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.
Torture of detained members of the opposition: London High Court accepted in 2014 that Bahraini Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa is not immune from prosecution. This decision opened the door to an investigation by the Metropolitan Police War Crimes Team.
Bahrain-born British citizen Jaafar al-Hasabi submitted a criminal complaint in Dublin against Bahraini Attorney General Ali Bin al-Buainain. Al-Hasabi was detained and tortured in Bahrain in 2010. Since then, he tries to bring those responsible to court.
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 when they were shot at by Bahraini security forces before being forcibly removed from hospital, imprisoned, and abused.
British-German surveillance technology provider Gamma infringed on its human rights obligations with products such as “state trojan” FinFisher. This was confirmed by the UK’s OECD National Contact Point. In 2013, ECCHR submitted a complaint against Gamma and German firm Trovicor.