Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) said in a joint statement on Wednesday that Bahraini prosecutors and judges enabled the abuses, urging the Manama regime to drop abusive charges against children.
Governments that support Bahrain and its police and security forces, including the United States and the United Kingdom, should ensure their aid is not funding abuses and publicly demand accountability, the statement said.
“A police officer who threatens a 13-year-old with rape or electric shocks from a car battery is an abominable stain on Bahrain’s reputation,” said Sayed Ahmed Al-Wadaei, advocacy director at BIRD. “Bahraini police officers treated children as enemies who must be terrorized into confessing, while prosecutors and judges shut parents and lawyers out of proceedings.”
Bahraini police arrested and detained 13 children in early to mid-February, some of whom could face sentences of up to 20 years in prison, the statement said.
Manama, however, has so far brutally clamped down on any sign of dissent.
According to the report, five children, who were arrested on February 14 and 15, said that police from the station beat, insulted, and threatened them with electric shocks from a car battery.
An officer hit a 13-year-old on the head and threatened to rape him, gave him electric shocks, and beat his genitals, his father said. The officer repeated the rape threat even after his father was allowed to join him.
“These abuses by Bahrain’s criminal justice system are the latest entry in a long record of harming children to send a repressive message,” said Bill Van Esveld, associate children’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. “The UK, US, and other governments should ensure that their security support to Bahrain is not being used to torture and humiliate kids.”