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Rights groups denounce the policy of arbitrary detention of children in Bahrain

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights condemned the policy of arbitrary detention of children in Bahrain and the unclear conditions of their detention.

The centre said in a press release that six children are currently held in Batelco’s child care home after the Public Prosecution extended their detention on February 2, 2022.

According to the centre, the children are detained on charges of “manufacturing and using flammable devices, gathering, rioting, and assaulting people and public and private property,” according to the Public Prosecution’s statement on February 1, 2022, knowing that the families were not aware of these accusations before this statement was issued.

The children were transferred to Batelco House on January 5, 2022, from Dar Al Karama, where they were held for a week after their arrest on December 26, 2021.

The children had been placed under surveillance since June 2021, and the Public Prosecution arbitrarily and without justification ordered their detention last December.

According to the families, the children were first summoned to Sitra Police Station on June 10, 2021, for questioning concerning crimes committed in January 2021, when they were under 15.

The children were interrogated at the police station without a lawyer present and were shouted at and intimidated when they denied the charges against them. Then they were taken to the Public Prosecution Office, where they were also interrogated without a lawyer and placed under surveillance for six months. It was not clear what kind of monitoring they were subjected to.

Between June 10 and December 26, 2021, the children were summoned at least three times for questioning. The families were not properly informed of the charges, and according to one of the children’s fathers, “the allegations have changed over the course of the interrogations.”

On December 26, 2021, they were detained at Dar Al Karama after being summoned for interrogation. After Dar Al Karama, they were transferred to Batelco House, which is currently being held.

It should be noted that family visits are not permitted, and children are allowed to make one phone call to family members per week.

According to Article 10 of the Children’s Restorative Justice and Protection from Abuse Law, “the child is guaranteed all rights and guarantees stipulated in the Criminal Procedure Code at all stages of the criminal case.”

However, the children and their families were not properly informed of the charges against them in violation of Article 133 of Bahrain’s Code of Criminal Procedure.

They were not allowed to see a lawyer during interrogations between June 10 and December 26 2021. Neither the families nor the lawyer was given an explanation for the current detention, knowing that although the law allows the court to place “at-risk” children in social care, the Depositing in such institutions is “the last available option, and for the shortest possible period.”

The lawyer for five of the children stated that the circumstances of the accusation were not entirely clear. Furthermore, there is no legal justification for preventing family visits for the six children.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expressed its concern about the arbitrary detention of the six children and the unclear conditions of their detention.

The human rights centre called on the authorities to release the six children or clarify the reasons for their arrest and allow family visits and ensure that children have adequate access to legal counsel.

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