On 6 February, the Bahrain’s Fourth High Criminal Court issued prison sentences against 11 individuals, including female political activists Zakeya AlBarboori. Along with the prison sentences, these individuals have also been stripped of their citizenship. This sentence brings the total number of stateless persons in the country to 824 for a population that is composed of no more than 1 million inhabitants.
Zakeya AlBarboori is the first women to have her citizenship revoked since the beginning of 2019 and the third female since 2012. As a reminder, Zakeya is a chemical engineer and along with her niece, Fatema Dawood Juma, a student at Bahrain University, they were subjected to a warrantless house raid and an enforced disappearance for more than three weeks between May and June 2018. To be more precise, on 17 May 2018, around ten masked police officers dressed in plain clothes and a smaller number of officers in uniform with no warrant, presented themselves at their house and took both defendants to the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID). The following day, they conducted a second raid. Zakeya was later interrogated for six consecutive days. During this period, they were detained by government officials who failed to disclose their whereabouts and were denied family visits. The charges that were brought against both defendants were: the presence of explosives in their house, receiving funding from Iran, membership in Tayar Al-Wafa Al-Islami (al-Wafa), an unlicensed political opposition group which the Bahraini government recognizes as a terrorist organization. Zakeya was brought to court on 6 June 2018 without prior notice nor legal counsel. More than a month later, on 27 June 2018, Fatema was released from the Women’s Prison in Isa Town and all the charges against her were dropped, while Zakeya still remained in prison and her detention was since then extended regularly.
On 6 February 2019, the court fined all the 12 defendants between BDH 100-500 and the final verdicts were the following:
- 7 individuals to life in prison;
- 2 individuals to 10 years imprisonment;
- 1 individual to 5 years (Zakeya AlBarboori);
- 1 individual to 3 years
The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) strongly condemns these sentences and urges the Bahraini government to immediately and unconditionally release the 11 individuals and all the other political opposition leaders and human rights activists who are detained in Bahraini’s prisons. We are alarmed at the ongoing human rights repressions in the country. This is another case that demonstrates the country’s unwillingness to respect human rights, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association and basic rule of law.