Bahrain must immediately reschedule visit of Special Rapporteur on Torture

30 April 2013 – The Government of Bahrain must urgently resume its engagement with the international system by scheduling a new visit date of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E. Méndez, following last week’s last minute cancellation of his visit to the country. Bahrain should also take concerted measures to implement recommendations by international human rights bodies to improve the human rights situation, including by ensuring protection against torture and ill-treatment.

On 22 April 2013, only a few weeks before the commencement of Mendez’s official visit, the Government of Bahrain unilaterally cancelled the mission, citing delays in “ongoing national dialogue”. In a statement, the Special Rapporteur expressed his “deep disappointment” at the decision. This is the second time such a visit has been cancelled at short notice. It follows concerns over on-going human rights violations in the country, as recently highlighted in several reports, including by REDRESS and the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), on continuing torture and illtreatment.

“Facing international concern over its human rights record, Bahrain has continually stated that it is committed to reform. But given the opportunity for constructive engagement with the UN’s international expert on preventing and responding to torture and ill-treatment, it has denied him access,” said Dadimos Haile, Interim Director of REDRESS. “This step casts serious doubts on the commitment of the Government of Bahrain to respect the prohibition of torture.”

Torture and ill-treatment in Bahrain continues to be a significant concern to international actors as shown by the large number of states who raised the issue with the country during its recent Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council. It is now time that these States turn their words into action, and insist that the Government of Bahrain show real commitment to reform.

REDRESS and IRCT call on the Government of Bahrain to:

 Reschedule the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture at the earliest opportunity available to him;
 Take immediate steps to develop and implement a comprehensive anti-torture policy based on specific commitments, including legislative and institutional reforms as well as effective monitoring mechanisms;
 Conduct independent, effective and transparent investigations into allegations of torture, including the use of independent forensic medical expertise, and provide reparation to victims in accordance with the Committee Against Torture’s General Comment No. 3;
 Ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and draw on the support of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture to promptly establish an independent and effective monitoring body for all places of detention. REDRESS and IRCT call on third countries to:
 Use all diplomatic means available to encourage Bahrain to reschedule the visit of the Special Rapporteur at the first opportunity;
 Adopt a principled policy of engagement with the Government of Bahrain on the issue of torture and ill-treatment, based on the objective of effective promotion and implementation of the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment as recognised in international law.

For further information, please contact:

Eva Sanchis, REDRESS’ Communications Officer, at eva@redress.org or +44 (0)20 7793 1777, or Asger Kjaerum, Head of IRCT Geneva Office, at akj@irct.org or +41 (0)76 221 5959.

Note to editors:

About IRCT: The IRCT is a health-based umbrella organisation that supports the rehabilitation of torture victims and the prevention of torture worldwide. Its members comprise more than 140 independent organisations in over 70 countries.

Its work is governed by these member organisations. Today, it is the largest membership-based civil society organisation to work in the field of torture rehabilitation and prevention.

About REDRESS: REDRESS was founded by a British torture survivor in 1992. Since then, it has consistently fought for the rights of torture survivors and their families in the UK and abroad. It takes legal challenges on behalf of survivors, works to ensure that torturers are punished and that survivors and their families obtain remedies for their suffering.

REDRESS has intervened in a range of leading torture cases. More information on our work is available on our website:.