the conditions placed on our visits, in particular the extremely short timeframe. The five-business-day limit appears to be arbitrary and will greatly impede our ability to monitor and research human rights developments.

In addition, while we greatly appreciate your willingness to arrange meetings for our organizations with relevant government officials, it is critical for us to know which meetings you are suggesting, with whom and at what time, as we need to be able to schedule a variety of additional meetings with community leaders, organizations, and other individuals who may have
pertinent information about recent events in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

We consider the limit imposed on the duration of our stay in Bahrain to contradict the oral commitments you and other officials made in meetings with our representatives, and to the United Nations, regarding access for international human rights organizations. In addition, informing us of these constraints so close to our planned departure dates calls further into
question the King’s commitment to interact with us on a constructive basis.

We therefore respectfully request that you reconsider these limitations and respond positively to our requests to visit for more than five days.

We thank you again for your invitation and look forward to your response to this request.

Sincerely,

Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui
Deputy Director,
MENA
Amnesty International

Brian Dooley
Director, Human Rights Defenders
Human Rights First

Sara Leah Whitson
Director, MENA
Human Rights Watch

Richard Sollom
Deputy Director
Physicians for Human Rights

cc: Khalifa Al Khalifa Director, Human Rights Organizations