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Front Line Defenders: Bahrain: Trial of human rights defender Mr Naji Fateel falls short of international standards

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Observers representing Front Line Defenders at the trial of Bahraini human rights defender and blogger Mr Naji Fateel, on 25 July 2013, have condemned the trial for its failure to meet internationally accepted legal standards and due process guarantees.

Naji Fateel is a board member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR), and a blogger who has been active in reporting human rights violations in Bahrain. Naji Fateel was not allowed to appear before the court during the hearing and it is believed that this is a result of his public allegations that he had been tortured during his detention.

On 11 June 2013, during a separate trial, Naji Fateel rejected the charges of establishment of a group for the purpose of disabling the constitution, and declared before the court that he had been tortured. Front Line Defenders published photographs corroborating Naji Fateel’s account of torture.

Observers attending the trial reported that other detainees also showed signs of physical injuries.

Following Naji Fateel’s original arrest on 2 May 2013, he was held incommunicado for three days, during which time it is reported that he was tortured. Approximately four weeks later, he was sentenced to 6 months in prison on charges of attending illegal gatherings. These charges were dropped, and he is currently facing charges accusing him of the establishment of a group for the purpose of disabling the constitution, under article 6 of the controversial Terrorism Act.

The lawyers representing Naji Fateel have requested that the judges be disqualified from hearing the human rights defender's trial, on the grounds of bias. The claim is made on the basis that the judge is a member of the royal family, and not impartial. The defence has also communicated to the Supreme Judicial Council that the trial proceedings fall short of the minimum standards of fair trials.

Front Line Defenders continues to believe that Naji Fateel’s arrest, trial and sentencing have been motivated solely by his peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights. Front Line Defenders would like to reiterate to the Bahraini authorities the importance of investigating the allegations of torture made by Naji Fateel, especially given the photographic evidence revealing marks of torture. The Bahraini authorities should suspend all charges against him until an impartial investigation is completed. Furthermore the Bahraini authorities are required by international law to uphold the minimum standards of fair trial.

For more information on his arrest and trial, please see Front Line Defenders urgent appeal issued on 2 May 2013 and subsequent updates on 9 May, 23 May 2013 and 12 July 2013. - See more at: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/23383#sthash.hILvM4T3.dpuf

 

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