Find our previous statement on the allegation letter despatched to Bahrain on Human Rights Violations in the Mass Trial of the Zulfiqar Brigades here.
On 5 November 2018, 5 UN specialists sent an allegation letter to the Kingdom of Bahrain to handle the human rights violations in connection to the mass trial of the “Zulfiqar Brigades.” In the UN specialists’ letter, the Vice-Chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and legal professionals, the Particular Rapporteur on freedom of faith or belief, the Particular Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and elementary freedoms while countering terrorism, and the Particular Rapporteur on torture and different cruel, inhuman or degrading remedy or punishment had expressed their considerations over the systematic violations of human rights by the Legal Investigations Directorate (CID) of the Ministry of Inside (MOI). They explicitly famous the position of “the ‘riot police,’ ‘commandos’ (which typically refers to the Special Security Force Command), and the National Security Agency (NSA)” throughout the detention and subsequent mass trial of 138 defendants in Might 2018 for allegedly belong to a terrorist organization. The letter additionally requested an evidence from Bahraini authorities relating to the arbitrary detention, pressured disappearance, unfair trial, denial of spiritual freedom rights, torture during interrogation, restrictions on entry to medical care, legal counsel and family visits, and conviction based mostly on pressured confession used towards at the very least 20 of the 138 defendants.
The Kingdom of Bahrain delivered two responses, on four and 16 January 2019, to handle the considerations raised by the UN Particular Procedures. Despite the wide selection of considerations raised by the UN specialists of their letter, both of the Bahraini government’s responses only addressed the accusations of denial of entry to medical care, restrictions on spiritual practices, and skill to talk with relations. In the first response, the Authorities said that the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) had carried out investigations on 13 complaints raised by members of the Zulfiqar Brigades, however most of them have been dissolved due to “the lack of evidence” and “no evidence of any injuries;” nevertheless, this leads to the conclusion that the SIU did not examine claims of psychological torture. Additional, the proven fact that a few of these injuries might have healed at the time of examination, does not necessarily mean that the sufferer was not tortured. The response also noted totally different businesses in Bahrain created to implement the country’s counter-terrorism regulation. Nevertheless, it uncared for utterly to handle the allegations of arbitrary arrests, disappearances, or unfair trial proceedings by Bahraini regulation enforcement. In the second response, Bahrain repeatedly emphasised that defendants acquired medical remedy and have been in a position to speak with their relations, in an obvious attempt to prove its compliance with human rights requirements in detention amenities. Nevertheless, the response additionally failed to handle the difficulty of arbitrary arrest and detention, pressured disappearance, denial of entry to legal counsel, and convictions based mostly on coerced confessions.
For example, the specialists raised considerations surrounding Hasan Radhi Hasan Abdulla AlBaqali’s pressured return to Bahrain from Oman and his torture in detention. They alleged that in February 2016, Bahraini safety forces injected AlBaqali “with a drug that left him unconscious and forcibly returned him to Bahrain aboard a private plane.” In detention, he acquired demise threats towards him and his wife. The government’s response concludes that no present accidents are aligned with AlBaqali’s grievance of torture and neglects all different accusations. The response additional noted that AlBaqali submitted a grievance to the SIU that on 14 November 2016 safety forces beat him to “obtain information” – or a pressured confession. Nevertheless, the forensic doctor “concluded that he was not suffering from any injuries consistent with his assertion and allegation” – regardless of the incontrovertible fact that AlBaqali required hospitalization following this beating. This sole discovering of a “lack of evidence” is inadequate to show that the torture didn’t occur, and the SIU should have used different means to examine the Public Safety Forces. The SIU, nevertheless, only questioned “members of the Public Security Forces about their interaction with the complainant,” and concluded that it’s lack of proof for prosecution instantly after they denied AlBaqali’s allegations. This specific case reveals the irresponsibility of the SIU and their constant sample of exempting alleged regulation enforcers.
In its first response, Bahrain lists legislation which provides them the legitimacy to criminalize the Zulfiqar Brigades, and supplies the codes and protocols in place to shield their civil rights. The actual concern raised by the UN specialists, that Bahraini authorities have violated worldwide laws by means of unwarranted arrests, coerced confession, torture and denied access to legal professionals, was, nevertheless, not addressed in any respect. As an example, Bahrain claims that “Article 61 of the Code of Criminal Procedure stipulates that no one may be arrested or detained other than by order of the legally competent authorities.” Nevertheless, the authorities fails to disclose whether these domestic provisions have been correctly enforced and followed in these individual instances. Additional, the instances in the allegation letter are evidence that not solely is Bahrain in violation of worldwide legal guidelines and obligations, but the safety forces and judicial authorities have also violated domestic Bahraini regulation of their remedy of these people. As Bahrain avoids addressing the human rights violations, it continues to gasoline the environment of impunity within regulation enforcement businesses.
In its second response, Bahrain claims that “the allegations of torture and ill treatment during investigations” are out of the jurisdiction of the MOI, and that these allegations “are subject to the authority of the Public Prosecution Service.” Nevertheless, since 2011, ADHRB has documented over 1,000 instances of extreme abuse and over three,000 particular human rights violations attributed to the MOI. In the course of our documentation, we’ve confirmed that the MOI isn’t only Bahrain’s chief regulation enforcement agency, however its most prolific legal company and the epicenter of the overwhelming majority of human rights violations in the country. The Ministry includes various totally different businesses and institutions, together with the Common Directorate of Felony Investigation and Forensic Sciences, which oversees the CID, from the place the majority of torture allegations emanate; and the Common Directorate of Reformation and Rehabilitation, which oversees Bahrain’s notorious Jau Jail where violence is used often towards prisoners. By means of mapping the position and duties of the MOI and its sub businesses, ADHRB has found that, contrary to Bahrain’s second response, the MOI is actively concerned in arbitrary arrests, systematic torture, and different human rights violations.
As well as, the Bahraini government refers to five investigatory businesses as those mandated to resolve grievances and human rights abuses. They’re the Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission (PDRC), the Workplace of the Ombudsman of the MOI, the Inner Audit and Investigations Division, the SIU, and the Unbiased Office of the Inspector Basic and the Workplace of Skilled Standards in the NSA. These businesses, nevertheless, are basically flawed. ADHRB discovered that the PDRC “fails to meet the guidelines for a National Preventative Mechanism as established by the Optional Protocol for the Convention against Torture (OP-CAT).” Most significantly, the PDRC isn’t unbiased of the Bahraini authorities and its officials incessantly come from public prosecution workplaces where they have been beforehand answerable for sentencing prisoners of conscience. Consequently, the PDRC isn’t in a position to adequately handle allegations of torture or maintain perpetrators accountable.
Similarly, the Workplace of the Ombudsman of the MOI just isn’t unbiased sufficient to adequately examine considerations about rights abuses as a result of it relies upon heavily on the Ministry for funding and authority and depends on the SIU for prosecution. The Ombudsman also has a history of sidestepping human rights points and neglecting severe violations. We further discovered that regardless of the variety of abuses committed by MOI forces, the MOI Ombudsman has referred only 5% of the instances for critical prosecutions. We’ve also found its annual reviews to persistently whitewash police abuses, serving to to foster an surroundings of impunity. Furthermore, the lack of independence restrains the Ombudsman’s freedom to conduct impartial investigations of the MOI, the very body that is answerable for the overwhelming majority of rights abuses in Bahrain.
As well as, fears about reprisals from MOI personnel additional forestall victims of human rights abuses from filing complaints. ADHRB has recorded eight particular instances during which would-be complainants have been coerced or threatened by Ombudsman officers into not submitting or following up on complaints. As an example, MOI Ombudsman officers would complete false questionnaires on behalf of these individuals, so as to have a paper path of the sufferer stating that their complaints have been resolved and their wants met, no matter whether that is truly the case. In some instances, this has also included threatening inmates until they signed a type refusing medical remedy. One officer even threatened to kill a complainant and his family if he didn’t to cease reporting his abuses.
The second response additionally mentions the SIU, which was based in 2012 as a subdivision of the Public Prosecution Office, and which “operates under the authority of the Attorney General, whose own impartiality and willingness to uphold international legal standards of justice remain in question.” The Bahrain Unbiased Fee of Inquiry (BICI) Comply with-up Unit additionally talked about that the SIU faces challenges throughout investigation. The BICI found that the SIU attempted to interview officers accused of rights abuses, however the officials refused to cooperate with the agency, thereby demonstrating an environment of impunity and the sense they do not need to reply for their crimes.
Lastly, the second response refers the victims and their households to the NSA’s Inspector Basic (IG) if they want to file complaints, as this workplace is ostensibly answerable for monitoring, receiving, and analyzing complaints and reviews concerning ill-treatment of persons by Company employees. Despite this mandate, nevertheless, the Workplace is structurally disinclined to significantly and effectively examine and report on allegations of rights abuses. As an example, the Head of the NSA suggests the appointment or dismissal of the NSA IG subject to approval by the Prime Minister. The NSA also has energy over the NSA IG’s finances. Moreover, until Might 2017, the NSA IG has not revealed any results of its investigations but, which makes it unimaginable to assess the effectiveness of its work.
Bahrain’s responses to the allegation letter despatched by UN specialists fail to tackle the arbitrary (typically warrantless) arrest, the unfair trial and different human rights violations along the means of convicting them. The Bahraini government has additional tried to avoid duty for abuses by deflecting considerations away from the MOI, and stating that victims ought to search help from businesses underneath the authority of the Public Prosecution, though reprisals and threats have deterred victims from submitting complaints. General, the Bahraini authorities has not addressed the considerations iterated by the Particular Procedures and their refusal to achieve this signifies their culpability in abuses towards the members of the so-called Zulfiqar Brigades and a scarcity of accountability for the authorities and its agents.
For a PDF version of the first response, please click on right here.
For a PDF version of the second response, please click on here.
Cindy Lu is an Advocacy Intern with ADHRB