Bahrain: Yasser Abdulla Khalil at Imminent Risk for Torture
The BCHR expresses grave concern over the expected transfer of Yasser Abdulla Khalil, from the clinic at the headquarters of the Ministry of Interior to the Criminal Investigations Department and believes that he is in significant risk for further torture.
Yasser, a 29 year-old married father of two, is currently at Fort Hospital with a broken foot and head injuries sustained while held in detention after his arrest on 10 April 2014.
The BCHR has documented the continued targeting and harassment of Yasser Abdulla Khalil and his family since the beginning of the revolution. The police in Samaheej have reportedly threatened Yasser repeatedly, including sending him death threats. Since 2011, his home has been raided more than 50 times.
Yasser was arrested for the first time on 9 September 2011 for illegal gathering and forming a cell. While he was detained he stated that he was beaten with a gun so severely that he had to spend one week at the Bahrain Defense Hospital and a three further weeks at the clinic at the Ministry of Interior (MOI) headquarters. Upon his release on 14 October 2011, he filed a complaint against police officer Yousif Mulla Bukhait, who was responsible for Yasser’s ill-treatment and beating (see his Wanted for Justice card here). He was sentenced in absentia to three months in prison and fined 500 BHD, which he did not serve.
After he submitted the complaint, Yasser followed up with the public prosecution twice. Yasser was summoned for interrogation on three separate occasions regarding the complaint. No action has been taken against Bakhait, but on the contrary, he has been specifically delivered into the custody of this officer during subsequent arrests.
Upon his release, Yasser went into hiding for two years.
On 10 April 2014, Yasser and one of his brothers, Khalil Abdulla Khalil, were arrested after participating a remembrance ceremony in Al-Dair for Zakariya Al-Asheeri, who died as a result of torture on 9 April 2011. As they were leaving the area in a car with a friend, a police patrol vehicle chased them and continued to ram into them until they were unable to drive any farther. Yasser got out of the car to run, and eventually sought shelter in a house. The police then surrounded the house and ambushed Yasser. He was reportedly beaten by the police in the house before being dragged him to a patrol car and moved hi to Samaheej Police Station.
As soon as they arrived at the station, Yasser was taken specifically to police officer Yousif Mulla Bakhait who then proceeded to beat him on the head with a large baton and strip Yasser of his trousers while threatening to sexually assault him. Bakhait reportedly told Yasser that “he would implicate [Yasser] in several cases” if he refused to sign a statement confessing to making and planting a bomb in Samaheej. Bahraini authorities have claimed that they were able to diffuse the bomb before it exploded, but it is otherwise unconfirmed whether there actually was a bomb. Because Yasser refused to confess, Bakhait reportedly forced him to the ground and beat his foot until it broke. Bakhait then asked police officers dressed in civilian clothing to beat Yasser until he put his fingerprint on the confessional papers. The police officers also brought in Khalil Abdulla Khalil, his brother, and reportedly beat him in front of Yasser.
Yasser’s wife submitted a complaint to the Ombudsman’s Office on 27 April 2014. The complaints office visited Yasser on 30 April, and since then, all familial visitations have been prohibited. The authorities have not provided any further information on the status of the investigation on these complaints.
Yasser was previously charged in 2012 and in 2013. In 2012, he was charged with ‘illegal gathering’ and ‘rioting’ and implicated him in four other cases. Due to the fact that the authorities were unable to locate him, he was acquitted of three of those charges; the fourth case is ongoing. In 2013, Yasser was charged with ‘arson’. The most recent court hearing took place on 24 April 2014, but there has not been a sentence. Two of Yasser’s brothers have also been implicated in this case: Khalil Abdulla Khalil and Jaffar Abdulla Khalil, who was previously arrested in September 2013 and sentenced on 22 May 2014 to five years in prison.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the United Kingdom, the United States, and all other close allies of the Bahraini government to pressure the authorities in Bahrain to:
- Immediately release Yasser Abdulla Khalil, and all other prisoners who are held on politically motivated charges due to the ongoing popular protests for freedom and democracy;
- End the practice of torture and excessive use of force and uphold Article Five as a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
- Adhere to the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and end the practice of denying prisoners fair treatment.
The BCHR holds the Bahraini authorities responsible for the life and well-being of Yasser Abdulla Khalil.