On Tuesday, 22 August 2017, three human rights organizations, the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, the Bahrain Forum for Human Rights, and Salam for Democracy and Human Rights, issued an extensive report on violations committed by the Bahraini National Security Agency (NSA).
The report highlights the top violations committed by members of this agency against citizens, including human rights activists and defenders and advocates for democracy and social justice. The report title: “Chambers of Death” is a report that monitors violations by the National Security Agency (NSA) in Bahrain.
The report sheds light on the history of the NSA in Bahrain, and talks about how it was established, its successive administrators, and its most prominent officials responsible for the torture and abuse of detainees and citizens since its establishment.
The report also documents the names of a number of victims who have been tortured by members of the NSA, including some human rights activists who were recently summoned and subjected to torture and coercion. Those activists include human rights defender Ebtisam Alsaegh as well as blogger Yousif Aljamri.
In addition, the report points out the decrees issued in relation to the NSA and the wide powers granted to it ensuring that those involved in the violations are in fact protected from prosecution.
The three organizations called on the Bahraini government to accept the UN Special Rapporteurs’ requests to visit Bahrain and allowing them unconditional access to all places of detention, and to amend laws and decrees which grant impunity to officials involved in acts of torture.
In this context, President of Salam for Democracy and Human Rights, Jawad Fairooz, commented on the report saying: “The authorities in Bahrain have relied on military and security institutions to impose its hegemony on all aspects of life and to extend the influence of the police state. One of those institutions is the National Security Agency (NSA), which has become even more suppressive in targeting citizens and has resorted to systematic torture and intimidation of activists and their families in inhumane ways. That is specially after the issuance of a royal decree at the beginning of this year to increase the NSA’s powers. In the absence of separation of powers, fair judiciary, and independent supervision over security services, it is impossible to achieve any human rights reform. This report is a joint effort to document the history of this Agency and its continuous practice of massive violations with the knowledge of senior officials in the state.”
Whereas the President of the Bahrain Forum for Human Rights, Baqer Darwish, considered that “the violations caused by the practices of the NSA are a result of a deviation in security-related beliefs and the prevalence of the culture of impunity. Providing protection to the citizens and residents has become the bottom point of the security agencies’ priorities in Bahrain, instead, they do not hesitate to make the citizens victims if they needed to do so.”
Yahya Alhadid, President of the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, said: “the broad powers granted by the Royal Decree which was issued at the beginning of this year, the prevailing culture of impunity, and the protection from prosecution allowed the National Security Agency’s members to upsurge their practices that violate international conventions and human rights. It is our responsibility as human rights activists to shed light on human rights violations and call for correcting the path of relevant government agencies and bodies to ensure the protection of citizens’ rights, lives and properties.”
The full report: Chambers of Death