Granting the National Security Apparatus the power of General Attorney and immunity from prosecution before Civil Courts
Bahrain: Strengthening the Security Apparatus Warns of further Repression; Granting the National Security Apparatus the authority of public security, the power of General Attorney and immunity from prosecution before Civil Courts Ignoring the legislative and judiciary and taking advantage of the Lawyers Association Targeting human rights defenders Campaign of raids and arrests continues in three Shiite villages The Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights express their deep concern for the Bahraini authorities' direction towards further strengthening the role and powers of the National Security Apparatus (NSA) which, since its establishment in 2002, has been carrying out the ever-increasing role of targeting human rights defenders and the political opponents and infiltrating their organizations. The National Security Apparatus (NSA) controls the Special Security Forces - estimated to be approximately 15 to 20 thousand, most of who are non-Bahraini mercenaries - which began in mid 2005 and in escalating manner to use excessive force in suppressing peaceful gatherings and protests. Since December 2007, this NSA has waged escalating waves of raids and arrests which have affected hundreds of citizens among them dozens of human rights defenders. As well as waging media campaigns to fabricate false or exaggerated security issues to stigmatize the opponents and human rights defenders of the use of violence. The Service used systematic torture and restrictive laws to bring dozens of those to trials that lack the minimal standards of fair trial which are required by the international conventions to which Bahrain has adhered to. The new decree: Completes the security-control system, and strengthens the power of the Security Apparatus: Rather than responding to the appeals of national and international organizations of putting a end to the serious and escalating violations that the National Security Apparatus is practicing, the King issues decree number (117) for the year 2008 to amend some of the provisions of the decree of establishing the National Security Apparatus number (14) for the year 2002. The new amendments states that: Members of the National Security Apparatus are considered as officers and non-commissioned officers and in equivalence to the Public Security Forces. The legal Affairs of the National Security Apparatus and its members have the same functions and powers as the Public Security Forces. The officers, non-commissioned officers, and other member's of the National Service have the same judicial functions as the public attorney in regards to the crimes which falls in the field of work of the National Security Apparatus. Thus, the National Security Apparatus became a security institution which is entirely independent of the Public Security and Defense. However, it has the benefit of double jurisdictions; those that join the functions of both the Public Security Forces and the judicial authority. Furthermore, the members cannot be prosecuted by neither the criminal nor the civil court, but only by the military court which lacks transparency and independence. This deprives persons affected from the Service's actions from their right to justice before court, and provides the suitable grounds for the members of the National Security Apparatus to commit violations and have impunity. All this explicitly contradicts the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and several International conventions, among them are: The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention Against Torture which the Bahrain has acceded to and should abide by. In the course of his comment, the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights Mr. Nabeel Rajab stated, "What adds to the seriousness of strengthening the role of the powers and influence of the National Security Apparatus is that it is consistent with the group of laws that restrict public liberties and punishes those who practice them. Such as, State security articles from the 1976 Penal Law, the 1989 Law on Associations, the 2006 laws on Gatherings and Demonstration and the Anti-Terrorism Law. On the other hand, the political system in Bahrain strips the legislative and judicial authorities off its independence and its efficiency in monitoring and questioning the formation and practices of such institutions that play a critical role, or reforming rigid laws. In addition to, and as a result of, all this civil society institutions, human rights organizations and the press are deprived of efficiency in monitoring and influence. Consequently, the authority is creating a new repressive reality more organized and dangerous than the measures that were taken during the past state security era." Mr. Rajab adds, "While the decree number 10 for the year 2002 grants impunity to the violators of human rights; employees of the State Security Service in the previous era, the new decree grants impunity to the employees of the National Security Apparatus, contributes in setting off their violations and protects them from accountability and punishment in the present and future." Marginalizing the National Council and judiciary, and taking advantage of the Lawyers Association to support new procedures: The aforementioned decree was issued in neglect of the legislative authority represented in the National Council which in session but is subject to the dominance of the authority in terms of structure and work system. The decree also overlooked the jurisdictions and role of the judiciary authority, which in turn lacks it independence as well. However, the authority, on the other hand, was keen on securing moral support to the new decree by instructing the head of the Lawyers Association to issue a supporting legal opinion to it. The government, in the last few years, was able to dominate the Lawyers Association and end its role in support of human rights issues, especially after electing the current board of administration which is headed by the wife of one of the senior officials at the Ministry of the Interior. That reveals the gravity of the government plans in infiltrating and dominating civil society institutions. The National Security Service maintains its raids and arrests: A new wave of raids and arrests has continued; on January 12, 2009 Sami Ahmed Meftah (30 years) from Tubli area was arrested. At dawn on 18 January, houses were raided and the following arrested: Sayed Ali Sayed Shubar (30 years) from Jidhafs area, Ali Abdulhadi Meshemea (19 years) from Daih area, Abbas Jameel Taher Al-Samea (19 years) from Sanabis area, Hussein Ali Jum'a (15 years) from Hamad Town. At dawn and on the same day, the houses of the two following were raided: Mohammed Abdul-Kareem and Abdulredha Taher Samea (26 years) from Jidhafs area with the plea of being "wanted for arrest". The new wave of arrests was begun by the National Security Apparatus on the December 17, 2008 anticipating the events of the Martyrs and Torture Victims Day udder the pretext of the uncovering a "terror plot". The arrests so far have reached dozens of citizens who were detained for long periods in solitary confinement, without contact with the outside world, which easily subjects them to torture and extracting "confessions" from them which could be used to convict them through government media, and to accuse them later in court. Normally in previous such case, the National Security Apparatus was basing its actions and charges against arrestees on the state security articles from the 1976 Penal Code. While, as to the recent arrests, they are based on a more restrictive law which is the anti-terrorism law for the year 2006, and which was condemned by the UN's Special Rapporteur on Terrorism and many international nongovernmental organizations concerned with human rights. Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Bahrain Youth Center for Human Rights demand the following: 1. To put an end to the current policy of supporting laws, institutions and practices that restrict and suppress public liberties, and instead guarantee civil and political rights, and to set off public freedoms, especially the ones related to expression, gatherings and association, 2. To adopt dialogue with, and participation of, the various civil institution and groups in order to lay down practical solutions for unsettled issues, whether they are related to civil or political rights, or economic, social and cultural rights, 3. To put an end to the continuous violations and targeting human rights defenders and political opponents, and to secure a healthy and suitable environment for the work of human rights organizations and civil society institutions away from; restrictive laws and interferences and threats of the National Security Apparatus, 4. To guarantee the independence of the judiciary, and to secure the citizens right in prosecuting public officials of all specializations or levels, and to end any form of immunity and impunity, especially the ones related to arbitrary arrest, torture, unfair trials and targeting human rights defenders, 5. To refer to the legislative authority - that needs to be independent and representing public will - when issuing and mending laws, and to monitor and guarantee its efficient role in calling the executive authority to account, including the security services, 6. To reform laws related to liberties and repeal the anti-terrorism law, 7. To dissolve the National Security Apparatus and the Special Security Forces and to return their powers to the regular security services, 8. To end the policy of recruiting and using non-Bahraini mercenaries to work for the security apparatus and within the special security forces, who are being used to deal violently with peaceful gatherings and public protests, 9. To stop the systematic discrimination, isolation and marginalization policy against the Shiite community practiced by the authority in all fields.