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Authorities block YouTube access to BCHR documentary on torture

(BCHR/IFEX) - 8 February 2011 - The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses its concern over the authorities' ongoing policy of blocking online blogs, forums and websites, in particular those that contain opinions and ideas critical of the government or the security apparatuses' practices and violations. In the most recent example, the Information Affairs Authority blocked a documentary film entitled "Systematic Torture in Bahrain", which was uploaded by BCHR on the well-known site YouTube.

The documentary, which was prepared by BCHR's media team, included testimonies from victims of systematic torture in Bahraini prisons, who were referred to in a special Human Rights Watch report "Torture Redux", released in February 2010. The documentary includes statements from seven individuals who were arrested and tortured by the Criminal Investigation Bureau in December 2007. The film also includes interviews with human rights defenders on the topic of torture and Bahrain's international commitments.

Individuals inside Bahrain who tried to access the film on BCHR's YouTube channel received an error message saying the page was blocked. The Information Affairs Authority blocked the site without prior notice and without providing any justification. BCHR notes that the government has blocked the translated English version of the film. This suggests that the authorities are trying to prevent the outside world from receiving information on the security apparatuses' practices of torture and mistreatment, especially when torture allegations against hundreds of detainees from Shiite villages have increased in recent months.

BCHR President Nabeel Rajab stated, 'The Bahraini Authorities should have run a transparent and sincere investigation into the allegations of torture by the security apparatuses, instead of blocking documentaries that address these very concerns. This policy of obscuring crimes of torture will only contribute to its spread instead of limiting it or putting an end to it, and it demonstrates the State's attempt to conceal this crime against humanity'.

Click here to read the BCHR press release

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