HRW says tor­ture still hap­pen­ing in Bahrain

Egypt kills five Su­danese mi­grants on Is­rael border

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

NI­COSIA: Bahraini se­cu­rity forces are tor­tur­ing de­tainees dur­ing in­ter­ro­ga­tion as reg­u­la­tory bod­ies set up af­ter the 2011 up­ris­ing “lack in­de­pen­dence” and of­fi­cials are not held ac­count­able, Hu­man Rights Watch said yes­ter­day. Sunni-ruled Bahrain, a key ally of the West, has been rocked by a Shi­ite-led up­ris­ing since Feb 2011. Scores of op­po­nents have been de­tained, with many fac­ing trial, while oth­ers con­victed of in­volve­ment in violence have been handed heavy sen­tences, in­clud­ing loss of cit­i­zen­ship and life in prison.

In its 84-page re­port, HRW said it in­ter­viewed 10 de­tainees “who said they en­dured co­er­cive in­ter­ro­ga­tions” by au­thor­i­ties. The New York-based group cited four other in­mates of Jaw prison “who said au­thor­i­ties had tor­tured them in March 2015”, four years since re­forms that were an­nounced af­ter the ini­tial re­volt was crushed. Re­ported phys­i­cal as­saults in­clude “be­ing sub­jected to elec­tric shocks; sus­pen­sion in painful po­si­tions, in­clud­ing by their wrists while hand­cuffed; forced stand­ing; ex­treme cold; and sex­ual abuse,” HRW said.

In one case, a de­tainee in the re­port de­scribed an of­fi­cer shov­ing some­thing un­der his nose and be­ing told it was “the blood of peo­ple who don’t co­op­er­ate”. One said of­fi­cers beat his gen­i­tals with a hose and pen­e­trated him with their fin­gers. An­other told HRW that of­fi­cers threat­ened to rape his wife. The Bahrain In­de­pen­dent Com­mis­sion of In­quiry (BICI), set up by King Ha­mad to probe al­le­ga­tions of gov­ern­ment wrong­do­ing, said in a Nov 2011 re­port that po­lice had used “ex­ces­sive force” and tor­tured de­tainees in that year’s crack­down on op­po­nents. More than four years later, the sit­u­a­tion re­mains un­changed de­spite the gov­ern­ment es­tab­lish­ing three bod­ies to end tor­ture in in­ter­ro­ga­tion and de­ten­tion fa­cil­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to HRW.

“Bahrain can’t claim any progress on tor­ture while its anti-tor­ture in­sti­tu­tions lack in­de­pen­dence and trans­parency and un­til it takes some se­ri­ous steps to ad­dress the com­plete lack of ac­count­abil­ity for the abuse of de­tainees,” said HRW’s deputy Mid­dle East and North Africa di­rec­tor Joe Stork. “The CAIRO: Egyp­tian border forces shot dead five Su­danese mi­grants try­ing to cross from Egypt’s tur­bu­lent North Si­nai re­gion into Is­rael yes­ter­day, the mil­i­tary said in a state­ment. “Law en­force­ment tasked with pro­tect­ing the border spot­ted at dawn to­day a group of Africans try­ing to sneak through the in­ter­na­tional border in co­op­er­a­tion with crim­i­nal el­e­ments in­volved in il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion,” the mil­i­tary said. “The force fired sev­eral warn­ing shots and moved to ar­rest those tres­passers who shot at the se­cu­rity force. The force en­gaged them, killing five, in­jur­ing six and ar­rest­ing five more. All of them were Su­danese.”

North Si­nai, which is bor­dered to the east by Is­rael and the Gaza Strip, is the epi­cen­tre of an Is­lamist mil­i­tant in­sur­gency. Mil­i­tants claims of Bahrain and its al­lies that au­thor­i­ties have ended tor­ture in de­ten­tion are sim­ply not cred­i­ble. All the avail­able ev­i­dence sup­ports the con­clu­sion that th­ese new in­sti­tu­tions have not ef­fec­tively tack­led what the BICI re­port de­scribed as a ‘cul­ture of im­punity’ among se­cu­rity forces,” said Stork.

Th­ese in­sti­tu­tions, con­trolled by the in­te­rior min­istry and pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor, pro­vide “lit­tle” in­for­ma­tion on “com­plaints, in­ves­ti­ga­tions and pros­e­cu­tions”, the watch­dog said. The tiny but strate­gic king­dom’s au­thor­i­ties should en­sure that th­ese bod­ies are neu­tral and form a civil­ian com­mit­tee of in­de­pen­dent ex­perts to guar­an­tee this, said HRW. It urged Bahrain to “is­sue an im­me­di­ate and open in­vi­ta­tion to the UN spe­cial rap­por­teur on tor­ture to con­duct a coun­try visit and al­low un­fet­tered ac­cess to de­tainees and all places of de­ten­tion”.

Po­lice ‘Sus­pended’

On Fri­day, Bahraini au­thor­i­ties an­nounced that an in­ves­ti­ga­tion was un­der­way into de­tainees’ com­plaints of ill-treat­ment by po­lice guards. In­te­rior min­istry un­der­sec­re­tary, Ma­jor Gen­eral Khalid Salem Al-Absi, said in a state­ment on the of­fi­cial BNA news agency that “ini­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tions were con­ducted and a num­ber of po­lice­men named in the com­plaints were iden­ti­fied, sus­pended and the case was re­ferred to the pub­lic pros­e­cu­tion.” He in­sisted that if proven, the abuses “in­volve in­di­vid­ual cases of mis­con­duct that go against the prin­ci­ples and val­ues of the in­te­rior min­istry.”

In May, a Bahraini court jailed six po­lice of­fi­cers for up to five years af­ter con­vict­ing them of tor­tur­ing in­mates, one of whom died. In 2013, an ap­peals court cut from seven years to three the jail terms of two po­lice­men con­victed of tor­tur­ing a Shi­ite de­tainee to death. That same year, the jail term of a po­lice­man con­victed of shoot­ing dead a pro­tester in 2011 was also re­duced from seven years to three. Bahrain is home to the US Fifth Fleet and work be­gan in the king­dom on Oc­to­ber 31 to con­struct Bri­tain’s first per­ma­nent mil­i­tary base in the Mid­dle East since 1971. — AFP there have killed hun­dreds of sol­diers and po­lice. On Nov 15, Egyp­tian po­lice found the bod­ies of 15 African mi­grants who ap­peared to have been shot dead in the same re­gion, se­cu­rity sources said at the time. They said an­other eight mi­grants had been wounded in that in­ci­dent and that it was not clear who had at­tacked the mi­grants or which coun­tries they had orig­i­nated from. Su­dan’s for­eign min­is­ter said the mi­grants from the Nov 15 in­ci­dent were also Su­danese and that 16, not 15, had been killed. He said the Egyp­tian po­lice had killed them. “We can con­firm (that) Egyp­tian po­lice killed 16 Su­danese peo­ple as they tried to go to Is­rael and we will (fol­low up with) Egyp­tian au­thor­i­ties in­ves­ti­gat­ing this case,” the min­is­ter, Ibrahim Ghan­dour, told Su­dan’s par­lia­ment yes­ter­day. —Reuters

MAN­AMA: In this Jan 18, 2012 file photo, Has­san Al-Mar­zooq, deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary of the op­po­si­tion Na­tional Demo­cratic As­sem­blage so­ci­ety, runs across a street as riot po­lice move in to dis­perse anti-gov­ern­ment pro­test­ers. —AP

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