Document - Bahraini human rights activist arrested: Sayed Yousif Almuhafdah


UA: 324/12 Index: MDE 11/063/2012 Bahrain Date: 5 November 2012

URGENT ACTION BAHRAINI HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST ARRESTED Bahraini human rights activist Sayed Yousif Almuhafdah was arrested on 2 November 2012 for participating in an “illegal gathering” and “taking part in an unauthorised march”. Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience. On 2 November, Sayed Yousif Almuhafdah – Acting Vice President of the Bahrain Centre of Human Rights – was arrested in Diraz village in the northwest of Manama, the capital of Bahrain, for reportedly monitoring a gathering taking place and the police behaviour towards protesters. He was taken to al-Budaiye’ police station, where he was questioned in the presence of his lawyer. On the following day he was brought before the Public Prosecutor’s Office (PPO), also in the presence of his lawyer. The PPO renewed his detention for another seven days and officially charged him with participating in an “illegal gathering” and “taking part in an unauthorised march” under Article 178 of the Penal Code and under the Code on Public Meetings, Processions and Gatherings.

Sayed Yousif Almuhafdah was arrested on several occasions between August and October 2012 while he was passing through checkpoints near his house, but he was released without charges hours after his arrests. He was allegedly beaten during his detention in August; he filed a complaint but no investigation is known to have taken place.

Sayed Yousif Almuhafdah is currently held in the Dry Dock prison in Manama, the capital of Bahrain. He appears to have been targeted for his human rights work and is facing prosecution for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Amnesty International therefore considers him to be a prisoner of conscience who should be immediately and unconditionally released.

Please write immediately in English or Arabic:  Expressing concern that Sayed Yousif Almuhafdah has been detained solely for exercising his rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, and urging the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him;  Urging the authorities to ensure that while in detention he is protected from torture and other ill-treatment.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 17 DECEMBER 2012 TO: King Shaikh Hamad bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa Office of His Majesty the King P.O. Box 555 Rifa’a Palace, al-Manama, Bahrain Fax: +973 1766 4587 (keep trying) Salutation: Your Majesty

Minister of Interior Shaikh Rashid bin ‘Abdullah Al Khalifa Ministry of Interior P.O. Box 13, al-Manama, Bahrain Fax: +973 1723 2661 Twitter: @moi_Bahrain Salutation: Your Excellency

And copies to: Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs Shaikh Khalid bin Ali bin Abdullah Al Khalifa Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs P. O. Box 450, al-Manama, Bahrain Fax: +973 1753 1284 Salutation: Your Excellency

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION On 30 October 2012, the Minister of Interior announced a ban on all rallies and gatherings in the country under the justification that they are associated with violence, rioting and attacks on public and private property. He said that the ban would continue until "security is maintained" and suggested that one of his main concerns was the fact the rallies expressed opposition to the government and the ruling family.

Before the current ban, organizers of demonstrations and gatherings in Bahrain had to apply for permission from the authorities, according to the Code on Public Meetings, Processions and Gatherings (the Code itself imposes significant restrictions and is in breach of Bahrain’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights). At least three organizers with a clean police record had to apply for permission and specify the type of activity, as well as its subject, venue and timing. The organizers also had to fulfil certain requirements, including being a resident of the area where the meeting was scheduled to take place. If permission was not granted by the authorities, the rallies were considered illegal and people present during the rallies and gatherings were at risk of being arrested and charged with participating in an ‘illegal gathering’.

In the past few months the security forces have, on some occasions, used excessive force against protesters and many have been reportedly injured. Police have also been attacked during recent gatherings. On 19 October the authorities reported that a policeman had died and another had been seriously injured by an explosion in al-Eker village when their patrol was attacked by rioters. A week later, a second policeman died in hospital after having been injured in protests earlier in the year.

Amnesty International called on the Bahraini authorities to lift the ban, as the ban violates the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

In recent months, scores of people have reportedly been arrested after participating in an "illegal gathering". Amnesty International has adopted, as prisoners of conscience, Bahrainis jailed solely for exercising their right to peaceful assembly. Some rallies and gatherings have been met with unnecessary and excessive force by the security forces.

Name: Sayed Yousif Almuhafdah Gender m/f: m

UA: 324/12 Index: MDE 11/063/2012 Issue Date: 5 November 2012