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BAHRAIN: ARBITRARY DETENTION OF 6 STUDENTS SUBJECTED TO TORTURE

 

The International League Against Arbitrary Detention urges the Government of Bahrain to take all the necessary actions to implement the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Opinion No. 25/2023 concerning Ahmed Ali Ahmed Yusuf, Alaa Mansoor Mohamed Redha Ahmed Ansaif, Husain Ali Hasan Ali Mohamed Matar, Husain Ali Jaafar Mohamed Abdulla, Mohamed Ali Mohsen Abdulla Baddaw and Sayed Husain Saeed Alawi Ali Mohamed Al-Khabbaz starting for the Government of Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release and to accord them an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations in accordance with international law.

 

Read the full WGAD Opinion concerning Ali Ahmed Yusuf, Alaa Mansoor Mohamed Redha Ahmed Ansaif, Husain Ali Hasan Ali Mohamed Matar, Husain Ali Jaafar Mohamed Abdulla, Mohamed Ali Mohsen Abdulla Baddaw and Sayed Husain Saeed Alawi Ali Mohamed Al-Khabbaz ( Bahrain) :  Opinion No: 25/2023


STUDENTS ARRESTED AND DENIED THEIR RIGHT TO ACCESS LEGAL COUNSEL


All six individuals were students between 16 and 22 years of age when they were arrested. Except for Mr. Matar, who was arrested in 2020, the remaining five individuals were arrested between 2013 and 2017. The Working Group found that none of them were brought promptly before a judicial authority, in violation of article 9 (3) of the Covenant and that Messrs. Yusuf, Ansaif and Abdulla were subjected to enforced disappearance, which is an aggravated form of arbitrary detention. Moreover, given that the individuals were unable to challenge their detention, their right to an effective remedy under article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 2 (3) of the Covenant was also violated, therefore rendering the detention of the six individuals arbitrary under category I.


All six individuals were also subjected to fair trial violations linked to their right to access legal counsel. The Working Group recalled that all persons deprived of their liberty have the right to legal assistance by counsel of their choice at any time during their detention, including immediately after their apprehension, and that such access is to be provided without delay. The Working Group noted that all six individuals did not have adequate access to a lawyer from the outset of their detention and at other key stages, including during their interrogation and as a result, they were not afforded the right to adequate time and facilities for the preparation of their defence and to communicate with counsel of their choosing under article 14 (3) (b) of the Covenant.


SUBJECTED TO ACTS OF TORTURE IN BAHRAIN

 

The Working Group also concluded that the source has presented a credible prima facie case that the individuals were subjected to physical and psychological torture and illtreatment in violation of article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 7 of the Covenant. In relation to Messrs. Ansaif, Matar and Al-Khabbaz, the Working Group recalled their rights under article 37 (a) and (c) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and articles 2 and 16 of the Convention against Torture and noted that the use of physical or psychological force on a child is a serious abuse of power lacking in necessity and proportionality. The Working Group recalled also that the Committee against Torture has noted its concern about reports of torture of individuals who were minors at the time of arrest and about the incarceration of minors in Bahrain. 

 

Taking these factors into account, the Working Group found that the violations linked to the six individuals’ conditions of detention significantly undermined their ability to properly defend themselves. The Working Group has consistently concluded in its opinions that, when it is not possible for a person who is subjected to torture or other forms of illtreatment or punishment to prepare an adequate defence before the judicial proceedings, this amounts to a fair trial violation. Moreover, Messrs. Yusuf, Ansaif, Matar and Al-Khabbaz were not allowed to present evidence in their own defence during their trials. The Working Group thus concluded that the violations of the individuals’ fair trial and due process rights are of such gravity as to render their detention arbitrary under category III.


These cases follow the pattern of numerous other cases brought before the Working Group in recent years concerning the arbitrary deprivation of liberty in Bahrain: warrantless, pretrial detention with limited access to judicial review, denial of access to lawyers, forced confession, torture and ill-treatment and denial of medical care. The Working Group recalled that, under certain circumstances, widespread or systematic imprisonment or other severe deprivation of liberty in violation of the rules of international law may constitute crimes against humanity.


CONCLUSIONS OF THE UN WORKING GROUP AGAINST ARBITRARY DETENTION

  

In the light of the foregoing, the Working Group renders the following opinion: The deprivation of liberty of Ahmed Ali Ahmed Yusuf, Alaa Mansoor Mohamed Redha Ahmed Ansaif, Husain Ali Hasan Ali Mohamed Matar, Husain Ali Jaafar Mohamed Abdulla, Mohamed Ali Mohsen Abdulla Baddaw and Sayed Husain Saeed Alawi Ali Mohamed Al-Khabbaz, being in contravention of articles 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 and 11 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 2, 7, 9, 14 and 16 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is arbitrary and falls within categories I and III.

 

The Working Group requested the Government of Bahrain to release the six individuals immediately and accord them an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law. Moreover, it urged the Government to ensure a full and independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of the six individuals, including the allegation that they were tortured, and to take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of their rights. 

 

 

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