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Human Rights Groups: Security Suspects Tortured in Bahrain

Human Rights Groups: Security Suspects Tortured in Bahrain

A new report from a human-rights watchdog says officials in Bahrain have been using torture since 2007 when interrogating security suspects. Human Rights Watch says their report is based on interviews with detainees and medical records, but officials from the Gulf State deny the allegations.

"Torture is back in the repertoire of the Bahrain security services," said Joe Stork, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch.

Stork says a number of torture techniques have been used, including the use of electric shock devices, suspension in painful positions, and beatings. Stork says the use of torture was not spontaneous.

"It is happening within the physical confines of the ministry of Interior," he added. "So I cannot say who is ordering it, but I can say that up until now it is been condoned at a very high level."

The report is based on interviews with detainees and a review of forensic medical reports and court documents.

But officials from both the Ministry of Interior and the Public Prosecution Office in Bahrain deny the allegations. They say there is inconsistency in the accounts of the former detainees and they say this is evidence that the claims are false.

Chris Davidson is from Britain's Durham University. He says Bahrain had in recent years cracked down on the use of torture.

"We saw this before in the 1990s, but for the last few years there was some hope that Bahrain was getting its house in order and that there was very much the political will to do something about prisons abuses, torture and so on," said Davidson.

But he says an economic slump and political tension may have led to the renewal of repressive tactics.

"Because of the deteriorating economic circumstances, because of tensions with Iran, the old sectarian tension appears to have resurfaced again and unfortunately the state's only means of dealing with that, dealing with their opponents, appears to be a rise in repressive practices and techniques, including torture," he added.

The report from Human Rights Watch highlights 20 detainees who were arrested at street protests.

The group says demonstrations by young men from Bahrain's majority Shia Muslim population, who say they are discriminated against by the Sunni-dominated government, have increasingly turned into violent clashes with security forces.