Bahrain: Bahrain: Torture of head of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, Naji Fateel, and systematic targeting of its members
Members of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) an organisation that monitors and documents human rights violations, organises training workshops, and supports regional networking for human rights defenders continue to be targeted and harassed as a result of their peaceful and legitimate work in the protection and promotion of human rights in Bahrain.
Naji Fateel, human rights activist and head of the BYSHR, was arrested at his home in May 2013 and remains in prison. His testimony tells of his horrific treatment at the hands of the authorities to date and the appalling conditions in which he is detained in Jo prison.
On 2 May 2013 members of the state intelligence raided into his home, trashed and stole belongings, intimidated his children and beat him in the presence of his family. He was handcuffed and bundled onto a bus and taken for interrogation. He suffered brutal torture as a way to extract a forced confession from him. He was hung from the ceiling by both hands and hit with tasers, kicked, beaten and verbally abused. This torture continued for an entire week and he was forced to sign minutes of the interrogation without reading them. After 60 days in the Reserve prison he was brought before a judge where he showed the Court physical signs of his torture, however no investigation was opened into his torture. In July 2013 he was sent to Jo Central Prison where he remains today. He was convicted to 15 years in prison following a grossly unfair trail. In his testimony he describes the appalling conditions in Jo prison which include overcrowding, poor hygiene, ill-treatment of prisoners and lack of clean water and water facilities. Last year he went on hunger strike protesting against his detention. For further information see previous appeal: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/736 and for his full testimony click here.
Other members of the BYSHR also continue to be targeted as a result of their human rights work.
Human rights defender and former President of the BYSHR Mohammed Al-Maskati, was sentenced to six months in prison on 31 December 2014 on charges of “rioting and participating in an illegal gathering”, in relation to a peaceful protest which took place in October 2012. Shortly before his arrest in 2012 he had participated in side events at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva and it is believed that the charges were brought against him as a form of reprisal following his participation in an international human rights forum. His appeal hearing is scheduled for September 2015. For further information see previous GCHR appeal: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/864
Hussein Ali Abdulnabi, is a young member of the BYCHR and was arrested on 6 September 2013, a detention order for 45 days was made against him however he was not released until 28 December and his trial is on-going.
Vice President of the BYSHR, Yousif Ahmed Abdelrasoul was summoned, interrogated and threatened by the Criminal Investigation Directorate on 10 June 2014. He was interrogated for hours about his role in the BYSHR. He had been previously detained in 2011 after returning from a training in Egypt on the UN human rights mechanisms and asked about what was taught during the programme.
Jehan Ma’touq, a member of the BYSHR, remains under ongoing targeting and harassment whenever she leaves Bahrain, following her participation in an event held outside the country in 2012.
Ahmed Helal Abbas, also a member of the BYSHR was arrested in January 2012 and sentenced to five years in prison charged with attacking police, illegally gathering and rioting. He remains in detention.
The GCHR believes that the prosecution, sentencing and harassment of human rights defender Naji Fateel and other members of the BYSHR are solely related to their legitimate and peaceful activities in the field of human rights and constitute a sustained attempt to hinder their work in the promotion of human rights in Bahrain.
The GCHR calls on the authorities in Bahrain to:
1. Immediately and unconditionally release Naji Fateel and Ahmed Helal Abbas;
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 standards;
3. Ensure that the BYSHR are able to carry out their work safely and in a secure environment;
4. 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.
The GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 6 (c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters“, and to Article 12 (2): “The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and 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.”