The King of Bahrain Grants the National Security Apparatus (NSA) Full Power
• The NSA is Behind Planning and Executing the Recent Campaign against the Political and Human Rights Activists and the Kidnaps and Torture by the Armed Militias • It Specializes in Prosecuting the Opponents and Activists and has the Authorities of the Ministry of Interior and the Public Prosecution and is Immune from Legal Prosecution • The Apparatus is Formed on a Sectarian Basis and Uses the Foreign Mercenaries in all its Institutes and Operations • Dissolving the National Security Apparatus and the Special Security Forces and Returning its Authorities to the Regular Security Apparatus is Inevitable
Minister of National Security Sheikh Khalifa bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa
23 August 2010
The name of the National Security Apparatus (NSA) emerged during the last days in running the security affairs of the country, as well as its responsibility for the pervasive violations of human rights, the latest of which was the arrest campaign that reached a number of well-known activists, physical assault and sexual abuse and harassments, as well as cutting off roads to kidnap activists by a group of armed militias affiliated with the same apparatus. In addition, the NSA is running a campaign of deliberately smearing the reputation of the political activists, human rights defenders and sons of the Shiite sect, and which is the same technique used by the NSA during the last twenty years to attack the political opposition. The NSA is currently chaired by Sheikh Khalifa bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa.
The BCHR had previously warned from the ever-increasing and grave role of the NSA on behalf of the liberties and the promotion of human rights in Bahrain, especially that this apparatus is not subject to any questioning by the Council of Representatives or any other monitoring institute, and its members are also not subject to legal prosecution before the regular courts.
A list received by the BCHR and which includes the names of more than 1000 employee working at the NSA, reveals that 64% of its workers are non-Bahraini citizens, their majority is of Asian nationalities. The general budget of the years 2009/2010 revealed an increase in the NSA allocations with a 34% from the previous years, and this is considered the largest increase percentage of a government institute during the last years. The country's King gave the NSA full power by granting it judicial jurisdictions through the decree to amend some of the provisions of Decree No. 14 of 2002 and which grants the NSA the authority of judicial control. Thus, the NSA has become a security institute that is completely independent of the Public Security and Defense; however, it benefits from double jurisdictions that combine the domains of the Public Security Forces and the Judicial Authority. Its members cannot be prosecuted before the criminal or civil court and only before the military court which lacks transparency and independency, and which deprives the victims of the violations of the NSA the right to equity in court, and provides the appropriate ground for the members of the NSA to commit violations and escape punishment. This blatantly contradicts the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a number of International Conventions, among them the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention against Torture which Bahrain has joined and which it must adhere to. The country's King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa had given full immunity for the violators of human rights in the past era and through Decree-Law No. 10 of 2002; however, the new Decree granted immunity to the violators of human rights from the employees of the NSA in the current era and future which contributed in giving them the green light for further crimes and violations away from accountability and punishment.
The NSA was first established in May 2002, by finding it as an alternative to the "General Directory for the State Security Investigations" and which was affiliated with the Ministry of Interior. By that, the NSA became a directorate that is akin to any other state institute, instead of it being a part of it, where its jurisdictions interferes with the judiciary and the institutes of the Ministry of Interior, and its authorities are extended to the Central Informatics Organization and the Ministry of Information through the Foreign Media department, as well as the Ministry of Social Development. The NSA draws its administrative influence from its relation and role as the executive arm of the Supreme Defense Council which is considered the supreme authority in the country as it is made up of the King, Crown-Prince, Prime Minister, Minister of the Royal Court and ten others from the King's family who hold the chief political and security posts in the country.
The Royal Decree of establishing the NSA states, "The NSA is affiliated with the Prime Minister, and its head is appointed with a Royal Decree in the rank of a minister". The NSA's first head was Sheikh Abdul-Aziz bin Atyat-Allah Al-Khalifa who was appointed in May 2002, and then it was chaired by Sheikh Khalifa bin Ali bin Rashid Al-Khalifa – the current ambassador in London, and the current head is Sheikh Khalifa bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa, who was the former ambassador in London. The NSA and since its establishment in 2002, has been carrying out a growing role in penetrating the civil society institutes, monitoring and prosecuting the political opponents and human rights defenders, both locally and abroad. This apparatus is directly responsible for a large number of violations documented by the BCHR and other local and international organizations, especially the ones related to kidnaps, physical and sexual assaults. As well, the NSA is responsible for the death of the activist Ali Jassim Mohammed in December 2007, and injuring hundreds of citizens with wounds, suffocation and shotgun and the use of excessive force against the seminars and demonstrations and other protest acts, and the arrest of hundreds of activists and human rights defenders, and systematic torture which has returned to Bahrain once again since December 2007, and inventing accusations and managing security fabrications and plays to make the country seem to be facing acts of terrorism or sabotage from the mere imagination of the NSA, as well as running the media campaign locally and abroad in order to smear the reputation of the human rights defenders, and the political opposition to justify the campaign of arrest, the unjust trials and the severe judicial sentences against the violators of the political regime.
The NSA supervises on the ground – and in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior – the work of the Special Forces, and which are semi-military forces whose number exceeds 10 thousand recruits, and approximately 90% of them are non-Bahrainis who are brought, trained and financed as groups of mercenaries, headed by officers from the King's family or from tribes it is politically allied with. The Special Security Forces have been used effectively in the surrounding areas of the villages and areas where the majority of residents are Shiite. The Special Security Forces also use armed militias with civil attires, and who are usually masked, where they attack the villages and prosecute the demonstrators and assault them, and they kidnap who they believe to be activists and abuse them both physically and sexually.
According to the international standards related to prohibiting the use of mercenaries; the description of mercenaries can be applied to the foreigners who belong to the Special Forces where it selectively brings them from abroad for security and military use outside the framework of the regular security and military apparatuses, and they are particularly trained and prepared, and it provides them with job and materialistic benefits which the regular security employees, whether foreigners or citizens, do not get, such as housing, travel, reunion and the Bahraini nationality. Most of them live with their families in isolated areas such as the area of "Safra", south of Riffa, and they are naturalized beyond the regular legal requirements, and they are resettled within the project of demographic change to marginalize and lessen the percentage of Shiite residents in Bahrain. Their votes have been used effectively to marginalize the political opposition in the elections of the Council of Representatives in 2006, where they made the liberal opposition candidates fall short; and it is expected that this role repeats itself and strengthens in the coming Parliamentary elections.
What increases the risk of supporting the role, jurisdictions, influence and budget of the NSA is its full dependence on mercenary men who have no relation whatsoever with Bahrain, and this strengthens the saying that the country permanently depends on and takes its strength from the foreign forces to confront its citizens and their legitimate demands, and this stresses its loss of trust in the original residents of the country, both Sunnis and Shiites. As a result, the ruling regime, and through the influence and jurisdiction granted to the NSA is creating a new tyrannical reality which is far more organized and dangerous than the State security measures in the past era, and accordingly the NSA in Bahrain is following in the footsteps of the Iranian "SAVAK", as well as the Secret Service of Augusto Pinochet and which caused prevalent violations to human rights in their countries during their reign, and was a main cause for extensive international criticism and in the people's revolution which ended the reign of the Shah in Iran, and in the criminal prosecution of the dictator Pinochet which continued until the last moments of his life.
Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights renews its demands for the following:
1. End the kidnaps and enforced disappearance and assaults on citizens and activists in the streets; 2. Withdraw the foreign militias affiliated with the National Security Apparatus from the protest areas, and especially those who do not use the official attire; 3. Dissolve the National Security Apparatus and the Special Security Apparatus and return their jurisdictions to the regular security apparatuses; 4. Stop the policy of brining non-Bahrain mercenaries to work in the security apparatuses and Special Forces who are used in confronting the peaceful demonstrations and public protests; 5. Stop the current methodology in supporting the laws violating the rights, institutes and practices that restrict and suppress the public liberties, and instead of that to guarantee and maintain the civil and political rights and to launch the public liberties, especially those related to expression, peaceful gathering and organization; 6. Stop the continuous violations and prosecution of human rights defenders and political opponents, and to guarantee the healthy and appropriate environment for the work of the human rights organizations and civil society institutes away from severe laws, and the interference and threats of security apparatuses; 7. Ensure the independency of the judiciary, and to guarantee the right of citizens in prosecuting the public officials with all their specialties and levels, and to end any image of immunity and impunity, especially in relation to arbitrary arrest, torture, unjust trials and targeting the human rights defenders; 8. Rely on dialogue and the participation of the various forces of the society institutes in order to develop practical solutions to the outstanding files whether they are related to the civil or political rights, or the economic, social and cultural rights.