Torture and Impunity in Bahrain
Since its independence in 1971, the Kingdom of Bahrain faced waves of protests, repeatedly met by the ruling elite around the royal Al-Khalifa family with repression and fundamental human rights violations against human rights defenders, political opposition leaders, independent media and religious leaders. Although systematic torture in political cases was brought to a halt in the late 1990s, it seems to have resumed since 2007.
Following demonstrations in other Arab countries, thousands of peaceful demonstrators took to the streets of Bahrain in Spring 2011 to call for reforms. The regime responded by brutally repressing protests with the help of foreign troops. Hundreds of human rights activists, opposition leaders, journalists, students and other critics of the regime were imprisoned. Many of those imprisoned were and continue to be abused and, in some cases, tortured. Others are still are still facing systematic surveillance, persecution, arrests and torture.
The King of Bahrain has established the Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) to investigate the excessive violence used against demonstrators during the uprisings in 2011. The BICI published a strong report pointing out to the existence of systematic policies of arbitrary detention, torture and harassment as well as to the responsibility of those at the highest governmental echelons. The BICI was not mandated to analyze individual criminal responsibility but it issued a series of recommendations, following which a Special Investigation Unit was created to investigate torture allegations. However this only has led to a handful of prosecutions against low-ranking officers.
Despite several witness testimonies stating that both senior state officials and members of the royal family are or were involved in this practice, no inquiry has been conducted against those high profile public figures accused of being responsible for torture neither in Bahrain nor in European countries which would be in a position to do so.
ECCHR's work on Bahrain
Bahrain Independent Comission of Inquiry: Alleged Crimes against Humanity in Bahrain: Serious Investigations must be Initiated
Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa: British court confirms end of Bahraini prince’s immunity
Attorney General Ali Bin Fadhul Al-Buainain: Criminal complaint in Switzerland