Bahrain Mirror: The "Zero Distance" episode, aired by Al-Jazeera Channel, on Sunday (September 26, 2021) revealed documents and data on multiple aspects of serious violations against Bahraini children, who are being held in Dry Dock Prison over various charges, such as inciting the overthrow of the regime and terrorism.
Abdullah Rashid was one among many cases of Bahrain's children who are being subjected to the most severe physical and psychological torture, treated as adults and included in the arbitrary arrests, torture and medical negligence in prisons and detention facilities, although the country's laws provide for their protection.
Documents and testimonies from the "Zero Distance" episode revealed within its investigations the record of Rashid, who hails from a village in the central north of Bahrain, after he refused an officer's request to spy on protesters in exchange for his brother's release.
A human rights source told the program's team that the child was threatened by the security authorities in case he refuses to cooperate with them. The source added that the child was then arrested and held in the Dry Dock Prison, specialized for children under 18 years.
On July 28, 2020, the Fourth High Criminal Law sentenced Rashid along with others to 3 years in jail over charge of joining a terrorist group, based on the police and Public Prosecution investigations, although he was previously sentenced to one year in prison over charge of attacking a public officer in Dry Dock Prison.
Children Arrested and Tortured
In the context of violations practiced against children in Bahrain, the authorities arrested in February 2021- specifically on the 10th anniversary of the 2011 protests- 13 children and detained them after being charged with planting fake bombs, vandalism and cutting off roads.
Meanwhile, the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society confirms that it documented the arrest of more than 1,700 children between 2011 and 2021, including Mahdi Farhan, who took refuge in France in 2016 after varying periods of detention, the first of which was at the age of 13.
Mahdi Farhan, a former detainee in Dry Dock Prison, told the "Zero Distance" program how he was arrested and imprisoned with other children under the age of 15. He says that once they arrived at the police station, they were put under the sun heat for hours, beaten, tortured and forced during the investigation to sign papers confessing that they have committed acts they haven't made in reality.
Adults Laws Applied to Children
Documents leaked to the "Zero Distance" team from Bahraini public prosecution's investigations confirm that suspected children suddenly confessed to arson and riot charges after the same papers showed that they had denied committing such acts, confirming that they had been threatened.
Public prosecution documents also confirm that investigations of suspected children are conducted without the presence of lawyers, as noted by Amnesty International's Devin Kenney, who revealed that children are subject to the set of laws to which adults are subjected. He spoke about the case of a child who had been questioned and interrogated without the presence of his parents or lawyer.
Rashid's mother complained in a recording that she had been prevented from visiting her son in prison.
Salam for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain asserts that the Bahraini public prosecution's office deals aggressively with children, and brings charges against them during investigations that are disproportionate to their ages, such as inciting the overthrow of the regime and terrorism.
Public Prosecution's investigators also rely on information from so-called confidential sources to bring the accused children to trial, as happened with child Abdullah Rashid, who was imprisoned on charges of joining a terrorist group, although there is sufficient evidence that the charge came after he refused to cooperate with the security services.
The paradox is that violations of children's rights occur even though in February 2021 the King of Bahrain approved a law on Corrective Justice Law for Children and their Protection from Ill-Treatment, which provided for the establishment of courts and detention centers specialized for children.
According to data collected by the "Zero Distance" team from case files and reports of local and international human rights organizations between February 2011 and August 2021, at least 607 children were subjected to various types of violence, 259 of who were tortured. Besides, 124 were medically neglected in prisons and police stations. 116 cases of enforced disappearances were recorded. The other cases were divided between arbitrary legal proceedings, violence during detention, sexual violence, torture outside prison and denial of education.
Other data also showed that 124 children got ill either in prison or were arrested despite their illness and need for health care.
Analysis of the data also revealed that the places where children were most abused are Jaw Central Prison, and then the newly established Dry Dock Prison for minors.
Amnesty International's representative confirms that the Bahraini authorities have prevented them from entering Bahrain for field work since 2015.
Sources told Al-Jazeera team that there were 10 children in Jaw Prison, which is an adult's prison, while more than 140 children are held in two wards in the Dry Dock Prison.
After repeated attempts, Al-Jazeera team received a response from the official authorities in the Dry Dock Prison, and the speaker denied the presence of children under the age of 18, stressing that "we do not have children in the Dry Dock Prison". However, child hadi Abdulimam, who went through the prison detention experience, confirmed the existence of a ward for children between 15 and 18 years, and another one for solitary confinement.
The "Zero Distance" program also obtained an audio recording from Sadik Jaafar, a former detainee in the Dry Dock prison, minor section, during which he confirmed that he had spent four years in prison and is now in the security isolation building where the treatment is very bad.