13 May 2019 – Today, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) sent a public letter to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo referencing multiple individuals in Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior (MOI) that we have previously notified the Department of State of because they have been allegedly involved or complicit in gross violations of human rights. Please fine the text of the letter below, or read the PDF version here.

13 May 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
United States Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Pompeo,

We at Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) have previously notified the United States (US) Department of State (DoS) of multiple individuals in Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior (MOI) – including Brigadier Abdulaziz Mayoof al Rumaihi, Brigadier Mubarak bin Huwail al-Merri, Colonel Bassam Mohammed al-Muraj, Lt. Fawaz al-Sameem, Lt. Col. Adnan Bahar, and Major Maryam Al-Bardouli – who have been allegedly involved or complicit in gross violations of human rights. We believe these individuals qualify under section 7031(c) of the FY 2019 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Act, which provides that, in cases where the Secretary of State has credible information that foreign officials have been involved in significant corruption or gross violations of human rights (GVHR), those individuals and their immediate family members shall be ineligible for entry into the US. As such, in light of the following information, we urge this Department to immediately bar these individuals from entering the US.

Brigadier Abdulaziz Mayoof al-Rumaihi has been the Director-General of the General Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Forensic Science (GDCIFS) since July 2016, and previously was director of the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID). He has been accused of human rights violations as early as 2010 and ADHRB has documented more than 60 cases of severe abuse directly linked to the GDCIFS since al-Rumaihi assumed command. He also was implicated in the February 2017 death of unarmed suspect Abdullah al-Ajooz, whose family and other observers believe was extrajudicially killed during an attempted arrest by MOI personnel. As Director-General, al-Rumaihi is responsible for the actions of his inferior officers. He is thus responsible for refusing to prevent and punish torture, ill treatment, and extrajudicial killings by his subordinates. As such, we believe there is credible evidence that he has been involved and/or complicit in GVHR and should be barred entry to the US.

Brigadier Mubarak bin Huwail al-Merri, currently the Security Attaché with Bahrain’s Embassy in Riyadh, was Director-General of Southern Governorate Police Directorate from 2016 to 2018, and was the Director of Anti-Narcotics from 2011 to 2016. There is extensive evidence that he oversaw the torture of at least six medical personnel that were arbitrarily detained in retaliation for treating wounded pro-democracy protesters in 2011. Dr. Rula al-Saffar, who served as president of the Bahrain Nursing Society and assistant professor at the College of Health Science in Manama, named Mubarak bin Huwail as the “principal investigator” when she was summoned to the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) and blindfolded, beaten, threatened with rape, and subjected to electric shock. She reported that bin Huwail “humiliated, intimidated and degraded” her and the other detainees in order to extract false testimony. Because al-Merri was definitively identified as a perpetrator of torture, we believe there is credible evidence that he has been involved in GVHR and should be barred entry to the US.

Colonel Bassam Mohammed al-Muraj was appointed by the king to Director-General of General Directorate of Anti-Corruption, Economic, and Electronic Security (GDAEES) in 2013, despite evidence emerging that he had directly overseen torture at his previous position at the CID. An investigation conducted by Human Rights Watch found that between 2007 and 2010, al-Muraj was identified as one of four chief torturers at the CID, and that the government had taken no action to address complaints about their abusive behavior.  Al-Muraj has reportedly continued to torture dissidents since assuming control of the GDAEES. Additionally, al-Muraj’s subordinate, Lieutenant Fawaz al-Sameem, has been implicated in at least three instances of abuse, all of which were reprisal attacks against activists for expressing peaceful criticism of the government. In at least one case, Lt. al-Sameem allegedly oversaw the beating, electric shock, and sexual assault of the detainee. Because al-Muraj has been definitively identified by multiple victims of torture as one of the main perpetrators of torture across multiple units in the MOI, we believe there is credible evidence that he has committed GVHR, and should be barred entry to the US.

Torture and abuse do not just occur during arrests and interrogation, but continue during incarceration. Bahrain’s prison system is notorious for its poor living conditions, denial of adequate health care, and rampant abuse against inmates. Lt. Col. Adnan Bahar has been identified as a lead perpetrator of torture starting as early as 2005. In 2008, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture documented severe cases of torture and sexual violence overseen by Lt. Col. Bahar when he was still a sergeant, prior to his position as Acting Head of Jau Prison.  Major Maryam Al-Bardouli, who is the commander of Isa Town Women’s Prison, has also reportedly beaten and assaulted detainees.

In addition to these individuals who we have previously flagged to DoS, there are several others we have identified in our 2019 report, Anatomy of a Police State, who have played a role in, or oversaw, severe rights abuses – including Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, Tariq al-Hassan, Abdullah al-Zayed,  Ebrahim Habib al-Ghaith, Abdulsalam Yousef al-Oraifi, Abdullah Khaifa al-Jairan, Sheikh Rashid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa. We believe these individuals should also be barred entry to the United States as leaders of units which have been implicated in GVHR.

We call on you, in your capacity as Secretary of State, to hold those involved in gross violations of human rights accountable. Individuals implicated in torture and other abuses should not be allowed in the United States. We therefore urge you to ensure that the above mentioned individuals are ineligible from entering the US.

Sincerely,

Husain Abdulla
Executive Director
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)