23 December 2012

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is gravely concerned about the continuous violations against children’s rights in Bahrain. The authorities’ arrest, detention and ill treatment of children is on-going, with children as young as 13 getting arrested. In a recent case, security forces held children aged 6 to 16 on a school bus. While the Bahraini authorities’ actions are a clear violation of the Convention of the Right of the Child, Bahrain was awarded a seat in the United Nations committee of the Right of the Child.

Left to Right: Mohammed Al Shawaikh, Hussain Al Saqai, Hussain Alhawaj

On 7 Dec 2012, Hussain Ali Al Saqqai (13 years old), Mohammed Abdulghani Al Shawaikh (13 years old) and Hussain Abduljalil Alhawaj (15 years old) were arrested from Manama following clashes between protesters and police, although to-date no evidence has been presented of them being part of it. According to information received by the BCHR, the children reportedly beaten and kicked in the head at the time of arrest. They were accused of attacking a police patrol and were taken to the public prosecution office. Mohammed Al Shawaikh and Hussain Al Saqqai were taken to the Juvenile prison in Isa Town while Hussain was detained for fifteen days at the Dry Dock prison with adults. Mohammed Al Shawaikh and Hussain Al Saqqai’s detention was extended twice to this day, as they are to be held in detention until December 27, 2012.

Ebrahim Al Muqdad (15) and Jehad Sadeq (16)

Ebrahim Al Muqdad, 15 years old, and Jehad Sadeq, 16 years old, were arrested on 23 July, 2012. The two young boys were subjected to ill treatment and their families did not know anything about their whereabouts for 24 hours. They have been in detention for more than four months to this day (Read more: http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/5460). Their last court hearing was yet again postponed to December 25 because of the absence of the Ministry of Interior’s witnesses, prolonging the process while they unlawfully remain in detention. The two boys are detained in an adult prison while being tried under Bahrain’s terrorism law. This law is condemned by many international groups including UN experts, as the definition of “terrorism” is very vague, and punishment under it is very harsh.

Qasim Juma Al Kuwait, 15 years old, was arrested on 12 December 2012, reportedly during a house raid. According to his family he was taken to the public prosecution and interrogated without the presence of a lawyer. He is currently held in Dry Dock prison.

Children at the police station after their school bus was stopped by security forces

Bahraini authorities continue to spread terror amongst children, as seen in the case which occurred on the on the 18th of December. Security forces stopped a school bus when it passed by Sitra police station. Children from Al Yarmook Elementary and Intermediate school (ages 6-16 years old) were forced off the bus and held at the police station. The children were held in the police station until their parents came to sign a pledge, and then were allowed to go. It was reported that one of the children argued with a policewoman and she yelled at him threatening him with imprisonment. The parents were notified that those of them who were “wanted” or had a prior record would be contacted by the police station[1].

The arrest, detention and ill-treatment of children is in breach of several articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which include: Article (37): "States Parties shall ensure that:” “(b) No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time;"and “(d) Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action.” As well as, Article (3): "In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration."

In addition to children’s arrest and detention, the continuation of house raids as mentioned in the BICI report also is in breach of the rights of the child as it causes psychological problems for children. The BCHR also documented dozens of injuries amongst children as a result of the regime’s use of excessive force. Children are victims of Bahrain authorities’ collective punishment; at least 10 were killed by illegal weaponry, suffocation of tear gas, being shot at the face and being run over. Others have been seriously injured, such as Ahmed Al Naham who at the young age of 5 has permanently lost sight in one of his eyes.

Rather than condemning the Bahraini regime’s human rights violations against children, the state parties of the United Nations Committee of the Rights of the Child elected Bahrain for a seat in the committee[2]. The Bahraini candidate won with a majority of votes, as the absence of international consequences towards human rights violations in Bahrain continue.

The BCHR calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the UN and all other allies and international institutions to put pressure of the Government of Bahrain to immediately: - Release Mohammed Al Showaikh, Hussain Al Saqai, Hussain Alhawaj, Ebrahim Al Muqdad, Jehad Sadeq, Qassim Al Kuwait, and all other detained children. - Conduct a prompt and independent investigation in all cases of violations against children including but not limited to: arrest, detention and torture. - To ensure that children be held in detention separate from adults, and treated according to the juvenile judicial system. - To pressure the Bahraini government to abide by the laws of the International Convention for the Rights of the Child

[1] manamavouice.com [2] bna.bh