07 Oct 2012

Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses its grave concern over the detention and prosecution of children. Ebrahim Al Muqdad (15) and Jehad Sadeq (16) have been detained for more than 60 days, they did not have a lawyer present during interrogation and they were not allowed contact with their families for 48 hours. They may be prosecuted under the law of terrorism, punishments under this law, are very harsh and may result in the death penalty or life imprisonment. On 23 July 2012, Ebrahim Al Muqdad, 15 years old, Jehad Sadeq, 16 years old, and others disappeared after the Bahrain’s regime suppression of a pro-democracy peaceful protest in Bilad Al Qadeem. Families of Ebrahim, Jehad and the rest did not know the whereabouts of their sons for at least 48 hours, they started a search and although they asked in several police stations in the area, they were told repeatedly that they were not in their custody.

Arrests and forced disappearance

Ebrahim’s mother learnt about the arrest of her son when she was told that he was seen being chased by riot police while screaming for help. They started a search in the police stations of Nabih Saleh, Um Al Hassam and Khamis and they also asked in the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) but they were told that Ebrahim was not in their custody. While, Jehad’s family was told to wait for 48 hours and report their son missing. Although, the next morning Nabih Saleh police station told them that their son was arrested and they should come with a lawyer the next morning, however, they were again told that they didn’t have him. On 25 July, after 48 hours of search, both families received calls from their sons who told them that they were in the Dry Dock prison.

Ebrahim’s testimony

Ebrahim told his family and a BCHR member in a phone call that he was chased by riot police the night of 23rd July; in an attempt to escape he climbed over a farm fence but was caught and pulled down. He was taken into the farm where he was beaten, they tried to get his clothes off to sexually assault him but he fought against that. A gun was pointed at him and to further intimidate him, police put a gun parallel to his ear and pulled the trigger. He said that he was then taken to a burnt armoured vehicle where he was given a script and videotaped confessing to burning it.

Ebrahim was then taken to Al Qudaibiya police station, where he was interrogated by infamous torturer, Isa Al Majali, who insulted and cursed him. He was blindfolded at all times, handcuffed and was made to lay on the ground and not allowed to move, sit or sleep. On 25 Jul 2012, Ebrahim was moved to the CID for further questioning and he said that they threatened him not to tell of the torture and threatening he had endured. Finally, he was taken to the public prosecution department where he was ordered to 60 days detention without the presence of his lawyer, who was called to attend hours after the completion of the investigation.

Jehad’s testimony

Jahad said that he was beaten with the butt of a gun and slapped during his arrest by riot police. He was taken to Qudaibiya police station where the same officer, Isa Al Majali, interrogated him. Jehad was slapped, insulted and cursed by Al Majali and was made to stand in a corner for hours. In the public prosecution department he was made to sign papers and ordered to be detained for 60 days without being allowed to contact a lawyer. He was then taken to the Dry Dock prison.

Detention and Health conditions

Ebrahim and Jehad are in detention in the Dry Dock prison and have been for more than 60 days now. They have not had any hearings to date. On 20 Sep 2012, their lawyers where contacted to be present for a hearing, however, they were not taken to court because they did not complete 60 days as ordered by the public prosecution. On 23 Sep, they completed 60 days and where taken to court, however, before reaching the court, they were taken back to prison and were told that the judge refused to see them without giving any justifications. Ebrahim and Jehad’s lawyers believe that they may be tried under the law of terrorism because only defendants on trial under this law get an initial detention of 60 days from the public prosecution. The punishments under terrorism law are very harsh. Ebrahim and Jehad are the only children who have been detained for this long without trial. Their next court hearing is on 17 Oct 2012.

Ebrahim and Jehad are kept in cells with older prisoners and prisoners who are convicted in criminal cases. The prison’s conditions are reportedly poor, the food they receive are not enough and they are only allowed out of their cells once a week.

Ebrahim Al Muqdad’s mother has expressed her concern over the health of her son. She said that Ebrahim is suffering from calcium and vitamin deficiency, thyroid problems, osteomalacia (bone softening) and idiopathic scoliosis which causes him chronic pain and may lead to complications without treatment. He had an appointment with his doctor in August, however, he was taken to AlQalaa prison hospital where he was not given any treatment. His mother appeals for her sons release to receive proper medical treatment that is needed for his conditions.

Convention on the Rights of the child (paragraph B of Article 37) states that "No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time". Bahrain is a signatory of the covenant of children’s rights, however, it continues to violate childrens’ rights through the use of excessive force, detention and torture.

The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights calls on the international community and the governments of the US, UK and other close allies of Bahrain to put pressure on the government to immediately: • Release Ebrahim Al Muqdad, Jehad Sadeq and all other detained children • Prompt investigation in all cases of the arrest, detention and torture of children • Provide medical care for prisoners of conscience, (4) Put the International Convention for the Rights of the Child into practice