Human Rights Watch: allegations of torture expose Bahrain’s sham reforms

Today Human Rights Watch (HRW) released its World Report, an annual review of human rights around the globe. In it, HRW alleges that “credible and consistent allegations of torture and mistreatment of detainees in Bahrain during 2015 undermined claims of reform.” It describes a “range of torture methods, including electric shock, prolonged suspension in painful positions, severe beatings, threats to rape and kill, forced standing, exposure to extreme cold, and sexual abuse.” However, the Bahraini government, supported by the U.S. and the U.K, has insisted that the new institutions it established have “effectively protected detainees from abuse during interrogation.”

The annual World Report addresses the same issues raised back in 2011 by the Bahrain Commission of Inquiry (BICI). The BICI itself noted a “systematic practice of physical and psychological mistreatment.” Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) also examined Bahrain’s commitment to the BICI in a 2015 report entitled “Shattering the Façade.” ADHRB found that the BICI’s recommendations on torture were either not implemented, or only partially implemented. While Bahrain did indeed set up a number of institutions and bodies to investigate claims of torture and hold security officials accountable for engaging in torture, these bodies did not function independently of the government. Further, the bodies did not have the necessary jurisdiction and mandate to act upon its own recommendations. Therefore, HRW’s report comes as no surprise. Despite the government’s overtures towards preventing torture and the mistreatment of detainees, the culture of impunity among officials and member of security forces remains.


Tyler Pry is an Advocacy Intern at Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain

Photo courtesy of RT.