Front Line: New charges brought against human rights defender Mr Naji Fateel
27 March 2012 On 21 March 2012, the Bahraini public prosecution brought new charges against human rights defender Mr Naji Fateel who has been in detention since 14 February 2012.
Among the charges brought against him are the charges of “planning and executing an illegal assembly” and “rioting” in the area of Beni Jamra on 24 January 2012. Naji Fateel is a board member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights and attended the Front Line Defenders 2010 Dublin Platform.
As a result of these new charges his detention has been extended by one week and he is now expected to appear before a court on 30 March in relation to the charges. The new charges seem to have been brought against him as a way of keeping him in detention for as long as possible so that he can not continue his human rights activities.
On 14 February 2012, Naji Fateel, was arrested by a group of masked men in plain-clothes as he was taking part in a peaceful demonstration to protest against human rights violations in Bahrain. Other human rights defenders arrested with him on 14 February have been released.
According to information received by Front Line Defenders Naji Fateel has been ill-treated while held in detention including being verbally abused for belonging to the Shi'a majority in the country, and being denied access to food and other items brought to him in prison by his family. He is held in harsh conditions in the Dry Dock detention centre in an overcrowded cell, along with other prisoners held for serious criminal offences. The toilets are said to be in poor repair and there is no access to hot water, and food and drinking water are reportedly of poor quality.
Front Line Defenders believes that the arrest, detention and charges brought against Naji Fateel are directly linked to his human rights work and are an attempt to hinder this legitimate and peaceful work. Front Line Defenders reiterates its calls on the authorities in Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release Naji Fateel, drop all charges against him and guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
For further information please see Front Line Defenders' urgent appeal dated 16 February 2012.