Bahrain Arbitrarily Imprisons, Tortures United States Citizen

At its 69th Session in 2014, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention officially declared that the Government of Bahrain is arbitrarily detaining an American citizen in prison and has inadequately responded to allegations of torture. Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) deplores this latest use of torture by the Government of Bahrain, and calls on the United States government to stand up for its citizen and firmly stress to the Bahraini government that it will not tolerate the torture or arbitrary detention of any of its citizens abroad.

The American citizen in question, Mr. Tagi al-Maidan, is a 26-year-old native of New Haven, Connecticut. His family moved him to Bahrain when he was a child. The Government of Bahrain arrested al-Maidan in connection with an alleged attack on police in the capital city of Manama. In his complaint to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, al-Maidan denied any wrongdoing and alleged that government security agents tortured him in order to secure a false confession, which the government later used to convict him of assaulting a police officer. The U.S. State Department recently commented on al-Maidan’s case, stating that it had concerns regarding the fairness of al-Maidan’s trial, as well as his “safety and welfare, [and] his treatment in prison, including his medical and nutritional needs.”

In rendering its decision regarding the arbitrary nature of al-Maidan’s decision, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded:

The deprivation of liberty of Tagi al-Maidan is arbitrary, being in contravention of articles 5, 9, 10, and 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 7, 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“The Government of Bahrain’s treatment of Tagi al-Maidan is absolutely intolerable,” said Husain Abdulla, executive director of ADHRB. “The decision of the Working Group shows that Bahrain is not only disregarding the rights of its own citizens, but has now extended its inhumane tactics to targeting Americans living abroad.”

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention consists of a panel of experts of international human rights law. The Working Group receives complaints regarding individual violations of the right to be free from arbitrary detention, and may issue official opinions regarding the legal status of a particular detention as well as join other Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council in expressing concern in certain cases. From 2011-2013, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention commented on the arbitrary nature of approximately 60 Bahraini cases, and only added to that number in 2014. Further, with al-Maidan’s case, the Working Group has now officially declared three detainees in Bahraini prisons, two of which are currently behind bars, as suffering or having suffered from arbitrary detention. The government has not responded to these official opinions.

“The three persons thus detained by the government represent only the tip of the iceberg,” said Abdulla. “As long as the government continues to abuse the human rights of its people, we can only expect to see more such decisions from UN bodies and more such criticism from the international community.”

The full text of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s decision may be found here.