Bahrain’s government should immediately investigate allegations of police torture in connection with the detention of two men following a protest demonstration on May 21, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the king of Bahrain.
Human Rights Watch called on the government to immediately release both men if they have not been charged with a criminal offense.
In dispersing a demonstration protesting a police action the night before, Bahrain riot police on May 21 detained `Ali Sa`id al-Khabaz, 22, and Hassan Yusif Hamid, 46. Al-Khabaz’s family was unable to learn his whereabouts for more than a week, but a photo of him in detention shows swelling, bruising and other signs of trauma to his face and head. When Bahraini human rights activists attempted to visit al-Khabaz in a military hospital on May 29, they found Hamid recovering from a broken jaw and other injuries. Hamid said police had taken al-Khabaz and him to several nearby locations and beat them severely.
In its letter to King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Human Rights Watch urged him to establish an independent body to investigate the allegations of torture and other mistreatment in detention and recommend disciplinary steps or criminal prosecution of persons implicated in abuse.
“Bahrain’s response to the serious allegations of abuse in detention will show whether King Hamad’s promises of human rights reforms and rule of law have any meaning,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Law enforcement officials become criminals when they inflict, instigate or tolerate torture.”
For more than a week, the al-Khabaz family was unable to learn of `Ali Sa`id’s whereabouts. On Tuesday, May 29, Ministry of Interior officials informed his family that he was in the military hospital and allowed family members to visit him. However, hospital officials refused the family’s request for information on the injuries he sustained. On May 30, ministry officials prohibited any further visits to the hospital, and at 12:30 a.m. on May 31, the authorities removed him and Hamid Yusif Ahmad from the hospital. Later that evening, Khabaz called his family to inform them that he was at the Manama police station
On May 25, Human Rights Watch wrote privately to Minister of Interior Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa, requesting information about al-Khabaz’s whereabouts and well-being. To date, Bahraini officials have not responded to this request or provided Human Rights Watch with any further information.
|`Ali Sa`id al-Khabaz © 2007 private||`Ali Sa`id al-Khabaz after Bahrain police detained him © 2007 private|