Minister of the Interior: the Time of Torture is over and we are not a Colonial Police

Minister of the Interior, Sheikh Rashid Abdulla Al Khalifa, said that the duty of his Ministry is to protect society and not to oppress it, saying: ‘we are the Bahraini national police and not a colonial one’, adding that ‘the time of torture is now over and it has no place with us’. The Minister also stressed his refusal of torturing any person ‘because part of our responsibility is to protect everyone’. He also rejected the use of excessive force and collective punishment.

This comment came on the margins of the Minister’s meeting with Abdulla Al Drazi, the Secretary General of the Bahrain Human Rights Society, on 8 February 2009. The Minister continued that ‘we all represent the generation of the King’s reform project which was conceived while we were at the centre of responsibility, and one of the main priorities of this project is to embrace the human being, care for his rights and protect his freedom and dignity. We are currently stronger than ever before due to this clear vision’. He also added that ‘we have done our best to develop our responsibility towards human rights and one of our concerns is to put into place a policy which is based directly on the enforcement of human rights values and culture among security personnel. This can be achieved through a solid commitment to all that which guarantees the protection of human rights and freedom stated in the Constitution and related laws’.

The Minister expressed his appreciation of the efforts of the Bahrain Society for Human Rights and promised more cooperation with other human rights societies stressing that ‘there is a wide margin for cooperation between us, and it is necessary for us to understand your vision and to involve you in the matter’ as he put it. He added that his Ministry received 156 cases in the period between 1 July 2007 and 15 March 2009 and decided on 137 cases, while 19 of them are still under investigation, and 12 cases were referred to the military courts, in addition to five which were referred to the officials responsible in order to make the necessary action. The Minister also mentioned the establishment of a specialized committee for human rights issues, headed by the Under-Secretary of the Minister of Interior, which looked into 56 cases, in which 52 were completed and 24 were referred to the military courts. The total number of the accused in these cases was 71 individuals, 35 of whom were convicted.

On the other hand, the Secretary-General of the Society, Abdulla Al Drazi, stressed the fact that his Society is a product of the King’s reform project and its main objective is the interest of the country, praising the Minister for his meeting in which some human rights issues were clarified. He also expressed his appreciation of the efforts of the Ministry of Interior in safeguarding the security and stability of the country, stressing that the Bahrain Human Rights Society will not accept that anyone be subjected to harm, including the security forces.