Gurulé travels to Bahrain to support pretrial detention reforms

by Shannon Chapla

Jimmy Gurule

Jimmy Gurulé, professor of law at the University of Notre Dame, just returned from a week-long trip to Bahrain to assess the country’s pretrial detention policies and procedures.

The trip was funded by the State Department and American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative to support Bahrain’s newly adopted zero tolerance policy toward “torture, inhuman treatment and degrading detention” of political prisoners, which includes detaining them without judicial process. An independent commission found that police tortured and used excessive force against civilians arrested during protests that followed successful uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia last year.

Gurulé toured Bahrain’s major prison and visited with the country’s attorney general, minister of justice, chief justice of the Supreme Court, and senior members of the Ministry of the Interior, as well as human rights lawyers and political prisoners.

“The most effective way to prevent torture and other human rights abuses in Bahrain is to strengthen the private legal defense bar,” Gurulé says. “It is imperative that criminal suspects be afforded lawyers immediately after being taken into custody by Bahraini police officers. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of human rights lawyers practicing in Bahrain today.”

Gurulé now will evaluate current legislation and procedures that allow for judicial monitoring of detainees and make recommendations on how the legislation and procedures should be improved or amended. He also will make recommendations on the establishment and operations of a Special Prosecution Unit to investigate and prosecute allegations of government-sponsored torture.

“I am confident,” Gurulé says, “that the legal reforms being implemented in Bahrain will strengthen the rule of law in that country and serve as a model for strengthening the rule of law in other countries throughout the Gulf region.”

Gurulé is a former assistant U.S. attorney general, former Undersecretary for Enforcement for the U.S. Treasury Department, and an internationally known expert in the field of international criminal law.

Contact: Gurulé, 574-631-5917 or