Wednesday News Updates

Editor’s Note: Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, we will post updates on ongoing cases of torture, new opinion pieces in the media, or news stories or issues that emerge.

Protesters demonstrate outside the Syrian embassy in Cairo. Amnesty International has reported that the Syrian government is torturing relatives of overseas protesters. As such, we selected this photo that does not reveal faces. Photo credit to Maggie Osama under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

At the IRCT, we have been carefully following the situation in Syria. As such, here are some of the big developments on the human rights and political situation in that region, especially as it pertains to torture.

UN resolution on Syria is vetoed // BBC News.UK

The European-drafted resolution had been watered down to try to avoid the vetoes, dropping a direct reference to sanctions against Damascus. But Moscow and Beijing said the draft contained no provision against outside military intervention in Syria.
The US envoy to the UN said Washington was “outraged” by the vote. More than 2,700 people have been killed across Syria since the crackdown began in March, the UN estimates.

Syria accused of torturing relatives of overseas activists // TheGuardian.UK

The Syrian government has been accused of torturing the relatives of Syrians protesting overseas in an attempt to silence international criticism of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. (See PDF from Amnesty International report)
One dissident, now living in Germany, told Amnesty that his brother had been arrested, held for a month and tortured by Syrian military intelligence because of his sibling’s anti-regime stance.

We will to continue to update and monitor this situation, so please come back for further updates on Syria.

Another area in the Middle East that we are paying close attention to is Bahrain, the island nation in the Persian Gulf near Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Here are some the major new stories from Bahrain the last few days:

Dozens jailed in Bahrain for protest-related violence // France24

A court in Bahrain sentenced 36 Shiites to prison terms of up to 25 years on Monday in connection with incidents linked to anti-regime protests. Critics say the accused confessed under torture and that prosecution evidence was weak….
Matar Matar, a former opposition MP, said those convicted of killing of the Pakistani had confessed under torture and that the evidence against them was weak.
“Their lawyers had asked for a medical committee to check them for marks of torture, but their request was turned down,” Matar told AFP.

We included an article in our last News Clippings about the sentencing of doctor’s in Bahrain, but we found this Al Jazeera piece to be shocking and a comprehensive tale of the crackdown on uprisings in Bahrain in February and March of this year. And, as a medical rehabilitation organisation on torture, we, as have other NGOs, find the sentencing of medical personal for treating victims to be particularly disturbing.

Bahraini doctors speak out against torture // AlJazeera English

However, rather than sit and wait to be taken away, the doctors are now telling their stories, including what they saw when more than 30 people were killed and hundreds injured during the month of massive protests before Saudi troops entered Bahrain and martial law was declared on March 15.
This, they say, is the real reason they were targeted.
…….
“But seeing a person who died because the government decided to kill him because he happened [to be] at the line of the clash between security and protesters [was too much],” she said. “He was not even protesting for God’s sake, he was trying to help the injured people and he was killed.”
…….
In the subsequent weeks, Dr Haji saw a number of other injuries, some fatal, but never again did she break down.
After martial law was enforced, Dr Haji was suspended from the hospital in early April. On April 17  her home was raided by police and intelligence in the middle of the night and she was taken to interrogation, it was that video she was questioned about.
In the interrogation room, with her eyes mostly blindfolded and hands cuffed, Dr Haji says she was beaten by a woman who accused her of faking the scene filmed on Al Jazeera.

Indonesia: Military tribunals ‘must not’ judge civilian torture cases // The Jakarta Post

An activist says military courts should not revue human rights abuse allegations levied against Indonesian Military (TNI) members in dozens of unresolved torture cases involving civilians.
Haris Azhar, the coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), said that military tribunals lack independence and cannot provide fair trials.
“Kontras recorded at least eight military-involved incidents of violence in Papua between July and September, killing 23 people, and severely injuring 18 others,” Haris said in a press statement released on Sunday in advance of the TNI’s 66th anniversary.

High court rules it unlawful to put hood over suspect’s head // The Guardian.uk

Editor’s Note: We will be following up soon on a longer comment on this ruling.

Regulations permitting the hooding of detainees by intelligence officers during interrogation are unlawful and should be rewritten, the high court has ruled.
But a second, more fundamental, challenge to the policy issued to British officers attempting to obtain information from prisoners held by countries known to use torture was rejected by the court.
……
In particular, the EHRC alleged, the policy failed to prevent suspects being harmed because intelligence officers and military personnel were only prohibited from proceeding with an interrogation or intelligence-sharing operation when they “know or believe” it will lead to torture.
The commission said the instructions should prohibit any action where there was a “real risk” of torture, and that the words “know or believe” set the threshold too high.

Gaeco apresenta denúncia contra oito PM’s por tortura // Brasil

Os promotores de Justiça do Grupo Especial de Combate ao Crime Organizado (Gaeco), do Ministério Público do Paraná, propuseram denúncia criminal por tortura contra oito policiais militares lotados em Curitiba.
De acordo com o MP-PR, em uma madrugada de março de 2009, cinco policiais que faziam ronda no centro da capital abordaram um homem e duas mulheres nas proximidades do cruzamento da Alameda Doutor Carlos de Carvalho com a Rua Voluntários da Pátria. Essas pessoas foram conduzidas à força, algemadas, até o módulo da PM na Praça Osvaldo Cruz (em frente ao Shopping Curitiba), onde foram agredidas física e verbalmente para que indicassem a pensão onde o rapaz, supostamente um traficante, estaria residindo, bem como para que confessassem atuar “no comércio ilícito de drogas”.

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