The Bahraini authorities must urgently investigate reports that women were tortured in detention after being arrested in Manama during pro-reform protests, Amnesty International said today.
Security forces arrested scores of people in the capital on Friday as protesters attempted to reach the city’s GCC Roundabout, formerly Pearl Roundabout.
Among those detained are 38 women and seven girls who were arrested at a city centre shopping mall and accused of "illegal public gathering”, rioting, and attacking security forces. They were apprehended without arrest orders, interrogated without lawyers present and some of them reportedly tortured or otherwise ill-treated.
“It appears that Bahrain’s authorities have patently denied these women and girls their rights after rounding them up at a Manama shopping centre,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“All detainees must be given access to lawyers and contact with their families.”
The detainees have not had contact with their families or adequate access to legal counsel since their arrest, and the authorities have reportedly not given them food or allowed them to pray.
Several of those in detention are ill and need medical treatment.
When their lawyers requested to attend the women’s interrogations at the Public Prosecution Office (PPO), they were told the women were not being held there.
After refusing to leave, the lawyers saw some of the women detainees being moved from one floor to another inside the building and managed to speak to some of them.
Nour al-Ghasla, 20, had bruises on her face apparently from ill-treatment in custody, and many others are believed to have been beaten by police.
After their arrest, the women were taken to two police stations in Manama before being transferred to the PPO on Saturday morning.
Following their interrogation, the PPO ordered that the 38 women be detained for 45 days, pending investigation. It is believed they are currently being held at the women's detention centre in 'Issa Town outside the capital.
The seven girls also remain in custody despite a juvenile court ordering their release today.