bassam al-maraj

04 Feb 2013

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is concerned about the culture of impunity that governs the police forces in Bahrain, and allows for officers accused of torture to be promoted, instead of prosecuted.

Credible torture allegations have been made against Bassam Al-Muraj for several years by local and international human rights organizations. In 2010, Human Rights Watch published the findings of an investigation they conducted in Bahrain, and concluded that there were many allegations that linked Al-Muraj to the systematic torture in the Bahraini prison system. [1] A video release by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, also from 2010, contains many testimonies from victims who implicate Al-Muraj in the torture they were subjected to. [2]

One victim described torture under supervision of AlMuraj: “Bassam Al-Muraj asked Al-Budayia policemen to leave and let me alone with him. They took me to a room where they started beating me. Kicking, hitting and other things [I was subjected to]. It lasted five minutes. Then they removed my handcuffs, wrapped my hands with a strip of cloth in order to hang me. They made me stand on a chair and hanged.”

Another victim said: “It was cold, and the officer was sweating, Bassam AlMuraj himself said to me – I swear God I will bring your wife here, in front of you, and I will remove her cloths in front of you. - I then fell.”

Instead of ordering an investigation into these allegations, the King has promoted Al-Muraj to be the General Director for Anti-Corruption, Economic and Electronic Security in the General Directorate, with a royal decree issued on Jan 28, 2013. [3] The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its extreme disagreement with this decision, and calls for an end to the culture of impunity that rewards human rights abuses. Reform will never be realized in Bahrain as long as officers are free to act without fear of reprisals.

The King’s decision to not pursue accountability is a clear indication that the government of Bahrain is not interested in reforming the police forces. This is why torture remains to be a serious problem in Bahrain, and the BCHR continues to receive a large volume of reports of torture allegations. (check bahrainrights.org/en/node/5611 and bahrainrights.org/en/node/5605

The BCHR calls for:

- An immediate investigation, that is both fair and transparent, into the allegations of torture against Bassam Al-Muraj and the dozens of other security officers who have been implicated in torture and other human rights abuses.

- Compensation and reparations for the victims of torture, and the initation of a rehabilitation center for victims of torture.

- An end to the culture of impunity that governs the police forces, and sweeping reforms to ensure that transparency and accountability are guaranteed.

- To sign the Optional Protocol of the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) in order to strengthen legal accountability for torturers.

[1] See HRW report: hrw.org/node/88200/section/7

[2] See BCHR video from 2010: youtube.com/watch?v=lh5hPQrGh5g

[3] See government news post: bna.bh/portal/en/news/543818