On 5 and 6 December 2016, five young men from the town of Bani Jamrah in north-western Bahrain were arrested from their homes by masked men in civilian clothing between 2 and 6 am. The men, including two minors, were repeatedly beaten all over their body, shackled and forced to stand up for two whole days before being forced to confess to the charge of “participating in demonstrations”. Concerned about the potential use of their confessions as evidence in court, Alkarama sent an urgent appeal to the UN Special Rapporteur on on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association (SRFPAA), Maina Kiai, urging his intervention with the Bahraini authorities.
All five young men, between the ages of 16 and 20, were arrested by masked men in civilian clothing belonging to the Criminal Investigation Directorate, who broke into their homes, raided them and confiscated cell phones before taking the victims away. The masked men showed no warrants nor provided them with a reason for the arrest. On 7 December 2016, the families received their first phone call from the detainees. The men said they were at the Al Badih town police station and that they had been brought before the Public Prosecutor, who extended their detention for 30 days without the presence of a lawyer. The young men said that they would be transferred to the Dry Dock Detention Centre.
During their families’ first visit, the victims reported that they had been forced to stand up for two whole days in a row, that they had been beaten repeatedly all over their bodies and forced to confess under torture to the charge of “participating in protests” and were then forced to sign written confessions they were not allowed read beforehand. Some of them were forced to confess to additional charges such as “vandalism” or “assaulting state security officers”.
Torture in Bahrain is a rampant practice that is being widely used as retaliation against all dissenting voices. Furthermore, torture has been systematically used to extract confessions that are later used as sole evidence in proceedings. On 15 January 2017, the Bahraini authorities executed three men that had been allegedly tortured in order to extract their confessions. Their execution was publicly condemned by the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (SRSUMX) and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment (SRT) who denounced the torture and the unfair trial the men had been subjected to.
These executions are testament to the lack of respect of fair trial guarantees by the Bahraini judicial authorities and foreshadow the unfair trials these young men from Bani Jamrah might be subjected to. Alkarama therefore sent an urgent appeal to the SRFPAA requesting his urgent intervention with the Bahraini authorities, calling for the immediate release of these young men who cannot be solely detained for having “participated in demonstrations”. Alkarama further requested that, should these men be tried, the confessions made under torture not be used as evidence in court in respect of article 15 of the Convention against Torture (UNCAT). Alkarama finally called for the opening of an independent investigation into the claims of torture and that the perpetrators be held accountable.
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