release of Prisoner of Conscience denied
Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Deeb the former president of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association (BTA) had his request for temporary release rejected by the Court of Cassation on 1 July. He is a prisoner of conscience.
On 1 July 2013, the Court of Cassation in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, rejected a request made by lawyers acting on behalf of Mahdi 'Issa Mahdi Abu Deeb and Jalila al-Salman not to implement the previous verdict until the two defendants’ allegations of torture are investigated. This refusal means that Mahdi Abu Deeb will remain in prison. The Court of Cassation has not yet set a date for taking a final decision on the two defendants’ appeal. Mahdi Abu Deeb has already spent some two years and three months of his five years’ sentence in Jaw prison. Jalila al-Salman completed her six-month sentence last November.
As well as being a diabetic and having high blood pressure, Mahdi Abu Deeb suffers from neck, lower back and knees pain resulting from the torture and other ill-treatment he was subjected to. He was initially receiving physiotherapy and medical treatment in the Salmaniya Medical Complex but this was stopped around October 2012. Since then he has only been seen by the prison doctor as he has been refusing to be referred to the Bahrain Defence Force military hospital in al-Riffa'a in central Bahrain where he said he was tortured and ill-treated.
Both were initially sentenced before a military court in 2011 on charges including using their positions as vice-president and president of the BTA to call for a strike by teachers, halting the educational process, "inciting hatred of the regime", and "attempting to overthrow the ruling system by force". On 21 October 2012, an appeal court upheld the verdict against the two but reduced their prison sentences. Mahdi Abu Deeb’s sentence was reduced from 10 to five years in prison while Jalila al-Salman’s was reduced from three years to six months, the lawyers then submitted the above-mentioned request before the Court of Cassation.
Please write immediately in Arabic or English or your own language:
- Urging the Bahraini authorities to release Mahdi Abu Deeb immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression and assembly;
- Urging the Bahraini authorities to allow Mahdi Abu Deeb immediate access to any adequate medical treatment he requires.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 15 AUGUST 2013 TO:
Shaikh Hamad bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa
Office of His Majesty the King
P.O. Box 555
Rifa’a Palace, al-Manama, Bahrain
Fax: +973 1766 4587 (keep trying)
Salutation: Your Majesty
Minister of Interior
Shaikh Rashid bin ‘Abdullah Al Khalifa
Ministry of Interior
P.O. Box 13, al-Manama, Bahrain
Fax: +973 1723 2661
Salutation: Your Excellency
And copies to:
Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs
Shaikh Khalid bin Ali bin Abdullah Al Khalifa
Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs
P. O. Box 450, al-Manama, Bahrain
Fax: +973 1753 1284
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.
Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the tenth update of UA 227/11 Further information: http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/060/2012/en
release of Prisoner of Conscience denied
On 29 March 2011, Jalila al-Salman’s house in Manama was raided by more than 40 security officials. She was then reportedly taken to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) in Manama and ill-treated and verbally abused. She remained there for eight days until she was transferred to a women’s detention centre in ‘Issa Town, on the outskirts of Manama, where she was kept in solitary confinement for 18 days. She was then transferred to a cell with other women within the same facility. Jalila al-Salman was released on bail on 21 August after more than five months in detention. Mahdi Abu Deeb was detained on 6 April 2011 after a raid on his uncle’s house. Both he and his uncle were arrested; his uncle was released 72 days later. Mahdi Abu Deeb's family did not know where he was for 24 days. He spent 64 days in solitary confinement, during which he says he was tortured. His family and lawyer were only allowed to see him during the first session of his trial on 7 June 2011. Mahdi Abu Deeb has remained in prison since his arrest. He was sentenced with Jalila al-Salman on 25 September by the National Safety Court of First Instance to 10 years in prison while she received a three years prison term. Their appeal before a civilian court of appeal started on 11 December. On 21 October 2012, their guilty verdicts were upheld on appeal but their sentences reduced. Mahdi Abu Deeb’s sentence was reduced from 10 to five years in prison while Jalila al-Salman’s was reduced from three years to six months. She was arrested on 7 November to serve the remainder of her sentence and released on 25 November.
The Court of Cassation verdict was issued on 1 July 2013 as European Union (EU) state officials and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) were convening in Bahrain for their annual ministerial meeting just a few kilometres away from the prisons where prisoners of conscience are being held. The issue of human rights violations was not on the agenda of this ministerial meeting with the GCC nor properly addressed in EU statements.
Two years after the uprising in Bahrain, and beneath the fanfare of subsequent reform, prisoners of conscience, including some arrested during the protests, remain behind bars and the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly continue to be suppressed. In recent months, not only have prisoners of conscience not been released, but more people have been jailed simply for daring to express their views, whether via Twitter or on peaceful marches. Bahraini courts have appeared more concerned with toeing the government’s line than offering effective remedy to all Bahrainis and upholding the rule of law.
The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) appointed by Royal Order on 29 June 2011 was charged with investigating and reporting on human rights violations committed in connection with the 2011 protests. At the launch of the BICI report in November 2011, the government publicly committed itself to implementing the recommendations set out in the report. The report recounted the government’s response to the mass protests and documented wide-ranging human rights abuses. Among its key recommendations, the report called on the government to bring to account those responsible for human rights violations, including torture and excessive use of force, and carry out independent investigations into allegations of torture.
However, many of the government’s pledges remain unfulfilled. The establishment of BICI and its report was considered to be a groundbreaking initiative, but more than a year on, the promise of meaningful reform has been betrayed by the government’s unwillingness to implement key recommendations around accountability; this includes its failure to carry out independent, effective and transparent investigations into allegations of torture and other ill-treatment and excessive use of force, and to prosecute all those who gave the orders to commit human rights abuses. For further information see Bahrain: Reform shelved, repression unleashed, (Index: MDE 11/062/2012), November 2012, http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/062/2012/en.
Name: Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Deeb
Gender m/f: m
Further information on UA: 227/11 Index: MDE 11/021/2013 Issue Date: 4 July 2013