26 June 2014 – Washington, D.C. – Eighteen years ago, the United Nations General Assembly dedicated June 26 to be the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. As the international community pauses to reflect on the inhumane treatment victims of torture face, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) commits its full support to those victims and to ending impunity for those who participate in torture. ADHRB expresses its grave concern over the ongoing use of torture by the Government of Bahrain and calls for all allegations of torture to be fully and expeditiously investigated.
الرجاء الضغط هنا لقراءة هذه الرسالة باللغة العربي
Following the outbreak of peaceful protests in Bahrain in 2011, thousands of protesters were detained by security forces for exercising their free speech rights. During their detention, many of those individuals were tortured, often in an attempt to obtain a forced confession. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, a body commissioned by the king of Bahrain to recommend reforms in response to the 2011 uprising, investigated nearly 600 allegations of torture and confirmed several deaths resulting from torture. Notable cases from 2011 include the torture of medical professionals who treated injured protestors, such as Dr. Rula al-Saffar and Dr. Fatima Haji. Leading political figures and human rights defenders like Sheikh Mohammad Habib Almuqdad, Hassan Mushaima, and Abdulhadi Alkhawaja have also been tortured in an attempt to discourage the Bahraini people from exercising their right to association and assembly.
“Torture in any form must be unequivocally repudiated and efforts must be made to end the culture of impunity for those who commit acts of torture in Bahrain,” said ADHRB Director Husain Abdulla. “Using torture to silence activists and journalists is a serious human rights violation on its own, made worse by the continued trend of impunity for those who tortured Bahraini citizens. Those involved need to be punished to the full extent of the law, and the victims of such heinous crimes must be compensated for the abuse they endured.”
Despite promises by the Government of Bahrain to investigate claims of torture and end impunity, such abuses continue to this day. The Bahraini justice system is inherently flawed and has consistently given torture offenders a free pass. One of the most concerning trends is the reduction in sentences or pardoning completely of security forces convicted of torturing prisoners.
“The continued lack of accountability in Bahrain must be addressed by the international community” said Abdulla. “The Government of Bahrain must immediately end the practice of torture and other ill-treatment and take accusations of torture by security forces seriously. Cases of torture like that of Rula al-Saffar and Abdulhadi Alkhawaja show the fundamentally insincere nature of reform in the country. The troubling developments of reduced sentences for those who commit acts of torture must be reversed, and the Government of Bahrain must show a commitment to fully investigating claims of torture and charging those responsible to the full extent of the law.”