Bahrain’s 2015: 1765 Arrests , Including 120 Children

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Bahrain
Wednesday, 11 May 2016

The Gatherings Law has made 2015 the worst period, since 2011, for the right to freedom of assembly, said Al Wefaq’s Liberties and Human Rights Department (LHRD) in its annual report on the human rights situation in Bahrain. The year saw a total ban on assembly and demonstrations, the report said. The LHRD explained that the tighter grip on fundamental freedoms is most probably an undeclared punitive measure in response to the opposition’s decision to boycott the 2014 parliamentary elections.

Despite the ban, protests continued in villages throughout 2015. The LHRD said it observed 6,403 protests, of which 2,035 were repressed by police using teargas and shotgun. The repression resulted in at least 711 injuries. It also found 1765 arbitrary arrests for reasons related to the political crisis, including 120 children.The Bahraini Government has made considerable use of repressive legislations to silence its opponents, one of which threatens a Bahraini’s existence in his country as a national. Since 2012 and up until 2015, the authorities in Bahrain revoked the citizenships of 260 nationals, most of whom are human rights defenders, journalists or political activists. “The vague provisions in the Nationality Law have given the Interior Minister extended discretion, allowing him to request to revoke the citizenship of people for accusations of “harming the interests of the kingdom”, or acting in “contrary to the duty of loyalty”.

In its 149-page report, the LHRD also looks at the judiciary’s handling of cases of arbitrary killings of civilians. It reveals that the judiciary acquitted the majority of security policemen who had been referred to trial in this context, or it convicted and punished them with lenient sentences. It said one security policeman was imprisoned for 6 months for using a fire arm to kill an unarmed man inside a building under construction. The crime happened with the presence of two other policemen. The victim was shot in his legs and arm at close range. The report details 24 cases of arbitrary killings of civilians, including minors, where the judiciary failed to do justice in 2015.

The following are the findings of the LHRD’s report for 2015:

On arbitrary detention:

The Bahraini authorities have carried out a lot of arbitrary arrests, which are classified at minimum, within the second or third or both categories, according to the procedural definition adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the United Nations, against political opponents or opposition supporters.

On restricting freedom of expression:

The Bahraini authorities have imposed arbitrary restrictions on freedom of expression by imposing a total ban on demonstrations, and through exclusion of opinions circulating in public gatherings and the social media, which oppose the authorities and their policies in public debate.

The Bahraini authorities used a package of provisions in the penal code that criminalize peaceful expression of opinion in order to silence the voices of political opponents, human rights defenders, activists, journalists, and others who authorities believe they belong to the opposition supporters.

On Nationality Revocation:

The Bahraini authorities have used nationality revocation to punish politicians, media activists, human rights defenders, clerics and others from the opposition supporters, through ministerial decisions, royal decrees and court rulings.

The Bahraini authorities have provided the same legal pretext for arbitrariness in the revocation of citizenship, through the nationality law and the law of terrorism. While the nationality law allowed the nationality revocation through vaguely worded provisions, and expanded the powers of the authorities in this regard, the terrorism law authorized revocation of citizenship by court orders.

The Bahraini authorities have failed to provide the administrative or effective judicial review for the people who have had their nationalities revoked and filed lawsuits against them on charges of illegal stay.

On Activists Prosecution:

The Bahraini authorities have targeted politicians, media persons, and human rights defenders by involving them in malicious criminal cases, in order to punish them for their roles in the continuation of the peaceful political opposition movement and to isolate them from monitoring and protection of human rights.

The Interior Ministry has launched unnecessary preliminary investigations with activists and charged them without some charges without evidences aiming to intimidate them or restrict their activities.

On Torture and Ill-treatment:

The Bahraini authorities have continued their practice of systematic torture and ill-treatment, in order to force the victims to give information or confessions, or for the purpose of punishment, or in some cases due to sectarian discrimination. Most of the victims have been arrested for their participation or suspected participation in demonstrations or media coverage or violations documentation.

The integrators have used very painful but non-lethal torture methods, that don’t leave signs on the body of the victim, in order to hide any evidence leading to accountability

The Bahraini authorities have used excessive force and practiced torture and extended organized means of ill- treatment against prisoners in connection to Jaw prison disturbances, in order to punish the prisoners and to take revenge from them, and to form self-censorship among the prisoners that contribute to keep them away from protests against poor prison conditions and minimum rights of prisoners.

The Ombudsman of the Interior Ministry and the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of the Public Prosecution have failed to put an end to torture and ill-treatment in prisons, or to prevent the impunity of the perpetrators. While the Ombudsman t was unable to issue transparent reports on the increasing complaints received, as well as the steps taken to deal with those complaints, the SIU failed to hold the security officers involved in the torture and ill-treatment cases accountable.

On Deprivation of Freedom of Assembly and Association:

The Bahraini authorities have imposed a total ban on demonstrations held by the opposition, and denied granting any rally permission by the opposition forces in order to punish them for boycotting the parliamentary elections at the end of 2014, while the authorities have used excessive force to disperse the demonstrations, which did not respond to the ban.

The Gatherings law has imposed unnecessary and disproportionate restrictions to criminalize the right of peaceful assembly. On the other hand, the authorities’ practices to enforce the law were characterized by arbitrary interpretation of the restrictions set forth in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Bahraini authorities have imposed arbitrary restrictions to the establishment of non-governmental organizations, especially the political ones and they have intervened in their affairs to unjustifiable extent up to suspension or dissolution or prosecution through the NGO’s Law and the Political Societies Law.

On Arbitrary Killing:

The Bahraini authorities have continued to adopt impunity on the announced arbitrary killing cases or extrajudicial killings since 2011, including the cases highlighted by the BICI report, in addition to the lack of impartial and serious investigations to hold the direct perpetrators accountable. The authorities haven’t also activated the principle of command responsibility to face any leaders involved in such violations.

On Restricting Religious Freedoms:

The Bahraini authorities have carried out many acts of vandalism against the Shia worship places and imposed restrictions on the religious ceremonies for this community, especially in Ashura Anniversary, in order to take revenge from the Shia sect who make up the main part of the opposition.

The authorities turned a blind eye for accountability of those involved in the sabotage of against Shia sect worship places, who do not belong to the government bodies, in limited cases.

The Bahraini authorities have targeted the religious activities of the Shia community over through the harassment of religious discourse practiced by clerics in their Friday sermons and in religious events, or the religious chanters in Hussaini processions or by the interference in the religious affairs of the sect.

The Bahraini authorities have failed to rebuild all Shia mosques demolished during the state of emergency in 2011 and they have also sought to delude the public opinion in this regard.

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