The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concern for the Authority’s in Bahrain continued targeting and arresting of children, where the security apparatuses arrested the two 13 year old children Sayed Tameem Majid and Sayed Hashim Alawi and kept them in detention of over two week.
The detained children’s parents stated that the police forces arrested the children on Saturday 7 December 2013 after suppressing a peaceful demonstration in the village of Al-Qurayyah, West of the capital Manama, and led them to Budaiya police station and released them after signing a pledge to attend the next day. On 8 December, the Public Prosecution decided to imprison them for 5 days pending investigation on the charge of assembly, burning tires and possession of Molotov cocktails. When the specified detention period was over the Public Prosecution renewed the detention of Tameem and Hashim twice, 7 days each time (12 December and 19 December). They were finally released on 26 December 2013. On 19 December the Public Prosecution decided to detain two other children for 7 days and they are Jehad Al-Sameea (10 years old) and Abdulla Yusuf Al-Bahrani (13 years old), and their charge was throwing stones at a police patrol.
This takes place just days after Amnesty International released its report that addresses the violations practiced by the Authority in Bahrain against children, especially during detention, since February 2011. Amnesty stated that detaining, abusing and torturing children in Bahrain is one of the usual things in Bahrain. Dozens of children were arrested, among them children not over the age of 13, due to suspecting their participation in anti-government demonstrations, as well as blindfolding, beating and torturing them during detention for the past two years. Other children were subjected to threats of rape, in order to extract forced confessions from them. Said Boumedouha - Amnesty's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa – stated that, “Bahrain is displaying an appalling disregard for its international human rights obligations, by rounding up suspected under-age offenders and locking them up”. Amnesty added that it had received news that there are at least 110 children, between the ages of 16 and 18, detained pending investigation or trial at the Dry Dock Prison, which is an adult facility on the Island of Muharraq. At the end of the report, Amnesty urged the government in Bahrain to consider alternative penalties, such as probation and community service, for children who have committed internationally recognizable criminal offences. The BCHR had documented more than 20 cases of arrests of children between the ages of 17 and 20, since Amnesty released its report until 23 December 2013.
The BCHR believes that the Authority in Bahrain systematically targets children by arresting them and targeting them at school and on the streets at times, and at other times killing them outside the law. Despite the Authority’s claims of caring for children, and the endorsement of Bahrain’s ruler Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa on the Children’s Act which includes 8 entries, most importantly protecting children from abuse, and it includes 69 Articles that defines the rights and protection of the Bahraini child, however, the BCHR had documented more than 120 cases of arrests of children since Bahrain endorsed the Children’s Act until this day; some of them have been released, others remain in detention. The BCHR also documented cases of being expelled from school and others being subjected to shotgun bullets which are used to suppress peaceful protests. The BCHR released on 20 November 2013, which marks the Universal Children’s Day, an extensive report that addresses the various violations faced by the children of Bahrain.
Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafdha – Vice-president of the BCHR – stated, “targeting children is a natural result of the rampant widespread of impunity which caused an increase in the number of victims, and not holding torturers accountable over the years, made torture especially in the case of children, a natural matter in the prisons of Bahrain”. He also believes that Bahrain winning a seat in the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child puts in a real test in the field of caring for children’s right and increases the necessity to adhere to the international agreements and treaties it had endorsed and signed.
Based on the above, the BCHR calls on the US, UK, UN and all the Authority’s close allies and relevant international organizations to:
- Put pressure on the Authority in Bahrain to observe and maintain human rights, especially children’s rights;
- Immediately stop any arm sale to Bahrain, especially teargas and bullets that are used to kill and injure protestors, including children;
- Putting Bahrain on trial internationally for its continuous and repetitive violations of the Children’s Act which it had already endorsed.
It also calls on the Authority in Bahrain to:
- Immediately release all detained children in the prisons of Bahrain, and provide psychological rehabilitation appropriate to the phase following their release;
- Put an end to the policy of impunity which contributed in creating an environment of daily violations against children;
- Lay down serious steps to hold accountable those responsible for the violations which reached children in Bahrain;
- Reimburse children in a manner that corresponds with the violations they were subjected to;
- Change the current minor law to 18 instead of the current law that considers anyone above 16 an adult;
- Ensure a safe environment for all children in Bahrain.