UN Committee against Torture Condemns Regime’s Widespread Acts of Reprisal and Torture

2017-06-30 - 3:19 ص

Bahrain Mirror- Exclusive: The United Nations Committee against Torture (CAT) published in May its concluding observations on Bahrain. Its report found that torture remains "widespread" in Bahrain, where a "climate of impunity" protects the perpetrators. CAT urgently called for the release of Nabeel Rajab, indicating that numerous human rights activists and journalists, including Nabeel Rajab, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Naji Fateel, Abduljalil Al-Singace, Hussain Jawad and Abdulwahab Hussain, have been unlawfully deprived of their liberty and subjected to torture as a form of retribution for their work.

The report highlighted that children also suffer torture and mistreatment in Bahrain. Approximately 200 minors were incarcerated in 2015, half of whom were detained adult facilities. As a consequence, NGOs received complaints between January and June 2016 related to the torture or mistreatment of minors.

The committee stated that there is "widespread torture" in Bahrain's penal system. CAT has recorded "numerous and consistent allegations" of abuse and mistreatment throughout the judicial system.

Judges in Bahrain continue to admit forced confessions as evidence in legal cases. While evidence extracted under torture is often used in Bahraini law courts, physical evidence that a detainee has been tortured is routinely ignored by judges. The sentencing of Abbas Al-Samie, Sami Mushaima and Ali Al-Singace was predicated on evidence extracted under torture. They were executed on 15 January 2017.

CAT pointed out the Mohammad Ramadan and Hussein Mousa face death sentences based on their own forced confessions. Echoing BIRD's submission to the Committee ahead of its 60th session in May 2017, CAT urges that Ramadan and Mousa's allegations of torture should be investigated by an independent body, and they should be retried. In any case, their death sentences should be commuted and Bahrain should reinstate its de facto moratorium on the death penalty.

Below is the conclusions of CAT's final report about Bahrain.

Concluding Observations on the Second and Third Periodic Reports of Bahrain

Discrepancy between the legislative and institutional framework and its implementation in practice:

The State party should unambiguously proclaim at the highest level that torture will not be tolerated and take the necessary measures to narrow the gap by, inter alia, announcing and ensuring that investigations and prosecutions will be carried out promptly against perpetrators of torture and those with command responsibility in all cases and issue a warning that anyone committing acts of torture or otherwise complicit or acquiescent in torture will be held personally responsible before the law and will be subject to criminal prosecution and appropriate penalties

Allegations of Torture and Ill-Treatment and Related Impunity

The State party should:

(1) Take additional measures to effectively implement the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, in particular recommendation 1719 to investigate cases of alleged torture and ill-treatment;

(2) Strengthen measures to prevent acts of torture and ill-treatment in all places where persons are deprived of their liberty;

(3) Take vigorous measures to eliminate impunity for acts of torture by holding alleged perpetrators accountable for such acts;

(4) Establish a plan for the implementation of the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry

Military Courts and the National Security Agency

The Stat party should:

(1) Consider repealing the legislative provisions concerning the trial of civilians by military courts and repeal the recent amendments to the Military Justice Code;

(2) Implement recommendation 1720 of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry and make subject to review in ordinary courts all convictions and sentences rendered by the National Security Courts where fundamental principles of a fair trial, including prompt and full access to legal counsel and inadmissibility of coerced testimony, were not respected be subject to full review in the ordinary courts;

(3) Implement recommendation 1718 of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry and ensure that the National Security Agency is an intelligence gathering agency without law enforcement and arrest authorities

Resumption of the Application of the Death Penalty

The State party should:

(1) Consider the prompt re-establishment of a moratorium on the use of the death penalty;

(2) Consider, in this context, pardon, reprieve and commutation of sentences for death row inmates;

(3) Ensure that allegations by defendants that their confessions have been obtained under torture are properly investigated by competent bodies. No court rulings should be based on confessions obtained as a result of torture which contravene article 15 of the Convention against Torture and the Constitution and Penal Code of the State party;

(4) Introduce a mandatory system of review of cases of capital punishment, with suspensive effect following a death penalty sentence in the first instance;

(5) Bring to the attention of the judges that investigations and a new trial of Mr. Mohammad Ramadan and Mr. Hussain Ali Mousa could be envisaged if coerced confessions have been taken into account as evidence during their previous trial, guarantee them effective assistance by legal counsel at all stages of the new judicial proceedings and ensure strict confidentiality of all meetings with their lawyers.

Fundamental Legal Safeguards

The State party should take effective measures to guarantee that all detained persons are afforded in practice all the fundamental legal safeguards from the outset of their deprivation of liberty, in accordance with international standards, including to:

(1) Be informed about the charges against them, both orally and in writing, in a language that they understand, and to sign a paper confirming that they have understood the information provided to them;

(2) The right to request and receive a medical examination by a qualified medical doctor within 24 hours of their arrival in a place of detention, and to have access to an independent doctor upon their request;

(3) Have access to a lawyer or legal aid from the time of their apprehension and to be able to consult with him/her in private, throughout the proceedings against them, in accordance with article 20 of the Constitution;

(4) Notify a family member or any other person of their choice of their detention immediately after apprehension;

(5) Have their detention recorded in a central register immediately after arrest and that this register is accessible to their lawyers, family members or other persons concerned by the case;

(6) Be brought before a judge within 48 hours of their apprehension;

(7) Ensure that all interrogations of suspects and detainees in all places of deprivation of liberty take place exclusively in interrogation rooms equipped for that purpose so that videotapes can be made and reviewed to identify and investigate any torture and other breaches of national legislation; that tapes are made available to defendants and their lawyers; and that they may be used as evidence in court.

Forced confessions

The State party should implement relevant provisions of its Code of Criminal Procedure, including article 253, and ensure that evidence obtained through any form of coercion or torture is inadmissible in all judicial proceedings, in line with article 15 of the Convention.

It should enact legislation providing for inquiries on well-founded allegations of torture when they are brought to the attention of the judge by the defendant or their counsel. Judges should review cases of convictions based solely on confessions, since many may have been based on evidence obtained through torture 5 and ill-treatment and inform the Committee of the results of the review.

The State party should conduct prompt and impartial investigations into such cases, take appropriate remedial measures and provide information on whether any officials have been prosecuted and punished for extracting such confessions.

Duration of Pre-Trial Detention

The State party should:

(1) Ensure that persons who are arrested on criminal charges, including under the Act on the Protection of Society from Terrorist Acts, are brought before a judge within 48 hours;

(2) Amend legislation and take all necessary measures to shorten the duration of pre-trial detention, which should be used as an exception, as a measure of last resort and applied for limited periods of time;

(3) Ensure that pre-trial detention is regulated clearly and subject to judicial supervision at all times in order to guarantee fundamental legal safeguards;

(4) Consider replacing pre-trial detention for minor crimes with noncustodial measures, in accordance with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Non-custodial Measures (the Tokyo Rules); and

(5) Ensure that redress, including compensation, is provided to victims of unjustified prolonged pre-trial detention.


Solitary confinement

The State party should:

(1) Effectively implement current national legislation in order to ensure that solitary confinement remains an exceptional measure, imposed for as short a time as possible and is a measure of last resort, in line with international standards;

(2) Ensure that solitary confinement is under strict supervision and judicial review and in no case longer than the law provides and that the detainees are guaranteed due process rights, such as the right to appeal;

(3) Establish clear and specific criteria for decisions on isolation and ensure that the practice of renewing and prolonging disciplinary sanctions of solitary confinement should be strictly prohibited;

(4) Ensure that the detainee's physical and mental condition is monitored daily by qualified medical personnel throughout the period of solitary confinement, in accordance with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules); and

(5) Put an end to the solitary confinement of Mr. Nabeel Rajab and ensure that he is provided with adequate medical assistance and redress.


Conditions of Detention

The State party should:

(1) Intensify further its efforts to bring the conditions of detention in places of deprivation of liberty into line with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules) and the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules);

(2) Reduce further prison overcrowding in all places of detention, including by building additional facilities and renovating existing ones and reduce the rate of incarceration;

(3) Ensure that detainees are provided with adequate material and hygienic conditions, including bathing and toilet facilities, adequate quantity and quality of food, space per prisoner, health care, outdoor activities and family visits;

(4) Allow regular visits by independent monitoring bodies as well as international ones to carry out regular unannounced visits to all places of detention and meet in private with detained persons.

Riots in Prisons

The Committee is concerned at reports of outbreaks of violence by inmates in prisons resulting in riots and escapes by inmates, as was the case in Jaw Prison in March 2015 and January 2017 and in Dry Dock Prison in 2016

The State party should:

(1) Ensure that the use of force by security forces in places of detention during security operations is not excessive and that tear gas is not fired in closed spaces to quell riots, which endangers the lives of the inmates;

(2) Ensure that the basic rights of detainees are maintained in all circumstances and that they are not subjected to collective punishment by the prison administration;

(3) Ensure effective investigations of all cases of violence and ensure that conditions of detention do not provoke riots by the inmates;

(4) Ensure thorough investigations of all allegations of torture and illtreatment committed in detention facilities; punish the perpetrators if found guilty and provide redress, including medical and psychological rehabilitation, to the victims.

Treatment of Minors

The State party should:

(1) Amend its legislation with a view to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 12 years, as recommended by General Comment No 10 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child;

(2) Ensure the full implementation of juvenile justice standards as well as the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (Beijing Rules), the United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (Riyadh Guidelines) and the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of Their Liberty;

(3) Ensure that minors are detained only as a last resort and for the shortest possible period, are separated from adults and are afforded full legal safeguards, and should envisage the use non-custodial measures for minors who are in conflict with the law.


Independent Complaints Mechanisms in Places of Detention

The State should:

(1) Ensure that all mechanisms empowered to consider complaints by pretrial detainees and convicted prisoners in all places of detention are independent;

(2) Ensure that all reports of torture or ill-treatment are investigated promptly, effectively and impartially by an independent mechanism with no institutional or hierarchical connection between the investigators and the alleged perpetrators; and ensure that all persons under investigation for having committed acts of torture or ill-treatment are immediately suspended from their duties and remain so throughout the investigation, while ensuring that the principle of presumption of innocence is observed;

(3) Facilitate the submission of complaints by victims of torture and illtreatment, including by obtaining medical evidence in support of their allegations from competent and independent doctors, in keeping with the Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the Istanbul Protocol);

(4) Ensure in practice that complainants in all places of detention are protected against any reprisal as a consequence of their complaint.

Monitoring of Places of Detention

The State party should:

(1) Ensure an effective and independent monitoring system that regularly inspects all places of detention, without prior notice, is able to meet in private with detainees, receive complaints and conduct investigations into alleged conduct contrary to the Convention by law enforcement and prison officials;

(2) Strengthen cooperation with the United Nations human rights mechanisms by permitting visits as soon as possible by special procedures mandate holders who have requested them, in conformity with the terms of reference for fact-finding missions by special rapporteurs and special representatives (E/CN.4/1998/45);

(3) Consider ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture providing for international and national mechanisms for the prevention of torture in places where persons are deprived of their liberty.

Reprisals and Alleged Torture and Ill-Treatment of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists

The State party should:

(1) Implement recommendation 1722 of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry with regard to the use of force, arrest, treatment of persons in custody, detention and prosecution in connection with the exercise of freedom of expression, assembly and association;

(2) Release from detention human rights defenders and journalists who are imprisoned and in detention allegedly in retaliation for their work, including the persons listed in the paragraph above;

(3) Investigate promptly, thoroughly and impartially all allegations of harassment, arbitrary arrest, torture or ill-treatment of human rights defenders and journalists, prosecute and punish appropriately those found guilty while ensuring that they have access to justice and are guaranteed fundamental legal safeguards and provide redress to the victims; and

(4) Refrain from using revocation of citizenship as a form of reprisal against human rights defenders, journalists and any other critic who is a political activist and not in favour of the authorities.

Violence against Women

The State party should:

(1) Define and introduce domestic violence, including sexual violence and marital rape, as specific criminal offences in its Criminal Code, with appropriate sanctions;

(2) Amend the Criminal Code in order to repeal articles 334 and 353;

(3) Expedite the adoption of the bill on domestic violence whose drafting began in 2007;

(4) Ensure that all allegations of violence against women, including domestic and sexual violence, are registered by the police and that all allegations of violence are promptly, impartially and effectively investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted and punished;

(5) Ensure that victims of domestic violence benefit from protection, including restraining orders, and have access to medical and legal services, including counselling, redress and rehabilitation as well as to safe and adequate Government funded shelters throughout the country; and

(6) Provide mandatory training for police and other law enforcement officials, social workers, prosecutors and judges on the vulnerabilities of victims of gender-based and domestic violence.


Corporal Punishment against Children

The State party should enact legislation to explicitly and clearly prohibit corporal punishment in all settings.

Compensation to Victims of Torture and Ill-Treatment

The State party should ensure that the National Fund for the Compensation of Victims provides compensation to all victims of torture and ill-treatment entitled to receive it, including all those identified by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry.

Visits by United Nations Human Rights Mechanisms

The Committee recommends that the State party promptly accept the visit of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture to visit the country. The State party is encouraged to enable the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit the country and, in particular, its places of detention, which is a matter of relevance to the compliance by Bahrain with the provisions of the Convention.

Follow-up procedures

The Committee reiterates its recommendation (CAT/C/CR/34/BHR, para. 9) that the State party consider making the declarations envisaged under articles 21 and 22 of the Convention and ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention.

The Committee invites the State party to ratify the core United Nations human rights treaties to which it is not yet party.

The State party is requested to disseminate widely the report submitted to the Committee and the present concluding observations, through official websites, the media and non-governmental organizations.

The State party is invited to submit its fourth periodic report by 12 May 2021. To that end, the Committee will transmit to the State party a list of issues prior to the submission of its periodic report. The State party's replies to that list of issues will constitute its periodic report under article 19 of the Convention.

Arabic Version


التعليقات المنشورة لا تعبر بالضرورة عن رأي الموقع

comments powered by Disqus