Bahrain has tortured detainees in the years following the country’s 2011 protests [BBC timeline], despite a government promise to stop such abuses, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [HRW report] Sunday. The report is based on testimony offered by 14 people allegedly assaulted by the police while in custody. Those testifying claim they suffered electrical shock treatment, being exposed to extreme cold, being hung in painful positions and sexual abuse. Protests erupted in Bahrain in February 2011, led by Shiites seeking greater political freedoms under the Sunni government. In a statement to the Associated Press, Bahrain’s government stated [AP report] that the country “is unequivocally opposed to mistreatment of any kind.” The government also says that 73 security force members have been “transferred to courts on charges of mistreatment.”
Bahrain has faced criticism from international human rights organizations in recent years for its handling of pro-reform protests. In September 32 nations issued a joint statement [JURIST report] which was read to the UN Human Rights Council [official website] discussing human rights concerns in Bahrain. In April Amnesty International reported that reforms in Bahrain failed to end [JURIST report] serious human rights violations. The report detailed the continued jailing of activists and mistreatment of detainees. In May 2011 HRW said the government of Bahrain should suspend prosecution of civilians in military courts and set up an impartial commission to investigate torture allegations [JURIST report]. Also that month, then-UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged the government of Bahrain to release detained activists [JURIST report] and exercise restraint against protesters. She expressed concern over the prosecution of medical professionals and the death sentences [JURIST report] handed to four activists.