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Bahrain: Intensified judicial harassment faced by Mr. Mohammed Al-Maskati and other members of BYSHR
BHR 003 / 0613 / OBS 052.1
October 31, 2013
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bahrain.
The Observatory has been informed by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights and Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) about intensified judicial harassment faced by Mr. Mohammed Al-Maskati, President of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR), and other members of BYSHR.
According to the information received, on October 22, 2013, Mr. Mohamed Al-Maskati was summoned to Al-Khamis Police Station where he was interrogated on charges of “inciting hatred against the regime”, based on a speech he made on September 8, 2013 in Jidhafs Town, where he spoke on the concept of non-violence and the importance of peacefully demanding the respect of rights as well as on the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). He was released only after signing a pledge to appear before the Public Prosecution upon request. The police investigation is therefore ongoing.
The Observatory recalls that two other BYSHR members are currently in detention. BYSHR co-founder and blogger Naji Fateel has been detained since May 2013 and was sentenced on September 29, 2013 to 15 years in prison for “the establishment of a group for the purpose of disabling the constitution” under Article 6 of the Terrorism Act. His trial on appeal is due to start on November 18, 2013. Mr. Hussain Abdulnabi has been in pre-trial detention since September 6, 2013 on charges of “illegal gathering” and “rioting”. The next hearing will take place on November 7, 2013.
The Observatory condemns these acts of harassment against Mr. Al-Maskati and the arbitrary detention of Messrs. Naji Fateel and Hussain Abdulnabi, which merely aim at curtailing their human rights activities. The Observatory also notes that several human rights defenders remain in arbitrary detention or are subject to judicial harassment in the country.
Background information :
On October 17, 2012, Mr. Al-Maskati appeared before Bahrain’s public prosecution on charges of “participation in illegal protests” in relation to a peaceful gathering held in Manama on October 12, 2012. He had been summoned the day before to Al Hoora police station, where he had been kept overnight before being referred to the prosecutor’s office. He was released on bail on the same October 17, 2012 but charges against him have remained pending since then. On June 19, 2013, Mr. Maskati appeared before the Lower Criminal Court under these same charges Mr. Maskati’s lawyers asked for the case file, and the judge decided to adjourn the case to July 9, 2013 and then to December 9, 2013 .
Previously, on September 23, 2012, Mr. Al-Maskati and other Bahraini human rights defenders who had cooperated with the United Nations (UN) had received threats of reprisals while they were in Geneva to participate in the 21st session of the UN Human Rights Council. Mr. Al-Maskati was notably threatened with death through more than a dozen anonymous phone calls.
Mr. Naji Fateel was arrested without warrant by security men in civilian clothes at his home in the village of Bani-Jamra at dawn of May 2, 2013 and held incommunicado for three days, during which time it is reported that he was severely tortured. He was allegedly subjected to severe torture at the Criminal Investigation Directorate. According to reports he was subjected to electrical shocks to his genitals, left foot and back in addition to simulated drowning, severe beatings, threats to publish his wife’s photographs (taken from a camera confiscated by the security forces when his house was raided), verbal abuse using uncivilized words, hanging by his hands from the ceiling, sexual harassment and threats of rape, standing for hours, and sleep deprivation. He was taken to the Ministry of Interior hospital twice for treatment due to the torture.
Mr. Fateel had been arrested last year on February 14, 2012 while he was participating in a peaceful march toward the Pearl Roundabout area, the now restricted centre of the 2011 protests for rights and democracy. He was previously detained between December 2007 and April 2009, a period during which he was also reportedly tortured.
On May 22, 2013, Naji Fateel was sentenced to six months imprisonment on charges of attending illegal gatherings. He was charged in another case with the establishment of a group for the purpose of disabling the Constitution under Article 6 of the controversial Terrorism Act.
Please write to the authorities of Bahrain urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Mohammed Al-Maskati, Naji Fateel and Hussain Abdulnabi and all human rights defenders in Bahrain;
ii. Release Messrs. Naji Fateel and Hussain Abdulnabi immediately and unconditionally as their detention is arbitrary since it only aims at sanctioning their human rights activities;
iii. Order an immediate, thorough, transparent investigation into the allegations of torture and ill-treatment against Mr. Naji Fateel, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and apply them the sanctions provided by the law;
iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment – including at the judicial level – against Messrs. Mohammed Al-Maskati, Naji Fateel and Hussain Abdulnabi as well as all human rights defenders in Bahrain;
v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular its Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, Article 11, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to the lawful exercise of his or her occupation or profession”, Article 12(1) that provides “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”, as well as Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;
vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Bahrain.
· Cheikh Hamad bin Issa AL KHALIFA, King of Bahrain, Fax: +973 176 64 587
· Cheikh Khaled Bin Ahmad AL KHALIFA, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tel: +973 172 27 555; fax: +973 172 12 6032
· Cheikh Khalid bin Ali AL KHALIFA, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Tel: +973 175 31 333; fax: +973 175 31 284
· Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United Nations in Geneva, 1 chemin Jacques-Attenville, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, CP 39, 1292 Chambésy, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 22 758 96 50. Email: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Paris-Geneva, October 31, 2013
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· Tel and fax FIDH: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
 See Joint Press Release, June 21, 2013.