For Immediate Release: September 19, 2012
Washington, DC — The Government of Bahrain today pledged to implement more than 140 of the 176 recommendations laid out in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) conducted by the United National Human Rights Council. Human Rights First notes the pledge is welcome news but cautioned that the Kingdom has reneged on similar promises in the past.
“The announcement of commitment to reform and accountability is welcome,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “But that pledge will rightly be met with skepticism. Key recommendations from last year’s Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report, which the government also promised to keep, remain unfulfilled. It’s time for the Kingdom to stop talking about reform and start implementing it.”
Among the reforms coming out of the UPR process is a recommendation to investigate abuses carried out by government officials, including the prosecution of those responsible for torture. The regime says it has already prosecuted 23 people and sentenced three in connection with abuse and torture. Earlier this week, it announced that seven police officers charged with abusing prisoners will have a court hearing on October 1.
“Investigating and prosecuting those responsible for torture is the right move, but the government has not released the names of the seven police lieutenants set for the October 1 hearing. They should be named and their trial should be open to independent observers,” said Dooley. “These defendants should enjoy a fair and transparent trial, as should everyone in Bahrain. If the authorities mean to punish those accountable for torture there can be no secret trials and no scapegoating.”
Human Rights First, the BICI report, and other international human rights organizations have detailed many cases of torture and ill-treatment in Bahrain in 2011, including at least four deaths in custody from torture. The BICI report noted that “the lack of accountability of officials within the security system has led to a culture of impunity, whereby security officials have few incentives to avoid mistreatment of prisoners or to take action to prevent mistreatment by other officials.”
For more information about the UPR or to speak with Dooley, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at email@example.com or 202-370-3323.