Bahraini police beat and threatened to torture and rape children who were arrested to prevent them from launching protests marking the 10th anniversary of the 2011 Arab Spring uprising, human rights groups charged on Wednesday. A Bahraini government spokesman denied the charges and said that the country had a “zero-tolerance policy” on the mistreatment of arrestees. Human Rights Watch and the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy said in a joint statement that around 13 children, ages 11 to 17, were detained in mid-February. Five of the children claimed “police from the station beat, insulted, and threatened them with electric shocks from a car battery. … An officer hit a 13-year-old on his head and threatened to rape him, give him electric shocks, and beat his genitals.” Four of the children, including one with a serious medical condition, remain in custody, the groups say. Bahrain’s attorney general said in a statement on Wednesday that he ordered the public prosecution to treat the children humanely as directed by a child protection law that was issued Feb. 18 but only set to take effect in August.
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