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Impunity prevalent in Bahrain; rights group holds King responsible

(BCHR/IFEX) - 31 October 2012 - The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) has published a detailed report by both the Monitoring and Research Committees in the Center that looks into the cases of impunity and lack of accountability of members of the ruling family and officials in the security forces and the army.

Those involved carried out gross violations of human rights that violate both local and international law, by committing crimes of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary executions, deprivation of life, brutal torture, mock trials and the use of excessive force. This is after the Authority in Bahrain backed with forces from the Gulf states (Peninsula Shield) - mostly from Saudi Arabia - crushed the vast national uprising affected by the Arab Spring that called for freedom and democracy in February and March 2011 and thereafter up until the writing of this report.

The results of the study, which comes a year after the release of the report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, show that the policy of impunity is still entrenched in the doctrine of the Bahraini authority and its security institutions as a basic prevalent culture. This culture, which is internationally condemned, constitutes an instrument of repression and paves the way for more victims through the method of official excessive violence that is still practiced by the Authority in Bahrain as the only option for dealing with peaceful demonstrators. This policy is one of the main obstacles behind limiting violations and one of the most important indicators of not implementing the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, which clearly recommended investigating the violations and holding the offenders accountable based on a level of responsibility, as well as documented cases of murder, torture and excessive use of force.

What increases the concern of BCHR is that this systematic policy of impunity and of providing immunity to criminals and enabling them to continue with their duties and holding on to their security positions without accountability has led to more deaths among peaceful demonstrators. In August / September 2012, two young men were killed - 16-year-old Hussam Mohammed Jassim Al-Haddad and 17-year-old Ali Hassan Neamah - who were shot dead by security forces, the same way a number of protesters in February and March 2011 (and the months that followed) were killed. Instead of undertaking serious investigations into these two incidents, the Bahraini Public Prosecution quickly acquitted the policemen accused of killing Al-Haddad and Neamah, and shelved the cases.

However, BCHR thoroughly followed up on the two cases and found that there was no reason to use bullets. The young men that were killed were shot from the back with shotgun pellets and they were not in a state of confrontation or armed with a deadly weapon, nor did they constitute an imminent danger that can only be avoided with a deadly weapon.

Read the full report online.

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