Along with 10 other NGOs, the ECDHR signed a joint letter to RoyalJet’s CEO Rob Dicastri, urging the company to clarify its role in the extradition of Bahraini dissident Ahmed Jaafar Mohamed Ali.
Ahmed Jaafar Mohamed Ali had been sentenced twice to prison in absentia in Bahrain. He applied for asylum in Serbia in November 2021, because he was at risk of being tortured or killed in his home country.
The ECHR ruled that Ali shouldn’t be extradited to Bahrain before the 25th of February. Indeed, the Court wanted more information about the “possible risks of torture and/or ill treatment that the applicant would face if extradited to Bahrain” and whether there were any mechanisms under which he would be “entitled to have his life sentence reviewed in Bahrain”. Yet, the government of Serbia decided to go against this decision and extradited Ahmad Jaafar Mohamed Ali to Bahrain, putting his life at risk.
If the ECHR finds out that the Bahraini dissident was at risk in Bahrain, his extradition would have been considered against the non-refoulement rule. This rule says that a foreigner cannot be extradited in a country where his life or freedom would be threatened because of their ethnicity, nationality, religion, social situation or political opinions.
The extradition was carried out on Monday January 24, 2022, using RoyalJet airplane A6-RJC. The airplane departed in the early morning from Belgrade, Serbia, and landed in Manama, Bahrain (flight number ROJ023). Upon arrival, Ahmed Jaafar Mohamed Ali was handed to the authorities.
In light of these events, this joint statement urges RoyalJet, and more precisely its CEO Rob Discastri, to clarify its involvement in this unlawful extradition. We ask the airline to clarify whether it was aware of the ECHR decision against the extradition of Ahmed Jaafar Mohamed Ali; whether it had put in place any procedures considering that the aircraft members could not have possibly been unaware that Mr Ali was traveling against his will; the company’s policy regarding its potential involvement in wrongful extraditions; steps intended to take to ensure the aircrafts are not being used to carry out refoulement in the future; and to provide information about the treatment of Ahmed Jaafar Mohamed Ali during the flight.
Please find below the text of the Joint Letter
Joint NGO Letter to RoyalJet on the extradition on Bahraini dissident Ahmed Jaafar Mohamed Ali
RoyalJet Operations Office
Next to Presidential Flight
Al Diyafah St
Airport Area – Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates
Re: RoyalJet’s involvement in the extradition of dissident Ahmed Jaafar Mohamed Ali
to Bahrain, where he faces torture
January 31, 2022
Dear Mr Rob Dicastri,
We, the undersigned human rights organisations, are writing to express our utmost concern regarding your company’s recent involvement in the wrongful extradition of Bahraini dissident Ahmed Jaafar Mohamed Ali from Serbia to Bahrain.
On Monday January 24, 2022, RoyalJet airplane A6-RJC was used to fly Mr Ali out of Belgrade, Serbia, to Manama, Bahrain (flight number ROJ023), where he was handed over to the Bahraini authorities.
The extradition was carried out in violation of an injunction of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), issued three days prior, on January 21, 2022. The latter called for halting Mr Ali’s extradition until after February 25, by which the Serbian authorities were asked to provide the ECHR with further information on Mr Ali’s case, including the foreseeable conditions of detention in Bahrain and the risk of torture that Mr Ali might face if extradited. As maintained by the ECHR, failure to comply with the court’s interim measures may amount to a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights’s article 3, which prohibits torture and degrading treatment or punishment.
Mr Ali is a Bahraini dissident who made clear his intention to apply for asylum in Serbia on multiple occasions since his arrest in November 2021, due to the risk of torture and death he would face if returned to his homecountry. Indeed, Mr Ali was subjected to severe acts of torture by Bahraini Special Security Forces in 2007. He was sentenced, in absentia, to two life sentences in 2013 and 2015. In the 2015 case, following a grossly unfair trial, three of his co-defendants were tortured and then executed in 2017, by the Bahraini authorities, despite an urgent appeal sent to the government of Bahrain urging it to spare their lives.
We fear that by using your company’s aircrafts to carry out Mr Ali’s wrongful extradition, you may have played an active role in violating the ECHR’s interim measures and article 3 of the UN Convention against Torture, which enshrines the principle of non-refoulement. You have also violated the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, under which business enterprises’ responsibility to respect human rights requires that they seek “to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their operations, products or services by their business relationships, even if they have not contributed to those impacts.”
As such, we kindly request that you clarify the steps taken by RoyalJet in order to prevent or mitigate your involvement in human rights violations, in particular:
– Whether your company was aware of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights calling on Serbia to halt the extradition of Mr Ali to Bahrain;
– Whether procedures were undertaken by your company considering your aircraft members could not have possibly been unaware that Mr Ali was traveling against his will;
– What your company’s current policy is regarding its potential involvement in processes of wrongful extraditions;
– What steps you intend to take to ensure your aircrafts are not being used to carry out refoulement in the future;
– Provide information about the treatment of Ahmed Jaafar Mohamed Ali during the flight.
We thank you for your consideration and look forward to your response.
ALQST for Human Rights
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Association for Victims of Torture-UAE
Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)
Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia (CDHR)
Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN)
European Center for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)
MENA Rights Group