BCHR & BYSHR : Urgent letter to ICRC

Mr. Jakob Kellenberger, Ph.D President of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) 19 avenue de la Paix CH 1202 Geneva Fax: ++ 41 (22) 733 20 57 Phone: ++ 41 (22) 734 60 01 February 10, 2009 Dear Kellenberger, Human Rights organizations in Bahrain and in the world are deeply concerned by the recent events in the human rights situation in Bahrain. Last December, Bahraini authorities have detained 18 individuals alleged to be belonging to a terrorist organization and they were attempting to carry out acts of terrorism and bombing of public property. According to the reports from local human rights organizations - attached with this the letter - the Bahraini authorities had used torture and various forms of degrading treatment in order to coerce confessions by the detainees. The Public Prosecutor has violated the principle of "innocent until guilty", when the official Television channel paraded 14 detainees "confessing" against themselves and other activists.

According to the lawyers and families of the detainees, the prisoners had been subjected to severe torture since their arrest until this moment. Various forms of torture have been administered against to inflict maximum pain, including electric shocks, stripping the detainees naked during interrogation, preventing them from contacting their families and restricting their freedom of religion. In addition, they have been held in solitary confinement.

Families of the detainees have confirmed that their sons had demanded to see doctors and specialists (neurologists, Psychiatrics etc) to examine them and treat their wounds and injuries. Their physical and mental health has deteriorated because of the persistence of torture on a daily basis with no remission.

Mr. Kellenberger,

The role of the International Committee of the Red Cross is to follow-up the situation of the prisoners and sees what goes on in the detention centers, ensure the safety of prisoners and stop exposure to physical and psychological torture inside the prisons. The aim is to safeguard the rights of the detainees in accordance with international conventions, charters and treaties, particularly the Set of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment and the Minimum Standard Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners.

Mr. Kellenberger,

In your capacity within the International Committee of the Red Cross, we request you to visit the detention centers in Bahrain, especially the Criminal investigation Department, the Dry Dock prison and Jao Prison. This is to acquire first hand information of the treatment of the detainees who have suffered from continuous torture. We also like you to visit Mr. Hassan Ali Mushaima – Secretary-General of the Movement for Liberty and Democracy – and Mr. Mohammed al-Habib – cleric, political and social activist – who have been detained outside the due process of law. The deterioration of their health in solitary confinement has caused a lot of anxiety and sadness to their relatives. Your visits in the nineties to Bahrain’s prisons had alleviated part of the suffering of the prisoners. It is our hope that an immediate visit to Bahraini prisoners will hopefully achieve similar results.

Greetings,

Mr. Mohammed Al-Maskati
President
Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR)

Mr. Nabeel Rajab
President
Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR)

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