11 Oct, 2013

Bahrain: Death of Yousif AlNashmi: Arbitrarily Arrested, Tortured and Deprived of Adequate Medical Care

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights believes that due to the authorities practice of arbitrary arrest, torture and deprivation of adequate medical treatment, Yousif Ali Al-Nashmi passed away today.

Yousif Ali Al-Nashmi, 31 years old, was arrested on the 17th of August 2013 as he was leaving his sister’s house in Jidhafs while a sit-in was being suppressed in the area. He was then taken to the nearby Jidhafs market area where he was reportedly verbally and physically abused before he was taken to Al-Khamees Police Station. His family asked about him in Al-Khamees Police Station and Exhibition Police Station but both denied his presence. At 11:00pm the same day, his brother received a call from the police station asking for Yousif’s ID card. The following day, he was taken to the Public Prosecution office without a lawyer and one week later, namely on the 26th of August 2013, the family received a call from him informing them of a visit date.

Al-Nashmi told his family during the first visit about what he had endured. The family also noticed that his situation was worsening. He was not interacting normally and was discombobulated. His brother also said that the medicine he was given by the prison administration was causing him partial memory loss and making him say strange things. One of his released prison mates confirmed that and said that Yousif was sleepless, acting strange and complaining from headaches. (For more details read: http://bahrainrights.org/en/node/6398)

His brother received a call on the 19th of September 2013, that Yousif had been admitted to Salmaniya Medical Complex due to increasing headaches and drowsiness. His brother tried to visit him but the hospital denied his presence. The family later confirmed that he had been at the hospital. He was transferred back to the prison later that day.

He was not adequately examined by specialists during his visit to the hospital. There was high suspicion that his condition was not appropriately diagnosed so that he could be discharged back to prison. He collapsed in the prison the day after his discharge and went into a deep coma. He was taken to Salmaniya Medical Complex again where he was fully examined and diagnosed to have a severe edema from an undiagnosed source. Al-Nashmi was also diagnosed of brain cancer according to his family. His lawyer appealed for his release based on his condition. He was released only a few days ago, on the 8th of October 2013.

The body of Mr. Al-Nashmi was found to have torture marks in different areas including the head which raises the suspicion that torture may have had an effect on his condition. This can only be confirmed by a proper and independent forensic examination.

The BCHR is gravely concerned that Al-Nashmi, like Mohammed Mushaima, is the victim torture and denial of adequate medical care causing death. Prisoners in Bahrain are systematically denied adequate medical care, and the BCHR has time and time again raised concern about this issue.

The BCHR demands urgent proper forensic examination and documentation of the body of Mr. Al-Nashmi and also the investigation of the reported misdiagnosis and mistreatment he suffered at the hospital for being a political prisoner. All prisoners must be immediately allowed access to adequate medical care. The continuation of the current violations against all prisoners in Bahrain may lead to future loss of lives.

Sayed Yousif Almuhafda

Bahrain rights group awarded Norway's Rafto Prize.

25 Sep, 2013

Bahrain- Verdict expected on 29 September in case of Human Rights Defender Naji Fateel by court that fails to live up to fair trial standards

The Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) express concern over the expected verdict which will be announced by the 4th Criminal Court on 29 September 2013, in the case of detained human rights defender Naji Fateel along with another 49 citizens. Reliable reports confirmed from Bahrain that the court fails to live up to fair trial standards.

Naji Fateel, a board member of the Bahrain Youth Human Rights Society (BYHRS), was arrested without a warrant on 2 May 2013, from his home in Bani Jamra and held incommunicado for 3 days before being presented to the Public Prosecution Office. On 23 May 2013, Naji was sentenced to 6 months’ imprisonment for “illegal assembly”. He has been later put on trial for “establishing a terrorist group for the purpose of disturbing public security, disabling constitution and law, preventing public institution and authorities from performing their duties, attacking public and personal rights, and harming national unity”, under the internationally condemned 'Terrorism Law'.

Before the start of the trial or any conviction, Bahrain national television aired on 12 June 2013, names and photos of Bahraini citizens that it claimed are behind the set up of the so-called “Coalition of 14 February”, Naji was among them.

Reports by BYSHR and other groups alleged that Fateel has been subjected to severe torture during interrogation in the notorious Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID). According to these reports, he has received electrical shocks to his genitals, left foot, and back, and been subjected to simulated drowning, severe beatings, threats to publish photographs of his wife (taken from her camera which was confiscated when security forces raided the family home), verbal abuse using uncivilized words, hanging by his hands from the ceiling, sexual harassment and threats to rape him, standing for long hours, and sleep deprivation.

In his first court hearing, which was held on 11 July 2013 at the 4th Criminal Court, Naji talked publicly about the torture he was subjected to and took his shirt off to show the torture marks on his back. However, instead of taking immediate action and carry out an immediate, impartial and thorough investigation into the allegations of torture, the judge did not allow him to complete his testimony and refused to take note of the torture allegations.  It is worth mentioning that Naji has not been brought in order to attend the second hearing of the trial which was held on 26 July 2013.

The judge heading this court is Judge Ali Khalifa Al-Dhahrani, who is the son of the current parliament chairman Khalifa Al-Dhahrani. Ali Al-Dhahrani is the same judge who ruled most of the cases at the Court of National Safety (military courts). The assisting judges at the 4th criminal court are Judge Hamad Al-Khalifa -member of the ruling family- and Judge Jassim Ajlan.

The defense team has submitted a letter in which they expressed their objection to the appointment of two of the judges due to a conflict of interest based on the following:

  • Among the charges against the defendants is the charge of attacking the provisions of the Constitution and dissolving the parliament which is headed by Judge Ali Al-Dhahrani’s father.
  • Also among the charges against the defendants is the charge of attempting to overthrow the government led by Al-Khalifa family, which is the same family of Judge Hamad Al-Khalifa, a member of the court.

They have also requested the formation of a medical committee to investigate the torture that the defendants were subjected to, however the court ignored this request by the defense team and proceeded with the trial. Therefore, the defense team and defendants boycotted the hearing session on 5 September 2013 in a protest against “the circumstances of the trial in the court hearings which confirmed that the judiciary in Bahrain is not independent." As a result, the court decided to issue the verdict on 29 Sep 2013.

 

BCHR’s head of documentation, Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafadha who have attended some of the trial sessions said “it is clear that this court is violating the international standards for fair trials as they want to continue this 'mockery of justice' without the lawyers and defendants.”

Although the lawyers asked for a response from the Court in relation to their request that the case needs to be looked at according to Article 211 of the Bahraini Criminal Procedures Law for the above mentioned reasons, the court failed to consider the request and continued to investigate the alleged charges directed to the defendants in the trial.

The GCHR and the BCHR deplore in the strongest terms the detention and prosecuting of human rights defender Naji Fateel, as well as the torture he has allegedly suffered. The two NGOs believe that the arrest and charges are solely related to his legitimate and peaceful activities in the field of human rights.

The GCHR and the BCHR call on the US administration and other governments that have influence in Bahrain including the UK government, the EU and the leading human rights organizations to put pressure on the government of Bahrain in to: 

1. Immediately and unconditionally release Naji Fateel and all human rights defenders and activists held in Bahrain as a result of their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities;

2. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into all reports of alleged torture of Naji Fateel with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in line with international standar