Bahrain: First civilian case referred to military court

Bahrain’s authorities have referred a civilian to trial before a military court for the first time since 2011, after the King of Bahrain ratified a disastrous constitutional amendment in April 2017. Bahrain’s public prosecution referred the case of Fadhel Sayed Abbas Hasan Radhi, a victim of enforced disappearance, to the military court earlier today.

“This is a shameful move by the authorities designed to strike fear in the heart of the population. It is also a serious blow for justice in Bahrain. Military trials in Bahrain are flagrantly unfair. And trying civilians before military courts is contrary to international standards,” said Samah Hadid, Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office.

“The decision to transfer Fadhel Sayed Abbas Hasan Radhi to the military court must immediately be quashed. He must be given immediate access to proper legal representation, informed of the charges against him, and tried in a civilian court, according to international fair trial standards.”

Trying civilians before military courts is contrary to international standards

Samah Hadid, Deputy Director for Campaigns at the Beirut Regional office

Fadhel Sayed Abbas Hasan Radhi was forcibly disappeared for over seven months after his arrest on 29 September 2016 by Criminal Investigations Directorate officers at his family home in Hamad Town, south-west of the capital, Manama. During that time he was not allowed access to a lawyer and was cut off from the outside world raising fears he faced torture and other ill-treatment in detention. The organization is also concerned that he may have been forced into making a “confession” which will be used as evidence during his trial before the military court.

His family were not told where he was being taken or the grounds for his arrest, and did not hear from him until two weeks later, when he called and told them his whereabouts for the first time. Since them his family have had only very sporadic contact with him by phone.  

Despite the numerous inquiries made by Fadhel Radhi’s family and by Amnesty International to the Public Prosecution Office (PPO) and the Ombudsman of the Ministry of Interior, the latter of which has a mandate to investigate all allegations of torture and other ill-treatment, no answers had been received until his family were told this morning by the PPO that Fadhel Radhi’s case has been transferred to the court. His lawyer has not been informed about this decision nor has he been told any information about his client’s case or charges. 

Amnesty International also fears that another individual who has been subjected to enforced disappearance for more than six months, Al-Sayed Alawi Hussain al-Alawi, will be referred to military court. He too has been cut off from the outside world since his arrest in October 2016,  has had no access to a lawyer throughout his detention and his charges are also unknown. He remains at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.