The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is deeply concerned about the recent alarming increase in the use of incommunicado detention by the Bahraini authorities.
In the month of February 2017 alone, BCHR was able to document at least 10 cases of people arrested and detained without access to their lawyers, nor being granted free access to communicate with or receive visits from their families. It’s under such conditions that the risk of being subjected to torture increases. BCHR strongly condemns the practice of incommunicado detention and expresses great concern over the safety of the victims and their wellbeing.
Hamed Jassim Al-Aabed (28) was arrested on 9 February 2017. In a statement, the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) said that it conducted an operation on 9 February “at dawn in Bahrain’s surrounding waters, which was undertaken following an attempt by escapees from Jau prison to flee to Iranian waters.” The MOI added that the operation resulted in the death of three individuals, and the ultimate arrest of seven others. Al-Aabed’s name was mentioned as being one of those arrested, for involvement in “the terrorist attack on Jau Prison and/or aiding and abetting fugitives.” The MOI statement confirmed that Hamed was injured during arrest, but his family received no official communication about the condition of their son. Up until 8 March his family was completely unaware of Al-Aabed´s whereabouts or wellbeing. They went to ask about Al-Aabed at the military hospital on 16 February 2017, after they heard news he was there; however they were turned away and no info was provided to them.
Mohamed Jassim Al-Aabed (28), Hamed Jassim Al-Aabed’s twin brother, was arrested in the same conditions. His family told BCHR that Mohamed Jassim Al-Aabed suffered injuries in his hand and back during the arrest. He was treated at the military hospital, where he heard news that Hamed was there as well and he informed his family on 16 February 2017. He called his family from detention at the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) several times, but no visits were allowed, nor access to a lawyer.
Ahmed Mohamed Saleh Al-Arab (26), according to a statement released by the MOI, was among the escapees that on 1 January 2017 broke out from Jau Prison and allegedly killed a policeman. Al-Arab´s family first heard news about him on 9 February, when the police announced they had recaptured him. The family was not able to get any details of the arrest other than what was announced by the MOI. According to Al-Arab’s brother, he called very briefly on the morning of 11 February. He sounded very weak and his father couldn’t recognize his voice. He said he was at the CID and asked to bring him clothes. “My father took the clothes later that day and the police took them from him. We remain extremely worried for Ahmed. On top of that, Ahmed was subjected to severe torture at CID when he was arrested in 2014, which is why we fear his life is at risk while there now.” Ahmed Al-Arab has not been granted access to his family or lawyer since arrest.
Ali Mohamed Ali Al-Arab (23) was arrested along with Ahmed Al-Arab. His family has no idea he was arrested and they know only what was on the MOI statement on 9 February 2017. His two brothers were arrested on 2 February 2017 to force him to submit himself for arrest, and they were released immediately after his arrest on 9 February. He was not wanted before, but became a wanted man after the prison escape. He first called on 11 February, sounding very weak, and said he was detained at CID. He later called several times, always sounding very tired and weak. During a call on 28 February he said he was held in solitary confinement and was unable to speak about his wellbeing when asked. He said he doesn’t know for how long he will be in solitary and said he can’t hear any voices there. Al-Arab has not been granted access to his family or lawyer since arrest.
Sadeq Ahmed Mansoor (27) was arrested on 10 February 2017, through a house raid on his friend’s house in Saddad. No arrest or search warrant were presented and the house owner was brutally beaten. Mansoor suffers pain in his back as a result of a police attack prior to his arrest. The only time his family found out about his charges was when the MOI published a statement on 21 February 2017 along with photos of the defendants accusing him of “executing the jailbreak and sheltering fugitives.” Mansoor was able to make a call for the first time on 12 February, from CID, but was not allowed visits from his family or a lawyer up until 7 March 2017.
Amira Mohamed Saleh Al-Qashami (35), mother of two children, her father Mohamed Saleh al-Qashami (65), and brother Abul Alfadhel Mohamed Saleh Al-Qashami (24), were arrested on 9 February 2017. Their house was raided at 9 AM by riot police and security men in civilian clothes, plus commandos in black who are believed to belong to the national security apparatus, who stormed the house after breaking doors; no arrest warrant or search warrant was presented. They covered the head of Abul Alfadhel Mohammed Saleh Al-Qashami with a black plastic bag while taking him out. His sister was outside the house and was not allowed to enter. The house was damaged during the raid. Their family was provided no information about the charges, until the MOi published a statement along with photos of the defendants accusing them of “executing the jailbreak and sheltering fugitives.” They made frequent calls to their families, but neither visits nor access to lawyer were allowed up until 7 March 2017.
Yousif Hasan Mohamed (21) was arrested through a house raid on 11 February 2017, at 3AM, by security men in civilian clothes, plus others in black clothes who are believed to belong to the national security apparatus. They broke the door and immediately took Mohamed out, before his family could recognize what was going on in the house. He called several times from detention but could not talk freely. On 21 February his photo appeared with the MOI statement in which he was accused of being allegedly involved “in various terrorist crimes.” During a call on 22 February he sounded very weak and tired. He has not been allowed visits from his family, and is believed to be held at CID (as per the phone calls).
Jaffar Naji Humaidan (21) was similarly arrested through a house raid on 9 February by security men in black clothes, who are believed to belong to the national security apparatus. No arrest or search warrant was presented, and the security men used pepper spray against Jaffar’s sisters when they refused to hand over their phones. On 21 February his photo appeared with the MOI statement in which he was accused of allegedly being involved “in various terrorist crimes.” As per the other cases, no visits from family and lawyer were allowed.
The practice is not new though. Two cases of people held in incommunicado, are still ongoing since 2016.
Sayed Fadhel Abbas Radhi (24) was arrested from his house on the night of 29 September 2016 by security forces in civilian clothes who did not have any warrants permitting a search of the property nor his arrest. His family has since been unable to visit him, despite having been granted permission from the public prosecution. The CID, which is detaining Radhi, has refused them access. Although he was allowed to make a few calls, he was not allowed to talk freely and his family reported that he sounded very weak. On 1 March 2017 his family received a call from him, after 87 days of silence. He is still not permitted to meet his family or to access his lawyer.
Sayed Alawi Hussain Alawi (43), has spent more than four months in detention without access to his lawyer, and has also been denied visitation with his family. Charges against him remain unknown. Arrested on October 24 without a warrant, his family filed a complaint with the Ombudsman for illegal and arbitrary arrest and called upon the National Human Rights Institute (NHRI), a governmental body whose members are appointed by the king, to act on the case. Accordingly, the government, via the head of the Human Rights Committee at the Bahraini Parliament, stated that Alawi is “detained pending investigation” and that “all the formal procedures have been taken properly and correctly according to the rules applicable in the Kingdom of Bahrain.” On 29 February 2017, he was allowed a brief phone call to his family, in which he asked them to pray for him.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture considers that incommunicado detention creates conditions that facilitate the perpetration of torture and can, in itself, constitute a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or even torture. Indeed, as has been the case in many instances reported by BCHR, the period of disconnecting detainees from contact with the outside world is often the period they are allegedly subjected to torture to force confessions at the notorious CID.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considers that incommunicado detention “constitutes the most heinous violation of the norm protecting the right to liberty of human beings under customary international law. The arbitrariness is inherent in these forms of deprivation of liberty as the individual is left outside the cloak of any legal protection.”
According to Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Bahrain acceded in 2006, “Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release.”
We therefore call on the government of Bahrain to:
- Abide by international norms and regulations, and grant detainees access to legal procedures, as well as visits from family members; and
- End the practice of arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance and incommunicado detention in Bahrain.