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HRW: Sayed Alawi will be among First Civilians to Face Military Court, Justice is Last Thing Bahrainis can Expect

2017-10-26 - 6:38 p

Bahrain Mirror: A telecom engineer forcibly disappeared by security forces a year ago will be among the first civilians to face a military court under an April 2017 constitutional amendment, Human Rights Watch said today.

The organization said in a statement on (October 26, 2017) that Sayed Alawi's whereabouts remained unknown until an October 22 announcement by Bahrain's official news agency that he, along with three others, was in military custody and facing trial before a military court on terrorism-related charges.

"Bahrain has managed to violate Sayed Alawi's fundamental human rights in multiple ways - forcibly disappearing him, detaining him without charge for a year, and making him face military judges," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

Security forces also forcibly disappeared one of the other defendants, Fadhel Radhi, for several weeks after they detained him at his home at 3 a.m. on September 29, 2016. The arresting officers did not inform his family where he was being held or the reason for his detention, Amnesty International reported. The Office of the Public Prosecutor told his family on May 9 that Radhi's case had been transferred to military prosecutors.

The two others facing military trials are Mohamed Husain and Mohamed Abdulhassan. Both were arrested in late May following an assault by security forces on a sit-in in the village of Diraz, during which 5 protesters were killed and 287 arrested. The London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) said that all four have been held in incommunicado detention and without access to families or lawyers.

Alawi's family submitted numerous complaints to the Interior Ministry's Ombudsman Office and Special Investigations Unit, and the Office of the Pubic Prosecutor. On September 11, the Ombudsman Office responded to an inquiry by the Washington-based Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) about the state of its investigation, saying that Alawi "had been transferred to be under the responsibility of another authority, which is out of the Ombudsman's remit."

The Bahrain News Agency announcement said that the Bahraini Defense Forces' "anti-terrorism security agencies" arrested the four "after gathering information, research, investigation and monitoring, in a preemptive step." It did not mention that Alawi and Radhi had been in incommunicado custody for more than a year, initially under the Interior Ministry's Criminal Investigations Department, and Husain and Abdulhassan for five months.

"Bahraini authorities have made clear once again that justice is the last thing that Bahraini citizens can expect, and the Ombudsman has shown again that he is unable to independently monitor abuses," Stork said.

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