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 standards;

3. Ensure the implementation of international standards related to interrogation, detention, and a fair trial, and to ensure the integrity and independence of the judiciary, and the defendant's right to innocence until proven guilty in a lawful court which meet the requirements of a fair trial.

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.

21 Sep, 2013

Bahrain: Arbitrarily Arrested and Reportedly Tortured for False Confessions, Yousif Ali Faces Ongoing Violations

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is gravely concerned over the ongoing campaigns of arbitrary arrests carried out by the Bahraini authorities without a warrant or any legal basis, and especially in regards to the use of torture and threats as a policy to extract false confessions which is usually followed by the deprivation of adequate treatment during imprisonment despite the presented medical reports in some of cases. The BCHR recently documented the case of Yousif Ali Abdulla Yaqoob (31 years old) who was arbitrarily arrested on the 17th of August 2013 and charged with illegal gathering and rioting.

On Saturday, August 17, 2013 there was a call for sit-ins in several areas including Jidhafs. According to his family, Yousif Ali went to his sister’s house, which is only a few meters away from the site of the sit-in. After the demonstrators gathered, he tried to go out, his sister asked him not to, but he insisted on going out. When he went out the suppression of the sit-in had already started by the security forces who were chasing protesters. Yousif attempted to return home, but he got arrested. He was then taken to near the Jidhafs market area where he was verbally and physically abused. The verbal abuse was mainly directed towards Yousif being of the Shia sect. He was later taken to Al-Khamees Police Station.

When his brother heard about Yousif’s arrest, he went to Al-Khamees Police Station and the Exhibition Center Police Station, but both denied his presence. At 11:00 pm of the same day the brother received a call from Al-Khamees Police Station asking for Yousif's identification card. When the brother went and asked to meet him, they refused and informed him that the following day Sunday, August 18, he will be taken to the Public Prosecution. He was taken the following day without the presence of a lawyer. After a week, namely on Monday, August 26, his family received the first call from him telling them that the following day, Tuesday, August 27, there will be a visit and he asked to bring him some things and informed them that he is detained in Block 9 of Dry Docks Prison.

During the visit Yousif informed his brother that he was insulted verbally and beaten with fists and batons with a focus on his face and hands, and that when they informed him about the charges against him, he refused to confess at first, but after the torture he confessed.

On the second visit, his brother took the medicine his brother uses because he often suffer from influenza due to problems in his pharynx, but the Dry Dock prison administration refused to take the medication saying that the medication was old. The family attempted to take the medication again during the third visit, after they got the approval of the prison doctor. The brother added that his brother's situation is worsening, as he sounds discombobulated, and he is not interacting normally with the family during the visits. He also added that the prison administration is giving Yousif unknown medication that