Bahrain: Urgent Appeal: Fear of Torture During First Days Of Arrest; No Access To Fair Trial
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights issues an urgent appeal regarding the individuals who have been arrested in four cases recently announced by the Ministry of Interior. As has been seen in the past several years, and especially in cases where charges are brought under the internationally criticized terrorism law, those arrested by the authorities in Bahrain are often severely tortured during the first few days of their detention in order to obtain confessions. These confessions are then used in unfair trials, and lengthy prison sentences are handed down.
Details of the cases:
The Ministry of Interior announced that they had “foiled four plots” and added that “indications show these operations are linked to each others”, the cases that have been announced in the press conference are:
(1) First case: the dismantle of an “armed car” in Al-Hoora area.
(2) Second case: the arrest of thirteen individuals (one of them holds a Saudi passport) who were wanted by the authorities, and had attempted to escape Bahrain by sea; there were three sailors transporting them.
(3) Third case: the interception of a speed boat with two persons on board delivering weapons into Bahrain by sea.
(4) Fourth case: the uncovering of a “explosives/weapons warehouse in “AlQaryah” in connection with third case.
The details of these cases were announced by the “Chief of Public Security” Tariq AlHassan, who was previously included in the BCHR “Wanted for Justice” campaign. Link to the MOI statement: http://www.policemc.gov.bh/news_details.aspx?type=1&articleId=16052
Civilians who are wanted in Bahrain live in the direst conditions, which have been reported on before (see: http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/6300). They endanger anyone they stay with while in hiding, and are subject to arrest and probable torture if caught. Many of them have already been sentenced in politically driven trials to lengthy sentences. The thirteen who were caught on the boat attempting to escape Bahrain are:
From Bani Jamrah:
Hussain Jaffar Fateel
Sayed Alaa AlShamimi (Saudi national)
Hassan Abdulla AlGhasrah
Wael Mohammed Hussain
Mustafa Ali Jaffar
Ali Mohammed Salman
From other areas:
Hussain AlHajri – Roundabout 17
Kadhem Saleh – Karranah
Hameed AlQattan – Nabih Saleh
Sayed Ali – Nabih Saleh
Hassan Ali AlBahrani – Daih
Jaffar AlDurazi – Daih
Ali AlAsfoor - Duraz
The Ministry of Interior in Bahrain has no credibility given their previous record of publishing disinformation and their documented fabrication of cases against individuals for political reasons. Despite the findings of the BICI report, those responsible for fabricating cases and arrests of innocent civilians have not been held responsible and continue in their official positions.
Regardless of the charges brought against these individuals, all individuals have the right to fair trial, which is not currently possible in the Bahraini judicial system. From the moment of arrest until the verdict in the courts, there is no due process, but rather a series of violations against the defendants rights. Civilians must be allowed to immediately contact a lawyer upon arrest, and to guarantee due process according to international standards.
A sample case where activists and individuals were subjected to torture following arrest and prosecuted over false charges fabricated by the authorities and extracted under torture: /en/node/6362
Maryam Alkhawaja, the Acting President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, stated:
“All people, regardless of the charges brought against them, are innocent until proven guilty. They must be allowed to immediately call their lawyers, and their safety and wellbeing must be guaranteed by the authorities. Torture is not justified or allowed under any circumstances. We are very concerned because in many of the cases we have documented, during the first period of arrest, people are simply disappeared, which is usually the period where they are tortured to obtain false confessions. These confessions are then used in courts in unfair trials which do not adhere to international standards of a fair trial. Furthermore, if the authorities in Bahrain have evidence of crimes they allege, they must allow independent and neutral observers throughout the process of these cases.”
The BCHR believes that this is part of the authorities' continued and escalated crackdown campaign as the government has launched campaigns of arrests in different areas of Bahrain. The judiciary has played an active role in handing down harsh and long prison sentences. In addition to this the parliament and the appointed Shura council have been proposing and approving laws limiting and restricting freedoms and rights to allow the authorities more room to further its suppression. The crackdown and arrested included activists, political leaders and others.
Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls for:
- The immediate reform of the judicial system to bring it to the international standards of a fair trial;
- Immediately end to the use of torture as a method to obtain confessions;
- Hold all those who have been implicated in torture accountable, especially those in high positions who have ordered or overseen the use of torture;
- Immediately release all prisoners in cases where the only evidence presented against them in court was confessions obtained under torture;
- In criminal cases, allow independent and neutral observers to be involved in the proceedings to guarantee due process and to confirm that the crime took place.