FF and Prince Nasser: A Step Towards Accountability

Last week, Bahraini Prince Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa was identified as the defendant in a case involving allegations of torture, as the prosecution service of England and Wales faced a legal challenge regarding the status of Prince Nasser’s immunity from prosecution.

In 2012, a Bahraini asylee living in the United Kingdom (U.K.) submitted a case alleging Prince Nasser’s involvement in torturing Bahrainis in 2011. Known only as FF to preserve anonymity and protect family from possible reprisals, the claimant’s request that Prince Nasser be arrested and prosecuted during his visit to the U.K. in August 2012 was refused after a judge ruled that Prince Nasser enjoys immunity as a member of the Bahrain ruling family. FF has since challenged the ruling and was granted a judicial review, the trial for which is expected to take place later this year.

Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa is the son of the King of Bahrain and a regular visitor to the U.K. As chair of Bahrain’s Olympic Committee, Prince Nasser represented the kingdom at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. At that time, human rights organizations wrote to British Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague asking for the withdrawal of Prince Nasser’s Olympics visitor visa.

Although the 2012 requests went unaddressed, the naming of Prince Nasser in the case of FF is a laudable first step in holding accountable senior level officials in Bahrain who continue to enjoy impunity. It is also important in setting the groundwork for possible visa bans against government officials who are directly involved in torture, a practice that has already been put in place by the U.S. Government against Russian officials involved in the death of Sergei Magnitsky and other human rights activists killed in Russia. In implementing the so-called “Magnitsky Rule,” a State Department spokesperson said at the time that it should be seen “in the broader context of…upholding human rights obligations around the world.” It is time for the U.S. and the U.K. to apply the same standard to flagrant human rights abusers in the Arab world, including in Bahrain.

Rachel Peterson is ADHRB’s Director of Communications

Diala Jadallah is ADHRB’s Director of Advocacy

الرجاء الضغط هنا لقراءة هذه الرسالة باللغة العربي