Alleged crimes against humanity in Bahrain: Serious investigations must be initiated

Bahrain – Arab Spring – Torture

In September 2011, ECCHR sent an advisory opinion to the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry. The statement seeks to draw the commission’s attention to the cases of two persons who suffered severe injuries on 25 March 2011. Referencing the principle of command responsibility, the report emphasizes that the findings do not only pertain to the immediate perpetrator, but rather to the chain of command as a whole. Supervisors and commanders should not be excluded from the investigations. The report further notes that accepted standards of international criminal law should be respected throughout the process of evaluating the evidence, identifying suspects and producing key recommendations.


Two men – both of whom are being represented by ECCHR – were shot at by Bahraini security forces before being forcibly removed from hospital, imprisoned, and abused. ECCHR concludes in its report that the crimes committed in Bahrain constitute crimes against humanity under international law. It calls upon the Commission of Inquiry to comprehensively investigate all of the accusations listed, and to conduct a thorough evaluation of the evidence put forward.


Both cases exemplify the diverse human rights violations committed against protesters by Bahrain’s security forces in spring 2011. The violent attacks carried out against demonstrators, journalists, and doctors treating peaceful protesters constitute systematic criminal offenses. In addition, demonstrators were arbitrarily imprisoned and women were both threatened with, and subjected to, severe sexual violence.

The Commission of Inquiry was initiated by the King of Bahrain to investigate the excessive violence used against demonstrators during the uprisings in February and March 2011. It is authorized to produce recommendations for further action.

Glossary (3)


Public international law

Public international law is the system of laws governing relations between states and other subjects of international law.

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Double standards

Decision makers in Western democracies often apply double standards when it comes to human rights. While the Global North will condemn and in some cases prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Global South, there is little appetite to examine the role played by Western politicians, military leaders and corporations in crimes against international law.

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