HRW urges Bahrain to probe torture cases

HRW urges Bahrain to probe torture cases
Thu May 16, 2013 09:58:35

Human Rights Watch has urged Bahrain to immediately probe numerous allegations of torture, saying its refusal could signal the country has become a haven for torturers.

This comes as six more tweeters get jail terms for ‘abusing freedom of expression.’

HRW cites multiple reports of torture that emerged during the Formula 1 grand prix held in Bahrain in April. They include accounts of activists and women subjected to electric shocks and forced into signing confessions.

In addition, the organization harks back to the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report, issued in November 2011 that stated five activists had died in custody of torture since uprisings began against the ruling regime.

“If the latest allegations are brushed aside it will be yet more evidence suggesting that Bahrain’s justice system is a haven for torturers,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Bahrain’s allies should apply serious pressure on Bahrain to investigate and hold accountable anyone responsible for brutally torturing activists.”

Bahrain has blocked the entry of the UN’s special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, from coming to probe police abuses of power. His visit, which was scheduled to begin on May 8, was indefinitely postponed by the Bahraini authorities.

“This is the second time that my visit has been postponed, at very short notice. It is, effectively, a cancellation as no alternative dates were proposed, nor is there a future road map to discuss,” said Mendez, expressing his “disappointment” over the announcement.


Protests against the Bahrain’s oppressive regime have become commonplace. The country’s 70 percent Shia declare they are discriminated against and call for a transfer to a democratic system of government.

This comes as six tweeters were jailed on Wednesday for opposing King Hamad policies and ‘misusing the right to free expression.’ According to prosecutors, they posted comments on their Twitter feeds that undermined “the values and traditions of Bahrain's society towards the king."

The Bahraini capital, Manama, was hit by mass protests during the grand prix. Activists branded the event “a race for blood” and stated it was a ploy by the Bahraini authorities to “whitewash” the country’s poor human rights reputation.