The constitution prohibits “harm[ing] an accused person physically or mentally.” On September 3, the king issued a royal decree establishing the Commission of the Rights of Prisoners and Detainees, which the government described as an “independent national mechanism that allows monitoring prisons, detention centers and detainees” consistent with the National Preventive Mechanism established by States Party to the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture. Nevertheless, domestic and international human rights organizations reported numerous instances of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. Detainees reported to local human rights activists that security officials continued to use abusive tactics. They alleged that security officials beat them, sometimes while they were blindfolded. There was at least one report alleging they were subjected to electric shocks, simulated drowning, sexual harassment, threat of rape, and sleep deprivation. Officials reportedly placed detainees in solitary confinement, sometimes in extreme temperatures. Detainees claimed officials used excessive amounts of pepper spray and tear gas in detention centers. Human rights organizations reported authorities prevented some detainees from using toilet facilities, drinking, and eating. Other reports noted a similar pattern of abuse following arrest, including beating without interrogation, beating with interrogation, harassment, and intimidation without further physical abuse. Most detainees were Shia.
Local human rights groups, including the unlicensed Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS), and the Shia opposition society al-Wifaq’s Freedom and Human Rights Department reported that authorities beat and tortured detainees, including youth, during interrogations and denied medical treatment to injured or ill detainees. Reports indicated that the MOI interrogated detainees about illegal protest activity. Detainees reported mistreatment at official interrogation facilities. The most frequently cited locations for mistreatment included the following MOI facilities: the Adliya Criminal Investigation Division (CID), Isa Town Detention Center for Women, Dry Dock Detention Center, and Jaw Prison. Other official detention facilities less commonly cited included police stations in al-Rifaa, al-Qudaibiya, Samaheej, al-Nuaim, Nabih Saleh, al-Budaiya, and Sitra.
Local human rights groups reported that detainees also complained of abuse and torture at various unofficial temporary facilities. The most common techniques included blindfolding detainees; beating, punching, and hitting them with rubber hoses, cables, pieces of metal, wooden planks, or other objects; electric shock; exposure to extreme temperatures; stress positions; verbal abuse; threats to rape the detainee or family members; sexual assault; preventing detainees from praying; sleep deprivation; and insulting the detainee’s religious sect (Shia). Victims also reported security officials used physical and psychological mistreatment to extract confessions and statements under duress or as retribution and punishment. Detainees also reported security forces abused them in their homes.
On June 12, local human rights organizations expressed concern over a YouTube video allegedly uploaded by a security forces officer. In the video the officer allegedly interrogated a shirtless man. The BCHR reported the detainee, who identified himself as Hussain Jameel Jafer Ali Marhoon, had bruises on his arm. The MOI announced it would launch an immediate investigation into the video. On September 15, the High Criminal Court released a police officer suspected in the case. It was unclear when the officer was initially detained. On September 16, SIU chief Nawaf Hamza announced the SIU filed a request to arrest the accused officer pending trial. The next hearing was scheduled for December 10 but adjourned to February 2014.
On July 12, human rights organizations expressed concern over the well-being and safety of Naji Fateel, a blogger and human rights activist, after local human rights groups released photographs showing marks on his body consistent with torture. According to human rights groups, authorities subjected Fateel to electric shocks, beating, simulated drowning, sexual harassment, the threat of rape, sleep deprivation, and standing for long periods of time while in detention at the CID and Dry Dock prison.
In February 2012 Public Prosecutor Ali al-Buainain announced the SIU would investigate allegations of torture and mistreatment of detainees by government officials. Five of the eight SIU members were former MOI prosecutors. The attorney general has the power to refer any cases deemed appropriate to the SIU. According to press reports, the SIU completed dozens of reviews and referred a similar number of cases to court. The High Criminal Court of Appeals acquitted one ruling family member and one high-ranking MOI official of torture. There was no indication that any other officials were held responsible or prosecuted for overseeing or committing acts leading to abuse, mistreatment, torture, or death. Members of the SIU visited several prisons throughout the year and referred prisoners to medical examiners when appropriate.
In June 2012 security forces officer Ali al-Shaiba was convicted and sentenced for permanently disabling a protester by shooting him in the leg with birdshot. In September 2012 the local press reported that the High Criminal Court suspended al-Shaiba’s sentence “because his health condition makes it difficult to keep him in jail.” In November 2012 the High Criminal Court reduced his initial sentence from five years’ to three years’ imprisonment. On April 14, the Supreme Court of Appeals reduced al-Shaiba’s sentence from three years to six months in prison.
According to media reports, in May 2012 authorities arrested Adnan al-Mansi and charged him with criminal arson. Officials reportedly subjected al-Mansi to severe physical torture, including beatings to his head that left him temporarily paralyzed. Officials also reportedly forced him to stand in the sun for hours, denying him access to toilet facilities, water, and adequate medical treatment. Authorities brought al-Mansi’s case before the High Criminal Court in December 2012; hearings were held on March 3 and October 29. On December 2, the High Criminal Court convicted and sentenced him to seven years’ imprisonment. His appeal was scheduled for February 2014.
The government did not fully pursue investigations into cases of torture and mistreatment during the 2011 State of National Safety (SNS), as documented by the BICI, and not all individuals committing these acts were held accountable. During the year the government prosecuted some members of the security forces on charges related to deaths in detention and abuses that took place during the SNS.
In December 2012 the High Criminal Court sentenced two Bahrain National Security Agency (BNSA) police officers each to seven years in prison for torturing to death Abdul Karim Fakhrawi, cofounder of Al-Wasat newspaper. In 2011 police detained, beat, and tortured Fakhrawi in jail; he died as a result. On June 16, the High Criminal Court of Appeal adjourned the trial to September 8 and then to October 27. On October 27, the court reduced the sentences of the two officers from seven years to three years’ imprisonment each.
The trial of five Pakistani police officers employed by the MOI--Abdulrashid Rasool Bakhsh, Mohammed Ihsan Muthaffar, Riyadh Shahid Habib Allah, Rahat Adeel Mohammed, and Khalid Iqbal Mohammed Iqbal--for the 2011 deaths of detainees Zakariya al-Asheeri and Ali Saqer continued during the year. On March 2, the High Criminal Court sentenced Bakhsh and Muthaffar to 10 years’ imprisonment each for beating Saqer to death “without the intent to kill.” The other three accused were acquitted in Saqer’s case. On September 29, the High Criminal Court of Appeals reduced the sentences from 10 to five years in prison for both officers. The court acquitted all five accused police officers of charges of inflicting a beating that led to al-Asheeri’s death.
Authorities continued investigating the case of medical personnel who filed a motion alleging torture while in CID custody in 2011. Torture included electric shocks, beatings, and threats of rape or injury to family members. Prosecutors initially investigated 15 security personnel over the allegations. In October 2012 the Public Prosecutor’s Office charged two officers, Mubarak bin Huwail and Shaikha Noora bint Ebrahim al-Khalifa, with torture. On July 1, the High Criminal Court acquitted the two officers. On December 23, the High Criminal Court of Appeals upheld the verdict.
Children were also subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. Human rights groups reported that authorities detained children, sometimes under the age of 15 (the maximum age the penal code considers a person a child), and subjected them to various forms of mistreatment, including beating, slapping, kicking, lashing with rubber hoses, threats of sexual assault, burning with cigarettes, and verbal abuse. Local human rights group Bahrain Human Rights Observatory reported in September that authorities had detained 101 children since January. Human rights activists reported that at least one child was under the age of 13.
On August 11, authorities arrested 13-year-old Salman Mahdi Salman and detained him for 27 days. Amnesty International (AI) reported that the government charged him with carrying a Molotov cocktail and a cigarette lighter and wearing a mask at the time of his arrest. AI also reported that authorities beat and tortured him at Budaiya Police Station to force him to confess to his charges. On September 11, authorities released him. A court scheduled hearings for September 26 and November 28. His next hearing was scheduled for January 30, 2014.
According to an AI report, police arrested two juveniles, Jehad Sadeq Aziz Salman, and Ebrahim Ahmed Radi al-Meqdad, during a July 2012 protest in the Bilad al-Qadeem neighborhood of Manama. The report noted the two juveniles were not allowed to contact their families for nearly 48 hours after their arrests and were interrogated without a lawyer present. According to AI the youths told their families that police beat them in detention. Authorities charged the youths with intent to murder, burning a police car, illegally gathering and rioting, throwing Molotov cocktails, and attempting to steal a police car. On April 4, according to AI, the High Criminal Court sentenced Salman and al-Meqdad each to 10 years’ imprisonment for charges associated with the antiterrorism law. Their lawyers appealed, and on September 29, the High Criminal Court of Appeals upheld the guilty verdict. On October 29, their defense lawyer filed a request for appeal with the Court of Cassation but no update was available on the appeal request at year’s end.