Bahrain launches probe on police abuse

Published November 22nd, 2015 - 02:30 GMT
A Bahraini policeman in 2013. (AFP/File)
A Bahraini policeman in 2013. (AFP/File)

Bahrain has suspended policemen and referred them to the public prosecution following complaints about mistreatment.

“The General Directorate of Reformation and Rehabilitation has reviewed complaints by a number of inmates regarding maltreatment by some of the workers at the Reformation and Rehabilitation Centre,” Interior Ministry Undersecretary, Major-General Khalid Salem Al Absi said. “Initial investigations were conducted and a number of policemen named in the complaints were identified, suspended and the case was referred to the Public Prosecution (Special Investigation Unit).” He said in a statement carried by Bahrain News Agency (BNA).

Al Absi added that should the complaints be found to be true, “they involve individual cases of misconduct that go against the principles and values of the Interior Ministry”.

“All complaints received by Ministry personnel, the Special Investigation Unit, or the Police Ombudsman are investigated promptly and, where warranted, disciplinary or legal action is taken,” the ministry undersecretary said.

In 2012, Bahrain issued a new code of conduct that required its police force to adhere fully to principles of human rights and freedom for all citizens.

The code, obliging officers to abide by ten principles including limited use of force and a policy of zero tolerance on torture and mistreatment, was one of the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), the international fact-finding team that investigated the events that hit Bahrain in 2011 and issued a report in November.

The interior ministry code, considered the officers’ “guide and compass” while at work, requires them to show “respect for human dignity” and to make arrests in accordance with international human rights standards. It forbids the use of force “except when absolutely necessary”.

The code is based on principles stipulated in other international police codes, including those approved by the United Nations, and drawn up by the governments of Australia, Northern Ireland and Arab nations.

“This code of conduct represents a new social treaty between members of Bahraini society and the police,” Shaikh Rashid Bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, the interior minister, said after it was issued “It will mark the start of a new era and a correct path to building bridges of confidence between the united Bahraini society and the police, based on the rule of law, integrity, transparency, tolerance, and the breaking of psychological barriers between them,” he said.

By Habib Toumi

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