Rights groups concerned over ‘enforced disappearance’ of Bahraini dissident
Amnesty International and other rights groups have expressed concern over Bahrain’s conduct in the case of a dissident who has been detained for over nine months without being charged or put on trial.
In a joint letter to Bahraini officials published on Amnesty’s website on Wednesday, the rights groups demanded information on the situation of Hussain al-Alawi, saying the kingdom’s denial of information about his whereabouts amounts to “enforced disappearance.”
“We write to seek clarification on the reasons for the detention, current legal status, and detention location of Sayed Alawi Hussain al-Alawi, 43, and to raise our concern that he is at high risk of torture or other ill-treatment, and that the ongoing denial of information to his families as to his whereabouts is tantamount to enforced disappearance,” the letter said.
Alawi was detained at his work in the Muharraq area by four plainclothes men on 24 October 2016, while his work phone and computer were confiscated.
Over the past nine months, Alawi has had no access to a lawyer or to his family. He was allowed only four brief phone calls to his family, who has repeatedly filed inquires with the government about the reasons of his arrest and his location.
The organizations further urged Manama to release him or charge him with a recognizable criminal offense
“We would therefore like to seek urgent clarification regarding the location of Sayed Alawi and the legal basis for his detention as well as what charges, if any, have been brought against him. We urge you to provide Sayed Alawi with prompt and regular access to his lawyer, family and any medical attention he may require. We also urge you to release him unless he is to be charged with a recognizable criminal offence,” the letter read.
The groups also voiced concerns that in case of a potential trial, Alawi might be brought before a military court instead of a civilian judicial body.
Bahrain has witnessed peaceful anti-regime protests against the systematic abuse of the Shia population and discrimination against them since 2011.
Manama has responded to the protests with lethal force, which has drawn international criticism. Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.
Bahraini authorities have also detained human rights campaigners, broken up major opposition political parties and revoked the nationality of several activists.