Bahrain ‘totally rejects killing and torture’
Manama, June 6, 2012
Bahrain will never combat terrorism with terrorism - and totally rejects killings and torture, said a senior government official, dismissing claims that top police officials had tortured inmates in custody during last year's unrest.
'First of all torture and killing is not part of our country's policy,' said Interior Minister Lieutenant General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, speaking to Akhbar Al Khaleej editor-in-chief Anwar Abdulrahman in an exclusive interview.
'We have never issued any orders or instructions regarding this and we have also never received such orders. Any officer accused of such charges is being tried in court,' he said.
Shaikh Rashid claimed terrorist acts had engulfed the country since the unrest and had led police to take preventive action instead of defensive. “We don't combat terrorism with terrorism, but ensure that we deal with terrorist acts by implementing the law and taking preventive measures to foil such acts,' he explained.
'We work round the clock to stop terrorist groups from carrying out their plans by gathering information and beefing up security in potential trouble spots. We have also identified several suspects, published their names and some have been arrested.'
It follows criticism of defensive measures used by riot police, such as tear gas, during clashes with protesters.
Al Wefaq National Islamic Society has filed a lawsuit in Bahrain's courts against the ministry, claiming the tear gas used was poisonous.
However, Shaikh Rashid confirmed the gas was not dangerous, but questioned weapons used by some protesters against police, saying they put civilian lives at risk.
'The Interior Ministry did receive a complaint letter from Al Wefaq about police using poisonous gas,' he said.
'But when we were about to respond, they (Al Wefaq) had already taken us to court and an internal committee has been formed to investigate the matter.
'However, I assure everyone that the gas police use is tear gas which is used in several other countries and is not poisonous. If it was then policemen would have been the first to be affected.
'But, what about the rioters?' he asked.
'They try to make homemade tear gas by adding unknown substances and investigations have never been launched to find out what are the dangers it has on people or if it is poisonous. And, What about burning tyres?
'Are burning tyres and setting fire to rubbish bins not environmentally risky? Do they not cause pollution or put people's lives at risk?
'Why hasn't the society (Al Wefaq) condemned such acts and filed a complaint about the dangers they pose. The use of tear gas is a reaction by police to acts of violence, so why hasn't anyone focused on the actual action that has caused the police force to react this way?
'I am not saying that we are perfect, but at least we have registered the mistakes we made and we are rectifying them, such as launching investigations into claims that tear gas has been used inside homes. This is not acceptable and we are looking into it.'
Shaikh Rashid forcefully dismissed claims that top police officials had tortured inmates in custody or were responsible for killing protesters during the height of last year's unrest.
'First of all, torture and killing is not part of the government's policy,' he said. 'We have never issued any orders or instructions regarding this and we have also never received such orders. Any officer accused of such charges is being tried in court.'
Shaikh Rashid also slammed accusations that Bahraini activists abroad were being threatened, saying some were wanted in criminal cases by the law.
He pledged that the law protects activists in Bahrain, who join authorised rallies and practise freedom of speech.
'The Interior Ministry in the past had relied on the public security law and the national security agency, but today, the responsibility lies with several separate institutions that work together to achieve justice,' he added. – TradeArabia News Service