gency) - It has recently been reported that a number of detained children in Ward ‘6’ in the Dry Dock Prison – specified for the detained children aged between 15 and 18 years old – were subjected to beating by the police and guards, as well as abusing and cursing them, their cursing was not devoid of sectarian language.
Details of the information received by the BCHR were that on 5 January 2014, a group of police forces and guards stormed Ward ‘6’ specified for children aged between 15 and 18 years old. The detainees were taken aback by the forces who hastily beat them with rods and threw them on the ground for more than half an hour, and then shaved the heads of a group of them in a enforced and insulting manner, and they used phrases and terms that hold sectarian connotations. Among the children known to have been subjected to these inhumane practices are: Ebrahim Al-Shahabi and Ameer Nader Al-Mukhtar from Muharraq Island, and the detainee Ammar Dhaif from the village of Qurayah.
This method of conduct is a violation of Article 31 of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which states, ‘Corporal punishment, punishment by placing in a dark cell, and all cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments shall be completely prohibited as punishments for disciplinary offences’.
The BCHR had documented several cases of organized assault on detainees in Jaw Prison and the Dry Dock Prison. Reports received from the Dry Dock Prison confirm that the prison guards and security forces used teargas and stun grenades inside the closed prison cells last August, which resulted in the injury of at least 40 prisoners. Mrs Sumaya Rajab, wife of the BCHR president Nabeel Rajab who is imprisoned for exercising his right to express his opinion, stated that the latter eye witnessed last May the torture of at least 8 detainees, among them children, in Jaw Prison in a brutal manner where blood was streaming down their bodies; Mr Nabeel could not help but shout in their face and ask them to stop these practices, and then he asked to see the prison warden, however they took him somewhere else to conceal their crime.
While the Ministry of Interior did not make any statement to counter to the information released by the activists and families of detainees at that time, it started denying its abuse of inmates, claiming its commitment to the highest standards of human rights in a response to the statement made by the human rights activists Hussein Parweez, in which he confirmed documenting more than 800 cases of violations during the period of his arrest at the Dry Dock Prison. The Assistant Undersecretary for Legal Affairs claimed that the Ministry of Interior looks into all the complaints against its members and takes the necessary measures against their transgressions, and asked all those filing complaints to head to the General Secretariat of Complaints or police stations to report any violation they face, and he added that the detainees can state any torture or abuse they have faced to the Public Prosecution. While the BCHR finds that these institutions are in fact, as seen in various cases, only tools used to punish activists and prisoners of conscience; previous reports proved the involvement of the Public Prosecution in the incidents of torture and forcing detainees to falsely confess to the charges against them.
This assault comes a few days after Amnesty International released a report in which it proved that detaining, mistreating and torturing children is a usual matter in Bahrain. Amnesty’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Said Boumedouha, commented, ‘By rounding up suspected under-age offenders and locking them up, Bahrain’s authorities are displaying an appalling disregard for its international human rights obligations’. Amnesty International mentioned in its report that at least 110 children, aged between 16 and 18 years old, are detained pending investigation or trial at the Dry Dock Prison, which is an adult facility in Muharraq Island.
The BCHR believes that the vengeful practices against the political detainees, especially the activists and prisoners of conscience are a means of punishing them for their peaceful activity and demand for democratization and self-determination guaranteed by international covenants and conventions. The BCHR also finds that the continued violations at the Dry Dock Prison and Jaw Prison is a natural result of the impunity policy which ensured the officials the lack of accountability and liability for any violation they practice against the detainees. The BCHR holds Bahrain’s ruler Hamad Al-Khalifa this responsibility, however, it does not disregard the direct responsibility of the General Inspector at the Ministry of Interior Brigadier Ebrahim Habib Al-Ghaith, and the Director of the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Rashid Al-Hussaini, which the BCHR had released information about their direct involvement in cases of torture and violations against prisoners, among its campaign ‘Wanted for Justice’.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights emphasizes the significance of the international conventions related to protection of persons who are subjected to detention or imprisonment, especially that, ‘All persons under any form of detention or imprisonment shall be treated in a humane manner and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person’; hence it urges the United States, United Kingdom, United Nations and all the authority’s close allies and relevant international institutes to put pressure on the government of Bahrain to guarantee the rights of detainees and prisoners, and specially children, and includes:
Regular and surprise inspections of prisons and detention centers by representatives of relevant international organizations in addition to local independent organizations, and authorities that have qualified, independent and credible inspectors. Also, to reform the conditions of prisons and detention centers, and prosecute the ones involved in any violation and penalize or depose the implicated administrative authorities.
It also calls on the authority in Bahrain to:
- Immediately allow local and international independent human rights organizations and the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit the permanent and temporary detention centers, and to provide the circumstances for it to carry its role objectively and independently;
- Immediately investigate all the allegations of beating and abuse of children, and to bring forth all who are proven to be guilty to public and transparent trials;
- Adhere to the international standards of treating prisoners, and primarily the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners adopted by the Un in December 1990, as well as the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners recommended for adoption by the United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held at Geneva in 1955, and approved by the Economic and Social Council in July;
- Sign and endorse the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, and which guarantees the presence of a permanent committee to visit prisons, and that these visits could be surprise visits; and this is a practical step that can prove Bahrain’s sincerity in improving the conditions of prisons.
To conclude, it should be noted that the recommendations of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights in regards to the conditions of prisoners in Bahrain does not in any way mean marginalizing or disregarding the basic recommendation and which is immediately and unconditionally releasing all political prisoners.