Bahraini authorities have reached a new low in the arrest and torture of a young man suffering from intellectual disabilities. On 13 December 2016, 18-year-old Kumail Hamida was arrested from his home in the village of Al Sanabis at 4:30 am by masked men in civilian clothing, held incommunicado for three days and subjected to torture to force him to confess to the charges of “participating in demonstrations” and “filming protests”. Kumail was also forced to sign written statements despite the fact that he is unable to read or write. On 9 February 2017, Alkarama sent an urgent request on Kumail’s behalf to the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities (SR Disabilities).
Kumail was detained incommunicado for three days at the Criminal Investigation Directorate building, a detention centre infamous for its treatment of detainees. His family was first able to visit him on 21 December 2016. Traces of torture were apparent on his face as he had a gaping wound stemming from his lower lip to his chin. He reported that he had been electrocuted in the soles of his feet and had boiling water poured on his body. Kumail also told his family he had been repeatedly beaten and was forced to confess to the charges of “participating in demonstrations” and “filming protests”. On 12 February 2017, the Bahraini authorities extended Kumail’s detention for another 30 days.
In light of this, Alkarama sent an urgent appeal to the Special Rapporteur on the rights of people with disabilities, calling for her urgent intervention with the Bahraini authorities to request the immediate release of Kumail Hamida. Alkarama further called for an impartial and independent investigation to be immediately launched into his torture allegations and for the prosecution of the perpetrators. Alkarama finally requested that the authorities refrain from prosecuting Kumail on the basis of charges that are detrimental to fundamental rights and freedoms, such as the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
Bahrain is a State party to the Convention against Torture (UNCAT) and has also ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which explicitly provides in its article 15 that persons with disabilities must be free from torture. In April 2017, Bahrain will undergo its third periodic review by the Committee against Torture (CAT), which will assess the country’s level of implementation and respect of the UNCAT.
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