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Bahrain: Torture, Physical Coercion and Reprisals in Bahrain Belie Commitment to Reform, says new report

2017-03-20

Impunity for torture and other abuses against human rights defenders continues in Bahrain, according to a new report by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) prepared with the assistance of Dorsey & Whitney LLP, an international law firm. The report is being submitted to the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) and will be launched in Geneva during the 34th UN Human Rights Council.

The report, “Torture, Physical Coercion and Reprisals in Bahrain Belie Commitment to Reform”, focuses on the experiences of nine human rights defenders from 2014 through 2017, to evaluate progress made by the government of Bahrain since 2014 in light of recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report. 

“We believe these individuals are a good sample that is representative of a larger pattern of torture, custodial mistreatment, suppression of free expression, denial of due process rights, targeting of human rights defenders and reporters, and impunity for perpetrators of human rights violations,” says one of the report’s authors, Charles Shotwell of Dorsey & Whitney. 

This report finds that Bahraini officials continue to violate the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the Arab Charter on Human Rights by the systematic use of torture, including beating, slapping, punching, and kicking detainees, and beating them with implements; using electro-shock devices against detainees;  suspending detainees in painful positions;  beating detainees’ feet with rubber hoses and/or batons; forcing detainees to stand for prolonged periods of time; threatening detainees with death and rape, sleep deprivation, and water boarding.

Among the recommendations, GCHR calls upon the government of the Kingdom of Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release human rights defenders, including Nabeel Rajab, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace, and Naji Fateel; drop all charges against them; and remove all travel bans and restrictions against them. GCHR calls for the appointment of a new Special Commission of independent and impartial investigators for the purpose of uncovering the truth about allegations of government misconduct and to foster national reconciliation. 

Please join GCHR and partners the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, and Bahrain Nursing Society (BNS) to launch the report at the UNHRC at 15:00-16:30pm on 22 March 2017 in room XXI, Palais des Nations, Geneva. Speakers are human rights lawyer Charles Shotwell, torture survivor and Secretary General of the BNS Ebrahim Al-Demestani, BCHR Head of International Relations Nedal Al-Salman, and Secretary General of OMCT Gerald Staberock. The moderator is GCHR Executive Director Khalid Ibrahim.

Click here to download a copy of the report in English. It is also available in Arabic.