Bahrain: Ongoing arbitrary detention of Naji Fateel

Urgent Appeal

New information
BHR 001 / 0614 / OBS 049.2
Arbitrary detention /
November 30, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bahrain.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing arbitrary detention of Mr. Naji Fateel, blogger and co-founder of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR), who is currently serving a 25-year combined prison sentence for monitoring human rights violations committed during Bahrain’s uprising.

According to the information received, on November 12, 2018, Mr. Naji Fateel was placed on solitary confinement for three days, after he leaked an audio recording in which he appealed to human rights organisations to intervene about his conditions of detention (see below). In solitary confinement, Mr. Naji Fateel started a hunger strike demanding an end to the ill-treatment he has been suffering since his detention. Once back to cell with the other inmates, he continued his hunger strike even though his health has been rapidly deteriorating. Mr. Naji Fateel was supposed to call his family on November 19, 2018, but they never received any call, and his fate remains unknown as of issuing this Urgent Appeal.

At the beginning of November 2018, several human rights organisations received an audio-recording in which Mr. Naji Fateel was complaining that he had been denied the right to a fair trial and urged them to intervene in order to help him get access to adequate medical treatment and stop the harassment he faces in Jaw prison, where he has been incarcerated since September 2013 (see background information).

The Observatory is deeply concerned over the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Naji Fateel and calls on the authorities to give him an immediate and unconditional access to medical treatment. The Observatory further urges the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Naji Fateel and end any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against him and all human rights defenders in the country.

The Observatory further denounces the long-standing pattern of harassment against human rights defenders in Bahrain and recalls that many of them are currently under arbitrary detention to sanction their legitimate human rights activities, including Mr. Nabeel Rajab, arbitrarily detained since June 13, 2016 under particularly harsh conditions [1].

Background information:

On May 2, 2013, Mr. Naji Fateel was arrested at dawn without warrant by security men in civilian clothes at his home in the village of Bani-Jamra and held incommunicado for three days, during which time it is reported that he was severely tortured. He was then allegedly subjected to severe torture at the Criminal Investigation Directorate. Reports allege that he was subjected to electrical shocks to his genitals, left foot and back in addition to simulated drowning, severe beatings, threats to publish his wife’s photographs (taken from a camera confiscated by the security forces when his house was raided), insults, hanging by his hands from the ceiling, sexual harassment and threats of rape, standing for hours, and sleep deprivation. He was taken to the Ministry of Interior hospital twice for treatment due to the torture. Mr. Naji Fateel was detained in Dry Dock Detention Centre.

On May 22, 2013, Mr. Naji Fateel was sentenced by the Manama Criminal Court to six months of imprisonment on charges of “attending illegal gatherings” in relation to a gathering organised on January 24, 2012 in Bani-Jamra in which he did not participate. He was charged in another case with the establishment of a group for the purpose of disabling the Constitution.

On September 29, 2013, Mr. Naji Fateel was sentenced by the Fourth Criminal Court to 15 years in prison for “the establishment of a group for the purpose of disabling the constitution” under Article 6 of Law No. 58 of 2006 on Terrorism. Mr. Naji Fateel was then moved to the Central Prison “Jaw”. The charges relate to an allegedly terrorist group known as the “February 14 Youth Coalition”, which organised demonstrations and protests during Bahrain’s uprising.

On November 18, 2013, when the appeal trial against Mr. Naji Fateel started, the authorities of Bahrain denied entry to a lawyer who was mandated by a coalition of NGOs, including the Observatory, to observe the appeal trial.

On May 29, 2014, the Court of Appeal upheld the 15-year imprisonment sentence against Mr. Naji Fateel. No evidence against Mr. Fateel was provided during the trial. The sentence was solely based on coerced confessions made under torture and without thoroughly and impartially investigating the allegations of torture which the defender was subjected to during his detention. During a hearing, Mr. Naji Fateel removed his shirt and showed the torture marks on his back; however, it was totally ignored by the court.

Mr. Fateel also filed a complaint before the Ombudsman as well as his wife, who filed another complaint before the same institution on September 14, 2014, following which the Ombudsman announced that it was investigating the complaint. To date, the complaints have been to no avail.

On March 10, 2015, Bahraini security forces beat and attacked more than 100 prisoners at Jaw Prison, using rubber bullets, tear gas, and shotgun pellets. Several detainees, including Mr. Naji Fateel, were severely injured. This incident followed an altercation between the family of a prisoner, who was denied visitation, and security officers. It is reported that detainees started protesting after hearing the sound of clashes. In response to the protest, security officers ordered a dozen of the detainees to be taken to another building within the prison, including Mr. Naji Fateel. Mr. Fateel was then denied visitation and communication rights and no information about his fate and whereabouts were available for several weeks. Mr. Fateel was not involved in the protest, but was injured during the attack, suffering a broken leg, and was subsequently sentenced to an additional 10 years for assault and damage to prison property.

Following this incident, Mr. Fateel submitted complaints to report acts of ill-treatment/torture to the Special Investigation Unit, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Prisoners’ Commission, the National Human Rights Foundation, the Punishment Enforcement Judge and the Attorney-General. To date, the complaints were not followed through.

The Observatory recalls the authorities of Bahrain their responsibility to effectively ensure the physical and psychological integrity of all persons deprived of liberty in accordance with international human rights law, and in particular the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment, and the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.

On July 2, 2018, Mr. Naji Fateel was allowed to attend one of his daughter’s wedding in family court wearing handcuffs. He also attended another daughter’s wedding on April 19, 2018.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Bahrain asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Naji Fateel and all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

ii. Immediately give Mr. Naji Fateel access to an adequate medical treatment and more generally ensure that adequate conditions of detention and medical services are guaranteed to all persons that have been deprived of liberty and detained in Bahrain, according notably to the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners;

iii. Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Naji Fateel and put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against him as well as all human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in the country;

iv. Order an immediate, thorough, transparent investigation into above-mentioned allegations of torture and ill-treatment against Mr. Naji Fateel, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and apply them the sanctions provided by the law;

v. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1, 11 and 12;

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


· Cheikh Hamad bin Issa AL KHALIFA, King of Bahrain, Fax: +973 176 64 587
· Cheikh Khaled Bin Ahmad AL KHALIFA, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fax : +973 17 21 05 75;
· Cheikh Khalid bin Ali AL KHALIFA, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Fax: +973 175 31 284
· Lt. Gen. Cheikh Rashed bin Abdulla AL KHALIFA, Minister of Interior, Email:
· H.E. Mr. Yusuf Abdulkarim Bucheeri, Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 22 758 96 50. Email:
· H.E. Ahmed Mohammed Yousif Aldoseri, Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the Kingdom of Belgium, Fax: +32 (0) 26472274;

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Bahrain in your respective countries.

Paris-Geneva, November 30, 2018

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail:
· 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] See Observatory Urgent Appeal BHR 006 / 0812 / OBS 048.32, published on April 24, 2018.

Read more