OPCAT: progressive steps towards ending torture

Oral intervention to be given by the Next Century Foundation at the 37th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. Item 3 Clustered ID on the 1st of March 2018, Torture.

Mr. President. The Next Century Foundation believes that neither the United Nations nor the Kingdom of Bahrain put sufficient stress on the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) as a step along the road of best practice for dealing with torture. Bahrain has signed the Convention itself but ratifying the Optional Protocol would strengthen their commitment to increased accountability and transparency.

After 1999, and the repeal of the 1974 State Security Act, the use of torture in Bahrain has decreased. There have been many moves made within Bahrain to curtail torture. Between 2011 and 2012 the Bahrain Independent Inquiry itself highlighted instances in which civilians within the country died due to the actions of the security services of whom five individuals died as a result of torture whilst detained by the Ministry of the Interior. Since then, the independent Ministry of Interior Ombudsman’s Office was established and has been operational since 2013. It investigates and works towards preventing and addressing allegations of torture and human rights abuses. Nevertheless, we continue to see allegations concerning the Bahrain government’s alleged use of torture from international media, advocacy groups and charities. Media reports from the likes of ‘The Independent’ newspaper have addressed the pervasive issue of torture throughout this decade. Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also expressed their concern.

In 2018, the Next Century Foundation believes it is important that OPCAT is ratified to ensure a continuation of progress by Bahrain. We also hope that the UN would support these sentiments by the better promotion of OPCAT’s ratification and implementation. Thank you.

 

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