The United Nations has condemned the prolonged detention of human rights defenders in Bahrain due to the violations and authoritarian policies of the Bahraini regime.
Marie Lawlor, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders at the United Nations, called on the Bahraini authorities to immediately release three human rights defenders who are suffering from prolonged detention due to their legitimate promotion and protection of human rights in the country.
The human rights defenders are: Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, whose arbitrary arrest was announced by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; and Abduljalil Al-Singace, sentenced to life imprisonment on terrorism-related charges in 2011; and Naji Fateel, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2013 for “forming illegal organizations.”
Lawlor said she had received reports that Al-Khawaja had suffered facial fractures. Fateel and Al-Singace had been placed in solitary confinement and denied primary medical care and the right to practice their religion.
It was also reported that al-Singace was forced to confess, and his religious books were robbed.
“The fact that their health continues to deteriorate in prison is alarming,” the UN expert said.
“I urge the state to conduct an impartial and independent investigation into his allegations of torture while he was in prison,” she added.
Other human rights defenders in Bahrain, such as Abbas Al-Omran and Ali Abdul-Imam, were tried in absentia and sentenced to 15 years in prison to form an illegal organization and spread false information.
They have been granted asylum and are currently residing outside the country. However, in 2012 and 2015, Bahraini authorities revoked their citizenship.
The UN expert emphasized that the criminalization of human rights defenders in retaliation for their legitimate and peaceful efforts to defend the rights of others in Bahrain is not only related to the detrimental impact on the lives of these individuals and their families but to the horrific impact it has on the civil space in the country.
Ms Tlalang Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right to physical and mental health, endorsed Lawlor’s comments; Mr Clement Nyaltsossi Foley, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
Recently, 138 human rights organizations from different countries sent a memorandum to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, calling for work with the Bahraini authorities to release all prisoners of conscience in its prisons.