UN Rapporteurs Ask Bahraini Gov't to Provide them With Answer to Questions about Arrest Background and Conditions of Minors
2023-02-28 - 2:41 am
Bahrain Mirror: Three United Nations Special Procedures offices published on their website on 16 February 2023 an allegation letter sent to the government of Bahrain to express concern over the arrest of 4 citizens in October 2021, three of whom were minors and were arrested without a warrant. The detainees were denied a fair trial and were ill-treated. They detainees are: Yusuf Ahmed Hasan Kadhem, Jaafar HabibKadhem, Sayed Ali Mustafa Majid Maki and Husain Arafat Maki Naiser .
The letter was signed by the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders who "outlined the cases of the four individuals and expressed concern over the allegations, which constitute severe human rights violations."
The letter focused on the events that occurred following the arbitrary arrest of the four individuals. All of the victims except Yusuf Kadhem were minors at the time they were arrested without a warrant. They were sentenced in absentia for participating in peaceful protests against normalization of Bahrain's relations with Israel. Thus, they were not given adequate time or facilities to prepare for the trials, denying them their right to a fair trial and due process. In addition, all four individuals did not have access to a lawyer during their interrogations, and the three minors were interrogated without the presence of a guardian.
They were all charged with illegal assembly and possession of explosives on 31 May 2022 and sentenced to one year in prison and a 500 Bahraini dinar fine. The court of appeal upheld the judgment of Yusuf Kadhem, but reduced the sentence of the three minors to three months and fine from 500 dinars to 110 dinars. In December 2022, two individuals were released and the remaining two prisoners were also later released under alternative sentences.
The three rapporteurs demanded the Bahraini government to provide them with information and answers to their questions about the four detainees and expressed deep concerns regarding warrantless arrests and unfair trial proceedings of the four individuals, who include three minors, without an arrest warrant or being provided with the reason for their arrest despite their age; and the denial of their right to benefit from the presence of their guardian or legal counsel during the interrogation, and over charges that may be directly related to the exercise of their legitimate rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, indicating that convictions reportedly took place in absentia, which impeded lawyers to adequately prepare an adequate judicial defence, in accordance with international norms and standards related to a fair trial. They also demanded the Bahraini government to stop these violations and ensure the accountability of any person(s) responsible for the alleged violations.