Serbia Extradited Bahraini Dissident Despite Block by European Court of Human Rights

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  • Serbia has extradited Bahraini dissident Ahmed Jaafar Mohamed Ali, 48, to Bahrain early this morning following an INTERPOL Red Notice and in an outrageous violation of a subsequent ruling of an interim measure issued by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Friday, 21 January 2022, prohibiting the extradition;
  • The ECHR ruled that under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, Ahmed “should not be extradited until 5 p.m. (French time) on Friday, 25 February 2022” pending more information on his case, including understanding the “possible risks of torture and/or illtreatment that the applicant would face if extradited to Bahrain”;
  • The extradition took place despite INTERPOL in Serbia, and Serbia’s Ministry of Interior, being aware of the ECHR interim measure;
  • The ruling came after a submission from Ahmed’s lawyers that highlighted a series of human rights violations Ahmed had suffered in Bahrain and a “real risk of treatment contrary to Art. 2 and Art. 3” of the European Convention of Human Rights, should he be extradited to Bahrain, namely the right to life and the prohibition of torture;
  • In November 2021, Ahmed sent a letter to the High Court in Belgrade explaining that he wanted to seek asylum for fear of persecution, torture and death in Bahrain;
  • Ahmed was subject to an INTERPOL Red Notice and has twice been sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia in Bahrain, in 2013 and in 2015. In 2015, he was convicted alongside three men who were arbitrarily executed by Bahrain in 2017 during a trial, that was internationally condemned, concerning the death of a police officer from the UAE;
  • In 2010, Human Rights Watch documented Ahmed’s torture at the hands of Bahraini authorities in their report “Torture Redux – The Revival of Physical Coercion during Interrogations in Bahrain”;
  • Ahmed was severely injured during an attack against protestors at Pearl Roundabout by Bahraini authorities on 17 February 2011 and was subsequently hospitalised;
  • President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić,  visited Bahrain in March 2021, and also visited the UAE;
  • On 17 January 2022, Bahrain’s National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR)’s President Ali Ahmed Al Derazi met virtually with Serbian Ombudsman Zoran Pašalić and discussed “ways to enhance cooperation in the field of human rights”, that “supports the common goals of protecting and promoting human rights”;
  • This is the first INTERPOL case of an extradition concerning a Bahraini dissident since the UAE Major General Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi was elected president in November, despite torture allegations;
  • Ahmed’s lawyers at the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) intend to litigate the case before the ECHR with the intention to argue that Serbia has breached the European Convention of Human Rights.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), commented: “This scandalous extradition by the Serbian government that condemns someone to torture and life imprisonment is utterly devastating. Ahmed, the victim of sham trials, has already suffered torture at the hands of Bahraini officials and now fears violent interrogation and abuse. INTERPOL and Serbia are both deeply implicated in any abuse that Ahmed suffers as a consequence. This misuse of INTERPOL’s powers is what we feared following Al-Raisi’s election as President and marks the launch of an even darker era governed by authoritarian policing.”

Timeline of Ahmed’s Arrest in Serbia and Extradition to Bahrain

    • 3 November 2021: Ahmed is arrested in Belgrade on the basis of an INTERPOL Red Notice issued by the Kingdom of Bahrain in 2015;
    • 3 November 2021: On the same day, a judge of the Higher Court of Belgrade ordered Ahmed’s detention, who was then placed in the Belgrade District Prison;
    • 7 December 2021: Higher Court in Belgrade accepts decision on extradition;
    • 13 December 2021: Ahmed’s lawyer submits an appeal on the Higher Court’s decision;
    • 17 January 2022: The Appeals Court conducts the hearing, with Ahmed and his lawyer pinpointing all the deficiencies made by the Higher Court in Belgrade;
    • 18 January 2022: Appeal is refused and subsequently, this decision is delivered to the Minister of Justice, the highest authority in the procedure, who permits Ahmed’s extradition to Bahrain;
    • 21 January 2022: 
      • The ECHR issues an interim measure preventing Ahmed’s extradition pending more information;
        • The ruling notes that the “failure of a Contracting State to comply with a measure indicated under Rule 39 may entail a breach of Article 34 of the Convention”, which provides that “The High Contracting Parties undertake not to hinder in any way the effective exercise” of the right of individuals to make applications “claiming to be the victim of a violation by one of the High Contracting Parties of the rights set forth in the Convention or the Protocols thereto”;
        • According to Ahmed’s lawyer at the BCHR, Serbia’s competent asylum authorities, the asylum office and the Border Police Directorate, state they would grant Ahmed access to the asylum procedure;
    • 23 January 2022: At 2.57pm CET a judge informs Serbia’s Ministry of Interior and INTERPOL that he received the ECHR’s interim measure preventing the extradition and stating that the case should be referred to the Ministry of Justice;
    • 24 January 2022: Despite the awareness of ECHR’s decision, at 4am CET, Ahmed is picked up from jail and handed over to Bahraini officials at the airport and is later flown out of Belgrade in the early morning.
      • We understand that Ahmed was flown by a private (non-commercial) UAE airline called “Royal Jet”. The direct flight, flight number ROJ23, left Serbia at 5:10 CET and landed in Bahrain at 11:11 GMT+3 (Bahrain time) this morning. 
      • Details of the flight can be seen here, verifying that this non-scheduled flight left Serbia and landed in Bahrain: https://flightaware.com/live/flight/ROJ23/history/20220124/0307Z/LYBE/OBBI 
    • 24 January 2022: Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior (MoI) confirmed the repatriation of Ahmed Jaffar Mohammed Ali to Bahrain, confirming that INTERPOL issued a Red Notice against him following a request by Bahrain. The MoI states this extradition was “brought about as part of a joint operation between member countries” of INTERPOL.  Bahrain states Ahmed is sentenced to “three life-imprisonment terms and ten years detention”. The full statement is released on the MoI’s official website.
    • 24 January 2022: The ECHR sent a letter to the Government of Serbia requesting comments on this case. Serbia has until 27 January to reply.

Background: Facts About Ahmed’s Case

  • December 2007: Ahmed was detained, interrogated and tortured by Bahraini authorities, as was later documented by Human Rights Watch.
  • 17 February 2011: Ahmed was assaulted by the security police at the Pearl Roundabout and hospitalized for two weeks, 4 men were killed due to the police attack, as reported by Reuters
  • 7 October 2013: Ahmed was convicted to life in absentia as one out of nine defendants who were found guilty of “joining a group with the intention of disturbing public order and using terrorism to endanger Bahrain’s security”. The extradition procedure in Serbia was initiated because of this conviction. 
  • 6 January 2015: Bahrain’s public prosecution issues an arrest warrant for Ahmed.
  • 26 February 2015: Ahmed is again convicted to life in absentia and stripped of his citizenship. Ahmed is one of ten defendants, three of whom are sentenced to death and subsequently executed on 13 January 2017 in what was deemed by the UN to be an extrajudicial killing and internationally condemned
    • This case concerned the killing of an Emirati police officer;
    • Special Rapporteurs of the UN stated regarding the execution of Abba Al-Samea, Sami Mushaima, and Ali Abdulshaheed Yousef Al-Singace: “Throughout proceedings, access to adequate legal assistance was denied to the three men, including during interrogation by law enforcement”, further noting “serious concern that all the death sentences imposed on the aforementioned individuals may be in contravention of international standards, especially the stringent respect of due process and fair trial guarantees in cases where the death penalty may be imposed, particularly in connection with the use of false confessions extracted under torture as a basis for the ruling.”
    • Although this 2015 decision is not the basis for the INTERPOL notice, the High Court in Belgrade had the obligation to consider the fact that other defendants in the case were executed and the potential of Ahmed being subjected to the death penalty in Bahrain. 

Facts on INTERPOL

  • In November 2021, Major General Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi from the United Arab Emirates, accused of complicity in torture, was elected head of INTERPOL;
  • INTERPOL has the power to issue red notices – a call by one country for the arrest of individuals in another country. INTERPOL has often been accused of allowing Red Notices to be used by autocratic governments to pursue political vendettas, and track down dissidents in exile.
Take Action & Email Your MP to ask that they support the case of Dr Abduljalil AlSingace by signing EDM 107

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