The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights condemns the authorities’ systematic policy of detaining citizens and forcibly disappearing them. Detainees are unable to meet their lawyers. This statement comes as BCHR documents the forced disappearance of the minor Ahmed Majeed Huweida (16) after being picked up from his grandfather’s house at 02:00 on Sunday 28 December 2014.
Huweida’s family informed BCHR that he was seized from his grandfather’s house in the capital Manama after the home was raided at dawn by civil forces supported by security forces. The forces subsequently returned to raid the house again at 06:00 on the same morning, taking away some of Huweida’s clothes and his personal telephone. The family added that they received a phone call from him on the following day, informing them that he was at a police station in al-Naim. They were given no further information. On 2 January 2015 Huweida’s father received a phone call from al-Naim station, demanding that he bring clothes to the station. When Huweida’s father arrived to hand over the clothes, employees denied that Huweida was at the station. It should be stressed that Huweida (16) is a secondary school student in his second year, and his classmates are currently sitting their end-of-term exams. This threatens Huweida’s future at school.
Huweida is not the first to be subject to seizure by the security forces who then refuse to disclose his location. BCHR has registered more than 50 cases of forcible disappearance, whose length has ranged from a matter of hours to 11 days, from 25 November to the end of December 2014. Testimonies of those forcibly disappeared report that their children have been prevented from contacting them, apart from in a telephone call of no longer than 20 seconds in which detainees are able to divulge their locations. However, detention centres deny the presence of detainees when families arrive to visit their relatives. Testimonies also agree that detainees were unable to contact their lawyers and request their presence at interrogations.
BCHR considers that the authorities in Bahrain are contravening internationally-stipulated agreements that criminalise forced disappearance. The practice is defined by International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance as “the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law” (Article 2 of the International Covenant on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance). Forced disappearance is considered a dangerous violation of human rights; victims are deprived of their rights to have their legal identities recognised, as well as their rights to freedom and safety and the right not to be subjected to torture or any kind of inhuman treatment. Despite the recommendation of the UN’s Human Rights Council, made during their comprehensive review of Bahrain’s human rights record, that Bahrain sign up to the International Covenant on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the authorities are continuing their inhumane practices.
Based on the above, BCHR calls on the United States, the United Kingdom and the United Nations, as well as all other relevant international institutions and human rights organizations, to put pressure on the Bahraini government to do the following:
- Disclose the location of Huweida and release him if he is detained.
- Sign up to the International Covenant on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
- Put an immediate stop to the practice of using forcible disappearance as a way to sanction opposition figures and activists.