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Cablegate: Bahrain: Local Ngo to Visit Detainees

VZCZCXRO2356
PP RUEHDE RUEHDIR
DE RUEHMK #0051 0280726
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 280726Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANAMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7562
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHBVAKS/COMUSNAVCENT PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAMA 000051

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR NEA AND DRL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/28/2018
TAGS: PGOV ASEC PHUM BA
SUBJECT: BAHRAIN: LOCAL NGO TO VISIT DETAINEES

REF: A. 07 MANAMA 1105

B. 07 MANAMA 1109
C. 07 MANAMA 1110
D. 07 MANAMA 1112
E. 07 MANAMA 1113
F. 07 MANAMA 1118

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires, a.i. Christopher Henzel for reasons 1 .4 (b) and (d).

1.(SBU) Summary: The Bahraini government has agreed to grant a local NGO access to four of the fifteen detainees held in connection with the December street violence (reftels). The move came after Human Rights Watch reported that the detainees had told their family members that they had been abused in custody and called for an independent investigation. The NGO has confirmed that it will be able to meet privately with the detainees. End Summary.

2.(U) In the immediate aftermath of the December riots (reftels), the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Al-Haq movement publicly accused the authorities of torturing some of those detained in connection with the unrest. The abuse allegedly included sleep deprivation and electric shock. The GOB has adamantly denied those allegations, pointing to medical tests conducted by a forensic doctor who publicly reported finding no evidence the detainees had suffered, since their detention, the mistreatment alleged. Human Rights Watch reported that one detainee told his family that he had been assaulted sexually, and on January 22 HRW called for an independent investigation into the allegations. On January 24, the GOB announced that it would permit the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS), a local human rights NGO, to interview the detainees.

3.(SBU) Poloff met with XXXXXXXXXXXX(please protect) on January 24. XXXXXXXXXXXX confirmed that the GOB agreed to give XXXXXXXXXXXX private access to the detainees. He said he had also hoped to bring doctors, lawyers, and a psychiatrist along for the visits, but that the Public Prosecutor's office had balked. Instead, XXXXXXXXXXXX will be permitted to interview the detainees with no guards or other security officials present. XXXXXXXXXXXX will bring five trained social workers to interview the detainees. They will meet with four of the fifteen detainees over three sessions. They will meet with the first two detainees on January 27, one on January 31, and one on February 3. XXXXXXXXXXXX will visit the detainees at the Hamad Town prison, and plans to release its findings to the media.

4.(C) Comment: The Bahraini authorities recognize they need to deal with the torture allegations in a more transparent fashion. The arrangement with XXXXXXXXXXXX shows that the GOB is sensitive to criticism from international human rights watchdogs. ********************************************* ******** Visit Embassy Manama's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX********************************************* ******** HENZEL

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