|Minister of Justice
The Bahraini Ministry of Justice Responds to BHRM’s Queries
the Alleged Torture and Ill-treatment
of the Detainees
On 9, 15 and 16 November 2010, Amnesty International (AI) issued
three public statements on the state of human rights in Bahrain.
In these statements, AI raised many questions and expressed deep
concerns regarding a number of issues including the subjection of
some detainees to torture and ill - treatment, and denial of adequate
access to their lawyers and families. Due to the significance of
these allegations, Bahrain Human Rights Monitor (BHRM) wrote to
His Excellency the Minister of Justice on 19 November 2010, requesting
some clarifications on the matter. On 19 December, the Ministry
of Justice responded as follows:-
■ The trial judge ordered in the opening
session that the detainees should be moved to a prison under the
control of the Ministry of Interior, and to be allowed to meet with
their lawyers for longer periods of time. The judge also ordered
that the defence lawyers should be given copy of the file. Were
the judge’s orders implemented? If not, why?
In response to the judge’s decision issued at the session held
on 28 October 2010, the detainees were moved to a different section
within the Dry-Dock Prison, which is not supervised by the National
Security Apparatus. Additionally,
the lawyers were allowed to visit the detainees on specific dates
in November. Subsequently, 18 lawyers managed to do so on the dates
set aside, which were the 4th, 14th, 21st, 22nd, and 26th respectively;
and on Friday 26 November 2010, the day following the last session,
six lawyers visited their clients.
■ With regards to access to the lawyers
by the detainees, how many times did they meet between 28 October
and 11 November 2010?
The lawyers managed only one visit to the detainees in the stated
period and that was on 4 November 2010.
■ How many times were the detainees
allowed to see their families, and how long did their visits last?
Prior to 24 November 2010, the visits by the families to each
detainee ranged between seven to nine visits. The overall total
of visits to all the detainees is 182.
■ Can you tell us about the services
inside the prison, including medical, food and contact with the
outside world through the newspapers and TV?
The detainees are provided with a variety of meals, and they
enjoy the rights to read the newspapers, watch TV, and receive books
from outside the prison. They also enjoy daily periods of exercise,
and receive due medical care, whenever deemed necessary, all in
accordance with the prison’s rules and regulations.
■ In the first and second sessions,
the detainees complained to the trial judge that they were subjected
to torture between the first and second sessions, in spite of their
previous complaint to the Court. Did the Court take any legal actions
regarding these torture allegations? If so, what were they?
Following the allegations of torture by the detainees , the Court
ordered the referral of Salman Naji Salman and Abdel Amir Al Aradi
to a forensic physician, and of Hassan Hamad Saleh Al Haddad to
an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist .
■ On 16 November 2010, Mr. Malcolm Smart,
the Director of the Middle East Program at AI, called on the Bahraini
Government to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations
of torture. On the other hand, the lawyers demanded the referral
of the detainees to independent medical examinations, rather than
to the Forensic Department within the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Could it be possible for the Ministry of Health to form a special
medical committee to investigate these allegations, similar to that
of the Karzakkan Case in early 2010?
Scientifically and practically speaking, forensic medicine is
the only technically qualified medium to determine the nature and
the cause of injury, and the manner by which it was inflicted, and
whether it conforms to any allegations made by the accused. The
Diagnostic and Therapeutic Medicine can not rule conclusively in
such matters. This should, in no way, be undermined by what was
adopted by the court regarding the two cases of Jidhafs and Karzackan,
when a committee consisting of doctors from the Ministry of Health
was formed to examine the accused. The Public Prosecution voiced
concerns towards the committee’s conclusion, as it contained gravely
contradicting findings, which could only be attributed to the committee’s
lack of scientific specialization, and its interference in matters
beyond its mandate and medical expertise; Additionally, the committee
relied on the pain displayed by the accused to determine that the
injury occurred due to an assault instead of relying on the existence
of visible traces of injury. Furthermore, the medical report, according
to the Public Prosecution, could not reach a definite opinion on
how the injuries were sustained, thus making the findings dependent
on mere probabilities rather than certainties.
■ What are the legal assurances for
the detainees during their detention?
The utmost legal guarantees that could safeguard the accused
are the criminal and disciplinary liability prescribed by the law,
in addition to the provision in the criminal procedure law, article
145, which stipulates that individuals from the Public Authorities,
other than those permitted to inspect prisons, are not allowed to
have any form of contact with the detainees, unless they have a
written permission from the Public Prosecution Office .
■ With regard to the shaving of the
detainee’s heads, why did that happen, and under which legal guidelines?
Did the accused object to that, and saw it as an insult, as claimed
by their lawyers?
With regard to this matter, we have been informed by the Ministry
of Interior that the normal practice, under the prison’s laws and
regulations, is that every detainee would have his head shaven before
admission; and that the shaving process takes place every three
weeks as a hygiene requirement, and also to ensure the safety of
all detainees and prevent the spread of disease among them.