Nov 22, 2015
Middle East Newsline November 22, 2015 ABU DHABI [MENL] -- Saudi Arabia has provided what it termed evidence of Iranian support for Shi'ite attacks in the eastern part of the kingdom. The Saudi Interior Ministry said security forces found Iranian weapons, munitions and currency in a raid of suspected Shi'ite insurgency strongholds in the Eastern Province. The raid was …
An Iranian court has sentenced Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian to a prison term, the state news agency said on Sunday quoting a judiciary spokesman, a case that is a sensitive issue in contentious U.S.-Iranian relations.
The length of the prison term was not specified. "Serving a jail term is in Jason Rezaian's sentence but I cannot give details," judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei told a weekly news conference in Tehran, according to IRNA.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters he was aware of the IRNA report but could not independently confirm it. It was not clear why Iran has not given details of the ruling against the 39-year-old Rezaian, who Iranian prosecutors accused of espionage.
The foreign editor of the Washington Post, Douglas Jehl, said the newspaper was aware of the reports but had no additional information.
Jehl told Reuters Television the reported sentencing might move the case closer to a final resolution in the judiciary, so it can then go to Iranian leaders. "It's these senior leaders who have the power to pardon, the power to overturn a verdict, the power to make things right," he said.
Ali Rezaian, Jason's brother, criticized the lack of transparency around the judicial proceedings.
"Although we cannot confirm the validity of these reports, we do know that the Iranian judicial process around Jason's case has been profoundly flawed from the outset," he said in a statement.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement that Rezaian, who is the Washington Post's Tehran bureau chief and a dual U.S. and Iranian citizen, is being held on "bogus espionage charges," and also called for his release.
On Oct. 11, Ejei said Rezaian had been convicted, without elaborating. He said at that time that Rezaian had 20 days to appeal the verdict.
The Washington Post said last month the verdict, issued soon after Iran raised hopes of a thaw in its relations with the West by striking a nuclear deal with world powers including the United States, was "vague and puzzling".
It said the vagueness of Ejei's remarks showed Rezaian's case was not just about espionage and that the reporter was a bargaining chip in a "larger game". The Washington Post and his family denounced the espionage charges against Rezaian as absurd.
Influential Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani hinted in September at the possibility that Rezaian could be freed in exchange for Iranian prisoners in the United States, but officials then played down the possibility of such a swap.
Two other U.S. citizens - Christian pastor Saeed Adedini and Amir Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine Corps sergeant - also are jailed in Iran. Robert Levinson, a private American investigator, disappeared there in 2007.
Among the charges, Rezaian was accused of "collaborating with hostile governments" and disseminating "propaganda against the establishment", according to a statement from Rezaian's attorney, the Washington Post reported in April.
In the indictment, Iranian authorities said Rezaian had written to U.S. President Barack Obama and called it an example of contacting a "hostile government", the Washington Post said.
Rezaian was arrested in July 2014. His brother said on Oct. 13 that Rezaian had heard of his conviction on Iranian state TV and was depressed and angry about being deprived of information about his case.
Read more at Reutershttp://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/23/us-iran-usa-trial-idUSKBN0TB0GG20151123#SIcyrQPwtJKG0oqj.99
Nicosia (AFP) - Bahraini security forces are torturing detainees during interrogation as regulatory bodies set up after the 2011 uprising "lack independence" and officials are not held accountable, Human Rights Watch said Monday.
Sunni-ruled Bahrain, a key ally of the West, has been rocked by a Shiite-led uprising since February 2011 with demands ranging from a constitutional monarchy to overthrowing the ruling Al-Khalifa dynasty altogether.
Scores of opponents have been detained, with many facing trial, while others convicted of involvement in violence have been handed heavy sentences, including loss of citizenship and life in prison.
In its 84-page report, HRW said it interviewed 10 detainees "who said they endured coercive interrogations" by authorities.
The New York-based group cited four other inmates of Jaw prison "who said authorities had tortured them in March 2015", four years since reforms that were announced after the initial revolt was crushed.
Reported physical assaults include "being subjected to electric shocks; suspension in painful positions, including by their wrists while handcuffed; forced standing; extreme cold; and sexual abuse," HRW said.
The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), set up by King Hamad to probe allegations of government wrongdoing, said in a November 2011 report that police had used "excessive force" and tortured detainees in that year's crackdown on opponents.
More than four years later, the situation remains unchanged despite the government establishing three bodies to end torture in interrogation and detention facilities, according to HRW.
"Bahrain can't claim any progress on torture while its anti-torture institutions lack independence and transparency and until it takes some serious steps to address the complete lack of accountability for the abuse of detainees," said HRW's deputy Middle East and North Africa director Joe Stork.
"The claims of Bahrain and its allies that authorities have ended torture in detention are simply not credible.
"All the available evidence supports the conclusion that these new institutions have not effectively tackled what the BICI report described as a 'culture of impunity' among security forces," said Stork.
These institutions, controlled by the interior ministry and public prosecutor, provide "little" information on "complaints, investigations and prosecutions", the watchdog said.
The tiny but strategic kingdom's authorities should ensure that these bodies are neutral and form a civilian committee of independent experts to guarantee this, said HRW.
It urged Bahrain to "issue an immediate and open invitation to the UN special rapporteur on torture to conduct a country visit and allow unfettered access to detainees and all places of detention".
- Police 'suspended' -
On Friday, Bahraini authorities announced that an investigation was underway into detainees' complaints of ill-treatment by police guards.
Interior ministry undersecretary, Major General Khalid Salem al-Absi, said in a statement on the official BNA news agency that "initial investigations were conducted and a number of policemen named in the complaints were identified, suspended and the case was referred to the public prosecution."
He insisted that if proven, the abuses "involve individual cases of misconduct that go against the principles and values of the interior ministry."
In May, a Bahraini court jailed six police officers for up to five years after convicting them of torturing inmates, one of whom died.
In 2013, an appeals court cut from seven years to three the jail terms of two policemen convicted of torturing a Shiite detainee to death.
That same year, the jail term of a policeman convicted of shooting dead a protester in 2011 was also reduced from seven years to three.
Bahrain is home to the US Fifth Fleet and work began in the kingdom on October 31 to construct Britain's first permanent military base in the Middle East since 1971.
(Beirut) – Bahraini security forces are torturing detainees during interrogation, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Institutions set up after 2011 to receive and investigate complaints lack independence and transparency.
The 84-page report, “The Blood of People Who Don’t Cooperate: Continuing Torture and Mistreatment of Detainees in Bahrain,” concludes that security forces have continued the same abuses the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) documented in its November 2011 report. The commission was established after the fierce repression of pro-democracy demonstrators in February and March of that year. Bahraini authorities have failed to implement effectively the commission’s recommendations relating to torture, Human Rights Watch found.
The United Kingdom has taken the lead internationally in arguing that Bahrain has reformed its security forces and accountability mechanisms, as the BICI mandated, but Human Rights Watch found the operations of those mechanisms seriously flawed.
In 2012 and again in 2013, Bahrain postponed indefinitely the scheduled visit to the country of the United Nations special rapporteur on torture.
Human Rights Watch interviewed 10 detainees who said they endured coercive interrogations at the Interior Ministry’s Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) and in police stations since 2012, and four former inmates of Jaw prison, who said authorities had tortured them in March 2015.
All said security officers had physically assaulted them. Several described being subjected to electric shocks; suspension in painful positions, including by their wrists while handcuffed; forced standing; extreme cold; and sexual abuse. Six said that the CID interrogators boasted of their reputation for inflicting pain on detainees.
“I’ll show you why Wifaq [Bahrain’s leading opposition party] calls Bahrain the capital of torture,” a former detainee quoted an interrogator as telling him. Another said a CID officer held something to his nose and told him it was “the blood of people who don’t cooperate.”
BICI investigators in 2011, and Human Rights Watch researchers in 2010, documented similar torture methods.
King Hamad appointed the BICI in July 2011 in response to international criticism of the security forces’ violent and disproportionate response to largely peaceful anti-government protests that began in February 2011. The BICI concluded in its report, released on November 23, 2011, that the National Security Agency and the Interior Ministry “followed a systematic practice of physical and psychological mistreatment, which in many cases amounted to torture, with respect to a large number of detainees in their custody.”
The BICI’s recommendations led the government to establish three bodies since 2012 – the Office of the Ombudsman in the Interior Ministry, a Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in the Office of the General Prosecutor, and the Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission (PDRC) – with a collective mandate to end torture in interrogation and detention facilities.
Human Rights Watch found, though, that little information is available from those bodies about complaints, investigations, and prosecutions. Since Bahrain announced the institutional reforms in early 2012 there has been only one prosecution for torture and none relating to detentions associated with Bahrain’s political unrest.
The use of the techniques detainees described to Human Rights Watch violate Bahrain’s own laws as well as its obligations as a state party to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention against Torture) and other international treaties.
Bahrain should issue an immediate and open invitation to the UN special rapporteur on torture to conduct a country visit and allow unfettered access to detainees and all places of detention, Human Rights Watch said. Bahrain should ensure the independence of the Office of the Ombudsman and the PDRC by removing them from the Ministry of Interior and taking steps to guarantee the independence of the SIU from the Office of the Public Prosecutor, which has until now failed to establish a record of holding perpetrators of torture accountable.
Human Rights Watch further recommended that the government set up a civilian oversight committee, including well-regarded independent experts, to scrutinize the work of the SIU and ensure its independence from the Interior Ministry and public prosecution.
“Since the peaceful anti-government protests of 2011, which the authorities responded to with brutal and lethal force, the Bahrain government has overseen a campaign of incarceration that has decimated its pro-democracy movement,” Stork said. “Bahrain can’t claim any progress on torture while its anti-torture institutions lack independence and transparency and until it takes some serious steps to address the complete lack of accountability for the abuse of detainees.”
Hasan Jamali | Posted: Monday, November 23, 2015 12:55 am
FILE- In this Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012 file photo, Hassan al-Marzooq, deputy general secretary of the opposition National Democratic Assemblage society, runs across a street as riot police move in to disperse anti-government protesters, in Manama, Bahrain. Bahrain’s security forces tortured detainees in the years after its 2011 protests despite a government promise to stop such abuses in the island nation, according to a new report released Monday. The Human Rights Watch report on Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, corresponds with accounts of abuse provided by Amnesty International and local activists. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, file)
Shooting and suicide bombs