“Rapid progress” acknowledged in Human Rights Watch reportPosted on Apr 29, 2012 in Articles | 0 comments
Citizens for Bahrain press release – 29 April
As we have come to expect, Human Rights Watch’s latest report begins with a publicity-hungry headline about “police brutality”; but for those who take time to look at the substance, we find a more nuanced report about the progress the Bahraini authorities have made in security sector reform.
The report credits the authorities with making “rapid progress in eliminating torture inside police stations”. HRW acknowledged that the “police have shown relative restraint when confronting protests. The report states clearly from the beginning that “treatment inside police stations and formal detention centres appears to have significantly improved”.
Considering that this dramatic turnaround has occurred in the space of a few months, the Bahraini Government should be applauded in showing its commitment to addressing these issues.
However, the report focuses on a number of allegations of beatings outside detention centres of youths accused of violence or hiding explosives.
Citizens for Bahrain agrees with HRW’s assertion that “Violence by some protesters is wrong, but in no way justifies brutal police beatings”. We can sympathize with policemen who are daily braving attacks by firebombs, rocks and makeshift weapons; but we would plead for restraint from those individuals who have given in to the temptation to retaliate. Violence by any party is wrong and the opposition seizes on every allegation of police brutality to attack Bahrain’s rulers and undermine our society.
HRW’s report documents the authorities’ efforts to tackle excesses by individuals within the police force, including proposed instructions for immediate transfer of detainees to police stations where CCTV cameras have been installed, so that police practice can be completely transparent. However, it is noted that while some of those detained are only too ready to make complaints to human rights bodies, in most cases, no complaints were filed with the Bahraini authorities, making it very difficult to follow up such allegations and take action.
In short, much progress has been made at an institutional level, but there is still much work to do in ensuring that all state employees recognize the high expectations on their shoulders in enshrining human rights and upholding the rule of law. As citizens, we should be grateful for this progress, for which we are the prime beneficiaries.