HRW: Bahrain tortures children in prisons

HRW: Bahrain tortures children in prisons
Tue Sep 17, 2013 08:53:42

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Bahrain’s law enforcement has made a habit of regularly detaining children, who are forced to undergo humiliation and cruel treatment often bordering on torture.

The testimonies by victim, family and activist reports compiled by Human Rights Watch reveal that children are being held for as long as adults and suffer the same amount of bodily harm, which often includes beatings, Russia Today reported on Monday.

This is further supplemented by the denial to detainees of their basic rights to an attorney or a social worker, and the fact that many confessions are simply forced out of minors by Bahrain’s security apparatus.

At the very least this goes against the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which emphasizes governments’ responsibility to protect children under 18 from such practices.

Joe Stork, acting Middle East and North Africa director at HRW, says that “Rounding up kids, throwing them in jail and beating and threatening them is no way for a country to treat its children… The Bahraini authorities need to look into these allegations and immediately call a halt to any arbitrary arrests and mistreatment of children.”

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights has issued condemnation for these continued attacks on the families of political dissidents and their children. They have been going on since the unsuccessful Bahraini Arab Spring of 2011.

But sporadic unrest continues and anti-government sentiments attract a vast number of underage youths. August saw 15 detentions, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights told HRW. And they happen in such numbers that there are no resources to document each one and ascertain whether they were carried out in line with the law. The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights listed 22 arrests since the start of August.

One testimony was related to an incident that took place at a swimming pool some youngsters had rented to enjoy one final night before school started. Having arrived at 4 a.m., the police tied them up and kicked them around before taking them to a detention center. No attorneys or social workers were provided and the boys’ parents only found out four days later where their children were being held. All this was done for the purpose of extracting a confession from the group that they were involved in attacking a police building with Molotov cocktails.

Another incident involved the early morning arrest of, Ali Rustam, 15, on September 8. His parents still haven’t had any contact with him, a situation made all the worse by the fact that Ali has diabetes and requires four daily injections of insulin.

In one extreme case, police allegedly promised a lawyer they would “look into it” when he asked for leniency towards his client because he was a minor. That minor was taken to a detention facility where he spent 45 days before being released on bail.  

Sayed Alwadaei was detained twice, each time alleging he was tortured. The first happened when he was still 17 – a child under international law. The 45 days he was kept in detention were spent together with adult prisoners as the children’s wing was full, police claimed.

The second time Alwadaei was arrested was in his car, with friends. Non-uniformed police units pulled him over on a supposed warrant for his arrest, but instead of taking him to a police station as they said they would, he was transferred to the Criminal Investigations Unit (CID). There he was handcuffed, blindfolded and accused of burning tires at a protest, which he denied at first.

The small Persian Gulf Arab state, which hosts the US Fifth Fleet, has been rocked by bouts of unrest since February 2011 when an uprising led by members of the Shia majority demanded the al-Khalifa dynasty give up power.

The authorities crushed the revolt but protests and clashes have persisted despite continuing talks between government and opposition.

At least 80 people have been killed since Arab Spring-inspired protests erupted in Bahrain in early 2011, according to the International Federation for Human Rights.


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