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Bahrain: NGOs join forces to battle the impunity enjoyed by alleged torturer, Mr. Adel Felaifel Ambassador Saeed Mohammed Al-Faihani Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the United Nations in Geneva Chemin William Barbey 51 Case postale 39, 1292 Chambésy Geneva, Switzerland 17th December 2002 Your Excellency, Re: RECENT DETENTION OF ADEL FELAIFEL We wish to express our support for the progress his Majesty, the King of Bahrain, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khlifa and his government have made with the reforms to bring democracy to the Kingdom of Bahrain and for their decision to ratify the UN Convention against Torture in 1998. We also welcome your government’s decision to detain Mr Adel Felaifel. Numerous Bahraini citizens have stated that while they were detained at the Security and Intelligence Service Headquarters during the 1990’s they were tortured and they name Mr Felaifel as either participating in brutal acts of torture or ordering others to carry out the torture. We also are aware that currently in Bahrain victims, politicians and citizens of Bahrain are calling on the government for an investigation into these grave allegations. We give our full support to their demands for justice and we urge your government to ensure that the Directorate for Public Prosecutions in Bahrain addresses the complaints of torture against Mr Felaifel which have been recently presented by eight victims and to ensure that all other victims are able to take such course of action in accordance with Bahrain’s obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture. The royal decree 56-2002 granting amnesty to members of the Security and Intelligence Services for acts that took place before the decree was passed should not apply to the crime of torture or ill treatment and therefore should not prevent claims from being investigated and prosecutions from taking place. This would be in clear contravention to Bahrain’s obligations under international law and specifically under the UN Convention against Torture. Torture is one of the most serious crimes prohibited under international law and every allegation of torture should be subject to a prompt, impartial and independent investigation in accordance with Bahrain’s unequivocal obligation under article 12 of the UN Convention Against Torture. This is the right of every victim. It is a requirement that all perpetrators of torture be made accountable and therefore where there is sufficient evidence to bring the accused to justice, alleged perpetrators should be tried in accordance with international human rights standards. We urge his Majesty, the King of Bahrain, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa and his government to ensure that an effective investigation into the allegations of torture against Mr Felaifel is conducted immediately with a view to bringing a prosecution in accordance with international standards. This will go along way in providing redress for the victims. We look forward to receiving your response. Yours faithfully, Keith Carmichael Executive Director REDRESS Jens Modvig Secretary General International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims Patrick Byrne President International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture Eric Sottas Director World Organisation against Torture Mark Thomson Secretary General Association for the Prevention of Torture Organisation Mondiale Contre la Torture (OMCT) World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) Organizaciَn Mundial Contra la Tortura (OMCT) 8 rue du Vieux-Billard Case postale 21 CH-1211 Geneve 8 Suisse/Switzerland Tel. : 0041 22 809 49 39 Fax : 0041 22 809 49 29 E-mail :

Dictatorship camouflaged by superficial reforms The peaceful 1994 uprising exposed the brutal nature of the regime to the world community and reaffirmed people’s rights and aspirations. Now the Al Khalifa regime is exploiting every available ploy to maintain the old dictatorial system in new forms. Allowing Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa to remain as a prime minister has confirmed people’s suspicion that the villains of the black era have changed their tactics while tightening their grip on the country with new means. The collapse of the state security law certainly has not erased all structural problems of poverty, crime, bureaucratic inefficiency, and environmental destruction are often the legacy of the brutal regime. However, the downfall of the state security law has parially lifted much of the direct suffering of the victims of oppression. On the other hand, this positive move is tempered by the large number of peoples still living under conditions of oppression. As of 14 February 2002 a new constitution was imposed on the people of Bahrain with extremely restricted political rights and civil liberties. This constitution re-enforced the traditional structure of power in the country emphasizing the roles of the repressive monarchy, corrupted business leaders and high networth individuals who share the same self-serving objectives. Many countries today are in a position of rapid economic, social and political change. In the face of such rapid essential changes, the government of Bahrain is moving in the opposite direction and exercising new forms of dictatorship. Unfortunately, the past is still with the people of Bahrain. The problem of dictatorship is deep. The social, political, economic and even religious institutions of the Bahraini society (outside of government control) have been deliberately weakened, subordinated, or even replaced by new regimented institutions used by the royal family to control the society. The population was turned into a mass of isolated individuals unable to work together to achieve freedom, or even to do much of anything at their own initiative. This results in weakening the population’s self-confidence. However, the people of Bahrain have to face the difficult challenge of confronting this dictatorship by strengthening their determination and self-confidence. The independent social and political groups and the institutions of the oppressed people must be strengthened. The people must create a powerful peaceful internal resistance force and stand up for their constitutional rights destroyed by the illegal constitution imposed by the king. At the same time, the people of Bahrain have to continue their peaceful methods which have, proven beyond doubt, their civilized, disciplined and courageous actions to fight dictatorship. Some may argue that why not accept the 2002 constitution and therefore settle the conflict with the government. In some situations where no fundamental issues are at stake, a yes vote can be an important means to settle a conflict. However the opposition was aware of the traps, which were deliberately built into the king constitution. The efforts of the government to undermine the basic rights of the people, socially and politically have continued and are unlikely to end soon. The aim is to discredit the opposition and maintain the status quo following the abrogation of the legal constitution. Bahrain Freedom Movement

19 December 2002

Bahrain: The government refuses to abide by CAT When torture becomes part of a regime’s culture, it is difficult to eradicate it from its practices. This has become evident in the approach the government has adopted in dealing with the notorious torturers of the past two decades and its attitude towards the recent attempt to file a legal case against Adel Flaifel, Bahrain’s torturer and the most notorious violator of international human rights laws. The policies of the government regarding the issue of torture and human rights abuses are incompatible with the constitution, international conventions and other international human rights instruments. While a number of articles of the constitution clearly prohibit torture or any degrading acts and incriminate the perpetrators of such acts, the legislations are in conflict with these values and principles. Article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that ‘everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law’. Yet, the current practices are in clear contradiction with this principle. Further, the current practice is institutionalized by decree 56 for the year 2002, which protects torturers and ignores the physical and psychological sufferings of the torture victims. Bahrain has signed the Convention Against Torture (CAT), but it issues decrees that are in violation of its articles. The protection of torturers and the refusal of the office of the public prosecutor to receive solicitors of victims of torture is a dangerous sign. It shows that the government is not willing either to recognize the rights of its people or abide by the conventions it has signed. It is the responsibility of both the government and all political and civil associations to promote and protect universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms. Since the government has practically worked contrary to this obligation, it becomes an even bigger responsibility on these associations to assume the important role of cooperation for, and contribution to, the effective elimination of all violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of peoples and individuals. Individuals with major violations of human rights like Flaifel should be brought to justice as they smear the image of Bahrain with their acts. Bahrain Freedom Movement

13 December 2002

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