In the last week, we’ve seen the release of several major reports of torture in the Middle East countries of Bahrain and Syria and in India.
The government-commissioned report in Bahrain documents the widespread use of torture (PDF) following the crackdown on demonstrators in the Persian Gulf country. Since February, security forces have “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 several hundred page report will be used to form a committee and make recommendations, the government says.
We have called on Bahrain to do so – to follow through with the promises of reform and hold perpetrators to account.
A damning report through the UN Committee against Torture has described the widespread use of torture in Syria, including torture, murder, and mutilation of children in custody: “Of particular concern are reports referring to children who have suffered torture and mutilation while detained; as well as cases of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; arbitrary detention by police forces and the military; and enforced and involuntary disappearances,” said Committee Chair Claudio Grossman. Read our previous post on the experience of a Syrian human rights defender and torture survivor.
Finally, a third report (PDF) from the Asian Centre for Human Rights has found that more than 14,000 people in India have died while in custody, most due to torture, in the last 10 years. The report states that, “Torture remained widespread and integral to law enforcement” in India and is often used to “extract confession, demand bribes, settle personal scores etc”. This is an astonishing figure – and their report provides individual testimonies and reports of deaths in custody – and reflects the ongoing situation of ‘torture as usual’ in many countries around the world. The organisation is demanding the enactment of the Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010.
We hope that the documentation of torture through reporting mechanisms will ensure change happens on the ground and that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes will be held accountable.