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Authorities in Bahrain arbitrarily arrest a man with learning difficulties amid allegations of torture

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Since 13 December 2016, Kumail Ahmed Hamida, who suffers from learning difficulties, has been in police custody, after reportedly falling victim to arbitrary arrest and torture. The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights expresses its deep concern at the Bahraini authorities’ ongoing policy of arbitrary arrest and torture to produce confessions, which is a clear violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 5 of which stipulates: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Hamida was arrested after his home in Sanabis District was raided by masked civil forces at 04:30 on the morning of 13 December 2016. His father tried to explain that he suffers from learning difficulties, and attempted to show them medical records to prove his condition. The forces did not show any warrant for the search or the arrest. After his arrest, his family received a phone call from him on the same day, and were informed that he was being detained at the Criminal Investigations Headquarters, where he remained until 16 December 2016. On that day they learned, from another telephone call from him, that he had been transferred to Dry Dock Prison. During this time, the family had received incorrect information from the ombudsman, who said he had already been transferred to Dry Dock Prison, when in fact he was still at the Criminal Investigations Headquarters. His family were given no information as to the reasons for his arrest and detention.

On 21 December 2016 his relatives were able to visit him for the first time. They later informed BCHR that, during the visit, they saw marks caused by torture, especially an injury from his lower lip to his chin. He told his family that the beating had focused on his ears, to the extent that he was unable to hear fully. He was also electrocuted on the soles of his feet, and hot water was poured on his body to force a confession to charges of unlawful assembly, photographing without permission and taking part in protests. He added that, immediately after being transferred to Dry Dock Prison, he was beaten by police in the detention centre.

Hamida appeared before the prosecutor general without the presence of a lawyer. Despite his father showing documents that proved his learning difficulty, and Hamida’s denial of the charges, the prosecutor general ordered that he be detained for a further 15 days pending investigation. His detention was then extended for a further 14 days, and again extended on 12 January 2017 for further 15 days.
In addition to his learning difficulties, Hamida’s family report that he also suffers from back pain.

BCHR condemns in the strongest terms the prosecutor general’s involvement in the extended detention of an individual suffering from documented learning difficulties, amid allegations of torture to force a confession.

BCHR calls on the government of Bahrain to do the following:

  • Immediately and unconditionally release Kumail Ahmed Hamida
  • Put a stop to the practice of arbitrary arrest
  • Respect Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as Article 7 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, both of which stipulate that no individual must be subjected to torture, or to treatment or punishment that is cruel, inhuman or degrading.
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