For Immediate Release: December 12, 2011
Washington, DC – A Human Rights First report issued today reveals that not much has change in the weeks since the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) released its findings that the Kingdom’s government had engaged in a series of grave human rights abuses - including thousands of illegal arrests, widespread torture in detention, forced confessions and deaths in custody.
“The Bahrain regime promised it would react positively and immediately to the criticisms in the report, but people continue to be subjected to show trials and exposed to excessive force at the hands of security forces,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley, who recently returned from Bahrain and is the author of today’s report, No More Excuses – Time for Radical Change. “Just today, another group of 28 medics were back in court. Instead of dropping the baseless charges against them, the government introduced new allegations against a portion of the group, saying the group had weapons. Now these medical professionals are forced to continue living in limbo as their case was adjourned to a future unspecified date.”
Today’s Human Rights First report reveals that around 160 policemen continue to face charges for refusing to join in the violent government crackdown on protestors. Many of these law enforcement officers have already been sentenced to many years in prison for their decision. The report also clearly outlines the role Bahrain Defense Forces have played in the crackdown.
“The defense forces were directly involved in targeting protestors and must be held accountable for that activity,” Dooley notes, “It is clear that they have little regard for the human rights of Bahrainis. In light of that, the United States should not permit a proposed arms sale to the Bahrain dictatorship until reforms have been undertaken.”
No More Excuses – Time for Radical Change features details from the latest hearing for 20 medics currently facing prosecution for treating injured protestors. It also highlights the case of
Mahdi Abu Deeb, president of the Bahrain Teachers’ Society, who a military court has sentenced to 10 years for allegedly inciting hatred and violent crimes. Her appeal has been delayed until Feb. 19.
“Nothing in the BICI should have come as a shock to anyone,” said Dooley. “International media and NGOs have been telling the world the truth about the human rights violations in Bahrain for months. The Bahrain regime still seems to be in denial. It’s time it faces reality, stops making excuses, drops political charges against peaceful opponents, releases those it should never have imprisoned and orders its security forces to stop firing on protestors.”
The BICI did not name those responsible for the systematic violations included in its report. Bahrain authorities have announced a series of measures in response to the BICI’s findings, including the establishment of a committee to advise the king on how to best implement the commission’s recommendations. Though the Kingdom recently agreed to give the International Committee of the Red Cross access to detainees, it continues to violate fundamental human rights on a number of other key fronts. The report notes that without additional action, lives will remain at risk in Bahrain.
“The Bahrain’s government failure to adequately address the commission’s findings is appalling. The United States Government should publicly call for those responsible for these violations to be held accountable, no matter how high up the chain of command. It should also publicly state that its relationship with the Bahrain regime is dependent on the Kingdom’s respect for human rights.”