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Bahrain: Torture is the policy, and impunity is the rule

A human rights report affirmed that torture is a policy, while impunity is the rule in Bahrain.

Throughout its contemporary history, Bahrain has witnessed several uprisings after different popular movements sought the same goal since before independence.

These peaceful movements were met with force and resulted in increased repression. The last popular activity in February 2011 was no different from its predecessors.

Since the first day of the popular movement in 2011, the Bahraini government has resorted to force to end peaceful demonstrations.

Many protesters were killed because of the security forces’ brutality, either in the streets or under the weight of systematic torture in detention centers.

Local and international reports documented hundreds of cases of torture and ill-treatment.

Concerned United Nations bodies and various international organizations called on the Bahraini government to address violations and end impunity.

It has been nearly a decade since February 14, 2011, and nothing has changed.

The Gulf Center for Human Rights affirmed that Bahrain is obligated to address torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment under international law.

Although Bahrain has introduced several reforms since 2011 to address illegal practices committed by the security forces, torture remains pervasive and systematic.

According to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights documents, almost all persons arrested in connection with the popular movement in 2011 have been subjected to various levels of ill-treatment during arrest, investigation, pretrial detention, or in prison.

Security forces tortured detainees either to extract confessions or as punishment for their participation in peaceful protests.

Various forms of physical and psychological torture were also practised against detainees across multiple police stations, security services headquarters, detention centres and prisons.

Prominent opposition figures and civil society activists have not escaped torture and degrading treatment at the security forces’ hands.

The Gulf Center published a report detailing 24 cases of opposition figures and civil society activists, in addition to dozens of cases of convicted political prisoners.

Bahraini law criminalizes torture and provides life imprisonment for those who use a suffering method that leads to death.

Although there were thousands of torture cases, perpetrators had few convictions and reduced prison sentences, even if it resulted in death.

Impunity in Bahrain appears to be the rule. The government did not take any serious and effective steps to reduce beatings or impunity.

Therefore, it appears that the reforms undertaken by the government are misleading, as there is no real intention to stop the violations committed against detainees who are being punished for exercising their basic rights to freedom of expression and association, which are guaranteed by all international human rights conventions.

This research report was written by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights in cooperation with the Gulf Center for Human Rights through a project funded by the European Union to address torture and accountability in the Arab Gulf region.

The report presented some cases and testimonies documented by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and many partners.

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