Bahrain: Court of Cassation upheld the three-year sentence against family members of human rights defender Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, despite international mobilisation

On Monday, 25 February 2019, Bahrain’s Court of Cassation upheld the three-year sentence against family members of human rights defender Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Mr. Alwadaei’s mother-in-law, Hajer Mansoor Hassan, brother-in-law, Sayed Nazar Alwadaei and cousin, Mahmood Marzooq Mansoor. With this sentence, they have exhausted all available legal remedies. Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, the Director of Advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) commented this decision: “This is what you expect from a corrupt injustice system. I will not rest until my family is free. Their continued imprisonment is a shameful reminder of the UK’s weak position when dealing with human rights abuses committed by an ally country.”

All three individuals were arrested in March 2017 for allegedly planting fake explosive devices in January 2017. They are serving their unlawful sentence to three years’ imprisonment handed down on 30 October 2017. They have claimed they were subjected to ill-treatment during the interrogation. Last month, the UN Working Group of Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) found that the imprisonment of Ms. Mansoor, Mr. Nazar Alwadaei and Mr. Marzooq is “arbitrary” and in reprisal to Mr. Alwadaei’s human rights activity.

Ms. Mansoor is in desperate need for medical treatment and she continues to be denied family visits. Earlier this month, on 11 February, the Court of Cassation upheld a three-year prison sentence against Mr. Nazar Alwadaei in a separate case based on identical charges. He has now exhausted all legal remedies in relation to this case. In March 2018, he was also sentenced to a further seven years’ imprisonment – later reduced to five – and so is now unlawfully serving eleven years in prison in total.

On Friday, 22 February 2019, 7 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) sent a letter to the HR/VP Federica Mogherini. In this letter, they deplored the unlawful sentence to three years in prison that Mr. Alwadaei’s mother-in-law, brother-in-law and cousin are serving in reprisal to Mr. Alwadaei’s activism.

The letter to Ms. Mogherini is the result of the advocacy efforts of the European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR). The MEPs have highlighted the work done by the EU Parliament, which has strongly advocated for the release of Alwadaei’s family, in letters sent on 23 October 2017 and 20 March 2018. They urged Ms. Mogherini to take immediate action by sending representatives from the EU to attend the hearing on 25 February to witness whether the decision will fall in line with international standards; issuing a public statement ahead of the hearing to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all three individuals; and using every diplomatic means available to end the reprisals against Mr. Alwadaei and secure the release of Ms. Mansoor, Mr. Nazar Alwadaei and Mr. Marzooq.

Furthermore, on the same day, the Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) Pier Antonio Panzeri (S&D) released a statement on the arbitrary punishment and unlawful detention of Alwadaei’s family members. Mr. Panzeri remarked that:“No family member should be detained for the crimes that may or may not have been committed by another family member” and calls upon the Bahraini authorities to put in place a full and independent investigation into this arbitrary infringement of human rights and to hold the responsible accountable for this abuse.

The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) welcomes the statement of Mr. Panzeri. ECDHR condemns today’s decision of Bahraini Court of Cassation and calls upon the Bahraini authorities to take immediate action to release the family members of Sayed Ahmed Alwadei. Moreover, it calls upon the European Union to monitor this case and more broadly the cases of all of the individuals who are unlawfully detained in Bahrain.

Click here to read a pdf of the letter.

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