Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses its deep concern at the continuing policy of detaining children under the age of 18 as part of its ongoing campaign against the pro-democracy movement that began over five years ago. BCHR continues to document the arrest, detention and physical assaults against children by the security services – it has now documented 237 cases of the detention of children in 2015 alone.
The Bahraini security forces recently arrested six children from the Sar region: Sayyid Ali Abbas Mohammed (16); the two brothers Jassem Mohammed Hassan (16) and Hassan Mohammed Hassan (15); Fadhel Mohammed Hassan (15); Sayyid Fadhel Saeed Shams (14) and Sayyid Mohammed Hashem (13). The prosecutor general ordered them to be detained while they were investigated for political crimes. BCHR has received details of their arrest and information about allegations of torture and mistreatment after their arrest. We consider their experiences an example of the violation of the human rights of children in Bahrain.
Sayyid Ali Abbas Mohammed
Sayyid Ali Abbas Mohammed, 16 years old, is a student in the second year of secondary school and plays table tennis for the Bahraini team. On 27 November 2015 he was arrested by city security forces along with a group of people he was travelling in a car with at around 09:00 in Barbar. The local security agents then moved the group to the police station at Badia because they were not carrying their ID cards and because Sayyid Ali did not have a driving licence. Hours after they were taken to Badia police station, the whole group was released, apart from Sayyid Ali, who had a traffic infraction filed against him for driving without a licence. This is what police told his family when they went to the police station to find out where he was. They were later told that he would be taken to the prosecutor general.
After three days Sayyid Ali was taken before the prosecutor general on 30 November 2015 and charged with three offences: making fake bombs and placing them in the street, possessing Molotov cocktails and paints, illegal assembly and rioting. The prosecutor general decided to detain Sayyid Ali for a further 30 days while investigations were carried out. Sayyid Ali later told his family that he was beaten before being taken before the prosecutor general. The beating took place at Badia police station, and was carried out by police officers who kicked him in the stomach, hung him from the neck, threw him on the ground and beat him on the head and feet repeatedly. He was forced to admit to the crimes he was accused of by the general prosecutor, which he had not committed, and threatened with further beating if he later denied them. This is why he admitted the crimes before the prosecutor general. He also informed his family that he was beaten in the interior of the police station, where there are no surveillance cameras.
Fadil, Hassan and Jasim Mohammed Hassan (brothers)
On 21 December 2015, plain-clothes security forces accompanied by uniformed personnel raided the house of two children, Jassim Mohammed Hassan (14) and Hassan Mohammed Hassan (15) at 3am. The house, in the Sar region, had its outer door kicked in and the security forces entered the interior without an arrest warrant or permission to carry out a search. They searched the entire house and arrested Jasim and Hassan. They left the house without giving any information as to the reason for the arrest or where the boys were being taken. At 8am the family were informed by telephone that the boys were at Badia police station. The boys told their family that they had been beaten, at which point the phone call was cut off. On 23 December 2015 they were brought before the prosecutor general, who charged them with making fake explosives – it was decided that they should be detained for 30 days pending investigation.
On 28 December 2015 the family made their first visit to the boys at the Houdh al-Jaf holding centre. The boys informed their family that they were suffering ill treatment and had been beaten. They said they had been blindfolded throughout their two-day stay at the criminal investigations headquarters. They were also threatened with being returned to the investigations headquarters and beaten again if they denied the allegations leveled against them by the prosecutor general. Jassim told his family that, due to the severity of the beating, he had been forced to “confess” that their younger brother Fadil (13) had been with them during the crime they were accused of. Fadil was subsequently arrested on 14 January 2016 after he was summoned to appear before the prosecutor general for investigation. He was accused of planting a foreign body in the street, burning tyres and unlawful assembly. He was detained for seven days while investigations were carried out, and his detention was extended for a further four days on 21 January 2016.
Sayyid Fadil Saeed Shams
On 19 January 2016 Sayyid Fadil Saeed Shams (14) received a notice demanding that he appear before the prosecutor general. On 20 January, Sayyid went with his father to the prosecutor general, where he was questioned without the presence of his lawyer. The prosecutor general did not allow Sayyid’s father to enter the interrogation room with him. The prosecutor general accused Sayyid of planting a foreign object in the street, and ruled to detain him for six days despite the fact that he denied the charges, according to his family. It should be mentioned that Sayyid is the brother of a child unlawfully killed by the security forces, Sayyid Ahmed Shams, who died after he was hit by a direct shot in 2012.
Sayyid Mohammed Hashim Sharf
On 20 January 2016 Sayyid Mohammed Hashim Sharf (13), a student in the second year of preparatory school and a member of the Bahraini table tennis squad for his age category, received a notice demanding that he appear before the prosecutor general. On 21 January Sayyid Mohammed went with his father to the prosecutor general, where he was questioned without the presence of his lawyer. The prosecutor general did not allow Sayyid’s father to enter the interrogation room with him. The prosecutor general accused Sayyid Mohammed of planting a foreign object in the street, and ruled to detain him for five days despite the fact that he denied the charges,
Based on the above, Bahrain Centre for Human Rights calls on the United Nations, the United States, the United Kingdom and all other close allies of the Bahraini government to:
- Immediately release all children arrested during the rest wave of protests in Bahrain
- Drop all charges leveled against these children
- Implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Bahrain is a signatory
- Properly investigate all allegations of torture and ill-treatment of children
- Hold to account those who are responsible for torturing children and bring them before a judge