Bahrain prosecution complicit in torture: rights group
Published Monday, August 6, 2012
A leading Bahraini human rights group rejected on Monday an announcement by the country's chief prosecutor that 15 police officers would be charged with torturing doctors.
Nawaf Hamza, chief investigator in the public prosecutor's office, said in a statement he was officially making known that members of the forces of law and order would face torture charges for their role in a crackdown on pro-democracy protests last year.
He said the charges were being brought following an inquiry launched on the basis of a complaint by doctors at Salmaniya hospital, the main medical facility in the capital Manama.
"This procedure confirms the intention of the Bahrain government to bring to account all those found guilty of human rights violations and to recompense the victims," Hamza said.
The complainants, also numbering 15, had said they were badly treated during their detention. Some of them underwent medical examination during the inquiry.
But Said Yousif, deputy head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, accused the public prosecution of being complicit in the suppression of the protests.
“The public prosecution are part of the torture, we have testimony of detainees who have been tortured inside their building,” he said.
"We also have testimonies of people who have told the public prosecution they have been tortured and they have been ignored. We don't believe it is an independent institution, it is part of the problem."
Yousif added that a number of ministers had been accused of being complicit in the torture but had not been investigated.
"Senior members of the ruling elite were involved in torture but they are only charging the low-level officers," he said.
A number of key individuals in Bahrain, including two sons of king Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifah, have been implicated in torture but have yet to face charges.
Bahrain came under strong criticism from international human rights organizations over its crackdown on a pro-democracy uprising which began in February 2011.
Saudi Arabia sent troops in March 2011 to help Bahraini authorities crush the protests.
An international panel commissioned by King Hamad to probe the government's clampdown found out that excessive force and torture had been routinely used against protesters and detainees, leading to the deaths of a number of protesters.
UK-based rights group Amnesty International says 60 people have been killed since the protests first erupted.