UN Group Calls for Release of Bahraini Journalist Mahmood Al-Jazeeri, Deems his Detention Arbitrary
2018-03-13 - 9:08 p
Bahrain Mirror: A recent document released by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that the detention of Bahraini journalist Mahmood Abdulredha Hasan Al-Jazeeri is arbitrary and officially demanded that the Government of Bahrain release him, grant him compensation and take the necessary steps to remedy his situation without delay, considering all the circumstances of his case.
The report was released by the UN group early last year 2017, but was only recently published. The UN team considered Al-Jazeeri's arrest and detention as part of the widespread abuse of power aimed at silencing the critical media.
The Working Group suggested that the Government extend an invitation to the Working Group for a country visit.
The Group also referred Mr. Al-Jazeeri's case to the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, for appropriate action.
The Working Group said that it transmitted the allegations from the source to the Government under its regular communication procedure, but regretted that it did not receive a timely response from the Government to the communication, adding that the Bahraini Government did not request an extension of the time limit for its reply, as provided for in the Working Group's methods of work.
According to the UN report, Mahmood Al-Jazeeri is a 27-year old Bahraini who works as a journalist with Al-Wasat newspaper, the only independent newspaper in the country (closed down in June 2017). He is well known for his articles about political detainees and his coverage of discussions in the Shura Council and Parliament.
The report noted that after his arrest, security forces interrogated Mr. Al-Jazeeri for five days about his alleged relationship with Al-Wafa opposition movement, highlighting that they subjected him to ill-treatment to force him to confess. "They prevented him from sitting and sleeping for three days. They cursed and insulted him and his sect. Security forces interrogated him for up to five hours at a time, which left him exhausted. They forced him to sign papers of confession while blindfolded. Security forces did not allow Mr. Al-Jazeeri's lawyer to attend his interrogation at the General Directorate of Criminal Investigations. Moreover, they did not permit the lawyer to meet with Mr. Al-Jazeeri at all."
The UN report further stated that on 6 January 2016, the public prosecution issued a statement accusing Mr. Al-Jazeeri of terrorism charges, including spying for a foreign country, joining an unauthorized political movement and inciting hatred against the regime. He was also not allowed to contact his lawyers or family.
He was accused of being a member of "the Islamic movement Al-Wafa" and writing the political statements of the February 14 Youth Coalition. He; however, denied all charges.
The UN Group also considered that Mr. Al-Jazeeri's right to a fair trial has also been gravely undermined throughout the process of criminal administration.
It is noteworthy that a Bahraini court issued on October 30, 2017 a 15-year prison term against Mahmoud Al-Jazeeri, also sentencing 14 others in what is known as "Al-Basta Group" case to either 10-year prison terms or life imprisonment. On March 7, 2018, the Appeals Court upheld these sentences against the defendants, rejecting their appeals.
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