Bahrain : Conditional release of Mr. Hussain Jawad

22/05/2015
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The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the conditional release of Mr. Hussain Jawad, Chairman of the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR).

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

New information
BHR 001 / 0215 / OBS 011.3

Release / Judicial harassment
Bahrain
May 22, 2015

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), as 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 conditional release of Mr. Hussain Jawad, Chairman of the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR).

According to the information received, on May 19, 2015, the 4th Lower Criminal Court ordered the release from prison with the guarantee of his place of residence of Mr. Jawad, who had been imprisoned since February 16, 2015. This decision follows three consecutive failures of the witnesses to attend the hearings, therefore reporting Mr. Jawad’s case.

However, the judicial harassment of Mr. Jawad is not terminated and he will appear before court on May 29, 2015 on charges of “collecting funds from Bahrain and abroad without authorisation” (see background information).

Furthermore, in a separate case, Mr. Jawad is prosecuted for “criticising government institutions”, “insulting the flag and emblem of the country”, “attempting to disrupt public security” and “illegal gathering” (see background information). Next hearing in this case is schedule on November 4, 2015.

The Observatory calls on the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Mr. Jawad, as he is targeted solely for his legitimate human rights activities.

Furthermore, although Mr. Jawad’s lawyers’ request to include the torture complaint into the list of evidence had been accepted, on April 7, 2015, the 4th Lower Criminal Court did not review the complaint of torture, arguing that the investigation failed to identify the perpetrators. Therefore, the complaint has not been formally included into the list of evidence yet (see background information).

The Observatory is extremely concerned by the allegations of ill-treatment and torture during detention, and urges the authorities to always guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Jawad, as well as to start immediate and effective investigations into these allegations.

The Observatory more generally urges the Bahraini authorities to put an end to all acts of harassment – both at judicial and physical levels – against Mr. Jawad, and to comply with relevant international human rights standards and instruments, in particular the United Nations (UN) Convention Against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998.

Background information :

On February 16, 2015, Mr. Hussain Jawad was arrested by masked police officers in plain clothes, who searched his house and confiscated his passport and mobile phone. Mr. Jawad was not informed about the reason of his arrest. After 10 hours of incommunicado detention, Mr. Jawad managed to call his wife and inform her that he was detained in the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID). He also informed her that he was ill-treated in detention.

On February 18, Mr. Jawad was taken to the Public Prosecution without his lawyer or family being informed. The Public Prosecution ordered the release of Mr. Jawad pending trial on charges of “illegal gathering” and “rioting”. However, until the time of writing, Mr. Jawad remains held at the CID.

On February 21, Mr. Jawad appeared before the Public Prosecution for another case against him. He appeared to have suffered from physical and psychological torture and ill-treatment. He was allegedly beaten, threatened with death, and threatened that his wife would be harmed. He was also reportedly blind-folded, deprived of sleep and drinking water, and forced to constantly stand. He was also forced to listen to the screams of other inmates who appeared to have been electrically shocked, in order to scare him into signing confessions. His hands appeared to be swollen and bruised as a result of the hand-cuffs that were not removed since his arrest.

He was also denied to go to the bathroom, and was beaten when he requested to do so. He was denied contact with his family and lawyer, and only managed to call his wife twice. When he informed her in the first call that he was hurt, he suffered retaliation. He was also sexually harassed where he was stripped naked and groped.

During the interrogation at the Public Prosecution, Mr. Jawad appeared to be not fully conscious, hallucinating and falling asleep. His clothes were covered with urine. He was forced to sign confessions obtained under torture. He is now facing new charges based on these confessions of “collecting funds from Bahrain and abroad to support vandalising groups”. The Prosecution then ordered him seven days detention pending investigation.

On February 23, Mr. Jawad was brought to the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) for interrogation about the complaint filed by his lawyers for allegations of torture. On March 11, Mr. Jawad’s wife, Asma Darwish, was summoned to testify before the SIU as a witness.

On March 17, 2015, the 4th Lower Criminal Court held a hearing in the case against Mr. Jawad and two other defendants on charges of “collecting funds from Bahrain and abroad without authorisation". Mr. Jawad told the Court that he is a human rights defender and that he was tortured in order to sign the confessions [1]. Mr. Jawad’s lawyer requested his release and the inclusion of the torture complaint he filed into the list of evidence.

Mr. Hussain Jawad was previously arrested on November 23, 2013, and was interrogated about a speech he gave at a protest rally in 2013. He was released on bail on January 9, 2014, and remains charged with “criticising government institutions”, “insulting the flag and emblem of the country”, “attempting to disrupt public security” and “illegal gathering”.

Actions requested :

The Observatory urges the authorities of Bahrain to :

i. Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Mr. Jawad, as he is targeted solely for his legitimate human rights activities ;

ii. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Hussain Jawad and all human rights defenders in Bahrain ;

iii. Carry out an independent and effective investigation into the allegations of torture and ill-treatment against Mr. Hussain Jawad, in order to identify all those responsible and apply them the sanctions provided by law ;

iv. Put an end to any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, and drop all charges against Mr. Hussain Jawad as well as against all human rights defenders in Bahrain ;

v. Conform in any circumstances with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular :
- its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” ;
- its Article 6 (c) which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters” ;
- and its Article 12.2 which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.

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.

Addresses :

• Cheikh Hamad bin Issa AL KHALIFA, King of Bahrain, Fax : +973 176 64 587
• Cheikh Khaled Bin Ahmad AL KHALIFA, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tel : +973 172 27 555 ; Fax : 00973 17 21 05 75 ; ofd@mofa.gov.bh
• Cheikh Khalid bin Ali AL KHALIFA, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Tel : +973 175 133 00 ; Fax : +973 175 31 284
• Lt. Gen. Cheikh Rashed bin Abdulla AL KHALIFA, Minister of Interior, Tel : +973 17572222 and +973 17390000. Email : info@interior.gov.bh
• Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United Nations in Geneva, 1 chemin Jacques-Attenville, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, CP 39, 1292 Chambésy, Switzerland. Fax : + 41 22 758 96 50. Email : info@bahrain-mission.ch
• H.E. Ahmed Mohammed Yousif Aldoseri, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the Kingdom of Belgium, Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Avenue Louise 250, 1050 Brussels, Belgium ; Fax : 0032 (0) 26472274 ; E-mail : Brussels.mission@mofa.gov.bh

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

***

Paris-Geneva, May 22, 2015

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

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

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