New REDRESS and IRCT report on Bahrain: fundamental reforms needed to combat torture

The Government of Bahrain must take further measures to prevent torture and ill-treatment, to investigate and prosecute past offences and to ensure that all victims have effective access to redress including rehabilitation services, conclude REDRESS and the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) in a new report released today, Bahrain: Fundamental reform or torture without end?

In 2011 the Bahrain International Commission of Inquiry (BICI) found that torture and ill-treatment had been used systematically to respond to protests in Bahrain. While the Government of Bahrain has taken some steps to implement the recommendations of the BICI, torture and ill-treatment continue and obligations towards victims have not been met.

REDRESS and IRCT have worked with many survivors of torture and ill-treatment from the country for over 15 years. The report draws on REDRESS and IRCT’s work in the country, a joint mission to Bahrain in April-May 2012 that included the medical documentation of cases of torture and ill-treatment, and detailed follow-up and casework since that time.

“Bahrain must address the legacy of torture and ill-treatment, as the practice continues to be documented in a number of different contexts, both in detention and by riot police who are ostensibly controlling protests,” said Lutz Oette, counsel at REDRESS. “Providing victims of torture and ill-treatment the reparation promised after the BICI report, and guaranteed to them under international law constitutes an overdue and important first step towards that end.”

The report shows that although recent reforms address some of the usual custodial safeguards, key gaps in protection remain. Traditional strategies to prevent torture must be matched by full participation of victims in processes to redress past violations and a sustained effort to address wider structural factors which have enabled torture and ill-treatment to persist.

In this context the organisations welcome the decision of the Government of Bahrain to invite the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, to visit the country and encourage all stakeholders to engage constructively with his visit. Mendez is the UN’s leading expert in redress and torture prevention and it is crucial that the Government of Bahrain make the best possible use of his expertise to follow up on and improve on reforms already undertaken.

REDRESS and IRCT will continue to make their expertise available to all national stakeholders implementing initiatives to end torture in Bahrain and to secure victims effective access to redress including rehabilitation services.

For further information, please contact Eva Sanchis, REDRESS’ Communications Officer, at [email protected]
or +44 (0)20 7793 1777 or Asger Kjaerum, Head of IRCT Geneva Office, at [email protected] 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: