Human Rights Activist MohammedKhalil: The Terrorism Law created a fertile ground for the continuation of tortureand ill-treatment
The human rights activist MohammedKhalil said that the law on protecting society from terrorist acts created a fertileground for covering, continuing and increasing practices of torture andill-treatment, especially during interrogations.
During his participation in the 6thInternational Conference of the Bahrain Forum for Human Rights, Khalil saidthat Article 27 of Decree-Law 68 of 2014 allows the judicial arrest officer to detainthe accused for up to 28 days without presenting him to the prosecution or allowinghim to meet with the lawyer or a member of his family.
He stressed that the methods oftorture and ill-treatment are still ongoing in prisons and the GeneralDirectorate of Criminal Investigation and Forensic Science during theinterrogation of the accused and in detention centers and pre-trial detention.Khalil explained that the most widely used methods of torture are "beatingwith sticks, wood and plastic hoses, punching, slapping and kicking with handsand feet, electrocution or threats to electrocute the detainee, sexualharassment, threats of sexual assault to the victim's relatives, insertion ofsticks in the anus, suspension from the hands or feet, spraying the body with hotand cold water, burning with cigarette butts or other means, standing for long hours,deprivation of sleep for long hours, deprivation of bathroom use, deprivationof prayer, listening to the voices of victims being tortured, and others."
Khalil stressed that the absence ofa clear and specific definition of torture in the Bahraini national law,coupled with the absence of the true official will of the authorities inBahrain, impairs the possibility of combating this grave violation, and enablesthose involved in these crimes to escape from punishment. He added that thishas promoted and spread the practices of torture and ill-treatment; in addition,the national law lacks legislation that protects the victims from suchpractices and enables them to obtain justice.
He asserted that the judiciary, thePublic Prosecution, and the newly established institutions did not stoptorture, pointing out that the continuous pace of torture, despite theestablishment of the Special Investigation Unit of the Public Prosecution, the Prisonersand Detainees Rights Commission, and the Ombudsman, raises questions about therole of these institutions, which are supposed to contribute to the reductionof violations, especially torture practices against citizens. He also statedthat this confirms the need for independent bodies to inspect the allegationsof torture and ill-treatment and establish serious programs to end thistragedy.
Khalil pointed out that theprotection of society from terrorism should not be at the expense of the rightsof the accused, and is not accomplished by preparing the ground for theinvestigation authorities to practice torture and ill-treatment and by disablingany ability to prevent these practices through the presence of the lawyer atall stages of the investigation.
He added that despite Bahrain'sapproval of the recommendations of the Czech Republic, Brazil, Spain andUruguay, which urge Bahrain to sign the Optional Protocol to the Conventionagainst Torture, after five years have passed, there are no positive signs ofimplementing this recommendation.
Khalil called on the internationalcommunity to demand the following from Bahrain:
1- Comply with and implement therecommendations it had agreed upon at the previous Universal Periodic Review.
2- Allow the Rapporteur on Tortureto visit the country soon.
3- Accede to the Optional Protocolto the Convention against Torture
4- Include a clear and specificdefinition of torture in domestic legislation.
5- Harmonize domestic legislationwith the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and theConvention against Torture, which Bahrain ratified.
6 - Legislate that the lawyer mustbe present with the accused at all stages of the investigation, and in case hewas not present, the investigation becomes invalid.
7 - Increase the punishment ofanyone who is found to be involved in torture and ill-treatment.
8 - Amend the terrorism law toguarantee the rights of the accused and reduce the powers of the investigation authoritiesto detain the accused.
9 - Establish an independentinstitution composed of representatives of concerned civil societyorganizations to get acquainted with the allegations of torture and ill-treatmentand follow the progress of the investigation into these allegations.
10. Hold all those involved intorture and ill-treatment practices accountable by conducting a professionaland transparent investigation involving concerned civil society organizations.
11. Install surveillance cameras inall interrogation rooms.