The General Prosecution cover up the offenders and the Ministry of Interior supports the militias in their violence against citizens on a sectarian basis in attempts to spread terror and threaten the civil peace

7 May 2012

Bahrain Center for Human Rights continues to monitor the outcome of the policy of impunity adopted by the Bahraini regime in dealing with the violators of the international law and human rights conventions, and those involved in gross violations of human rights. Since 13 March 2011, the authority allowed masses of civil militias to attack the areas and villages that are classified within the opposition in order to spread terror, chaos and cause sectarian problems. In this case, Bahrain Center published a report last September about vandalism, and systematic armed theft committed by the Bahraini security forces and the army against pro-democracy demonstrators, which is worth up to hundreds of thousands of Bahraini dinars. A year after, and despite the recommendations of the fact finding committee, and besides what is claimed by the authorities of hiring experts to train the police and improve their behavior; the same manner is still adopted by the regime and its security institutions and the attacks on private property and funds is still continuing. Besides, the policy of impunity is still prevailing despite the increasing crimes carried out by militias that are mostly supported by official security forces as proved by numerous documents and evidences owned by Bahrain Center for Human rights.

Attacks on commercial stores

During the past year, the stores owned by the company of the sons of Hassan Mohammed Jawad, headed by the businessman Faisal Jawad, were put under fierce boycott on a sectarian basis, which include all the clothing stores, restaurants, cafes and express shopping stores. Besides, many of these stores were attacked, ruined, and systematically stolen for more than 60 times by groups of civilians, some of which were armed and within the protection of the security forces, without the accountability of any of these individuals for more than a year, despite reporting of these attacks by the business owner and providing the required evidences that are supposed to help the police in accessing the offenders, including photos and video records of the security cameras in the shops. Last month, one of the attacks was held by a groups of civilians on one of the express shops "24 hours" on 10 April 2012, which resulted in breaking the shelves, and ruining and stealing the goods, which caused a loss of 120 thousand dollars as determined by the owners. Considering the losses caused by all the attacks, it has reached huge sums, beside the other losses due to the boycott, suspending the goods, or the loss or termination of contracts. In this attack,">a video record of the security cameras revealed the involvement of the security officers and police men in the "vandalism of Jawad stores", where the police men appeared breaking the glass of the shop, stealing bottles of water, and clearly supporting dozens of civilians who were masked and non-masked in their attack, and which shows one of the police men directing a civilian to break the security surveillance camera. In another video record of a similar attack at another shop, the record shows that the security men were watching the attack on the commercial shop without taking any action.

The video record of the incident of 10 April has made a considerable media fuss in and outside Bahrain, for which the ministry of Interior kept silent before announcing in an official statement that a legal action is to be taken against some of the defendants involved in the attack on Jawad stores, whether from the security forces or civilians. This statement is to be added to a long list of similar statements that do not disclose the names and ranks of the alleged defendants, and where the outcome of these legal procedures, is not announced at a later time. Besides, the ministry ignored to notify the owners of the shop about that and was only content with a statement announced through their website, which indicates that the statement was only directed for media consumption.

The information of Bahrain Center for Human Rights confirms that at least one of the alleged defendants, who is a security man that belongs to the Ministry of Interior - Ali AL-Ansari - was among those who were involved in this incident, as he appeared on the camera record, as well as his involvement in a previous attack on a group of demonstrators in Shakoura area, and who is still on his duty in the suppression of peaceful demonstrations, while the Ministry of Interior claimed to take the legal action in both incidents.

Attacks on residential areas and private property

On the same night in which “24 hours” store was attacked on 10 April 2012, there were groups of civilians crossing the road near Nuwaidrat area and the roundabout leading to the Aluminium Bahrain company (ALBA). They were abusing the passing people and their cars on a sectarian basis, as they were stopping people and if they knew they were from the Shiite community, then they subjected them to beatings and insults besides breaking their cars as it appears in a recorded tape.

In this incident, a number of people were injured, and despite the clarity of the faces of many of those involved in the vandalism and violence, the Ministry of Interior appeared lenient by minimizing the impact of the event and ignoring to hold and account the offenders. This was not the first time for the occurrence of this kind of incidents targeting the living areas of a majority belonging to the opposition, which comes as a consequence to the official indulgence and which increased the practices of these militias. The instigators of those militias are well-known figures loyal to the authority and are formally protected. The militia groups go towards the areas inhabited by Shiites or opponents of the regime, most often in the presence of the riot police, where those civilian militias attack on these areas, smash the cars and homes frontage, and in case the owners of the cars or houses tried to go out to see what is happening then the riot police fire tear gases on them while allowing the militias vandalism. As a consequence, lots of residential areas and private properties were damaged as in the areas of Buri, Shahrakan, Arad, Muharraq, Aker, Nuwaidrat, Dar Kulaib and many other areas without taking any deterring action by the security authorities despite the complains made by the citizens.

It is clear that there is an official policy supporting bullying, vandalism, theft and chaos, besides the non-application of the law against the offenders and the provision of implicit immunity to them especially that the events of vandalism that affected many of the private properties like the citizens vehicles, homes and shops occurred on sectarian backgrounds targeted those belonging to the opposition party, and this happened in the presence of the security officers in many cases as it appeared in tens of videos and images; and there was no deterring action taken by them to terminate such practices other than some official statements that seemed to be for the purpose of media consumption, covering up the offenders and to mislead the public who reject such acts. It is unknown that any of the official employees has been condemned in any of these incidents, which lasted for more than a year. These practices makes the citizens who belong to the opposition lose the sense of being protected by the state or the existence of legal entities to which they can resort in the event of an attack, while it enhances the transition of the authority to an influential gang that provide its protection only to the pro government party.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and which is committed by Bahrain provides in the second article that "To ensure that any person whose rights or freedoms as herein recognized are violated shall have an effective remedy, notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity", and "To ensure that the competent authorities shall enforce such remedies when granted." As stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Article 7 that "All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination". It also provides in Article 3 that "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person."

Given the seriousness of the militias’ practices and the policy of the regime in protecting them and covering up their crimes, besides the provision of impunity for the security forces and the officials involved in the violations, Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls for the following:

- Sacking and accounting the Interior Minister and the officials of security agencies, the military and police who were involved in the violations or took part in covering up these violations, and to put an end to the corruption in the public prosecution which has been implicated in the disguise of the committed crimes. - Holding the authorities in Bahrain responsible of the consequences of tampering with civil peace and they are the responsible for providing security to all citizens as stated in the international covenants of human rights. - Stopping the policy of impunity adopted by the judiciary and security authorities of Bahrain immediately due to the negative impact of this policy on the lives of the citizens and as it encourages the commitment of crimes. - Committing to the international covenants of human rights and to refrain from misleading the public domestically and internationally which is conducted by the Ministry of the Interior through the declarations of the Chief of Public Security, Mr. Tariq Hassan. - The immediate disclosure of all the offenders from the security forces and the civilians involved in the vandalism and theft of the shops belonging to Jawad Business Group, and to bring them to justice transparently and fairly. - Accounting the high rank officials involved in the violations based on their role, whether directly or indirectly. - Taking the necessary procedures to maintain the protection of citizens through the imposition and implementation of laws that protect their properties and basic human rights. - Compensating all those affected by the incidents of vandalism or theft of private property that took place with the protection of the security services.