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Committee against Torture reviews reports of Bahrain

Committee against Torture

24 April 2017

The Committee against Torture this afternoon completed its consideration of the second and third periodic reports of Bahrain on the implementation of the provisions of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Abdulla Faisal Aldosari, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, introducing the reports of Bahrain, said that the protection from torture and degrading treatment was a key element in the reform being carried out in Bahrain since 2001.  Torture was defined in a manner to protect human dignity and provided for penalties for any public official who intentionally inflicted pain or suffering of any kind to a person in detention in order to obtain evidence or confession.  Bahrain had set up a national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles, with the mandate to monitor the situation of human rights, receive complaints and act as a national preventive mechanism against torture through unannounced visits to places of detention.  The Special Investigation Unit had been set up to investigate allegations of torture; to date 52 cases had been brought to criminal courts in which 101 suspects had been found guilty of torture.  The Code of Ethics of the Police Force had been adopted to regulate the performance of the police officers in accordance with the laws of the country, the Constitution and international norms and standards. 

In the discussion that followed, Committee Experts noted that the major concern in Bahrain related to allegations of widespread torture and in this vein welcomed the open invitation to the High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Bahrain, including places of detention and Shia villages.  There were credible and multiple reports of widespread torture inside and outside of detention facilities, said Experts and raised concern about the lack of effectiveness of measures to prosecute perpetrators and lack of accountability of security and other officials – combined, those led to a pervasive culture of impunity.  Experts welcomed the legislative reforms to define, prevent and punish the crime of torture; they inquired about the number of public officials found guilty of torture since 2012, and about the results of the Special Investigative Unit after five years of work and the number of inquiries that had been conducted in accordance with the Istanbul Protocol.  Experts asked about legal safeguards in place to protect from torture and ill-treatment those arrested under the anti-terrorism legislation, which authorized long periods of detention without trial; the role of military courts and their jurisdiction over civilians in national security cases; the mechanism in place to take up recommendations by the many bodies which monitored the conditions in places of detention; and measures taken to ensure the professionalism of institutions which investigated, detained, prosecuted and tried people.

In his concluding remarks, Mr. Aldosari reiterated Bahrain’s commitment to continue to constructively engage with the Committee and said that its concluding observations would go a long way in the prevention of torture in Bahrain.

The delegation of Bahrain included representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior, Public Prosecution, Office of the Ombudsman, Legislation and Legal Advisory Authority, Labour Market Regulatory Authority, and the Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will resume at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 25 April, when it is scheduled to begin its consideration of the second periodic report of Afghanistan (CAT/C/AFG/2).

Reports


The second periodic report of Bahrain can be read here CAT/C/BHR/2 and the third periodic report here CAT/C/BHR/3.

Presentation of the Reports


ABDULLA FAISAL ALDOSARI, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain, said that the protection from torture and degrading treatment was a key element in the reform being carried out in Bahrain since 2001, which also saw the confirmation of the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary in the Constitutional amendments.  Bahrain was a model in tolerance and peaceful coexistence between religions and cultures.  The 2012 Constitutional amendment offered guarantees of human rights and dignity, and equality before the law without discrimination, and reiterated the importance of personal freedoms.  The integrity of the judiciary was a sine qua non and one of the main foundations for the protection of human rights and freedoms.  Bahrain was a party to seven out of nine of the fundamental human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture.  The criminal procedure law contained integrated safeguards to protect human rights and freedoms, including the right to trial and the right to free legal representation.  The law defined torture in a manner to protect human dignity and provided for penalties for any public official who intentionally inflicted pain or suffering of any kind on a person in detention in order to obtain evidence or confession. 

Bahrain’s human rights accomplishments were unprecedented in the region and had been realized through the national reconciliation dialogue, the implementation of the recommendations by the Independent Commission of Inquiry, and the cooperation with national and international human rights organizations.  Bahrain had set up a national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles, with a mandate to monitor the situation of human rights, receive complaints and act as a national preventive mechanism against torture through unannounced visits to places of detention.  In addition, an administratively and financially independent secretariat for complaints had been established within the Ministry of Interior to strengthen the professional and ethical conduct of the police.  The Special Investigation Unit had been set up to investigate allegations of torture; to date 52 cases had been brought to criminal courts in which 101 suspects had been found guilty of torture.  The Code of Ethics of the Police Force had been adopted to regulate the performance of police officers in accordance with the laws of the country, the Constitution and international norms and standards. 

A department had been established which received complaints of any abuse of duty and misuse of power by any member of the security forces; complaints could also be received through a hotline, and each police station had complaints boxes through which 416 complaints had been received 2015, 328 complaints in 2016 and 71 complaints by 31 March 2017.  Legal action had been taken on each of those complaints.  Since 2011, Bahrain had been subjected to violence and terrorism in which more than 20 innocent security personnel had lost their lives, civilians were being terrorised, and private property was being encroached on.  Notwithstanding those challenges, Bahrain continued to promote human rights, forge partnerships, and cooperate with civil society.  Bahrain was in full harmony with its historical and ethical values of the respect and promotion of human rights and was fully committed to cooperation with the United Nations human rights bodies and mechanisms.

Questions by the Country Co-Rapporteurs


ALESSIO BRUNI, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Bahrain, welcomed the open invitation of Bahrain to the High Commissioner for Human Rights and free access to places of detention and Shia villages.  A major concern with regard to Bahrain was the allegations of torture, thus any further information on the invitation extended to the High Commissioner was welcomed.  Was it a formal invitation extended by the Government or was it a general invitation without set dates?  The Special Rapporteur on torture had been waiting to visit the country for a long time – when would be the appropriate time for him to visit Bahrain?

Turning to the events that had taken place in 2011, Mr. Bruni noted that Bahrain had established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the events and report to the Government, which it had done in November 2011.  Bahrain had reported that out of the 559 allegations of torture, the Commission had found only 61 which had been credible, for which thorough judicial investigations had been conducted.  What were the outcomes of those investigations?

As recommended by the Commission of Inquiry, the Special Investigative Unit had been established in 2012 to investigate and address allegation of torture and cruel and degrading treatment in accordance with international standards, including the Manual of the Effective Investigation of Torture (Istanbul Protocol).  It had investigated allegations of torture which had resulted in the death of victims.  What were the outcomes of those investigations, and was any prosecution instituted in this regard?

The Commission of Inquiry had been rather critical of the effectiveness of measures to prosecute the authors of violent acts and had stated that the lack of accountability of officials within the security system had led to a culture of impunity.  Could the delegation comment on this criticism and explain how persons involved in the crime of torture were prosecuted?

In its February 2017 report, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had stated that reports of torture inside and outside of detention facilities, during and prior to detention, and during investigation, remained widespread.  What was the Government planning to do to dissipate the generalized feeling of impunity with regard to perpetrators of torture still prevailing in the country?

The Country Rapporteur took positive note of the legislative reforms to define, prevent and punish the crime of torture that Bahrain had undertaken following the recommendations by the Commission of Inquiry.  Bahrain had amended articles 208 and 232 of the penal code to provide for the punishment of public officials guilty of torture, including life imprisonment if torture resulted in the death of the victim, and had ensured that the statute of limitation did not apply to crimes of torture. 

How many times had those amended articles 208 and 232 been invoked in a legal proceeding, and how many sentences had been passed against public officials found guilty of torture since 2012?  What were the results of the Special Investigative Unit after five years of work – how many inquiries had been conducted in accordance with the Istanbul Protocol?

The Directorate of Internal Investigations had been recently created within the Ministry of Interior to investigate complaints relating to alleged criminal acts committed by members of the public security forces.  What were the results of the work of this Directorate, and how many members of the public security forces had been prosecuted for criminal acts and punished?

Could the delegation comment on the reports offering detailed accounts of torture perpetrated by agents of the Criminal Investigation Directorate in 2014, and other documented cases of torture perpetrated by the security forces between 2014 and February 2017?  All those reports were publicly available on the Committee’s website, said Mr. Bruni and asked whether any of those cases had been investigated.

What system was in place to coordinate the activities of the Directorate of Internal Investigations, the Special Investigation Unit and the Office of the Ombudsman which seemed to have a similar mandate?

With regard to the penitentiary system in the country, Mr. Bruni asked why the Ministry of Interior was responsible for 10 out of 12 prisons, and not the Ministry of Justice as was the case in the overwhelming majority of the countries.  What safeguards were available to all persons entering detention, including medical examinations, informing families of the arrests and the right to be assisted by a lawyer?  How were those safeguards applied to suspects of terrorism?

Under the Act on the Protection of Society from Terrorist Acts of 2006, a person suspected of terrorism could be held by the police without access to a lawyer for a period of up to 28 days.  This very long period of detention increased the risk of torture and ill-treatment.  What practical safeguards were in place to prevent such risks?

The National Assembly had adopted a Constitutional amendment in March 2017, which would expand the mandate of military courts to try civilians in national security cases.  This was contrary to the recommendation made by the independent Commission of Inquiry.  Other sources indicated that only terrorist attacks on police and military personnel or facilities would be tried by military courts.  Could the delegation comment?

Mr. Bruni commended the existence of many bodies to monitor the conditions in places of detention and asked how their recommendations and findings were taken up by the Government, for example the Ombudsmen’s recommendations following his visit to Jau Prison in 2013.  What was the situation in Jau Prison today?

What findings and recommendations had been issued by detention monitoring bodies on other prisons and places of detention, for example the Dry Dock Detention Centre, and how were those followed up by the Government?  How many complaints of torture and ill-treatment by inmates had been received by the Office of the Ombudsman and by the National Human Rights Commission, what follow-up had been provided to those complaints, and what – if any – prosecutorial action had been taken?

The delegation was asked to explain what happened when an institution visiting a place of detention received a complaint of torture or ill-treatment, and how the Ministry of Interior, to which many complaints received by the National Human Rights Commission were forwarded, could be objective in investigating complaints from places of detention for which it had the supervisory responsibility. 

What system was in place to allow unannounced visits to places of detention without restrictions, were there any legal provisions governing those visits or was it an informal agreement seldom granted by the authorities?

How did Bahrain ensure the full independence of the Special Investigation Unit, the Ombudsman of the Ministry of Interior, and the Prisons and Detainees Rights Commission?  Which concrete measures had been put in place by the Ministry of Interior to monitor the situation in places of detention which might result in widespread ill-treatment?

Was it true that following the escape of 17 detainees from the Dry Dock Detention Centre in June 2016, inmates had been subjected to various forms of ill-treatment amounting to torture by the security forces as a mass and indiscriminate punishment in reprisal for those who escaped?  Allegations of collective punishment in the penitentiary system were an issue of serious concern - had any investigation been conducted into those allegations?

Article 64 of the code of criminal procedure guaranteed the right of a detainee to submit a complaint to a prison warden – was the delegation able to provide concrete examples of the application of this article in cases of alleged torture?  Were there concrete examples in which the independent entities – Special Investigation Unit, the Office of the Ombudsman, and the Inspector General of the National Security Agency – took action in connection with allegations of torture and ill-treatment by public officials?

The Convention against Torture clearly stated that no superior order could be invoked as a justification of torture – how was this provision applied in Bahrain?  What were the intentions of Bahrain concerning the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention, which would add the dimension of international monitoring to places of detention?  Which legislative and administrative provisions were in place to ensure the application of the principle of non-refoulement?

ESSADIA BELMIR, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Bahrain, took positive note of the steps taken by Bahrain to reform and strengthen its legal framework and consolidate the rule of law, and asked how Bahrain brought international norms and standards into the functioning of its institutions. 

What measures were being taken to ensure the professionalism of the institutions which were in charge of investigating, detaining, prosecuting and trying people?  How was the change in the behaviour of State officials following training activities being monitored? 

What were the reasons behind lower-than-expected results of training activities, for example in the training of the police in the professional and ethical codes of conduct?

The situation of juveniles in conflict with the law was a source of great concern: the age of criminal responsibility was seven years of age and minors aged 15 to 18 were treated as adults in the criminal system, in violation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  In practice, there were children under the age of 15 who were treated as adults and faced arbitrary detention and other forms of ill-treatment.  The Country Co-Rapporteur stressed that children aged 15 to 18 must be treated as children by the criminal system, in line with international norms and standards.  Could the delegation comment on its juvenile justice system?

What possibility was there for minors in conflict with the law to file a complaint, and how could they have their voices heard?

Ms. Belmir asked the delegation to summarise the events of 2011 which had so significantly impacted the country, to explain measures taken to implement the recommendations made by the Commission of Inquiry, and to provide figures on complaints of torture, investigations, prosecutions and sanctions for perpetrators of torture.

What was the power of the military judiciary?

How was the integrity of a person who was a victim of ill-treatment preserved, and how could he or she access the judiciary to vindicate their rights and obtain remedy and compensation?

What was the justification for the blanket amnesty provisions?

What were the reasons explaining situations in which access to a lawyer during interrogations was denied? 

What was the relationship between the Sharia law and the country’s legal framework?  What was the status of the bill aimed at abolishing the kafala system?

Questions by the Experts


A Committee Expert noted that the national human rights institution created in 2013 could not be considered as a national preventive mechanism, as such mechanisms were based on the Optional Protocol to the Convention, which Bahrain had not ratified.  Further, there should be a cooperation between the national preventive mechanism and the national human rights institution, without which the spirit of the Optional Protocol would be absent.

What was the institutional relationship of the National Human Rights Commission with the government bodies and agencies, how did civil society participate in its work and composition, and which mechanism was in place to ensure the implementation of its recommendations?

The Special Investigation Unit had been created by a decision of the Prosecutor General, and not by an article of the law, which meant that it could easily be dissolved.  What steps were being taken to protect this unit by a law?

With regard to the work and recommendations issued by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, an Expert noted that more information was needed to get the full picture. 

In May 2016 Bahrain had announced that all 26 of the major recommendations made by the Commission of Inquiry had been implemented, which Mr. Bassioni, the Chair of the Commission, disputed and suggested that only 10 were implemented.  How many and which of the recommendations by the Commission of Inquiry had actually been implemented by the Government, particularly in light of the fact that law enforcement powers of the national security agency had then been restored which effectively reversed one of the recommendations?

How was the independence of the Office of the Ombudsman assured and what measures were being considered to include in its mandate unannounced visits to places of detention? 

A Committee Expert remarked that Bahrain had not received a visit by a Special Procedure since 2006.

The Committee was concerned about the situation of female inmates – most were migrant workers who often did not speak the language and could not understand charges brought against them.  The conditions in detention were unsanitary and inmates had to buy their own hygiene items.

Bahrain had ratified nine core human rights instruments: how were their provisions incorporated in the domestic legal framework, what happened in case of conflict, and how were their provisions implemented?

JENS MODVIG, Committee Chairperson, asked whether forensic medical personnel were only a part of the Special Investigative Unit, or were they also part of the Office of the Ombudsmen, which was the body that received complaints of torture.  Which judicial bodies were complaints received by the Ombudsman sent to?  The Directorate of Internal Investigations could also process complaints over misconduct and crimes by public servants; what was the division of labour between the Directorate and the Ombudsmen, was it the complainant who decided where to submit the complaint and was there any medical expertise associated with the Directorate?

The National Security Agency Ombudsmen, another body, had received 30 complaints – what had happened to those complaints?  It was an issue of concern that it seemed that all complaints against public servants were received by the Ministry of Interior, which examined them before engaging other bodies, such as the Attorney General.

ALESSIO BRUNI, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Bahrain, asked whether Bahrain would accept the competence of the Committee to receive and examine individual complaints under article 22.

ESSADIA BELMIR, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Bahrain, inquired about the legal basis for the withdrawal of nationality in several cases, and whether the 2014 law offered any possibility of recourse to those individuals.

Responses by the Delegation


Responding to questions raised by the Experts, the delegation reiterated that Bahrain was a regional model for the promotion of economic, social and cultural rights and was ranked first in the region on certain economic indicators and the first in electronic government.  Women played a very important role in the society and constituted 15 per cent of members of Parliament, 9 per cent in the judiciary, 52 per cent in public offices and 32 per cent in the private sector. 

Yesterday, 23 April, a royal decree had been passed to form a judicial Sharia-based committee to work on the unified family code for both Sunnis and Shias to be aligned with the specificities of the society.

Bahrain experienced challenges due to the security situation in the region, as well as the challenge of the use of human rights to promote agendas against the country.  Terrorism and extremist activities were hampering the human development and progress of Bahrain.  Some non-governmental organizations were trying to instrumentalize human rights and this posed a danger of falling into sectarianism. 

Bahrain had made long strides in the promotion and protection of human rights, central to which were the efforts to combat torture; it had adopted several progressive laws, including on effective and just remedies for victims.  Bahrain continued to implement the recommendations made by the Independent Bahrain Commission of Inquiry. 

In terms of steps taken to address the alleged continued use of torture in detention facilities, the delegation explained that torture was criminalized under the penal code, several protection mechanisms had been created, and the code of conduct of the police had been adopted within the framework of the fight against torture.  Any allegations of torture were groundless.

With regard to allegations by some non-governmental organizations, Bahrain said that it did not recognize some of those organizations and questioned their credibility.  Citizens had the possibility to file complaints of torture with the Special Investigation Unit, the Office of the Ombudsmen, the national human rights institution, and the hotline, and the delegation stressed that non-governmental organizations must first exhaust all national remedies before addressing international ones.

The Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission and the Ombudsmen could visit all detention facilities; recently, the Government and the national human rights institution had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Committee of the Red Cross to allow free access to places of detention.  Amnesty International and some other non-governmental organizations had also visited places of detention.

Concerning the ratification of the Optional Protocol and the setting up of the national preventive mechanism, it was explained that Bahrain had created protection mechanisms within the national system and had instituted an integrated system of remedy.  All claims should be submitted to the competent national institutions, including to the Special Investigation Unit, Ombudsmen, and others, and also through the hotline 8 000 008.

Bahrain was a pluralistic society in which tolerance prevailed; despite that it had been put to test in early 2011.  Out of the desire to protect the tradition of transparency and honesty, it had been decided to set up an independent Bahraini fact-finding Committee to investigate all events of 2011.  The Committee’s report, also known as the Bassioni report, had contained 26 recommendations which included certain institutional and security reforms to be undertaken by the Government.  The degree with which Bahrain had responded to those recommendations showed the seriousness accorded to this issue. 

To date, Bahrain had reinstated 4,600 workers who had been dismissed from their places of work, released more than 1,000 arrested persons, referred 52 cases of torture and ill-treatment to criminal courts, and created the Special Investigative Unit, Office of the Ombudsman, General Inspection Office, Prison and Detainees Rights Commission, public media organisation and the national human rights institution in line with the Paris Principles.  In addition, Bahrain had set up a compensation fund and had allocated $26 million for the victims and rehabilitation of objects damaged during the events.

In order to ensure the compensation of all those involved in the 2011 events, Bahrain had set up in 2013 the Secretariat on Grievances based on the British model, which was an administratively and financially independent body which could make decisions independently.  It had vast functions to seek information, to document, or to question any member of the public sector in order to obtain information.  To date, the Secretariat had received more than 3,200 complaints and requests for assistance.  The Secretariat could receive complaints against any person from the Ministry of Interior, but it had been noticed that most contacts by citizens were not complaints but rather requests for assistance.

Responding to questions Experts raised concerning legislation, the delegation said that the criminal code determined the length of prison sentences.  Articles 232 and 238 concerning prosecuting perpetrators of torture set the punishment from 5 to 15 years in prison, unless a death was caused in which case life imprisonment was handed down.  Judges had discretion in handing out sentences, which had to be between the minimum and maximum limits set. 

The broadening of military operations inside and outside of the borders, and in light of the growing threat of terrorism, had necessitated the broadening of the competence of military courts.  The constitutional reform had been passed to widen the mandate and competence of military courts and so enable the bringing to justice of illegal militias that carried out acts of violence against the nation.  Any case against the security and safety of the society as a result of a terrorist act fell under the competence of military courts. 

The law on general amnesty defined that amnesty could not be extended to crimes committed after the period in question, thus it did not offer blanket amnesty.

The Ministry of Interior had very advanced human rights policies and practices and had created in 2015 the Department for Internal Monitoring and Investigation to receive complaints and provide advice on the functioning of the whole institution.  In 2015, it had received 417 complaints, 328 complaints in 2016, and by 31 March 2017 it had received 71 complaints.

Prisons were not places for punishment but for rehabilitation and reintegration; there was cooperation between prison authorities and the Ministry of Education to provide professional training to detainees, which would help them find work after their release from prison.  Social and medical care was provided to all detainees on a regular basis.

Concerning the allegations of a collective punishment imposed on prisoners following the escape of several prisoners from the Dry Dock Detention Facility, the delegation said that measures had been created to increase the control of entry or exit into the facility.

Follow-up Questions by the Experts


ALESSIO BRUNI, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Bahrain, stressed the importance of a visit by the High Commissioner for Human Rights to Bahrain, including to places of detention and the Shia villages, and asked for an update on the status of the invitation.   The Special Rapporteur against torture had repeatedly requested to visit the country, which Bahrain turned down saying that the timing was not good, as the country was in the full implementation of the Bassioni report recommendations - had the situation changed now?  When could the Special Rapporteur visit Bahrain?

The replies concerning allegations of torture were short and laconic, and Bahrain dismissed them as groundless.  Was it possible to explain in a more substantive manner why they were groundless, particularly considering meticulous accounts of specific cases and multiple sources, including the Independent Commission of Inquiry? 

With regard to prison riots in 2015, 2016 and 2017, the Committee raised concern about reported collective punishment in reprisal, such as sleep and food deprivation.  Could the delegation explain?  One of the reasons behind riots were extremely bad conditions in those two prisons, including overcrowding – what steps was Bahrain taking to address this issue?

Bahrain had so many investigative bodies that it was hard to understand how they cooperated and what the overall picture was.  How many investigations had been conducted into allegations of torture, what were their outcomes, and how many persons had been sentenced as a result, for which crimes and what were the punishments?

Bahrain had said during its Universal Periodic Review in 2012 that it was considering the ratification of the Optional Protocol - what was the situation today?

ESSADIA BELMIR, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Bahrain, noted with concern that Bahrain allowed the unlimited detention of a person, and that a foreigner who was considered to pose a security risk could be prohibited from entering the Kingdom, which was a violation of international norms.  She questioned that nationality deprivation was permitted within the framework of national security legislation and applied to those who posed a security risk to the country.  

Other Committee Experts expressed appreciation for the many actions Bahrain had taken to implement the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry and noted that, in the words of the Commission’s Chairperson, only some of the recommendations had been fully implemented.  Which were the recommendations that were still to be implemented? 

What steps were being taken to protect human rights defenders and other human rights activists from reprisals?

A Committee Expert raised concern about articles 353 and 354 of the penal code which exempted perpetrators of rape and kidnapping from punishment if they married their victims.  What was being done to do away with these articles which provided impunity for rape?  Was domestic violence criminalized and if so, what system was in place to provide support to survivors of violence?

JENS MODVIG, Committee Chairperson, noted that the Office of the Ombudsman was under the Ministry of Interior and raised concern about its independence.  It was particularly worrying that the guidelines for investigation of allegations of torture called for the Public Prosecution Service and the Office of the Ombudsman to examine the complainant and if evidence of torture were found, start a prosecution.  This practice was in violation with the Istanbul Protocol, as neither of those institutions had the required expertise and also because evidence of torture did not necessarily involve only physical signs. 

Mr. Modvig further noted that reparation to victims of grave human rights violations was larger than compensation alone and included rehabilitation as well.  Furthermore, the amount of compensation was defined on the basis of disability caused and thus completely ignored other grave consequences and impacts on health.  Compensation was too narrow a remedy.  How many people died in custody, what steps were taken to investigate such cases, and what was the role of the Ombudsman?

ALESSIO BRUNI, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Bahrain, noted that the Special Investigative Unit had the mandate to investigate under the provisions of the Istanbul Protocol – did the Unit have the required expertise, namely in the area of forensic medicine, what process was followed, and who were the investigative reports submitted to?

Responses by the Delegation


The delegation explained that the invitation to the High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit the country had been sent by the legislature in Bahrain, and the executive branch had merely passed it on.  Once the request for a visit was received, the Government would process it immediately.

Bahrain was working on establishing the foundations for the ratification of the Optional Protocol which would happen as soon as the conditions were there.

The Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission was a replica of the British Independent Police Complaint Commission and it was in full conformity with the Istanbul Protocol.  There was a mechanism in place to ensure coordination with the Office of the Ombudsmen.  Those two bodies had undertaken investigation into all deaths in custody, and the results were contained in the report issued by the Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission which was available online.

A proposal had been made to rescind article 353 of the criminal code which granted immunity from prosecution to perpetrators of rape or kidnaping if they married their victims, and this proposal was being considered.

Concluding Remarks


ABDULLA FAISAL ALDOSARI, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain, reiterated Bahrain’s commitment to continue to constructively engage with the Committee and said that its concluding observations would go a long way in the prevention of torture in Bahrain.

JENS MODVIG, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation and welcomed the intention of Bahrain to constructively use the Committee’s concluding observations.

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For use of the information media; not an official record


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