Bahrain Appears before Committee Against Torture: HR Groups Say Itís Time to Address Systematic Torture in Bahrain
2017-04-21 - 11:33 p
Bahrain Mirror: Bahraini authorities will appear before UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) in Geneva on Friday (April 21, 2017), as part of the Committee's regular review of the Bahraini government's record under the Convention.
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published Bahrain's periodic report on the implementation of the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as well as other reports on torture released by international and Bahrain human rights organizations.
A number of human rights groups sent an open letter to CAT, urging to reiterate Bahrain's obligations under the Convention Against Torture. In the open letter, the groups called on CAT to give immediate attention to a number of human rights issues in Bahrain: the systematic use of torture against political detainees; the use of torture to obtain false confessions; reliance upon evidence obtained through torture to achieve convictions, including death sentences; the refusal to investigate allegations of torture in detention facilities; the deteriorating conditions of detention for activists and Human Rights Defenders; and the government's continued refusal to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) and allow the UN Special Rapporteur on torture to visit the country.
The HR organizations noted that the Bahraini authorities will appear before the Committee in Geneva, as part of the Committee's regular review of the Bahraini government's record under the Convention. Bahrain's Deputy Foreign Minister Abdullah Faisal Al-Dossari confirmed Bahrain's participation in the meetings of the Committee Against Torture's 60th session in Geneva between April 18 and May 12, 2017, adding that during those meetings, the second and third national periodic reports will be discussed on Friday (April 21, 2017) over the implementation of the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The letter further read that Bahrain's government has failed over the years to implement most of the CAT's recommendations, especially those related to its systematic failure to hold torturers accountable, particularly members of the security forces, stressing that "by specifically pushing the Bahraini delegation to acknowledge the systematic use of torture, you would be making a valuable contribution toward genuine accountability for torture victims in Bahrain."
The groups also highlighted that torture is a constant presence in Bahrain's judicial system, used systematically to coerce confessions during pre-trial interrogations and threaten and punish detainees whilst they are imprisoned in detention facilities.
"Bahraini human rights institutions purportedly tasked with carrying out independent and Istanbul Protocol-compliant investigations of torture complaints have instead done the opposite, acting to cover up torture allegations and refusing to investigate them," the organizations added.
Concluding their letter, the human rights groups asked CAT to urge the Bahraini government to take immediate action to halt the inhumane treatment and harassment of detained human rights defenders and activists like Abdulhadi Al -Khawaja and Nabeel Rajab; provide information about the treatment of Mr Al-Khawaja and Mr Rajab; immediately stay all death sentences in cases where the accused alleges he was tortured into providing a false confession, pending full investigation by an independent body; and establish new, demonstrably independent accountability mechanisms empowered to conduct investigations into allegations of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees and prisoners, with the recognition that future international support will be linked to Bahrain's ratification of OPCAT and agreement to a visit from the UN Special Rapporteur on torture.
The signatories include Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR), International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Organisation Mondiale contre la Torture (OMCT) and Reprieve.
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