In early July 2010, the BHRC undertook a mission to observe parts of the trials of two groups of individuals accused of offences connected to protests and tyre burnings.
The report highlighted the particular concern of the BHRC that during the arrest, detention and trial of the accused there was credible evidence that the following human rights were breached:
- The right not to be tortured or subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment as proscribed in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment 1984 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Arab Charter of Human Rights (¡§ACHR¡¨)3 to which the Kingdom of Bahrain is party.
- The right to a fair trial as proscribed by the ICCPR4 and ACHR,5 to which the Kingdom of Bahrain is party.
Consequently, the BHRC made a series of recommendations to the Kingdom of Bahrain, including that Bahrain should:
- Set up a full independent inquiry to investigate the allegations of torture of detainees, in accordance with Article 2 of CAT.
- Institute a properly independent and impartial commission to receive and handle with individual complaints of human rights violations.
- Ratify the Optional Protocol to the CAT allowing for independent scrutiny of detention facilities and procedures.
- Ensure that all security personnel are trained to recognise and uphold international standards against torture and mistreatment of detainees.
- Ensure that all prosecutions are instituted and conducted in accordance with the domestic law and international fair trial standards.
- Ensure that all persons placed under arrest are taken to a police station as soon as possible and allowed free access to legal advice and representation, in accordance with Article 14 of the ICCPR.
- Ensure that detainees are allowed access to independent medical experts in private.
- Amend the Protecting Society from Terrorists Act No.58 (2006) which the UN Special Rapporteur on torture has advised provides a far too wide definition of and unacceptably impedes access to lawyers and review of detention by a court.
On 18 October 2010, the BHRC 2010 report was raised in the House of Lords and Lord Howell, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, agreed that the UK government would consider providing technical assistance to the Government of Bahrain in implementing the reports recommendations if so requested. The present mission took place in the context of widespread concerns from international nongovernmental organisations and the international media about human rights¡¦ violations during the arrest and detention of dissidents and protestors, including torture and inhuman and degrading treatment. The purpose of the mission was to provide an independent view on the events reported, to assess their credibility and analyse the fact pattern against the previous matters identified by the BHRC. The report therefore examines the circumstances surrounding and details of the arrests and detention of these terrorist suspects, and considers them in light of internationally recognised standards of human rights.
Twenty three of those arrested were identified by the Public Prosecutor as “leaders”¨ of an allege terrorist network. This figure has since risen to twenty five, and these detainees are being tried together in the main trial. The BHRC focused its investigation on these detainees and the pre-trial events. A full list of these detainees is provided at Annex A together with the charges included on the original indictment. It is to be noted that Jaafar Al Hasabi possesses dual Bahrain/British nationality and Mohmmed Habib Almuqdad has dual Swedish nationality. Two of the twenty five are opposition figures living in London who are being tried in absentia. The allegations centre on the organisation of anti-Government demonstrations, including tyre-burning protests.
During the mission, the BHRC met with the Deputy Prime Minister, His Excellency Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarek Al Khalifa, the Minister of Interior, His Excellency Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al-Khalifa, the Attorney General, Dr Ali Fadhul Al Buainain, the Secretary-General designate of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), General Dr Abdul Latif Al Zayani, the Head of Public Security, Major General Tariq Bin Daina, and Under-Secretary for Legal Affairs, Brigadier Mahmood Bu Hamood, and doctors and officials within the Public Prosecutors Office. The mission also met with lawyers acting for the detainees, and family members of the detainees. In addition, the BHRC met with the British Ambassador and representatives of the US Embassy, representatives of the Bahrain Human Rights Society, the recently-resigned head of the National institution of Human Rights, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, and the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, and other human rights defenders, members of the business community, and Dr Ali Salman, General Secretary of Islamic National Wefaq Committee. All meetings were conducted in English or in Arabic with the assistance of a translator.
The relevant legal framework has been set out extensively in previous reports of the BHRC and will not be repeated here. However, reference to the applicable legal requirements is made throughout the report. Prior to the mission, the BHRC sent letters to the King of Bahrain requesting to meet with those detainees referenced in the BHRC 2010 July trial observation report, and the current detainees. A letter was also sent to the Chair of the Bahrain Bar Society requesting a meeting. No replies were received to those letters. The BHRC reiterated its request to have access to the detainees to the Attorney General. However, this was not granted. Following the mission, the BHRC sent letters to the Minister for the Interior, the Attorney-General and the Deputy Prime Minister in an attempt to constructively engage with them regarding the concerns highlighted in this report. Prior to publication, the BHRC sent a draft of this report to the Government of Bahrain for comment and received a formal response from the Ministry of Social Development. A summary of this response in English and the original Arabic document will be published alongside the BHRC¦s report on the BHRC¦s website. In its response, the Ministry welcomed the interest of the BHRC in the situation in Bahrain, but felt that the mission had been misinformed concerning various issues.
Read the English report
Read the Arabic report