Amnesty should not apply to serious human rights crimes
Bahrain should investigate allegations that a former high security official routinely authorized and participated in the torture of
political prisoners, Human Rights Watch said today.
Adil Jassim Flaifil, a former colonel in the State Security and Intelligence Service, is reportedly under investigation on fraud and embezzlement charges, but a government prosecutor said last week that a February 2001 amnesty decree also covers security officials accused of human rights violations committed before that date.
On December 11, lawyers for eight Bahrainis attempted to file a formal complaint with the general prosecutor’s office naming Col. Flaifil as one of the persons responsible for acts of torture committed against them during periods of arbitrary detention in the 1994-1997 period. The general prosecutor reportedly told them they were wasting their time and refused to accept the complaint.
In a letter sent today, Human Rights Watch called on Bahrain’s king, Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, to clarify that Decree 56 of October 23, 2002, which extends the February 2001 amnesty to cover acts of government officials, will not apply to allegations of serious crimes such as torture.
“The government of Bahrain has long been aware of serious allegations against Colonel Flaifil,” said Joe Stork, Washington director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch. “We have seen the complaint that the lawyers tried to file last week, and the details are consistent with our investigation of the 1996-97 period.”
Stork noted that such use of an amnesty is inconsistent with Bahrain’s constitution and penal code, and with the country’s obligations as a State Party to the U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
A copy of the letter to the king is available at http://www.hrw.org/press/2002/12/bahrain1217ltr.htm