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There's a problem loading this menu right now. Get fast, free shipping with Amazon Prime. These encompass the behavior of police and security forces in arrest and detention; legal and institutional protections against arbitrary detention and against torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; access to legal counsel and to family visits; right to a swift and impartial trial; and the meaningful right to appeal a conviction to a higher judicial authority.
In the decade after the abrogation of the constitution, and earlier under British rule, such abuses were mainly directed against persons connected with organized leftist and nationalist opposition groups, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Bahrain PF and the National Liberation Front NLF. The second area of human rights violations relates to the broad denial of such civil and political rights as freedom of expression, freedom of association and assembly, and the right to participate in the conduct of public affairs, directly orthrough freely chosen representatives.
Radio and television media is controlled by the state, and the print media exercises stringent self-censorship. Distribution or possession of unauthorized publications or leaflets constitutes grounds for detention. Bahrainis have been fired from their jobs and blacklisted from other employment for signing public petitions. Political parties and organizations, and independent trade unions, are forbidden. Public meetings and gatherings must be authorized by the authorities, and in practice they are not. Religious gatherings which, in the view of the government, raise political demands are routinely disrupted or prevented from occurring.
Public advocacy of restoring Bahrain's partially elected National Assembly, in accordance with the constitution of , is considered by the government to be a hostile act and grounds for detention without charge or trial under the State Security Measures Law of see above. It is the government's systematic violation of these fundamental freedoms and political rights that has contributed to the conditions of confrontation in Bahrain today. The civil court system, which is the concern of this report, comprises courts of first instance, with separate civil and criminal sections, and the High Court of Appeal.
Bahrain's constitution of characterizes the judiciary as a separate branch of the government. In practice, however, this independence is nominal. Abdallah bin Khalid Al Khalifa, the minister of justice and Islamic affairs, is responsible to the prime minister and brother of the amir, and is himself a member of the ruling family. The Ministry of Interior is integrally involved in virtually every aspect of the judicial system and legal proceedings: The constitution endorses a wide range of civil and political rights and procedural guarantees.
Other guarantees, such as freedom of speech, are qualified by formulations such as "in accordance with the conditions and procedures specified by the law. Most state constitutions have provisions that entrust to "the law" the regulation or expansion of basic constitutional protections. Laws that fail to do this are in violation of the constitution. Bahraini law, as embodied in the Penal Code of and other decrees discussed below, in many instances itself permits official behavior that contravenes the constitution and international standards.
In Bahrain, moreover, the government has failed to comply with Article of the constitution, which provides for a judicial body with the authority to review the constitutionality of laws and decrees. Among these laws are the State Security Measures Law of , the state security court decree of , and subsequent expansions and enlargements of the jurisdiction of these measures and this court.
Consider, for instance, the State Security Measures Law, the decree which prompted the confrontation that led the ruling family in to dissolve the National Assembly and abrogate those articlesof the constitution pertaining to national elections see above. This is a broadly written statute that authorizes search, seizure and up to three years of detention without charge or trial of any person against whom there is "serious evidence"-with no elaboration of what might comprise "serious evidence"-of "activities," "statements," or "contacts inside or outside the country,".
The government of Bahrain denies that its policies and practices are in violation of international human rights standards. Human Rights are the cornerstone of Government Policies. Accordingly the Government has made every effort over the years to ensure that those policies are implemented throughout the Community and this is reflected in Bahrain's cultural traditions, strong constitution and extensive body of sophisticated Laws in which the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual are codified and protected in accordance with the universally recognized Human Rights principles of the United Nations.
In the face of any threat to those fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms the Government of Bahrain will in application ofthe principles of Article 30 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and within the meaning of Article 5 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights unhesitatingly act by whatever lawful means are at its disposal to protect the Bahrain Community, defend the Constitution, uphold the Rule of Law and ensure universal respect for Human Rights.
Violations by Security Forces in the Process of Arrest. In response to the protracted unrest since December , the government has detained thousands of persons and sentenced hundreds to jail terms and substantial fines. Some portion of those detained were rounded up during street confrontations with security forces, particularly in the early months of the uprising. More typically, however, security forces entered villages and neighborhoods, often in the aftermath of street clashes, seeking to arrest persons by name or en masse.
These arrests generally took the form of house raids around or just after midnight. Hussain, a nineteen year old from Shahraqan, a town of about families west of Manama, had been a student in Qom, Iran, and returned to Bahrainat the beginning of I was asleep at home. It was about 2: We're not in the habit of locking our doors. I was wakened with a gun barrel in my back and pulled out of bed by my hair. There were about seven men in the room, and they punched and kicked me for about fifteen minutes. Two of them, including the officer, were Bahrainis.
The soldiers were Pakistani. They ransacked the house. The Bahrainis were shouting that they came to find the paint for making graffiti and if they didn't find what they were looking for they would fuck my sisters. They sat me on the floor. Three of them had guns pointed at me, and they kicked me. Then I was handcuffed and brought downstairs, where there were about four vans and more soldiers. They hit me with gun butts as they took me to a car, and some were firing rubber bullets at the windows of houses close to ours.
I asked if they had a warrant. I was taken to Qal'a [the Fort, referring to the central jail in Manama, attached to the Ministry of Interior], blindfolded, on the floor of the car, their feet on me.. Akil, a seventeen year old from Barbar, told Human Rights Watch that the first time the security forces came to his house, in December , he was not there: So I went to the police station myself.
They had rounded up about forty people, looking for people responsible for killing a policeman. They only kept me one day. The second time was in March We were leaving Shaikh Abd al-Aziz school, which is near the interrogation headquarters.
I was released the morning of the second day. The headmaster phoned twelve of us at home and told us not to come back to school. The next month, on April 6 , the security forces broke into my house about midnight and took me and about ten others from the village. They beat me inside the house and threw me in a jeep and took me to al-Khamis station. They left us standing all night, and would come by every now and then to hit us.
They pulled our T-shirts up over our heads to serve as blindfolds. Someone had been arrested that afternoon in Barbar and they found a can of petrol. That seems to be what prompted our roundup. Akil was arrested again in early January during a demonstration see below , and was subsequently picked up a fifth time in a dragnet. He fled Bahrain in early March The pattern of breaking into a suspect's home in the middle of the night to make an arrest extends to cases of detained community leaders and persons accused of instigating the unrest.
In the case of Shaikh Ali Salman, for instance: They came around 2 a. Ten of them came in and searched my room, and took books and cassettes. They found an early draft of the petition. In the prison the next morning they handcuffed me to a chair, blindfolded, facing a wall. They questioned me about the petition and they accused me of instigating the marathon incident. Three cars of soldiers and one with mukhabarat came for me.
They searched the house for half an hour, then took me in the mukhabarat car, blindfolded, my hands tied tightly behind me with plastic rope that cut the skin badly, to the Ministry of Interior complex at Qal'a. They untied my hands and put me in a room. After half an hour, Adil Flaifil came in, very angry, and tells me they have arrested Shaikh Jamri and the others as well. He has a small gun in his hand, and he hit me with it several times on the head and in my face. I was kept in a waiting room there for a week, with many others, but we weren't allowed to talk with one another.
Then they moved us to a part of the ASRY [Arab Ship Repair Yard], at the tip of Muharraq island, where the Ministry of Interior has some prison space, and brought us back to Qal'a regularly for interrogation about some vague and fantastic plots to "hit" the airport and other installations. One activist in the petition campaign was seized in April on suspicion of having arranged meetings for a BBC reporter with other critics of the government. My wife woke me up. There were Colonel al-Wazzan and Colonel al-Uraifi standing in front of me.
They'd surrounded [my town] and there were about twelve jeeps in front of my house. They searched the house. They took me with them back to my office and searched there too. They had closed off all the roads around the office. It was similar when they arrested me in They attacked my home at about 4: They took me to my office, a different one then, and searched that, too.
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I never did see one. Human Rights Watch also spoke with a number of Bahraini lawyers active in defending political prisoners, who without exception confirmed this pattern of post-midnight searches and seizures. But almost all the cases I see involve warrantless home raids in the very early hours of the morning. Virtually all those who are arrested for political reasons-those who end up in the state security court or administrative detention or exile, whether it's for giving a sermon or distributing leaflets or throwing a Molotov or burning tires-the pattern is the same: Systematic beating as well as other forms of physical and psychological abuse of detainees are pervasive in Bahrain.
According to Bahraini lawyers, virtually anyone caught up in Bahrain's police and security institutions is liable to mistreatment. Beatings are "common practice" and anyone "in the system" is vulnerable, one Bahraini lawyer told Human Rights Watch,. Even court witnesses get beaten.
Beatings are used to secure confessions, or information about other suspects. But there is also a sense that anyone in custody for whatever reason must deserve punishment, which ordinary police and security officials feel entitled to administer. The exception, of course, is if youcome from an important family with wasta [influence]. There is an element of protection by virtue of social rank.
The accounts of physical abuse provided by detainees to Human Rights Watch were consistent with each other, with the patterns described by defense lawyers, and with the findings of Amnesty International. In the morning they took us individually to question us. They accused us of incitement, of raising money for detainees' families, of buying petrol. They took our fingerprints and photos. After that, for many days, they'd take us out of the cell in the middle of the night, around 2 a.
Some signed confessions but they still didn't get out. I wrote a paper saying I did not do anything but they kept me too. Then they sent us to the prison in Jaw. The police beat us with hoses there. We were there for six months, and during that time they took us back to Qal'a four times for interrogation. The interrogators were Khalid al-Wazzan, the one they called al-Sa'ati, and one called Adil. Four English police came one day to Jaw. They asked us how long we'd been there, and why. This was when the negotiations [with Shaikh al-Jamri] were going on, so we were released after that.
I could read their names from under my blindfold. Hussain, a nineteen year old from Shahraqan, told Human Rights Watch what happened after he after he was brought to Qal'a early one morning: They took me upstairs to an office, I don't know whose. There they told me to stand on one leg and bray like a donkey. Then someone came in wearing a dishdasha [traditional white shoulder-to-ankle garment worn by men in the Gulf]. I recognized him from photos I had seen: It was Adil Flaifil. He asked me if I was Hussain Shahraqani and I said yes.
He had a piece of paper marked "confidential" on top, otherwise blank. He told me to sign it. They took me to a different room and trussed me up with a pole under my knees. There were four men, two in uniform. They kicked me and took turns hitting me with a hose. After half an hour of this they took me back to Adil Flaifil, who told me again to sign. I went back and forth several times between the hanging and beating and the questioning.
At one point he [Flaifil] asked for my hand. Two people held my hand, and he burned the back of my hand with his cigarette [displays light scars]. Hussain asserted that his tormentors on this occasion also used electricity to inflict pain. Adil Flaifil, he said, "attached some wires to a piece of metal he was holding against my hand. The shock knocked me to the floor. I fell down when they finally let me off the door, and they beat me with a hose again for what seemed like a long time.
They saidthey would charge me with bombings and planning attacks with bombs. Later they said I would only have to confess to incitement. Finally they said I had to sign a statement that I would not do these things. That I did sign. They gave me one more beating, till my mouth bled, and then they let me go. I fled Bahrain the next week and stayed away for several months. I then went back to my family but I heard they were getting people in the village to say I was inciting people, so I left again.
Hussain's testimony describing torture is consistent with testimony from prisoners who had been arrested prior to the current unrest in the country. The techniques he described included: These testimonies are also consistent with those secured by Amnesty International, which in September reported that it had interviewed Bahraini torture victims inside and outside the country, and that the methods described wereconsistent with information the organization had received in earlier years. Department of State's annual Country Reports chapters on Bahrain have acknowledged that reports of torture were "credible," and have noted cases of deaths in detention attributable to torture and severe beating.
According to one lawyer, the severity of beatings and torture generally depends on the cooperativeness of the detainee in the process of securing a confession and follows a predictable sequence. If he doesn't look too bad he is taken directly to the investigating judge, who looks at the statement-which the authorities have prepared and forced the defendant to sign-and asks, "Did you do X, Y, Z?
Some complain of torture, and may even show the signs of tortureclearly, but the investigating judge dismisses or ignores such claims. If the defendant disagrees with the statement, however, or starts to qualify it, the investigating judge says, "Your man is not done yet. Very few endure more than several hours of this. The last phase, for those who do hold out longer, is electric shock or pulling out toenails. Torture is categorically prohibited by Bahrain's constitution and penal code.
However, no-one has done so and no formal complaints have been made. Human Rights Watch also spoke with detainees who had not been subjected to torture or systematic beatings. Those caught up in street arrests, it seems, sometimes avoided this fate. Ahmad al-Shamlan, a prominent lawyer and activist in the petition campaign who was arrested in February , told Human Rights Watch that during one interrogation session Adil Flaifil shouted, "I have orders not to touch you, but I'll keep you herethree years," referring to the maximum period for detention without charge under the State Security Measures Law of Shaikh Ali Salman told Human Rights Watch that at one point his interrogators hit him with their fists and made him stand for prolonged periods.
Otherwise he was not physically abused, he said, but the abuse of others was used to secure his confession: They brought two young men into the room, Muhammad and Ali. They were not in good shape, hardly able to stand. They asked them if I had told them to protest the marathon. They took them out and an hour later they brought Muhammad back, in much worse shape. This time he said, yes, I did instigate him.
In the night they brought another man, Abd al-Ghani. First he refused to say I had told him to protest, and four hours later when they brought him back he said, yes, I had. They kept me in detention room number one. That night I could hear screams. I decided I should accept responsibility. At 11 the next morning I was taken to the investigating judge. They warned me not to change my mind in front of the judge. On the question of torture, Human Rights Watch also spoke with five practicing defense attorneys, whose testimony was consistent.
Bahrain's judicial system is, on the whole, not bad, but not when the justices are sitting as the state security court. One-step litigation is inherently dangerous. Mistakes occur and go unchecked. There are no checks on the police. The public prosecutor, in the Ministry of Interior, decides who will be tried in the regularcourt, who in the state security court, and who will simply be detained without any charge at all. In so-called security cases there is no access to legal counsel.
Nor are lawyers permitted at the next stage, when defendants are brought before the investigating judge, who takes their statements. Nominally the investigating judge is a functionary of the Ministry of Justice, but the "examination" takes place in the Interior Ministry complex, which is also the main prison and interrogation center. And as time went on the confessions all started to read the same, exactly the same, as if they were using some kind of form-confession. Once a confession is finalized, another lawyer told Human Rights Watch: This is not a formal procedure, just what usually happens.
They decide whether the case will go to state security court or to the criminal court after all, or whether to hold the persons without charge under administrative detention [under provisions of the State Security Measures Law]. The papers then go to the public prosecutor who gathers the needed statements or documents-from the fire department, for instance, in cases of arson-and assembles the file to present to court.
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This frequently takes another five or six months, and sometimes as long as a year. Then it goes to the Ministry of Justice to schedule a court date. That's when the Ministry of Interior calls the family, tells them to get a lawyer. This is usually the first official notificationof the exact charges against the defendant, though families usually manage to find out informally. The decree states in Article 3, paragraph 5: The confession of the accused, whether made against himself or against other co-accused, shall be weighed with care by the court and whether the said confession was made to the investigating judge or in court during trial or was made only in the course of the investigation by the public prosecutor or in the statement to the public prosecutor or the police.
The court may act on this confession for its judgment.
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However, the provisions contained in this paragraph shall not apply to crimes punishable with death and the confession of the accused alone shall not avail [i. Lastly, the court's verdict "shall be final and shall not, in any manner, be challenged" Article 7. The initial State Security Court hearing is the first point at which the accused gets to meet with a lawyer. The lawyer first sees the client's file a few days in advance. So you have maybe ten prisoners all talking to their lawyers in the same space in the twenty minutes before the hearing begins. The lawyer always advises the defendant to plead innocent, as a precautionary step to get a postponement of a week or so for asecond hearing, to have time to prepare a case, seek witnesses, arrange for documents.
And usually you are representing more than one defendant at any given hearing. There is no formal rule that prevents you from meeting with your client between hearings, but in practice the security services never quite manage to allow it to happen. The structure and procedure of the state security court, in particular the admissibility and sufficiency for conviction of confessions secured in the absence of legal counsel and in the course of extended detention, effectively sanctions torture and abuse.
Because the first court hearing may be as long as a year or more after the time of arrest, moreover, and never less than five or six months afterwards, physical marks of abuse have often disappeared. Lawyers told Human Rights Watch that in some cases the justices do order a medical examination; as noted above, this is generally the forensic medical officer of the Criminal Investigations Directorate, an employee of the Ministry of Interior.
Even in cases where a defendant still shows unmistakable signs of torture, lawyers say, the justices proceed with conviction and sentencing. One lawyer familiar with the case of the young men charged and convicted in the firebomb attack that killed seven Bangladeshi workers see above told Human Rights Watch that one of the defendants had been tortured by having his toenails pulled out. He finally did order a medical exam. The Ministry of Interior arranged for a doctor, supposedly independent, from the Ministry of Health to do the exam. The doctor's statement concluded that there were "no signs" of torture, although it contained several discrepancies.
A defense lawyer familiar with the Sitra case told Human Rights Watch that in this incident more than one group of detainees had confessed. In response to the government's denial that torture and abuse occur on any scale, Bahraini defense lawyers point to the great number of identical accounts by detainees and the refusal of authorities to allow lawyers to be present during interrogation. One of my clients, when I asked why he confessed and was now denying the charges, told me, "Even one of these judges could be forced to say he was Hizb Allah, the things they do to you.
Bahraini authorities can detain persons for extended periods without charge or trial in two different ways. As discussed above, under the terms of the State Security Measures Law of , the minister of interior may detain someone for up to three years, with a right to appeal the detention order after three months and at six-month intervals thereafter.
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Under Article 8 of that law, moreover, Article 79 of the criminal procedure code of was amended to allow an investigating judge to detain a suspect for an unlimited period, with the right of appeal after one month and on a monthly basis thereafter. The government does not provide information regarding the number of persons who have been or are being detained without charge under these distinct provisions of the State Security Measures Law.
The decision to detain a person without charge under the terms of this law, as noted in the previous section, rests with the public prosecutor, under the Ministry of the Interior. Bahraini defense lawyers told Human Rights Watch that these provisions are used extensively by the government to incarcerate persons detained by thesecurity forces. One indication of the extent of arbitrary detention is the apparent discrepancy between the large number of persons detained in , the number of convictions, and the number remaining in detention.
Al-Jamri, Hussain and six others were detained again on January 22, The next day, a Ministry of Interior official, referring to renewed demonstrations and attacks on property, told Reuter that "[t]here is proof , evidence and documents supported by pictures which prove the group's involvement in the incidents and would be submitted to the legal authorities" and that the eight had "incited crimes of fires and sabotage, broadcast statements, news and incorrect rumors inside and outside According to members of his family, Al-Jamri was kept in solitary confinement for more than nine months, and he and the other detained leaders have been allowed brief family visits only on three occasions.
As in the case of persons held without charge, the government of Bahrain does not provide information regarding the number of persons arrested or their disposition, including the number referred to the security court or the criminal court. This information is provided by lawyers in Bahrain but, because of government restrictions and harassment, access to such information is limited. Bahrain's constitution guarantees freedom of speech Article 23 , the press Article 24 , communication Article 26 , association, including the right to form trade unions on a national basis Article 27 , and assembly Article In many cases, however, the Penal Code effectively nullifies those rights, particularly in the following articles: All of these offenses except the last Article come under the automatic jurisdiction of the State Security Court see above.
The exceedinglybroad language of these articles is compounded further by Articles and of the penal code, which are also among those revised for retroactive application in and which specify imprisonment "for any person who resorts to violence, intimidation or any other illegal method " to pressure government officials emphasis added. The broad effect of these laws by decree, and their application by the authorities, is that in Bahrain there are no legal political parties or independent trade unions.
Political gatherings are proscribed. Telephone communications are monitored, and for a period in early the government prohibited the placing of international calls from public telephones. Bahrain's constitution Article 27 guarantees the "freedom to form associations and trade unions on a national basis and for lawful objectives and by peaceful means. Article 33 requires organizers of general meetings to provide the agenda and fifteen days prior notification, and permits the government to "designate the person it deems fit for attending the said meeting," and Article 38 requires that minutes and resolutions be provided to the government within fifteen days of the meeting.
Article 80 empowers the government "to control [private] organizations and to amend their constitutions so as to ensure the realization of the objects for which they are established. One of the oldest and most prominent social organizations is the Uruba Club, a self-styled cultural club founded in the s, which played a critical role in the era of British rule as a site for political debate and networking. The Uruba Club now has upwards of members, chiefly businessmen and professionals. Physically and in terms of activities it resembles a traditional British or American "gentleman's club. The Uruba Club comes under the authority of the General Organization for Youth and Sports, headed by Shaikh Isa bin Rashid Al Khalifa, and is requiredto get permission for any event open to the public.
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