3 Feb, 2014

Bahrain: Abducted, Beaten and Threatened

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses concern about the continuation of grave violations including abduction of civilians, severe beatings and leaving them in a stranded area. These actions appear to come as a form of punishment and threat for those who participate in pro-democracy protests in the country. The BCHR has document numerous such cases in different areas that witness daily protests demanding the right to self-determination.

A civilian, who asked to remain unnamed for safety reasons, told the BCHR that he was abducted by security forces on the 17th of January 2014. He was reportedly severely beaten with different weapons and blunt objects. He added that he was verbally abused, and the security forces used very derogatory sectarian terms during the beating. The victim was then taken to Karraneh beach, where he thought he would be dumped, but the security forces continued to beat him until he lost consciousness after which they left. A number of Karraneh residents found him and moved him to a house where he was treated by a volunteer nurse as he feared anticipated arrest if he were to go to the hospital.

Photo: Injuries of the citizen who was abducted

The BCHR has documented many similar cases like the Karraneh victim; one of the latest being two victims who were abducted in Bilad AlQadeem on the 11th of January 2014. The two victims, whose names are also withheld for safety reasons, stated to the BCHR that they were abducted by security forces, tied and blindfolded, then severely beaten. These two victims also reported verbal abuse, and the constant use of sectarian derogatory terms. The victims added that the security forces threatened them to stop protesting or they will come back for them; they were released approximately an hour later.

Photos: Injuries of the two young men who were abducted and beaten in Bilad Al-Qadeem

At a time when the authorities in Bahrain claim that security forces adhere to the rules of Police Conduct and that this guarantees their best behavior while on duty, the BCHR has documented numerous cases of abductions, including children; when the victims are subjected to severe beatings then released with threats that they must stop protesting or face further consequences. In several cases victims were forced to work as informants for the police. Recommendation number (1722 - c) of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry stated: “To implement an extensive program of public order training for the public security forces, the NSA and the BDF, including their private security companies, in accordance with UN best practices. To ensure future compliance with the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, and the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, the security forces should be trained in the human rights dimensions of detention and interrogation, and in particular the obligation to refuse to participate in any actions involving torture and other prohibited ill-treatment.

The BCHR believes that these practices are meant to create a culture of fear to prevent people from their legitimate right to peaceful protest. These violations and the continuation of other violations come as a direct result of the culture of impunity implemented by the highest levels of the government. The same officials in charge of similar violations documented in the BICI report continue in their positions, unless promoted, thus the continuation of these violations come as no surprise.

Based on the above, the BCHR calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and all other ally governments and relevant international institutions to:

  1. Immediately intervene to put an end to these abductions which are used to terrorize people and end protests
  2. Pressure Bahrain to respect the conventions that Bahrain is signatory to, and to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human rights, especially that related to freedom of expression and assembly
  3. Hold the Government of Bahrain accountable internationally as it has proved impossible to do so locally

The BCHR calls on the Government of Bahrain to:

  1. Launch an independent and impartial investigation into the abductions
  2. Hold accountable all those involved, especially those in high positions
  3. Allow space for people to practice their right to free expression and peaceful protest without terrorizing civilians or creating fear
  4. Compensate all victims of violations committed by the Government of Bahrain
28 Jan, 2014

Bahrain must abide by its own laws and immediately release leading human rights defender Nabeel Rajab

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses grave concern regarding the Bahraini authorities’ treatment of Nabeel Rajab, imprisoned President of the BCHR and General Secretary of GCHR, in addition to their refusal to grant him early release that he is eligible for as per the law. A request for early release was submitted by Nabeel Rajab’s lawyers on 21 January 2014 to the Court but it was rejected without any reasons given.

On 21 January 2014, the penalty enforcement judge once again rejected a request that was submitted on the same day to release leading human rights defender Bahrain Center for Human Rights President Nabeel Rajab. Before passing judgment, the judge reportedly did not a take any action to investigate whether conditions for early release had been met. This is the third attempt submitted by Rajab’s lawyers requesting his release, based on article 349 of Code of Criminal Procedures which sets conditions for early release. These are as follows: three quarters of the sentence has already been served, trustworthy good behavior during detention and the imprisoned person is not a threat to public security. Although these conditions apply to Rajab’s case, all requests submitted by his lawyers were rejected. (See about previous requests on http://bahrainrights.org/en/node/6635)

In the letter submitted to the judge on 21 Jan 2014, Nabeel Rajab’s lawyer provided evidence of his eligibility for early release and complained about the discrimination against Rajab in applying the law of early release, as well as the harm he suffered because of the prolonged delay in responding to his request which was submitted to the Court of Cassation to suspend the sentence. 

The evidence provided by Rajab’s lawyer is detailed below:

 (Following are excerpts from the letter submitted to the court)

 

First: the availability of the conditions of the conditional release of our client:

  1. In regards to showing trustworthy behaviour while in prison, that condition is met by our client and nothing at any time has been provided by the prison administration that may contradict that, especially as  it has been proved that he took the initiative while in prison to report to the prison administration, Public Prosecution and General Secretariat of Complaints at the Ministry of Interior a about  torture that took place and that was committed by some of the members and officers of the Ministry of Interior against some inmates inside Jaw Prison.

Based on this report, the Public Prosecution began to investigate the matter according to a statement issued by the Chief Prosecutor, Head of the Special Investigation Unit, Nawaf Hamza, on 7/12/2013, published by Bahrain News Agency (BNA) where it stated the Chief Prosecutor’s confirmation, ‘the Special Unit received a report from the sentenced Nabeel Rajab about a number of inmates at the Facility of Correction and Rehabilitation being subjected to abuse by some policemen, and the Unit initiated an investigation into the incident as soon as it received the report’.

This confirms that our client is trustworthy: his statement about the incident corresponded with the investigation carried out by the General Secretariat of Complaints and Special Investigation Unit at the Public Prosecution and which ended with referring the defendants who are members of the public security forces to court.

In this context, it is noteworthy that our client had taken the initiative as soon as he knew about the crime to inform the Administration of Jaw’s Prison about it, however the prison administration did nothing indeed, it interrupted and disconnected our client’s phone call when he was about to tell his wife about the incident, with the aim of conveying the information to his lawyer, so that the latter could inform the official channels on his behalf.

  1. As to the condition that the sentenced person would not cause a threat to public security, our client’s charges are limited to offenses related to peacefully practising freedom of expression and opinion while carrying out his duties as a human rights defender, and thus, he naturally does not form any threat to public security.
  2. As to the third condition regarding the period the sentenced has spent in prison, our client has spent more than 20 months which exceeds three fourths of his prison sentence of two years. Our client has spent detention periods at Hura Police Station pending the hearing of cases in which he was accused , as follows:
    • In case no 4705/2012 he spent 15 days in detention from 5/5/2012 until 20/5/2012.
    • In case no 4947/2012 he spent 8 days from 20/5/2012 until 28/5/2012.
    • In case no 5807/2012 he spent 21 days from 6/6/2012 until 27/6/2012.

The total number of days our client has spent in detention is 15+8+21=44 days

The penalty was implemented from 9/ 7/2012 until now, i.e. 558 days. Hence, the total amount he has spent in jail is 558+44=602 days, which exceeds 20 months, more than three fourths of his sentence period.

 

Second: submitting a request from the Prison Warden is not a condition for release:

 The law does not require that the release is guaranteed by submitting a request from the prison warden. Article 350 of the Law of Criminal Procedure states that the conditional release is by order of the Judge of Penalty Implementation, on the basis of evidence provided by the Manager of Penal Facilities. Submitting a request from the prison warden is just a matter of regulatory procedure, in cases where the sentenced cannot make a request himself. Thus, it is not a requirement to be eligible for release, as it is inconceivable that legislation would intend to mortgage the inherent right of a sentenced to the will or mood of an administrative body.

Henceforth, the sentenced person can submit a request considering him an inherent right and interest holder, and in this matter the Judge of Implementation asks the prison administration about the whether the detained person has met the aforementioned first and third condition, regarding the behaviour of the sentenced person prison and whether or not he had spent three fourths of his prison sentence.

Note that we had submitted two letters on 9/9/2013 and 25/11/2013,  to the Director of the Correction and Rehabilitation Facility Lieutenant Colonel  Mohammed Rashid Al-Hoseini requesting the conditional release of our client, and for his name to be included  among those exempted from the remaining sentence period, However the prison administration did nothing in that regard.

 

Third: the availability of evidence of discrimination against our client:

It is confirmed from what has been presented that the prison administration neglected the report submitted by our client regarding the crime committed by its employees, and it also ignored or did not respond to his requests for conditional release or to exempt him from the remaining sentence period. However, and according to information published in the Official Gazette regarding the release of 208 prisoners in October 2013 and the release of 172 prisoners in January 2014, we know that, the administration handles hundreds of releases constantly whether through conditional release or exemption from the remaining sentence period.

Based on the above, i