Statement on International Day of Support for Victims of Torture
Bahrain: Torture is Systematic and Reparation for Victims is the Duty of the State
For International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, on June 26 of each year, the world re-affirms its condemnation of torture as a crime that leaves, in its patterns and methods, a severe impact on a human being, which cannot be justified under any circumstances. However, in Bahrain, the systematic use of torture continues. Bahraini authorities continue to obscure the reality of what detainees were and still are being subjected to in prisons and detention centres for their political backgrounds. Additionally, the Bahraini authorities justify the abuses committed security services and the Public Prosecution, who implemented torture during the investigation and interrogation of prisoners of conscience and politicians, as well as children. Moreover, the judiciary continues to cover up and silence knowledge of these crimes.
These systematic and intentional crimes against humanity, including torture, are never lost by time. It is the duty of the state to ensure reparations are made to victims. Perpetrators of torture are not protected by decrees or laws, regardless of their connections. It is also a gross violation of the right not to be subjected to torture, which isn’t justified by any legitimate context, within the legal framework in the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which was approved in 1984 and entered into force on June 26, 1987. The Kingdom of Bahrain, through signing the provisions of the Convention by virtue of the Decree Law No. (4) of 1998, without ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention, committed itself to taking legislative, judicial and administrative measures to prevent the crime of torture, and took upon itself in Article 14 to ensure that the victim obtains redress and fair compensation.
In its ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights under Law No. 56 of 2006, the Kingdom of Bahrain reaffirmed its commitment to preventing anyone from being subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as stipulated in Article 7 thereof.
Dozens of local and international reports, including complaints filed by special procedures, have documented human rights violations of political prisoners in Bahrain, the most important of which are prominent human rights activists: Abdul Hadi Al-Khawaja, Naji Fateel, Abdul-Jalil Al-Sankees, and Ibtisam Al-Saegh. These reports also showed the suffering of victims among political detainees and prisoners in Jaw Central Prison, having been tortured at the General Department of Criminal Investigations, the security complex in the city of Muharraq and other detention centres. Furthermore, these reports emphasized the grave violations caused by the security services during their detention and investigations. Detainees in Bahrain have suffered from systematic torture and cruel and degrading treatment by security officers in the Interior Ministry and the National Security Agency, whose methods varied between ill-treatment, beatings, sexual assault, medical negligence, and the denial of treatment… In the context, the legal advisor of SALAM organization (Ibrahim Sarhan) commented: “The pain of torture is still haunting me psychologically, and the scenes of torture in death chambers are not lost on my imagination. My will was not broken, and I did not give up my human rights activities. Rather, my determination to combat torture and defend the victims for a future in which people feel their full humanity and dignity has increased.”
It’s been years of torture and the Government of Bahrain remains unable or unwilling to compensate and provide redress for dozens of torture victims and their families by ignoring allegations of torture and their abstention, acquitting perpetrators, and issuing lenient sentences against the few who were convicted.
If the Government of Bahrain is serious about comprehensive human rights reforms, it must redress and compensate victims of torture by following the specific system of procedures and stages, as stipulated in General Comment No. 3 of the United Nations Committee Against Torture on the implementation of Article 14 of the United Nations Convention against Torture. Accordingly, and on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, we urge the Bahraini authorities to adopt a roadmap, summarized as:
First: Restoration of rights and an effort to return the victim to their situation prior to the violation, taking into account the specific circumstances of each case. This requires addressing the structural causes, i.e. addressing the consequences of torture such as discrimination and sectarian persecution and taking steps to reverse its effects.
Second: Appropriate financial and non-financial compensation to cover damages, including medical expenses, loss of income, and opportunities. Compensation should also include legal aid and other costs related to seeking redress.
Third: Comprehensive rehabilitation and provision of medical, psychological, legal and social services, to enable the victim’s integration and participation in society, and efforts to address the negative effects of torture and provide long-term support.
Fourth: Satisfaction and the right to know the truth by investigating incidents of torture, revealing the truth, restoring dignity and rights, imposing penalties on the perpetrators and holding them accountable, offering a public apology, and commemorating the victims.
Fifth: Taking preventive measures to combat impunity and ensure that torture is not repeated. Adhering to international standards of due process, training law enforcement officials, protecting human rights defenders, implementing independent monitoring of detention facilities, and undertaking legal reforms.
Sixth: Ratification of the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which was approved in 1984.
Salam Organization for Democracy and Human Rights