4 March 2019 – Today, the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) published an opinion concerning the arbitrary deprivation of liberty in the cases of five Bahrainis: Husain Ebrahim Ali Husain Marzooq, Husain Abdulla Juma Maki Mohamed, Jalila Sayed Ameen Jawad Mohamed Shubbar, Mohamed Ahmed Ali Hasan Mohsen, and Mohamed Hameed Abdulla Hasan AlDaqqaq. The WGAD ultimately determined that the imprisonment of the individuals is in violation of several norms and laws of international human rights, and that their detention is therefore arbitrary. The WGAD has requested that the Government of Bahrain take immediate action to remedy the situation, including: the immediate release of the four individuals still in detention, the restoration of nationality for Mr. Marzooq and Mr. Mohamed, the expungement of all five criminal records, and that all five should be given compensation and other reparations. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) welcomes the opinion of the Working Group, and urges the Bahraini authorities to follow the recommendations without delay.

The WGAD is one of the Special Procedures offices of the UN Human Rights Council. The Working Group sends allegation letters to governments concerning credible cases of arbitrary detention, and may also render opinions on whether an individual or group’s detention is arbitrary and in violation of international law. The WGAD reviews cases under five categories of arbitrary detention: when it is clearly impossible to invoke any legal basis justifying the deprivation of liberty (Category I); when the deprivation of liberty results from the exercise of the rights to freedom of thought, freedom of opinion and expression, and freedom of assembly, among others (Category II); when violations of the right to a fair trial are so severe that the detention is rendered arbitrary (Category III); prolonged administrative custody for refugees and asylum seekers (Category IV); and when the detention is discriminatory on the basis of birth, national, ethnic or social origin, language, religion, economic condition, political or other opinion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or any other status (Category V).

Husain Ebrahim Marzooq is a 28-year-old Bahraini accountant. On 10 July 2016, officers in plain clothing and from the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) arrested Mr. Marzooq without a warrant. His family was not informed of the circumstances of his arrest but saw him shackled and injured at the AlQalaa clinic two hours later. During interrogations at the CID, officers subjected him to electric shock and threatened him in order to coerce a confession. He eventually confessed and was charged with multiple terrorism-related offenses. He was not promptly brought before a judge, did not have effective access to legal assistance, and confessions that were made under duress were used as evidence during his trial. On 19 June 2017 Mr. Marzooq was sentenced to death and stripped of his nationality. His appeal was rejected and his sentence upheld, he has exhausted all domestic remedies and his execution is imminent. Mr. Marzooq is currently being held at Jau Prison.

The Working Group found that Marzooq’s detention was arbitrary under Categories I and III and in violation of Articles 3, 9, and 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Articles 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), due to the absence of an arrest warrant, coerced confessions, exclusion of exculpatory evidence, and lack of access to legal counsel.

Husain Abdulla Mohamed is a 23-year-old Bahraini. On 10 November 2015 at 2:30am, approximately 20 riot police officers along with other officers from the Ministry of Interior (MoI) raided Mohamed’s home. They searched the house and arrested him without presenting warrants for either action. The officers then took Mohamed to the CID for interrogation. He was held there for two months, during which the authorities subjected him to both physical and mental torture to coerce a confession. Authorities prohibited anyone, including his lawyer, to visit him during his detention. Mohamed was charged with multiple terrorism-related offences. On 24 April 2017 the court sentenced him to five years in prison for attempting to detonate a fake bomb. On 15 May 2018 he was further sentenced to life imprisonment and stripped of his nationality. Mohamed remains in Dry Dock Detention Center, where he has also been subjected to torture and solitary confinement.

The Working Group found that Mohamed’s detention was arbitrary under Categories I and III  and in violation of Articles 3, 8, 9, and 10 of the UDHR and Articles 2, 9, and 14 of the ICCPR, due to the lack of an arrest warrant, his incommunicado detention, the use of his coerced confession, and the denial of access to legal counsel.

Jalila Sayed Ameen Jawad Mohamed Shubbar is a 35-year-old Bahraini citizen. On 11 February 2015, officers raided Shubbar’s house and confiscated her personal belongings and arrested her without a warrant. She was transferred to the CID and detained for 17 days, without access to her lawyer. After arriving at the CID, officers tortured Shubbar. She was accused of terrorism-related offences and crimes in relation to free expression and assembly. Shubbar was not allowed contact with anyone during her detention, including her lawyer. Shubbar was released from detention pending trial on 31 January 2016. Her trial took place on 21 February 2018, where she was sentenced to one year in prison. She had served her sentence and was not further detained. On that same day Shubbar was additionally sentenced to 10 days in prison for a crime related to free expression. Shubbar appealed her first sentence on 21 March 2018 and was arrested again to serve her 10-day sentence on the second charge, after which she was released.

The Working Group found that Shubbar’s detention was arbitrary under Categories I, II, and III in violation of Articles 3, 9, 10, and 19 of the UDHR and Articles 9, 14, and 19 of the ICCPR, due to the absence of an arrest warrant, denial of access to legal counsel, denial of equality in legal proceedings, and in violation of her freedom of expression.

Mohamed Ahmed Mohsen is a 23-year-old Bahraini citizen. On 14 February 2018, riot police officers arrested Mohsen during a protest commemorating the 2011 pro-democracy demonstrations. As officers tried to contain the crowd, they shot and injured Mohsen in his left leg during his arrest. The officers transferred him to AlQalaa clinic, where he did not receive any treatment. Mohsen was detained at Dry Dock Detention Center where he was subjected to torture. From 16 to 18 February, he was brought to the hospital because of an irregular heartbeat, but again he did not receive appropriate treatment. He is also in need of surgery, which he has yet to undergo. Mohsen was not allowed to meet in private with his lawyer to prepare for the trial. On 1 March 2018 Mohsen was charged with assaulting an officer and illegal assembly. He was sentenced to one year in prison for illegal assembly but acquitted on the assault charge. He was transferred to Jau Prison.

The Working Group found that Mohsen’s detention was arbitrary under Categories I, II, and III in violation of Articles 3, 9, 10, 19, and 20 of the UDHR and Articles 9, 14, 19, and 21 of the ICCPR, due to the absence of an arrest warrant, lack of access to legal counsel, and in violation of his right to freedom of expression and assembly.

Mohamed Hameed AlDaqqaq is a 27-year-old Bahraini citizen. On 5 January 2015, riot police arrested AlDaqqaq on the road near his home, without a warrant. He was taken to the AlHoora Police Station where he remained for three days before being transferred to Dry Dock Detention Center and finally to Jau Prison. AlDaqqaq has health issues and was not provided with necessary medication in detention. Furthermore, officers subjected him to torture and ill-treatment in Jau Prison. On 5 March 2015 AlDaqqaq was sentenced in absentia to five years in prison on charges of arson and exposing a private means of transportation to danger on purpose. He was sentenced to 21 years in prison, reduced to 17 on appeal.

The Working Group found that AlDaqqaq’s detention was arbitrary under Categories I and II in violation of Articles 3, 9, and 10 of the UDHR and Articles 9 and 14 of the ICCPR, due to the absence of an arrest warrant, lack of access to legal counsel, and his conviction in absentia.

“This decision from the Working Group shows just how pervasive the injustices are in Bahrain’s judicial system,” says Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of ADHRB. “These are five different individuals, in five separate cases crossing multiple years, yet in each of these cases the Working Group has found similar abuses – no search warrant, torture to produce confessions, and unfair trials. These cases are emblematic of the Bahraini criminal justice system, and show just how widespread these abuses are.”

ADHRB supports the opinion of the WGAD and echoes its calls for the immediate release of the four individuals still currently detained, restoration of nationalities, criminal records expunged and the right to compensation. We further welcome the commentary by the WGAD of the right to challenge the legality of detention before a court, the right to a fair trial, and the rights to freedom of opinion and expression. We further urge the Bahraini authorities to accept the Working Group’s pending request for a country visit, which has gone unanswered since January 2017.