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Bahrain Prosecute Children Despite Passage of Correctional Justice Law

The High Criminal Appeals Court in Bahrain decided to postpone the trial session of five children to April 12th.  The court held a session today to judge the five children, yet the trial was postponed due to the non-attendance of the appellants. Children refrained from attending because they have contact with people infected with the Coronavirus in prisons.

On February 28, a Bahraini court issued a three-year prison sentence against the five children from the town of Al-Aker. Children are Abdullah Abdul-Jabbar, Muhammad Abdullah, Hani Abd al-Zahra, Abdullah Abdul-Jalil, and Yusef Abd al-Khaleq.

Bahraini authorities gave them trumped-up charges of burning tires during popular demonstrations in the past.

Bahraini human rights defender Ibrahim Sarhan indicated that these children were subjected to ill-treatment, and some of them were brought to trial without investigation.

The Bahraini system’s courts continue to try children despite the ratification by the King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa, on February 16, of the Correctional Justice Law for Children and their protection from ill-treatment.

The newly passed law was approved by the Shura Council and Parliament.

Dozens of Bahraini children were arrested and tried since the start of the popular uprising in 2011 under the anti-terrorism law.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General, Ali Fadl Al-Buainain, directed the members of the Public Prosecution Office to implement articles of the Children’s Corrective Justice Law and to observe its provisions during the investigation.

Earlier, Amnesty International condemned the authorities ’trial of these four over political cases and their questioning before the investigation office without the presence of a lawyer.

In a statement, the organization condemned the procedures for trying minors before the Supreme Criminal Court and considering them as adults. Their trial was in contradiction to child laws and international standards previously ratified by the government of Bahrain.

The authorities accuse the children of gathering, rioting, and possession of Molotov cocktails on February 14, 2020.

A human rights defender in a prominent international organization called on the United Kingdom, the United States and other governments to ensure that their security support for Bahrain was not used to torture and humiliate children.

Bill Van Esveld, the associate children’s rights director at HRW, said that the instances of abuse against children in Bahrain are the latest example in a long record of harm done to children in the country.

“The UK, US and other governments should ensure that their security support to Bahrain is not being used to torture and humiliate kids,” he said.

HRW has called for action to be taken and for the children to be released.

“Bahrain should release all children when there are alternatives to detention and drop abusive charges against them,” the report read.

Esveld added that the purpose of these violations was “to send a repressive message.”

Two human rights groups revealed in a joint investigative investigation on Wednesday that about 13 children, between the ages of 11 and 17, were arrested from early to mid-February.

According to HRW, the Bahraini authorities have used preemptive or arbitrary arrests to deter people from protesting around major events, such as the Formula One races.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, the advocacy director at the UK-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), condemned the way the police treat children in the country.

“A police officer who threatens a 13-year-old with rape or electric shocks from a car battery is an abominable stain on Bahrain’s reputation,” he told HRW

The 2011 protests were quickly crushed after the Bahraini government brought in troops from neighbouring Gulf states, mostly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The government has since cracked down heavily on dissent, banning opposition parties and jailing dozens of activists and journalists.

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