10 January 2019 – The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has formally rebuked Bahrain for taking reprisals against family members of a prominent, London-based, human rights defender, Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, and called for them to be released from prison immediately.
The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), and Reprieve welcome the decision of the Working Group, and repeat the calls for the release of Mr Alwadaei’s family members.
Mr Alwadaei’s brother-in-law, Sayed Nazar Alwadaei, mother-in-law, Hajar Mansoor Hassan, and cousin, Mahmood Marzooq Mansoor, were all arrested, tortured into false confessions and sentenced to long prison terms on trumped-up charges of planting a fake bomb. Mr Alwadaei is the Director of BIRD.
The WGAD found that the imprisonment of Sayed Nazar, Hajar Mansoor and Mahmood Marzooq Mansoor falls within three different categories of arbitrary detention: deprivation of liberty without legal basis (Category I), severe fair trial and due process violations (Category III); and illegal discrimination on the basis of birth or other status (Category V), on the basis of their relation to Sayed Ahmed.
The WGAD noted that they were “deprived of their liberty, interrogated and prosecuted for their family ties with Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, and that these were acts of reprisals” and that “no fair trial is possible under such an atmosphere of fear.” The group declared them arbitrarily detained under six articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and six articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Finally, the WGAD highlighted that Bahrain’s widespread or systematic imprisonment in violation of international law may constitute crimes against humanity. The Group also urged Bahrain to release Mr Alwadaei’s family immediately and “accord them an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.”
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has so far relied on “assurances” provided by the Bahraini government in relation to the case. They have insisted that Mr Alwadaei approach Bahraini oversight bodies with his complaints and stated that the Ministry of Interior Ombudsman carried out a “swift and thorough” investigation into the most recent issue.
Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve, said: “This is confirmation from top UN human rights experts of what was already patently clear: Bahrain, a close UK ally, is punishing a British resident for his human rights advocacy, including his engagement with British parliamentarians. It is unacceptable that the Foreign Office continues to cite “assurances” from Bahrain that this is not the case. The UK must recognise these acts as reprisals and call on Bahrain to release Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei’s family members from their arbitrary detention immediately.”
Commenting, Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of BIRD, said: “It’s difficult for me to live freely when I know that others are imprisoned for my actions. I just hope that this important decision influences the Bahraini authorities to end the torment of my family and grant their release. Bahrain’s powerful allies in the West, including the US, UK, EU, France and Germany need to apply the full weight of their authority behind this decision and cease their support for Bahrain’s lies.”
“What Sayed Ahmed and his family members have been through is absolutely reprehensible,” said Husain Abdulla, Executive Director at ADHRB. “However, this is par for the course in Bahrain – reprisals, politically-motivated charges, tortured confessions, and unfair trials are part of the regular practice in Bahrain. As such, we welcome the comments of the Working Group, and echo their calls for the immediate release of Sayed Ahmed’s family.”
Read Reuters Article
Read Full WGAD Decision