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Two children face 20 years in prison as repression intensifies in Bahrain

The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy has warned that two children, aged 13, might face 20 years in prison.

They were arrested and interrogated on charges related to the protest in Bahrain.

The Institute reported that the two children, Hussein Ayoub and Mohammed Rashid, are expected to appear in court on February 14, the tenth anniversary of the start of the Bahrain uprising in 2011.

It expressed its concern that their pursuit was politically motivated to deter Bahraini demonstrators from engaging in the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the revolution.

The two children’s families reported that they were subjected to hours of interrogation without their lawyer or parents’ presence.

This raised fears that they might be forced to make confessions.

Absence of a fair trial

A Bahraini judge ordered the two children to be detained for seven days after being questioned by the Public Prosecution Office on February 7 on arson charges linked to protests in their village last year.

While the child Muhammad was interviewed in his lawyer’s presence, Hussain was questioned without his lawyer or his parents, despite his lawyer’s presence in the building and the staff notifying that he was waiting for the interview.

The two children had been interrogated earlier in late December 2020, after their parents were notified of their transfer to Hamad Town Police Station for interrogation.

Police questioned Hussain for eight hours, until the early hours of the morning. Meanwhile, the police refused repeated requests from his parents to accompany their child during the interrogation.

Muhammad’s family was not present during his interrogation.

Forced confessions

The Bahraini police and judiciary are notorious for their refusal to allow detainees legal representation, raising concerns that children may be intimidated into making coerced confessions.

The Bahrain Institute said that these violations violate Bahrain’s responsibility to ensure access to legal counsel for persons suspected of having committed a criminal offence.

As explained in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Bahrain is a signatory.

And in articles 37 and 40 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child that protect children from arbitrary arrest and prosecution.

The director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy in London, Syed Ahmed Al-Wadaei, commented, “Interrogating children without the presence of their parents or their lawyers makes them vulnerable to coercion and violates international law.”

He added, “These boys should be in school, and not be taken to the prosecution office or be dragged to police stations in the middle of the night.”

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