The Amnesty International announced that in the past few months, a growing number, up to 80, of 15 to 17-year-old Bahraini children have been held in adult prisons and detention centers of the al-Khalifa regime.
Many of these children were arrested during demonstrations, where they were accused of “illegal gathering” and rioting.
In some cases, they appear to have been targeted and punished solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
Some of the child detainees have said that they were beaten during their arrest or on the way to detention, and some have also been forced to sign “confessions”.
Under international law, anyone under the age of 18 is a child, and children suspected of a criminal offence should be treated according to the rules of the juvenile justice system.
Anti-government protesters have been holding peaceful demonstrations across Bahrain since mid-February 2011, calling for an end to the Al Khalifa dynasty’s over-40-year rule.
Violence against the defenseless people escalated after a Saudi-led conglomerate of police, security and military forces from the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) member states – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar – were dispatched to the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom on March 13, 2011, to help Manama crack down on peaceful protestors.
So far, tens of protesters have been killed, hundreds have gone missing and thousands of others have been injured.
Police clampdown on protesters continues daily. Authorities have tried to stop organized protests by opposition parties over the last several months by refusing to license them and using tear gas on those who turn up.
The opposition coalition wants full powers for the elected parliament and a cabinet fully answerable to parliament.