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Bahrain
05.06.14
Urgent Interventions

Sentencing in appeal of Mr. Naji Fateel

New information

BHR 001 / 0614 / OBS 049

Sentencing /Arbitrary detention /

Judicialharassment / Impunity of acts of torture

Bahrain

June5, 2014

The Observatory for the Protection of Human RightsDefenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights(FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received newinformation and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation inBahrain.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by the Gulf Centrefor Human Rights about the sentencing in appeal of Mr. Naji Fateel,co-founder of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) and blogger,who monitored human rights violations committed during Bahrain's uprising.

According to the information received, on May 29,2014, the Court of Appeal headed by Judge Isa Al-Kaabi upheld a 15-yearimprisonment sentence against Mr. Naji Fateel on charges of “establishing […] agroup for the purpose of […] disabling the Constitution” under Article 6 of LawNo. 58 of 2006 on Terrorism[1].The charges relate to the alleged terrorist group known as the “February 14Youth Coalition”, which organised demonstrations and protests during Bahrain'suprising.

No evidence against Mr. Fateel was provided during thetrial. The sentence was solely based on coerced confessions made under tortureand without thoroughly and impartially investigating the allegations of torturewhich the defender was subjected to during his detention (see background information).During a hearing, Mr. Naji Fateel removed his shirt and showed the torturemarks on his back; however, it was totally ignored by the court.

Mr. Naji Fateel will appeal the decision to the Courtof Cassation. His lawyer also filed a complaint before theSupreme Judicial Council arguing that the trial proceedings fell short of theminimum standards of fair trial. Mr. Naji Fateel iscurrently detained the Central Prison “Jaw” where reports continue to emerge ofovercrowded cells and dire conditions.

The Observatory recalls that other BYSHR members arealso subjected to ongoing judicial harassment, including Mr. MohammedAl-Maskati, BYSHR President[2].


The Observatory condems the sentencing andarbitrary detention of Mr. Naji Fateel, which merely aim at curtailing hishuman rights activities, and calls upon the Bahraini authorities to release himimmediately and unconditionally. The Observatory also notes that several humanrights defenders remain in arbitrary detention or are subject to judicialharassment in the country.

Background information[3]:

On May 2, 2013, Mr. Naji Fateel was arrested at dawnwithout warrant by security men in civilian clothes at his home in the villageof Bani-Jamra and held incommunicado for three days, during which time it isreported that he was severely tortured. He was allegedly subjected to severetorture at the Criminal Investigation Directorate. Reports allege that he wassubjected to electrical shocks to his genitals, left foot and back in additionto simulated drowning, severe beatings, threats to publish his wife’sphotographs (taken from a camera confiscated by the security forces when hishouse was raided), insults, hanging by his hands from the ceiling, sexualharassment and threats of rape, standing for hours, and sleep deprivation. Hewas taken to the Ministry of Interior hospital twice for treatment due to thetorture. Mr. Naji Fateel was detained in Dry Dock Detention Centre.

On May 22, 2013, Mr. Naji Fateel was sentenced by theManama Criminal Court to six months of imprisonment on charges of “attendingillegal gatherings” in relation to a gathering organised on January 24, 2012 inBani-Jamra in which he did not participate. He was charged in another case withthe establishment of a group for the purpose of disabling the Constitutionunder Article 6 of the controversial Terrorism Act.

On September29, 2013, Mr. Naji Fateel was sentenced by the Fourth Criminal Court to 15years in prison for “the establishment of a group for the purpose of disablingthe constitution” under Article 6 of the Terrorism Act. Mr. Naji Fateel wasthen moved to the Central Prison “Jaw”.

On November 18, 2013, when the appeal trial againstMr. Naji Fateel started, the authorities of Bahrain denied entry to a lawyerwho was mandated by a coalition of NGOs, including the Observatory, to observethe appeal trial.

In February 2014, one of the lawyers in the case saidthat 90% of their questions to the prosecution witnesses were rejected by thejudge, and a policeman forcefully silenced a lawyer during his pleadings.Another lawyer was thrown out of the court room although he represented five ofthe defendants in the case.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Bahrain urging themto:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrityof Mr. Naji Fateel, all BYSHR members as well as all human rights defenders inBahrain;

ii. Release Mr. Naji Fateel immediately and unconditionally as his detentionis arbitrary since it only aims at sanctioning his human rights activities;

iii. Order an immediate, thorough, transparent investigation into theallegations of torture and ill-treatment against Mr. Naji Fateel, in order toidentify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, andapply them the sanctions provided by the law;

iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level -against Messrs. Naji Fateel, allBYSHR members as well as all human rightsdefenders in Bahrain;

v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human RightsDefenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9,1998, in particular its Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right,individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for theprotection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at thenational and international levels”, Article 11, which states that “everyone hasthe right, individually and in association with others, to the lawful exerciseof his or her occupation or profession”, Article 12(1) that provides “everyonehas the right, individually and in association with others, to participate inpeaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamentalfreedoms”, as well as Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall takeall necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities ofeveryone, individually or in association with others, against any violence,threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure orany other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exerciseof the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamentalfreedoms in accordance with international human rights standards andinternational instruments ratified by Bahrain.

Addresses:

· Cheikh Hamad bin Issa ALKHALIFA, King of Bahrain, Fax: +973 176 64 587

· Cheikh Khaled Bin AhmadAL KHALIFA, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tel: +973 172 27 555; fax: +973 172 126032

· Cheikh Khalid bin Ali ALKHALIFA, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Tel: +973 175 31 333; fax:+973 175 31 284

· Permanent Mission ofBahrain to the United Nations in Geneva, 1 chemin Jacques-Attenville, 1218Grand-Saconnex, CP 39, 1292 Chambésy, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 22 758 96 50.Email: info@bahrain-mission.ch

***

Paris-Geneva,June 5, 2014

Kindlyinform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in yourreply.

TheObservatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of HumanRights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

Tocontact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

· Tel and fax FIDH: + 33(0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80 Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 (0)22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

[1] Article 6 provides that “lifeimprisonment shall be the penalty for everyone who forms, establishes,organizes or operates, contrary to the provisions of the law, a society,association, organization, group, gang or a branch of any of the above orundertakes the leadership or command thereof for the purpose of calling forobstructing the enforcement of the provisions of the Construction or the lawsor preventing any of the government organizations or public authorities fromcarrying out their activities or infringes upon the citizen’s personal freedomor other freedoms or public rights secured by the Constitution, the law orundermines national unity if terrorism is one of the methods used in therealization or implementation of the purposes called for by the society,association, organization, group or gang or any of their branches”.

[2] See Observatory Urgent Appeal BHR003 / 0613 / OBS 052.1, issued on October 31, 2013.

[3] See Joint Press Releases, June 21and November 15, 2013.

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