Shadow Report ahead of Committee against Torture’s considerations of a List of Issues Prior to Reporting for Bahrain in its 54th session
Today, 9 February 2015, Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) together with Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) and Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) are publishing the "Shadow Report ahead of Committee against Torture’s considerations of a List of Issues Prior to Reporting for Bahrain in its 54th session". See the introduction below, and click here for the full report.
1. Bahrain acceded to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UN-CAT) on 6 March 1998. Although Bahrain’s initial
State Party Report was due in 1999, the Government submitted it in 2004. Pursuant to Article
19 of the UNCAT, Bahrain’s 1 st Periodic Report was due 2007, but Bahrain failed to submit
it by this deadline, and no Periodic Report has been submitted since.
2. The Committee against Torture (CAT) submitted its List of Issues Prior to Reporting
under the new simplified procedure in 2010, and is due to submit a new one in the upcoming
54 th session. This shadow report highlights seven major issues regarding torture in Bahrain.
Since the Government submitted its last report, Bahrain has undergone major political, social
and security developments, and has notably experienced a significant resurgence in torture
3. This report describes the legal framework and practical framework in the country
which allow torture to occur, and which block the proper investigation of torture. It discusses
recent deaths in custody and presents a case study of an unfair trial. The report then lists some
of the new human rights mechanisms put into place by the Government of Bahrain,
discussing their achievements to date and the issues surrounding their mandates. Finally, it
presents issues of violence against women and their vulnerability in the law.
4. On a purely technical level, Bahrain has improved its laws and institutional
framework to competently criminalise torture, identify cases of torture and refer cases with
merit for investigation. However, these technical improvements remain cosmetic, as the
government has failed to address core issues such as the partiality of the courts towards the
security sector and a lack of political will to end torture. In one very telling incident in 2013,
the Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman, uncle of the King, told an officer acquitted of
torture that the law does not apply to him, and that Sheikh Khalifa will protect him. It is
therefore not an exaggeration to say that torture has become systematic in Bahrain.
5. Addressing Bahrain’s torture record has never been more important. Six of the seven
issues presented are different parts and processes within Bahrain’s justice system which allow
torture to occur or which are the results of torture. The final issue is that of the threat of
torture some domestic workers face in Bahrain and the lack of protective or monitoring
measures ensuring their safety.
6. This report is by no means comprehensive on the issue of torture in Bahrain, and has
been written with the limited scope described above. Some issues, such as the arbitrary
detention and torture of juveniles and the expanded use of the life sentences in cases tried
under the anti-terrorism law, have not been included but continue to be reported regularly by
human rights organisations operating within and outside of Bahrain.
Read the full report here.