7 February 2019 – Bahrain’s Fourth High Criminal Court issued prison sentences against 11 individuals, including female political activist Zakeya AlBarboori, and stripped them of their citizenship, the Public Prosecution announced yesterday. This brings the total number of stateless individuals to 824. The twelfth defendant in the case was only fined BDH 100.
The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) condemn the sentence and urge the authorities to restore the citizenships.
Zakeya is the first woman to have her citizenship revoked since the beginning of 2019, but only the third female since 2012.
The Court fined all the 12 defendants between BDH100-500 and sentenced:
7 individuals to life imprisonment
2 individuals to 10 years’ imprisonment
1 individual to 5 years (Zakeya AlBarboori)
1 individual to 3 years
BIRD closely followed Zakeya’s case following her arrest and that of her niece, Fatema, in May 2018. Both were forcibly disappeared for two weeks, for most of which Zakeya spent in solitary confinement. In early June 2018, both of them were charged by the Public Prosecution with joining a terrorist cell. On 27 June 2018 Fatema was released and her charges dropped. Zakeya did not receive the list of charges against her until a hearing on 31 January 2019.
Commenting, BIRD’s Director of Advocacy, Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, says: “Zakeya was subjected to enforced disappearance, harsh interrogations, prolonged solitary confinement and has now been condemned with imprisonment and statelessness. The revocation of citizenship presents a new and alarming indication that this punitive tool will now be applied to women as freely as it is applied to men.”
Background on Zakeya’s Case
At the time of the arrest on 17 May 2018, around ten masked police officers dressed in plain clothes were accompanied by smaller groups of officers in uniform (commandos). No warrant was presented when officers conducted the raid, during which they confiscated belongings. Zakeya and Fatema were taken to the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID).
On 18 May, the police conducted a second raid at 4am without a warrant, during which they terrorised the entire family.
Bahraini police interrogated Zakeya for six consecutive days. Whenever enquired about Zakeya’s whereabouts, the CID would deny her being in their custody, thereby making her forcibly disappeared for two weeks. The police held Zakeya in solitary confinement for 28 days, which amounts to torture according to a UN expert.
Zakeya was brought to court on 6 June 2018 without prior notice nor legal counsel. Zakeya’s detention was extended for a month and has been extended regularly ever since.
At a hearing held on 31 January 2019, Zakeya’s lawyer received a list of charges against Zakeya for the first time. She is wrongfully accused of belonging to a terrorist cell, possessing explosives and receiving funding from Iran.