So you remember John Timoney, right? Philadelphia's police commissioner in the late 1990s/early 2000s, the man responsible for a) fairly effective crime control but b) civil liberties fiascoes like this one in the City of Brotherly Love in 2000 and this even worse one in Miami, where he ended up. As I wrote early last year in a Daily News cover story, our man John of Arabia took the money and ran to Bahrain, where the monarchs (yes, they still have these) needed some advice on how to put down the Arab Spring and pro-democracy protesters without getting all torture-y about it. Timoney is still earning his king's ransom.
Sooo...how's that going? Not good, according to the super-reputable Human Rights Watch:
(Beirut) –Bahrain security forces routinely detain children without cause and subject them to ill-treatment that may rise to the level of torture, Human Rights Watch said today, based on reports from victims, family members and legal rights activists.
On September 12, 2013, the European Parliament issued a further resolution on the deteriorating rights situation in Bahrain, urging it, among other things, “to respect the rights of juveniles, to refrain from detaining them in adult facilities, and to treat juveniles in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Bahrain is a party”.
“Rounding up kids, throwing them in jail and beating and threatening them is no way for a country to treat its children,” said Joe Stork, acting Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The Bahraini authorities need to look into these allegations and immediately call a halt to any arbitrary arrests and mistreatment of children.”
Information recently obtained from victims, family members, and local rights activists suggests that Bahraini authorities often hold children for long periods in detention and subject them to similar forms of mistreatment as adult detainees, including beatings and threats of torture. The Convention on the Rights of the Child requires governments to protect children from ill-treatment and torture, to give all child detainees – those under 18 – special protections and to separate them from adults in detention.
Seriously, John? You're still getting paid to advise these folks? You know, I'd be willing to consult for them -- hey, stop detaining children, you monarchs. you! -- for half as much money as they're paying Timoney. This unconscionable situation matters for several reasons.
For one thing, Timoney's presence in Bahrain is a galling reminder of America's sometimes rank hypocrisy regarding the Arab Spring and the quest for democracy and human rights in the Arab world. Generally, we support democracy except when we don't. and Bahrain -- home port for the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, which is now coming to a Syria or Iran near you -- is a place we don't. Sometimes, it truly is good to be the king.
For another thing, Timoney -- partly due to American ignorance of what he's up to 7,000 miles away -- is widely mentioned as a top candidate to replace New York police commissioner Ray Kelly. Kelly's presumably out of a job when his billionaire boss Michael Bloomberg leaves City Hall in January, and Timoney has the resume, including a stint as a top deputy in NYC in the early 1990s. This would be an unbelievably bad mistake. Replace Commissioner Stop-and-Frisk with Commissioner Look-the-Other-Way-While-Children-Are-Locked-Up-And-Mistreated? That really would be exceptional, America.