The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses dissatisfaction over the Bahraini authorities continued avoidance to comply with the recommendations which aim to limit human rights violations. Many official institutions were established which propose to value the protection of human rights, while in reality they follow the government’s official policy of impunity and discrimination. The BCHR has monitored the performance of the Special Investigations Unit at the Public Prosecution over the course of a year and a half, and concluded that this unit is only one of the many attempts of the Bahraini regime to present the image of reforms, while acting as a tool to punish political prisoners and prisoners of conscience for their peaceful activism.

The Special Investigations Unit was established on February 28, 2012 after an order from Attorney-General Ali AlBuainain to establish a specialized unit at the Public Prosecution for the investigation of torture crimes, abuse and ill-treatment that may have been committed by government officials. Specifically, this unit is designed to investigate into the facts arising from the events in 2011 during the three month state of emergency declared by the government, and which are included in the report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), as well as any facts or other issues decided by the Attorney-General to be referred to the Special Investigations Unit.

The establishment of this Unit came as an implementation to recommendation No. 1716 of the BICI report, which stated "To establish a national independent and impartial mechanism to determine the accountability of those in government who have committed unlawful or negligent acts resulting in the deaths, torture and mistreatment of civilians with a view to bringing legal and disciplinary action against such individuals, including those in the chain of command, military and civilian, who are found to be responsible under international standards of “superior responsibility”.

However, what is witnessed on the ground in Bahrain is quite different from the recommendation. The unit is headed by the Chief Prosecutor, and there is no mechanism in which the use of the independent experts to conduct investigations is compulsory, which stands in violation to the very essence of the recommendation, particularly as the involvement of the Public Prosecution itself in the abuse of detainees during the investigation period has been documented. In the investigation cases referred to the unit, some of the cases were documented while others were suspended, and many resulted in the acquittal of those involved in torture as occured in the case of doctors lawsuit against Mubarak bin Huwail and Noora AlKhalifa. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) believes that the formation of this Unit was primarily intended to stop international human rights pressure on the government, while the reality shows a deliberate avoidance of real reforms that are at the heart of the recommendation.

The torture allegations has always been one of the most important and concerning issues regarding human rights in Bahrain. These allegations have been documented by well-respected human rights organizations in their statements and reports, including Human Rights Watch, which issued in February 2010, a detailed report entitled "Torture Redux: the Revival of Physical Coercion during Interrogations in Bahrain," The report was based on interviews with former detainees in addition to forensic reports and the courts which proved that the officials has practiced torture in an attempt to extract confessions from suspects in security cases. This report, considered along with the recommendations made in the report of the BICI constitutes clear evidence on the existence of practices of ill-treatment and torture. There is also evidence that responsibility lies throughout the chain of command, those individuals must be held accountable while victims are provided with compensation; these points are a test of the will of the authorities in working towards true reconciliation, but the government of Bahrain continues to ignore the claims of torture while torturers are set free to continue practicing violations against citizens voicing their opposition to the government. The King of Bahrain is therefore responsible for the outbreak of the policy of impunity and the protection of violators.

The BCHR believes the lack of accountability of the torturers whom were mentioned by name in the report from Human Rights Watch, is what prompted the continuation of the practice of torture as a means to extract confessions in the absence of an accounting policy and legal accountability. The number of victims that have suffered from this policy has doubled since February 2011. The former head of the National Security Khalifa bin Abdullah Al Khalifa and the current Minister of the Interior Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, amongst others, are senior officials who have not been held accountable for the serious allegations against them, and in some cases senior officials have been promoted within the government instead of facing trial.

Mubarak bin Huwail was facing a lawsuit regarding the torture of medical staff and others. He was visited in his home by Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, and was informed that the law cannot be applied to him similarly to how it can not be applied to the royal family. Such statements make the presence of institutions such as the Special Investigations Unit at the Public Prosecution a clearly powerless institution, which functions to serve the system by which it was established.

The Complicity of the Public Prosecutors in Covering up the Torture Crimes

Detainees and activists have filed complaints over the years against the collusion between the Prosecutors and the Criminal Investigations Unit in concealing crimes committed by the authorities, and in particular of the torture practices. The interrogation of the detainees in the majority of cases are conducted at dawn and without the presence of their lawyers, leaving the detainees under great pressure to confess to charges they did not commit. In some cases, the Public Prosecutor has ignored allegations documented the testimonies of the detainees about torture or documentation that shows clear marks of torture on the bodies of the detainees. Many of those whom were detained and tortured refrained from filing a complaint against their torturers either in fear of being subjected to torture again or due to the lack of confidence in the fairness and impartiality of the judiciary in Bahrain, particularly in light of widespread policy of impunity and the acquittal of the torturers.

The BCHR has received information that approximately 150 detainees were subjected to torture and did not file a complaint. Instead, they only spoke in front of a judge about the torture they suffered, but the judges did not open an investigation into the claims. The BCHR has also received information which states that nearly 200 detainees over the course of the last two months have complained to the Public Prosecutors about being subjected to torture at the hands of the investigators and their assistants at the building of the Criminal Investigations. The prosecutors did not seek to investigate these allegations despite the fact that in many cases there were clear marks of torture on the bodies of some of the detainees. Any mention of the allegations by the prosecutors used the term "ill-treatment" instead of torture while documenting the record of the investigation with the detainee.

Ahmed Bucherry (pictured) is one of the Prosecutors whom the detainees have complained about their violations and complicity with the Criminal Investigations to force the detainees to confess on malicious and fabricated charges. Among these victims is the detained human rights defender Naji Fateel, who stated that Bucheery returned him to prison receive further torture when he refused to confess to the charges against him and requested to be interrogated in the presence of his lawyer. As well, the detainee Taleb Ali stated that was threatened by Bucheery, which makes the prosecutor a clear partner in the crime of torture.

 

 

Complaints of Torture

The BCHR notes that the prosecutors deliberately look for reasons that the police officers accused of abuse to register the case as a matter of self-defense without referral to the court. The BCHR reviewed several complaints of torture that have been submitted to the Special Investigations Unit where the investigation did not reach any result. The complaints filed have not limited the continued violations against the rights of the detainee in the period of detention and trial.

First Case: Jalila AlSalman

Jalila AlSalman (Vice President of the Bahrain Teachers' Association) was arrested on March 29, 2011 and her detention lasted for more than five months during which time she subjected to torture and ill-treatment, and underwent a military trial on charges relating to calling for a teacher’s strike in 2011. She was sentenced to three years imprisonment based on coerced confessions. AlSalman filed a complaint of ill-treatment to the Public Prosecutor of the Central Region in July 2011, and has documented her torture case at the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI). She also filed a complaint again in 2012 when she learned that the first complaint was not registered. Jalila AlSalman has stated the names of the government officials involved in the ill-treatment or torture she was subjected to, which includes:

Issa AlMajali (Officer at the Criminal Investigations): Responsible for taking AlSalman to a solitary confinement for ten days at the Criminal Investigations Building, and for forcing her to confess under duress through beatings and threats of rape, and blowing cigarette smoke at her face to the point where she fainted, for not providing her with medical treatment when she lost consciousness, and for preventing her from taking her medicine.

First Lieutenant AlManaai: Responsible for the beatings, threats and coercing AlSalman to sign confession papers during the investigation in the Military Prosecution in the Military Justice at the Defense Force.

● A number of the policewomen who ill-treated AlSalman in detention deliberately  insulted and cursed her religion, prevented her from performing prayers, using the bathroom, and continuously forced her to stand for a long period of time, beat her, and deprived her of both food and water.

● A doctor at the Fort Clinic (clinic dedicated to the prisoners), was involved in removing the tooth of AlSalman without anesthesia.

 

AlSalman has stated the names of personalities who are close to the authorities or working in a governmental non-military institutions whom were involved in abusing her, including:

  • Faisal Folath (human rights activist in a ‘government organized NGO’): Followed up with the videotaping of AlSalman confessions and assisted in covering up the violations he witnessed, such the beating and threats to force AlSalman to confess in front of the camera.

 

  • Director Ahmad AlMiqlah (Ministry of Information Officer): was responsible for filming confessions, and the review confessions to make sure they conform to the government’s allegations.

Despite repeated requests from AlSalman’s lawyer before the court to consider the complaint of torture, the Court of Cassation in July 1, 2013 supported the ruling of the Supreme Court of Appeal against AlSalman, and she was sentenced to six months  in prison. All of this proceeded without consideration of her complaints of torture or prosecuting any of the individuals involved in her mistreatment; to date, no one has been held accountable.

 

Second Case: Adnan AlMansy

Adnan AlMansi was arrested on May 30, 2012, and was transferred to the Criminal Investigations Unit.  AlMansi informed the Public Prosecutor about the torture he underwent during his detention, and explained how he was forced to confess to crimes he did not commit. His testimony was ignored by the court and was not even documented. AlMansi's lawyer filed a complaint at the Special Investigations Unit in July 2012 in regards to his ill-treatment, torture, and forced confession. AlMansi stated in the complaint the names of the government officials whom were involved in his torture, including Issa AlMajali and Farid Ismail.

AlMansi added that he was forced to stand under the sun for an hour, and was deprived of water. His lawyer submitted a report about her client that included the fact that he was "subjected to rape by the officials of the Ministry of the Interior causing him bleeding in the anal area". In addition, AlMansi was severely beaten on the head, causing temporary paralysis and a lasting headache. In addition to all of this, AlMansi was denied access to adequate medical treatment for the injuries caused by his torture.

Instead of investigating the complaint, the lawyer who spoke to the media about what happened to her client, was interrogated. In spite of the filed investigation complaint, the court continued to proceed with the case against Adnan AlMansi; the proceedings are still ongoing.

 

 

Third Case: Imad Yassin Abdulhussain

Imad Yassin was arrested in November 2011 from the State of Qatar, and was handed over to the Bahraini authorities. In September 2012 Imad's lawyer filed a complaint to the Special Investigations Unit stating that his client was subjected to physical and psychological torture at the Criminal Investigations Building by the interrogators Issa AlMajali and Fawaz AlAmadi. The complaint included information that Yassin was severely beaten all over his body and was held in a small cell in solitary confinement where prison guards threw dozens of cockroaches inside the cell. Throughout this period, his hands were tied behind his back, he was denied sleep, and was blindfolded by a piece of cloth even though there was no source of light in the room where he was held. In addition, Yassin was deprived of access to the bathroom, and was threatened to be tortured with a power drill if he did not confess to the charges against him which relate to forming and joining a terrorist cell.

Imad Yassin was sentenced in May 2012 to 15 years in prison. Despite the complaint of torture in September 2012, the Supreme Court of Appeal continued the proceedings of the case without the investigating the torture allegations, and continued to ignore the lawyer’s request to halt the proceedings. He was sentenced to prison without any reference during the trial to those who were involved in his torture.

The BCHR also notes the recurrence of the name of the officer Issa AlMajali in complaints of torture, and the BCHR still receives complaints about cases of torture against detainees at the hands of the same officer. The Special Investigations Unit has still not taken any serious actions to investigate these complaints.

These cases represent only a small sample of the torture complaints submitted to the Investigations Unit that have not resulted in any action. A longer list of cases can be found at the end of this report.

In regards to the conditions of the prison of the convicted, the Special Investigation Unit announced in June 2013 that it ordered the political leader who was sentenced to life imprisonment, Hassan Mushaima, to visit doctors to follow-up on his health and conduct all medical examinations required in accordance with the regulations and procedures of the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation. However, at the time of writing this report, Mushaima is still being prevented from receiving the medical treatment he needs outside of the prison. The authorities claim that they are allowed to prevent his medical treatment because Mushaima refuses to wear the prison uniform. There are serious concerns that a cancerous tumor has returned to his body as he has not received the recommended treatment since his arrest in March 2011.

Cases of Extrajudicial Killings

Nawaf Hamza, Head of the Special Investigations Unit, announced in April 2012 that the Unit will investigate 15 cases related deaths that occurred in 2011. However justice was not realized in any of these cases. It is notable that the Public Prosecution deliberately discredited the evidence and testimony provided by lawyers, or stated by the detainees, in cases against the security forces, as occurred in the case of two victims whom were murdered at the hands of security forces in the wake of demonstrations in February 2011: Ali AlMoumen and Essa Abdulhassan.

At other times, the Public Prosecutor transferred cases of deliberate killings by the security forces against citizens whom are exercising their legitimate right to peaceful protest, as happened in the case of the victim Hani Abdulaziz. The Supreme Court of Appeal reduced the penalty of Abdulaziz's killer, Lieutenant Mohammed AlKharsham, from seven years' imprisonment to six months after he was charged with beating the victim to death. In the same context, the same court has acquitted staff of the Ministry of the Interior (MoI) from the case of the murdered victim Fadel AlMatrook after they shot him "inadvertently" as they alleged. Other sources confirmed that the witness to the killing, Mohammed AlMushasnah, was arrested as an act of revenge for his testimony and sentenced to life imprisonment after he presented to the court a video which proves the involvement of the security forces. AlMushasnah also identified the killer in the courtroom and pointed him out without fear or hesitation. It is worth mentioning that the judge Ebrahim AlZayed, who sentenced AlMushasnah to life imprisonment, is the same judge who who sentenced Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, to three years imprisonment in retaliation for his human rights work. He is also the judge who acquitted the two policemen who killed Ali AlMoumen and Essa Abdulhassan.   

In a clear indication of how the government of Bahrain has sought to hide the hum,an rights violations and the lack of accountability for torturers, Bahrain canceled in April 2013 the visit from the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Mr. Juan Mendez which was scheduled to take place from 8 to 15 May 2013. In an official statement, Mr. Méndez stated: “This is the second time that my visit has been postponed, at very short notice. It is effectively a cancellation as no alternative dates were proposed nor is there a future road map to discuss.”

In a comment on the performance of the Special Investigations Unit of the Public Prosecution, the head of the Monitoring and Documenting Unit at the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Said Yousif AlMouhafdah, has stated “The establishment of the Unit was for nothing more than a tool to stop the international pressure to implement the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report” and he considered its establishment an effort to avoid accountability for the human rights violators, especially those at high positions in the country.

 

 

Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) calls for the following:

  • Serious and impartial investigation into claims of torture made ​​by detainees, especially in political cases and the cases of conscience.
  • To allow the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture to visit Bahrain and document the torture testimonies.
  • Accountability for those responsible for the violations over the past years no matter how high their positions in government may be.
  • Compensation for the victims of violations, which befits the extent of their suffering.

The following list details the names of a selection of the individuals whom were interrogated regarding torture claims in the Special Investigations Unit at the Public Prosecution; justice has not been achieved for any one on this list: 

 

Number

Name

Other Details

1

Mohammed Mirza Rabea

Was subjected to torture at the Criminal Investigations Building and at the Samaheej Police Station (2012)

2

Raihana Abdulla AlMousawi

Was subjected to torture at the Criminal Investigations Building (2013)

3

Abduali AlSinkais

Was subjected to torture at the Criminal Investigations Building (2013)

4

Adnan AlMansi

2012

5

Mohammed Ismail Mahdi

Was subjected to torture at Roundabout 17 Police Station  (2013)

6

Mubarak Abbas

Was subjected to torture at the Central Police Station  (2013)

7

Mohammed Salman Matrook

2013

8

Imad Yassin

2012

9

Aqeel Abdulmihsin AlJamri

2013

10

Mahdi Abu Deeb

2013

11

AbdulAziz AbdulRedha AlSaqay

2012

12

Hassan AlMkharaq

2012

13

Salman AlMkharaq

2012

14

Ali AlSinkais

2012

15

Jaffer Sahwan

2012

16

Fatima Khudhair

2012

17

Murtadha AbdulAli Khatam

2013

18

Aamir Abdulnabi Badaw

2013

19

Salah Abari

2012

20

Ghusoon AlSayed Hamza Khalaf

2012

21

Qassim Hassan Mattar

2012

22

Khulood AlDirazi

2012

23

Muhammed Aqeel Mahdi

2012

24

Hassan AlAjooz

2012

25

Dr. Najah Khalil

2012

26

Dr. Nairah Sarhan

2012

27

Mahmood Saleh

2012

28

Jalila Salman

2012

29

Said Yousif AlMuhafdah

2012

30

Mohammed Aatiyah

2012

31

Mahmood Ali Slaman Naseef

2012

32

Jaffar AJamri

2013

33

Sayed Hashim Ahmed Hashim

He filed a complaint in June 2012, and was released, then he was targeted for another case and got tortured as well and he filed another complaint in June 2013.

34

Miqdad Saeed AlJazeeri

2013

35

Muhammed Shamlooh

2012

36

Ahmed Alwidaqee

2012

37

Khulood AlSayad

2012

38

Dr. Sadiq Jaffer

2012

39

Dr. AbdulShaheed

2012

40

Fadheela Khudhair

2012

41

Dr. Nada Dhaif

2012

42

Sanaa Zain AlDeen

2012

43

Dr. AArif Rajab

 

44

Mohammed Abdulameer Mushaimaa

2012

45

Sayer Jaffer Abdulla Salan

2012

46

Ali Khalil Hubail

2012

47

Ali Jaffer AlShaikh

2012

48

Sayed Hussain Ali Nasser AlMousawi

2012

49

Mohammed Hassan Salman Aashoor

2012

50

Fadhil Abbas Mohammed Aashoor

2012

51

Zakariya Aatiyah Saleh

2012

52

Abduallah Abdulnabi Abdullah

2012

53

Mohammed Ebrahim Ramadhan Hantoosh

2012

54

Husssain Ali Mosa Hassan

2012

55

Murtadha Hassan Ali AlMotwa

2012

56

Mahmood Ali Moosa Hassan

2012

57

Hassan Ali Mahdi Ramadhan

2012

58

Hassan Ahmed Abdullah AlHanan

2012

59

Hussain Ahmed Abdullah AlHanan

2012

60

Hassan Ali Hasssan

2012

61

Ali Radhi Rabea

2012

62

Ali Ismail Ebrahim AlHayki

 

63

Sayed Hussain Hashim Abdulllah

 

64

Hussain Ali Hassan AlSaeed

 

65

Sadiq Aashoor Hasssan

 

66

Mohammed Altajir

2013