Forwarded Alert: Bahrain - Five Activists Appealing Hopelessly on 14th September Against 5-7 Year

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Five activists sentenced in July 2008, following demonstrations in December 2007, make appeal on 14 September 2008 against unjust sentences.


Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) – 10th September 2008

Urgent Action Needed - Imprisoned Since December 2007

Five Activists Appealing Hopelessly on 14th September Against 5-7 Year - Imprisonment Sentences Reportedly Based on Confessions Obtained Under Torture

The BCHR appeals for the release of the following activists, who were sentenced on July 13th, 2008 for five to seven years imprisonment (BCHR REF: 08071301) and who will be brought before court of appeal on September 14th, 2008:

Mr. Hassan Abdelnabi Hassan, 23 years, Sitra Island, sentenced for 7 years and a fine of 9980BD ($26,600)

Mr. Maytham Bader Jassim Al-Sheikh, 31 years, Jidhafs, sentenced for 5 years

Mr. Naji Ali Fateel, 31 years, Bani Jamra, sentenced for 5 years

Mr. Mohammed Abdullah Al Sengais, 40 years, Sanabis, sentenced for 5 years

Mr. Isa Abdulla Isa Alsarh, 25 years, Bani Jamra, sentenced for 5 years.

Hassan Abdelnabi Hassan is a founding member of the Unemployed Committee which was established in February 2005. Both Hassan and Maytham Bader Jassim Al-Sheikh have been elected members of the steering body. Since establishment, the Unemployed Committee organized series of demonstrations and protests during which many of its members including Mr. Hassan and Mr. Al-Sheikh were beaten by members of the Special security including the documented incidents during June and July 2006.

Mr. Hassan and many of his colleagues were arrested during 2006/2007 for allegedly participating in unauthorized sit-ins upon which they received imprisonment sentences. Mr. Hassan was arrested in December 2005, sentenced for one year imprisonment, and released after nine months following a royal pardon. Mr. Al-Sheikh was arrested a few days after the violent protests that took place on December 17th, 2007 when an activist, Ali Jassim, lost his life due to the actions of the Special Security Forces. While Mr. Hassan was arrested in January 2008, a few minutes after leaving the Democratic Action Society's headquarter where he helped organize a seminar in relation to the detention of his colleagues and other activists. (For more information on Unemployed Committee, Mr. Hassan or Mr. Al-Sheikh you may contact: Nader Al-Salatneh, Email: aha_662@hotmail.com, www.ateleen.com)

Naji Ali fateel is an active member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR), a society that is denied registration by the authorities. Mr. Fateel has been involved in organizing training sessions and in documenting cases of arbitrary detention. (For more information on Mr. Fateel you may contact: BYSHR's president: Mohamed Al-Maskati, email: mohdmaskati@byshr.org, www.byshr.org)

Mohammed Abdullah Al Sengais is a well know activist and had been imprisoned many times during the nineties due to his involvement in popular petitions and protests during that period. Mohammed is a founding member and the head of the Committee to Combat High Prices (CCHP). The CCHP was a member of a coalition, including BCHR, CCHP and BYSHR which organized a month of rallies around the country in May 2006 calling for economic and social rights. During 2007 the CCHP and the Unemployed Committee organized many protests against high prices and low income. (For more information on CCHP you may contact: Abdulhadi Al-Saffar: abdulhadi000@hotmail.com Regarding Mr. Al Sengais, You may contact his brother Abduljalil Al-singais: asingace@gmail.com)

Isa Abdulla Isa Alsarh is a member of Amal Islamic Society (AIS) which is a registered opposition political society. He was an active member of the information committee, a cameraman and administrator of its website. He normally covers protests and demonstrations. He was arrested a few days after the violent protests that took place on December 17th, 2007. His house was searched and all information and equipment were confiscated. (For more information on AIS or Mr. Alsarh, you may contact: Hisham Al-Sabbagh, Email: freefeels11@hotmail.com. www.amal-islami.net.)


Case Summary: Based on reports by International Organizations:

Front Line –Dublin, February 2nd, 2008

The aforementioned human rights defenders were among a group of human rights defenders arrested by the Special Security Forces (SFF) between 21 and 28 December 2007, following demonstrations in Manama on 17 December 2007. (..) Front Line believes that Abdullah Mohsen Abdulah Saleh, Naji Ali Fateel, Mohammed Abdullah Al Sengais, Maytham Bader Jassim Al-Sheikh, Ahmad Jaffar Mohammed Ali, Hassan Abdelnabi Hassan and Ebrahim Mohamed Amin-Al-Arab have been detained and subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading forms of ill-treatment and torture as a result of their legitimate and peaceful activities in defence of human rights.


Human Rights Watch - New York, July 16th, 2008

"By convicting these people partly on their confessions without having credibly answered claims of coercion and abuse, Bahrain's courts are failing to address the possibility of torture," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "They should suspend the verdicts and thoroughly investigate the claims of abuse in detention." Relatives of the detainees, as well as several men who were held in connection with the clashes and subsequently released, told Human Rights Watch in January and February that interrogators had tortured some of the detainees and sexually assaulted at least one. Several detainees claim they were abused in detention as interrogators sought to obtain confessions. A court-ordered medical inquiry in April concluded that the men may have had injuries consistent with abuse they described, but that delayed examinations made verifying claims of torture impossible.


The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders – Paris, April 23rd, 2008

On April 16, 2008, the Observatory for the protection of human rights defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), sent an international mission of judicial observation in the framework of the trial of seven human rights defenders, which was held before the High Criminal Court of Bahrain.

Indeed, the Observatory recalls that Messrs. Maytham Bader Jassim Am-Sheikh, Hassan Abdulnabi, Hassan Abdelnabi Hassan, Abdullah Mohsen Abdulah Saleh, and Ahmad Jaffar Mohammed Ali, members of the Unemployment Committee, Mr. Naji Al Fateel, member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR), Mr. Mohammed Abdullah Al Sengais, Head of the Committee to Combat High Prices, and Mr. Ebrahim Mohamed Amin Al-Arab, founding member of the Martyrs and Victims Committee, remain detained subsequent to their participation in a peaceful demonstration at the occasion of the Martyrs' Day, on December 17, 2007[1]. They were then charged of "illegal gathering" as well as of "theft of a weapon and ammunition" and "possession of weapon and ammunition without permission".

On February 24, 2008, a hearing took place regarding 18 persons involved in the December demonstration, including the seven above-mentioned defenders. In the course of the session, Messrs. Al-Sheikh, Abdulnabi, Abdulah Saleh, Mohammed Ali, Al-Fateel, Al-Sengais and Al-Arab pleaded not guilty. The defendants further complained about the acts of torture and ill-treatment they had been enduring while in detention, such as being prevented from sleeping, tied up for long periods and denied medical attention. Some of them declared that they had been subjected to sexual assault in the framework of their detention.

A new hearing was set to March 17, 2008 to allow defence lawyers time to get prepared. After the hearing, the defendants were allowed to meet with their relatives briefly, before being transferred to the Dry Dock Detention Centre, in Muharraq. On March 17, 2008, the defence requested that a medical expertise be carried out. The Court then appointed a Commission of doctors from the Ministry of Health in order to examine the detainees and submit its report at the next hearing.

At the hearing of April 16, 2008, the report of the Medical Commission was presented to the Court, concluding that it was not possible to prove that they had been acts of torture committed against them, probably because of the time duration between their arrest and the medical examination, but underlining however that some of the detainees were presenting signs of former injuries that could result from acts of violence. A representative of the Prosecutor Office then stated that this language was too vague and then requested that doctors be interrogated by the Court during the next hearing, to which lawyers of the defence agreed, asking to have access to the report. The next hearing was set to

May 11, 2008. At the end of the hearing, the families were able to discuss with the detainees during ten minutes.

The Observatory urges the Bahraini authorities to guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of the above human rights defenders and calls upon the Bahraini authorities to order a thorough and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned allegations of torture and ill-treatments, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a civil competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the penal sanctions provided by the law.

The Observatory further urges the Bahraini authorities to release them immediately in the absence of valid legal charges, or, if such charges exist, bring them before an impartial, independent, competent and fair tribunal and guarantee their procedural rights at all times.

Furthermore, the Observatory calls upon the Bahraini authorities to put an end to any act of harassment against all human rights defenders in the country, as well as to conform with Article 1 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which states that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels", as well as Article 12.2, which states that "the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration".