UN WGAD: Torture in Bahraini Prisons May Constitute Crimes against Humanity

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has warned that systemic deprivation of liberty in Bahrain may constitute crimes against humanity, Global Rights Watch has learned.

The UN WGAD published on its website their Opinion from 20 July 2022 concerning five young Bahraini citizens sentenced in an unfair mass trial known as the Soleimani Cell Case.

The Working Group found that the individuals were arbitrarily arrested in violation of international human rights law. These five individuals are part of a group of 18 defendants tried by the Bahraini High Criminal Court on 31 January 2021.

The WGAD called on the Bahraini government to take immediate measures which include the prisoners’ release.

The five individuals, three of whom are minors, were all arrested on 16 January 2022 and taken to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) for interrogations which lasted for 27 days up to a month.

The violations include arrests without a warrant, enforced disappearance, and torture.

All individuals were subjected to enforced disappearance, during which they were interrogated and tortured; the torture was physical and psychological, ranging from beatings, slapping, and electric shocks to blindfolding, threats of further violence, and deprivation of sleep.

Some of the victims did not go into detail about the interrogation out of consideration for their families’ feelings.

Throughout the interrogation period, the prisoners were not allowed to meet with their lawyers. Although two of the detainee’s lawyers were present during the court hearings, they were not allowed to communicate before, during or after the sessions.

During the sessions, a third detainee’s lawyer was not allowed to respond to the prosecution and could only submit notes to the court.

The court have taken forcibly extracted confessions into consideration and reportedly used them as evidence to convict the prisoners.

In its turn, Global Rights Watch declared total support to the WGAD’s recommendations and echoes its calls to release the five individuals immediately and provide them with appropriate compensation in accordance with international law.

Global Rights Watch also calls for holding the Bahraini authorities accountable for the systematic use of torture against peaceful opponents.

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