The Guardian: Bahraini Ombudsman Funded by British Taxpayers Fails to Fulfill Duties

2016-02-12 - 1:07 ص

Bahrain Mirror: The UK-based Guardian newspaper stated that the "British taxpayers are paying millions to fund a police watchdog in Bahrain that has failed to investigate torture claims in the case of a man who has been sentenced to death."

The british daily explained that "despite a formal complaint from the family of Mohammed Ramadan, a 32-year-old airport guard, the ombudsman has failed to investigate."

The Guardian quoted Mohammed Ramadan as saying that he was subjected to torture and added that Bahraini officials said: "They had no record of a complaint to the ombudsman and that any claims of ill-treatment and torture to extract a confession ... [are] now being falsely claimed by the defendant, his family and legal representative".

"Bahrain has been unwavering in its denial of Ramadan's allegations. In August 2014, when five UN human rights experts raised the issue of Ramadan's alleged ill-treatment, they were told by Bahrain that the claims contained ‘not a shred of truth'. Bahrain has so far refused to allow the UN special rapporteur on torture to visit the country," it further stated.

An adviser to the Bahraini government, who did not want to be named, confirmed that the "ombudsman's office had investigated complaints related to the case on at least two occasions" but said "records available indicate that the complaints were unrelated to any accusations of torture or abuse of any nature". She also said: "The special investigation unit set up to investigate allegations of torture or any misconduct committed by the security forces has to date received no formal complaints related to this particular case".

At the same time, the Guardian highlighted that "Ramadan's wife, Zaynab Ebrahim, has called on UK ministers to use their influence to halt his execution and demand a retrial." She said: "His hands were cuffed from behind and they beat him severely with the use of wires and punches and kicking in a random and sustained manner to coerce his confession."

"[The jailers] also detained him in a very cold room and they refused to let him sit, and whenever he tried to sit he was beaten and humiliated. When he told them he cannot stand for long due to a back problem, they increased the pressure on him [to stand]," she added.

"The ombudsman receives the funds as part of a package to improve the criminal justice system in the Gulf state, which is a key ally of the UK." The Guardian added. Tobias Ellwood, the junior Foreign Office minister, told MPs last month: "We encourage all those with concerns [in Bahrain] about their treatment in detention to report these directly to the ombudsman". However, "the claims of torture appear to have been ignored by the Bahraini authorities."

Labour's justice spokesman, Andy Slaughter, whose campaigns forced the government into a U-turn over the UK funding of Saudi prison reforms, said: "Once again we see the British government giving aid and comfort to a regime with an appalling human rights record. The Bahraini authorities stand accused of abuse of legal process, including forced confessions and use of torture in the case of Mohammed Ramadan and many others."

For his part, Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, said the Gulf state had been caught out using "flawed institutions, paid for by the British taxpayer, to try to block a European parliament resolution condemning torture and which calls for the death sentence of a torture victim to be commuted. Britain has praised the ombudsman often in the past, and it will be a test of its human rights values if it continues to do so following the ombudsman's defence of Mohammed Ramadan's unjust sentence."

A spokesman for the UK Foreign Office; however, said: "The UK opposes the death penalty in all circumstances. We are concerned by any death sentences and will continue to express our opposition publicly and privately. Our support to Bahrain's reform programme is the most constructive way to achieve change."

Last month Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated that "credible allegations of torture and mistreatment of detainees in Bahrain undermined claims that its criminal justice system was improving." The Guardian stressed that HRW said "the new institutions were just "sham reforms" and questioned how the Bahraini government and the UK could claim they were "effectively protecting detainees from abuse during interrogation".

Last week the European parliament passed a resolution calling on the Bahraini ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, to grant a royal pardon for Ramadan. Nasser Al-Qaseer, a Shia Bahraini MP, had told the Guardian regarding the European parliament resolution that "this is an interference in an independent judicial body's decision and a blatant meddling in the domestic affairs of a sovereign and independent country."

Arabic Issue


التعليقات المنشورة لا تعبر بالضرورة عن رأي الموقع

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