Bahrain says young boy was treated legally

June 22, 2012
By

Bahrain’s public security chief has stressed that Ali Hassan, the 11-year-old boy detained on charges of blocking roads three times in one afternoon, had been treated legally and given good care at a juvenile detention home.

Major-General Tariq Al Hassan said that the findings of an official investigation launched on June 13 into Ali’s arrest, detention and treatment “vindicates the actions of the police and the juvenile justice system”.

“The investigation launched on June 13 found that Ali was arrested for blocking a crowded major road on three separate occasions in the course of one afternoon,” Al Hassan said. “When he was arrested he told police that he had been paid BD3 (Dh29) to commit the illegal acts. Ali was in police custody for a total of six hours before he was taken home by his mother who promised to bring him before a Juvenile Court Judge the next day. This effectively ended police control of Ali Hassan. At no time was he mistreated, beaten or abused in any way,” he said.

On June 14, a social worker from the juvenile section of the Public Prosecution interviewed Ali and his mother, looked into his academic standing and determined that he was an at-risk youth.

“Over the next four weeks, Ali was held under the jurisdiction of the Bahrain juvenile court system and was housed at the Juvenile Detention Centre with 14 other at-risk youths. This is no different from the approach used in many other countries that have government facilities set up with the goal of helping children who may find themselves in confusing, abusive or violent situations at home or on the street,” Al Hassan said.

The Bahrain Juvenile Detention Centre is run by an all-female staff that includes seven teachers and a social worker and provides a structured environment where children receive special attention in areas such as academic tutoring, social services and health care.

During his stay, Ali appeared before a Juvenile Judge every week to have his case reviewed, the police said.

“There is no criminal trial in this instance. In Bahrain, just like in Western countries, there are no trials in the juvenile court. Rather, a judge makes a decision after hearing from the child, their lawyer, a social worker, and the prosecuting lawyer. The judge’s decision is based on what is best for the child. The notion of punishment does not enter the equation,” Al Hassan said.

Ali Hassan was detained last month during a rally in the suburbs of the capital Manama. The police said that he was implicated alongside other people in blocking a road with rubbish containers and wood.

According to the police, the investigation into Ali’s case found that there has been no intentional focus on the part of police on arresting children.

“It also found that the allegations in the press that there are over 60 juveniles held at the Detention Centre are false. In fact, the number of youth housed at the Centre has remained stable at an average of 15 since the start of the year. Children typically stay at the centre for a matter of weeks, with the longest stay, in the most serious of cases, sometimes extending to a full year. Under no circumstances will any youth at the Juvenile Centre face 15 years in detention,” he said.

“However, it also points to the need for greater parental and community adult supervision in the lives of at-risk youth. What is deplorable is how some older people will take advantage of vulnerable youth for their own political purposes,” Al Hassan said.

Shahzalan Khamees, Ali’s lawyer, on Wednesday submitted her final defence papers in the case and requested that the court show mercy because of his age and acquit him.

The verdict is set for July 5.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/bahrain/bahrain-says-young-boy-was-treated-legally-1.1038636

         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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