Bahrain: Provisional release and ongoing judicial harassment against Ms. Ebtisam Al-Saegh, Mr. Mohammed Al-Shakhoori and Mr. Radhi Saleh Al-Qatari

Urgent Appeal

New information
BHR 003 / 0717 / OBS 076.3

Provisional release /
Judicial harassment /
Ill-treatment and torture
October 26, 2017

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a 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 provisional release and ongoing judicial harassment against Ms. Ebtisam Al-Saegh, Monitoring and Documentation Officer at the NGO Salam for Democracy and Human Rights, Mr. Mohammed Al-Shakhoori, an online activist who is a member of Al Wefaq Directory of Rights and Freedoms [1], and Mr. Radhi Saleh Al-Qatari, a member of the Manama Observatory for Human Rights [2].

According to the information received, on October 22, 2017, Ms. Ebtisam Al-Saegh, Mr. Mohammed Al-Shakhoori and Mr. Radhi Saleh Al-Qatari were provisionally released from detention. Mr. Radhi Saleh Al-Qatari had been detained since May 28, 2017 and Ms. Ebtisam Al-Saegh, Mr. Mohammed Al-Shakhoori since July 4, 2017. Charges under the Anti-Terrorism law are still pending against them (see background information).

The three human rights defenders were held under particularly harsh conditions and several allegations of torture and ill-treatment against them have been reported. Ms. Al-Saegh has reported having suffered acts of torture, including severe beatings on the head, sexual abuse, insults and threats while being interrogated by the National Security Agency (NSA). Mr. Radhi Saleh Al-Qatari also reported being tortured by NSA agents while in detention. Throughout their detention, the three human rights defenders were also prevented from accessing their lawyers and family members (see background information).

The Observatory expresses its outmost concerns over the allegations of torture and ill-treatment while in detention against the three human rights defenders and urges the Bahraini authority to immediately investigate these.

The Observatory urges the Bahraini authorities to drop all pending charges against Ms. Ebtisam Al-Saegh, Mr. Mohammed Al-Shakhoori and Mr. Radhi Saleh Al-Qatari as they only aim at silencing their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory urges also the Bahraini authorities to immediately investigate the above-mentioned allegations of torture and ill-treatment.

Background information:

On May 27, 2017, Ms. Al-Saegh, was summoned by the NSA to Muharraq police station.She was released seven hours later and was immediately taken to the hospital in a very concerning psychological state, following a “severe nervous breakdown”. Upon her release, Ms. Al-Saegh reported having suffered acts of torture, including severe beatings on the head, sexual abuse, insults and threats if she continued her human rights work. NSA agents also threatened to target her family members. According to reliable reports, she was also forced to repeat the royal anthem and beaten and insulted when failed to do so properly. During her interrogation, she was asked about the work of activists inside and outside Bahrain, including in Geneva during sessions of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC).

On May 28, 2017, the NSA called Mr. Radhi Saleh Al-Qatari and summoned him to appear in their offices in Muharraq without providing any reason. On the same day, he was moved to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) premises for interrogation by the NSA and detained in Jaw Prison. Mr. Radhi Saleh Al-Qatari was then only able to call his family every four days or more for a couple of minutes. His family reported that he sounded exhausted over the phone.

On June 20, 2017, Mr. Radhi Saleh Al-Qatari’s family filed a complaint before Bahrain’s ombudsman to ask for the respect of his right to be visited by his lawyer and family as well as to be informed of the charges pending against him. No response was received. On July 10, 2017, his lawyer was informed that Mr. Radhi Saleh Al-Qatari had been taken to the Prosecution of Terrorism Crimes on June 23, 2017, where he was not assisted by his lawyer.

On July 4, 2017, at approximatively 12.45 am, armed, masked and plain clothed officers from the NSA raided Ms. Ebtisam Al-Saegh’s home and arrested her without any warrant. She was brought to Isa Town women’s prison, where she was interrogated for long hours under tough circumstances in order to force her to sign false confessions. During NSA investigations Ms. Ebtisam Al-Saegh only signed confessions related to the accusation of “communications with TV channels abroad”. Before the Prosecutor, on July 18, 2017, she denied all charges and refused to sign any confessions.

She also reported being sent to the Ministry of Interior’s clinic in Al Qaalaa, where she was diagnosed with low blood pressure. Outside of interrogation hours, she was detained in solitary confinement. At around 9 pm, she called her family from Isa Town women’s prison to inform them of her whereabouts.

Following her arrest, Ms. Ebtisam Al-Saegh was briefly seen by detainees in the morning of July 4, 2017, at the Isa Town women’s prison visibly in poor physical conditions and appeared to have been beaten before being taken away to an undisclosed location.

At dawn on July 4, 2017, Mr. Mohammed Al-Shakhoori was arrested at his home by masked, plain clothed security forces who failed to present an arrest or search warrant and to state where he was being taken to. Mr. Mohammed Al-Shakhoori was further held at Dry Dock Detention Center although his whereabouts were not disclosed until July 8, 2017. Mr. Al-Shakhoori’s family was only allowed to visit him on August 7, and 15, 2017 and he was prevented from accessing his lawyers.

On July 12, 2017, Ms. Ebstisam Al-Saegh launched a hunger strike to protest torture and ill-treatment by NSA following her arrest.

On July 16, 2017, Ms. Ebtisam Al-Saegh, who was still being detained in solitary confinement at Isa Town women’s Prison, was seen in an ambulance chair at the Qaala clinic, which is a division of the Ministry of Interior, by fellow detained human rights defender Nabeel Rajab [3]. On that same day, only her husband could see her for a few minutes and reported that she was in a wheelchair. She reported to him that during her detention at the CID, she was stripped naked and sexually assaulted.

In a joint statement on Ms. Ebtisam Al-Saegh, Mr. Mohammed Al-Shakhoori and Mr. Radhi Saleh Al-Qatari published on July 18, 2017, the Head of Manama’s Prosecution of Terrorist Crimes confirmed that the three of them were being charged under Anti-Terrorism Law and ordered their detention for a six-month period. Accordingly, an investigation has been initiated into allegations of “organising and running an illegal group aiming at preventing state institutions from carrying out their work”, “initiating attacks on the individuals’ personal freedom” and “damaging national unity through means of terrorism”. Although no specific group name has been mentioned, the authorities has portrayed the group as receiving “gifts from those who work for the benefit of a terrorist organization outside Bahrain to do terrorist acts against the kingdom of Bahrain as well as collecting and giving money to a group practicing terrorist activity”.

Ms. Ebtisam Al-Saegh was only allowed to see her lawyer on July 18, 2017, when she was taken to the Prosecutor’s office.

On August 1, 2017, she broke her hunger strike when she was finally able to be visited by her family.

On August 1, 2017, Mr. Radhi Saleh Al-Qatari was transferred to Dry Dock Detention Center. Mr. Radhi Saleh Al-Qatari reported being tortured by electrocution, including on the genitals, by the NSA who forced him to falsely confess on charges of terrorism and receiving money from abroad. Furthermore, the NSA threatened Mr. Radhi Saleh Al-Qatari to summon his father, wife and sisters if he did not confess and incriminate Mr. Mohammed Al-Shakhoori and Ms. Ebtisam Al-Saegh. Following leaks on Twitter about Mr. Radhi Saleh Al-Qatari being tortured by the NSA, he was told by the NSA that he will be held longer.

Mr. Radhi Saleh Al-Qatari’s family and lawyer had not been allowed to visit him, except a visit by his family on August 8, 2017.

On August 14, 2017, Ms. Ebtisam Al-Saegh started a second hunger strike which lasted four days, to protest the constant insults and ill-treatment she has been subjected to since the beginning of her detention by the police authorities and by Isa Town women’s Prison staff, where she was held in solitary confinement. Furthermore, Ms. Ebtisam Al-Saegh reported being detained in extremely precarious sanitary conditions as she was forced to share dirty sanitary facilities, which are consistently stained with blood and vomit, and the kitchen with co-detainees who are contaminated with tuberculosis. During her detention, Ms. Ebtisam Al-Saegh lost at least 12 kilos. She was in constant fear of catching a disease while in prison and was reported to be very stressed by the sanitary conditions. Ms. Ebtisam Al-Saegh was demanding to access her lawyer, whom she was only allowed to see on July 18, 2017.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Bahrain, urging them to:

  1. Put an end into all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Ebtisam Al-Saegh, Mr. Mohammed Al-Shakhoori and Mr. Radhi Saleh Al-Qatari, as well as all detained human rights defenders in Bahrain, so that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without hindrance and fear of reprisals;
  1. Order an immediate, thorough, transparent, effective and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned allegations of torture, ill-treatment, and physical and psychological pressure against Ms. Ebtisam Al-Saegh, Mr. Mohammed Al-Shakhoori and Mr. Radhi Saleh Al-Qatari by security agents in order to identify all thoseresponsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and apply the sanctions provided by the law to them;
  1. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its Articles 1, 5(b), and 12.2;
  1. 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 : 00973 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: 0032 (0) 26472274; E-mail:

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Bahrain in your respective country.


Paris-Geneva, October 26, 2017

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 OMCT. The objective of this programme is to intervene 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:
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

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