West News Wire: Six Bahraini students who have been detained are being kept arbitrarily, according to UN experts, after confessing to crimes under duress and going through unjust tribunals.
Ahmed Yusuf, Alaa Ansaif, Husain Matar, Husain Abdulla, Mohamed Baddaw, and Sayed al-Khabbaz were students who were detained individually between 2013 and 2020 in unrelated instances. Three of them were minors when they were detained.
Four of the students, including one who was missing for 40 days, allegedly experienced enforced disappearance while in jail, according to a rights group, and five others were allegedly tortured into making confessions.
In a report published on July 14th, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention stated that it believed the group’s allegations of mistreatment to be credible.
“These cases follow the pattern of numerous other cases brought before the Working Group in recent years concerning the arbitrary deprivation of liberty in Bahrain,” the group said.
“Warrantless, pretrial detention with little judicial oversight, denial of access to counsel, coerced confession, torture and other cruel treatment, and denial of medical care.”
According to the Bahraini government, some of the students took part in disturbances, attacked police, and caused property damage. One, it claimed, had a hand in the foundation of a terrorist group.
However, the US-based organisation Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), whose complaint sparked the working group’s probe, claimed that the majority of the charges were related to demonstrating.
The allegations that the students were detained without warrants, denied access to attorneys, and delayed in appearing before a judge were also deemed plausible by the UN experts.
“The violations linked to these six individuals’ conditions of detention significantly undermined their ability to properly defend themselves,” the working group reported.
“When it is not possible for a person who is subjected to torture or other forms of ill-treatment or punishment to prepare an adequate defence before the judicial proceedings, this amounts to a fair trial violation.”
In response to allegations of torture made by ADHRB, the Bahraini government stated that several of the students had not brought claims of torture before official bodies and that the four complaints filed by family members had been looked into.
The Special Investigation Unit, which looks into such allegations, allegedly determined that there was insufficient support for two of the complaints.
However, according to the government, following one complaint, a cop who assaulted 17-year-old Alaa Ansaif was given a three-month prison sentence, and following another, four officers who beat Husain Matar were each given a one-year prison sentence.
The officer condemned for Ansaif’s attack, according to ADHRB, avoided going to jail by paying a fine.