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UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: 20 Bahrainis are Arbitrary Detained as part of "Zulfiqar Brigades" Trial

2020-06-10 - 1:12 am

Bahrain Mirror: The United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) published an opinion concerning the cases of 20 Bahraini citizens convicted by the Bahraini Fourth High Criminal Court on 15 May 2018, following a mass trial involving 138 defendants.

 These 138 defendants were convicted for their alleged involvement in a terrorist cell, called the "Zulfiqar Brigades" by the Bahraini government. The WGAD ultimately determined that the imprisonment of these individuals is in violation of several international human rights laws concerning their arbitrary detention.

The Working Group has requested the government of Bahrain to take immediate action to remedy the situation. This includes the immediate and unconditional release of the prisoners who remain in detention, and ensure that they receive medical care.

According to the Working Group, under certain circumstances, widespread or systematic imprisonment or other severe deprivation of liberty may constitute crimes against humanity. Due to the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, WGAD maintains there is a further deepening threat toward the health of individuals held in detention - and that the Bahraini Government needs to immediately release the 18 individuals to mitigate against the threat of the disease.

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) welcomes this opinion by the UN, and urges the Bahraini authorities to follow the recommendations without delay.

The WGAD is one of the Special Procedures offices of the UN Human Rights Council. On 5 November 2018, five UN rights experts published an allegation letter to the Bahraini government concerning the unfair mass trial on Zulfiqar Brigades.

In the present opinion, the twenty inmates are as follows: Ali Isa Al-Tajer; Hasan Radhi Hasan Abdulla AlBaqali; Ahmed Isa Ahmed Yahya Ali; Ahmed Abdul Hasan Habib Yusuf Husain; Mahmood Saeed Ahmed Isa Abdulla; Ali Husain Ali Abdulla AlShaikh; Sayed Ahmed Ali Mohamed Ali Mohamed; Husain Abdulla Juma Maki Mohamed; Mohamed Abdulelah Abduljalil Ahmed; Jasim Mohamed Abdulla Ebrahim; Ahmed Khalil Ebrahim Ali Ahmed; Salman Ali Salman Mohamed Saleh; Mohamed Jameel Abdulnabi Mansoor AlToblani; Mahdi Ali Hasan Mahdi Khalaf; Taha Sayed Jawad Shubar; Husain Mohsen Salman Maki Ali Al Meftah; Husain Abdulla Salman Khalaf; Abdulelah Sayed Ali Ahmed Ebrahim Ahmed; Ali Ahmed Ali Abbas AlHalal; Isa Jaber Ebrahim Habib Hasan.

The dates of their arrest range from March 2015 to November 2017. The alleged violations involve an arrest without a warrant, enforced disappearance and torture. The most common methods of torture include beatings, electric shocks, the deprivation of food and drink, and threats of sexual assault. Two of the defendants were minors at the time of their arrest (Abdulla and Al-Shaikh). Due to the torture that they were inflicted with, several of the defendants confessed or were forced to sign statements of which they were unaware of the contents.

Many of the hearings were conducted in the absence of the accused, and even when the individuals were present they were not permitted to speak in their own defense or provide evidence. On 15 May 2018, Bahraini's Fourth High Criminal Court convicted 115 of the 138 defendants. Only one defendant was present in the courtroom during the ruling; others were represented by a lawyer, or not represented at all. The Court sentenced the 115 individuals from three years to life imprisonment and revoked their Bahraini nationality.

16 individuals, namely Ali, Husain, Abdulla, AlShaikh, Mohamed, Ahmed, Ebrahim, Ali Ahmed, Saleh, Mahdi Khalaf, Shubar, Al Meftah, Khalaf, Ebrahim Ahmed, AlHalal and Hasan were arrested without a warrant and four of them were not informed of the reason for their arrests. Most of them were held for months without criminal charges. 

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