Annual Report: Bahrain 2013

Report
May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Bahrain 2013

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  • In September, a court acquitted two security officers of killing two protesters at Manama’s Pearl Roundabout on 17 February 2011. The officers’ own statements were reported to be the only evidence presented and they did not attend court hearings. The prosecution lodged an appeal against the verdict in October.

Excessive use of force

The security forces continued to use excessive force, using shotguns and tear gas against protesters, sometimes in enclosed spaces. Two children were among four people reported to have died after being shot with firearms or by the impact of tear gas canisters. At least 20 other people were reported to have died as a result of tear gas. The authorities said in September that 1,500 security officers had been injured in protests since the beginning of the year. Two police officers were killed in the second half of the year.

  • Hussam al-Haddad, aged 16, died on 17 August after being shot by riot police in al-Muharraq. An inquiry by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) concluded that the shooting was justifiable “to ward off imminent danger”.
  • Ali Hussein Neama, aged 16, died on 28 September after riot police shot him in the back in Sadad village. His family said police threatened them and prevented them from approaching him as he lay on the ground. An investigation by the SIU dismissed the case, considering it an “act of self-defence” on the part of the security officer.

Torture and other ill-treatment

The government took steps to improve police behaviour, issuing new regulations for the police including a code of conduct and providing human rights training. However, the police continued to arrest people without warrants, detain them incommunicado for days or weeks, deny them access to lawyers, and allegedly subject them to torture or other ill-treatment, including beatings, kicking, verbal abuse and threats of rape.

  • Hussein Abdullah Ali Mahmood al-Ali was arrested without a warrant on 26 July in Salmabad village. He was allegedly beaten and taken to an undisclosed location. He reported being tortured while held incommunicado and forced to sign a “confession”. His family did not know his whereabouts for three weeks, and for months after his arrest neither his family nor lawyers knew his exact location. He said he was given electric shocks and threatened with rape.

Tens of children aged 15 to 18, including those arrested at or during demonstrations, were held in adult prisons and detention centres; many were accused of “illegal gathering” or rioting. Some were beaten at or following arrest and denied access to their families or lawyers during the first hours of detention, during which time they alleged they were forced to sign “confessions”. Some were sentenced to prison terms.

  • Salman Amir Abdullah al-Aradi, aged 16, was arrested in February and again in May when he was taken to Al Hidd police station and allegedly beaten and threatened with rape to make him sign a “confession” without the presence of his family or lawyer. He was then charged with “illegal gathering” and other offences, convicted and sentenced to one year’s imprisonment in July, confirmed on appeal.
  • Mariam Hassan Abdali Al Khazaz, aged 17, said police beat and kicked her following her arrest in Manama after a protest on 21 September. She was made to sign a “confession” without the presence of a lawyer or her family and charged with “illegal gathering”, assaulting a police officer and other offences. She was released on bail on 17 October and was awaiting trial at the end of the year.

Human rights defenders and other activists

Human rights defenders and other activists were harassed, detained and sentenced by the authorities, and vilified in the state media.