Prosecuting Torture Perpetrators
Torture allegations were always one of the most worrying issues
in Bahrain’s human rights file. Human rights organizations have
documented these violations; and this issue was also the centre
of attention for Bahraini civil society organizations. Bahrain lacks
an independent mechanism for investigating torture allegations and
persecuting those responsible. This file has taken its legal path
since the investigations conducted by Bassiouni’s Committee and
its recommendations. There are three main points relating to this
Firstly- the existence of torture and ill treatment cases has
been confirmed by the Government after Bassiouni’s report had proven
the existence of such cases.
Secondly- this relates to the need for preventative mechanisms
against torture in the future through the introduction of new legislations.
These mechanisms have been discussed in this BHRM issue, despite
the fact these mechanisms remain incomplete.
Thirdly- the follow up procedures after admitting the existence
of torture include conducting investigations, holding those responsible
accountable and compensating the victims. All these points were
stated in Bassiouni’s report and represent a real test to the seriousness
of Bahraini authorities in combating torture.
To prove its seriousness in combating torture, the Government
took many steps and opened relatively transparent investigations,
On 2 April 2012, the Head of the Special
Investigations Unit in the Public Prosecution Nawaf Abdullah Hamzah
stated that in compliance with BICI’s recommendations, the Public
Prosecution has recieved from the Ministry of Interior and the National
Security Agency all cases pertaining to fatalities and human rights
violations including complaints and allegations of torture and mistreatment,
explaining that the number of such cases pertaining to deaths reached
fifteen complaints meanwhile the number of other cases and
pertaining to allegations of human rights violations reached 107
Mr. Hamzah asserted the Public Prosecution’s keenness on compliance
with the same governmental methodology in fully, effectively and
transparently implementing BICI’s recommendations and that the Public
Prosecutor Dr. Ali bin Fadhl Al-Buainain decided taking a series
of actions aimed at finalizing current investigations as soon as
possible in accordance with regional and international human rights
and judicial standards.
He added that the first of these decisions was the creation of
a Special Investigations Unit inside the Public Prosecution office
charged with examining all investigations, complaints and reports
of fatalities, torture and gross human rights violations in the
aftermath of the February-March 2011 incidents and to take actions
in regards thereof.
The Public Prosecutor issued Resolution No.: (8) dated 27/2/2012
stipulating the formation of the Unit to be presided over by one
of the senior chiefs of prosecution and membership of seven chiefs
and members of the Public Prosecution. The Unit has actually begun
to perform its assigned duties. And as regards to how complaints
and reports could be lodged by individuals complaining from instances
of torture or human rights violations, the Public Prosecution emphasized
that all citizens have the right to directly lodge their complaints
with the Unit in the Public Prosecution premises or to any of the
Penal Prosecution offices which still do receive such type of complaints
and reports in order to take preliminary actions, including immediate
medical check up by forensic doctors, in compliance with the provisions
of Article (12) of the Anti-Torture Agreement and the provisions
of Istanbul Protocol for Investigation.
The Public Prosecution is committed to complete transparency,
and therefore, the Public Prosecutor decided to issue a comprehensive
progress statement on the first week of every month of the work
done by the Special Investigations Unit regarding allegations of
torture or gross human rights violations.
On 8 May 2012, the Council of Ministers
discussed a draft law to amend some provisions in the Law of Criminal
Procedures in order to protect individuals filing torture complains
against revenge in compliance of Bassiouni’s recommendation No (1719).
On 4 May 2012, Hamza also said that
they have recently interrogated 56 of the defendants and referred
nine cases to the competent courts, stressing that the unit continues
to make every effort to accommodate the growing number of new complaints
as well as what has been referred to by the Ministry of Interior
and National Security.
On 4 June 2012, Hamza confirmed that
the Special Investigations Unit in the Public Prosecution has proceeded
with its investigations efforts and considered complaints submitted
regarding torture and ill-treatment.
Special investigators continue to listen to statements from complainants
and finished listening to 18 complainants in addition to 11 witnesses
and that reliant upon these investigations the Unit interrogated
8 accused persons and informed them about charges raised versus
them. The Special Investigations Unit received 10 new complaints
last May and opened official investigation dossiers for all ten
It is worth mentioning that accused persons are summoned in order
to interrogate them regarding charges made against them. The unit
is currently investigating into 37 new complaints in addition to
102 cases which had been referred last April from the Ministry of
Interior and the National Security Agency.
It is also worth mentioning that the Public Prosecution has referred
two policemen regarding two separate complaints in which the Unit
had earlier on investigated and informed them about the charges
against them in terms of physical assaulting of other persons and
penalized the two policemen incarcerating each of them for 3 months.
On 2 July 2012, The Special Investigation
Unit’s chief, Mr. Nawaf Abdullah Hamza, stated that the Public Prosecution
questioned fifteen accused persons and informed them of charges
against them. The Special Investigation Unit’s chief revealed that
the unit received eleven new complaints during June 2012, pointing
out that the accused persons were summoned, and that investigation
with them is still underway on the charges made against them. The
unit had earlier referred one policeman to the High Criminal Court
and demanded? penalizing him in view of charges raised against him
for having caused a permanent disability to a victim. The said court
issued its verdict on the lawsuit on its session dated 25/6/2012
penalizing the policeman with five years’ imprisonment. The Public
prosecution also referred three accused persons to the same court
in two separate lawsuits and demanded penalizing them on charges
of an assault which resulted in causing death. The court, during
the same session, decided to change records and described the charge
as premeditated murder.