Bahrain Probe Finds Torture Was Systematic

The commission has investigated thousands of individual cases of abuse and will fully release the findings later this month

by John Glaser, November 01, 2011

Torture of Bahraini detainees was systematic, according to the independent human rights probe tasked with investigating widespread abuse since the outbreak of Arab Spring protests in Bahrain.

“It is not possible to justify torture in any way, and despite the small number of cases, it is clear there was a systematic policy,” Bassiouni said in an interview with Egyptian daily Almasry Alyoum on Monday.

“I investigated and I found 300 cases of torture and I was helped in that by legal experts from Egypt and America.”

The commission announced in August that more than 5,200 complaints had been examined, but the latest complaint it took into consideration for the report – scheduled for release on November 23 – was on October 31. The commission says it has “investigated every death and torture case.”

The revelations about widespread and systematic torture conforms with previous reports that some of the medical professionals who had been detained claimed they had been beaten with sticks and rubber hoses, given electric shocks to the face with cables, sexually abused, etc. All of the abuse was on the discriminated Shia majority and often explicitly racist, as one nurse recalled being screamed at with “Shia pig!”

Bahrain has long engaged in torture in its time as a US ally. One year before the Arab Spring protests broke out, Human Rights Watch released a report noting torture on the rise despite a decade of promises from the regime for reform.

The torture included “electro-shock devices, suspension in painful positions, and beatings” while many detainees reported being threatened with rape or murder in order to elicit confessions.

After months of pressure, the Obama administration has decided to tie the latest arms deal with the Bahraini regime to the results of the probe, to be released later this month.

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