Bahrain: Detention of Ali AlShowaikh

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Ali AlShowaikh is a Bahraini citizen who fled his country in 2018 seeking for asylum in The Netherlands. However, on 20 October 2018 he was deported in Bahrain where he was arrested right after his arrival at the airport. In occasion of the 126th session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Switzerland, concerning the review of the Netherlands, our partner Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) attended the committee and released a report on the Netherlands’ involvement in the violations that Ali Mohamed AlShowaikh was subjected to.

Ali AlShowaikh is a 28-year-old Bahraini citizen, he used to work at Sadad, an electronic money-transfer service. During the 2011 pro-democracy uprising he took part in peaceful protests and marches.
Lately in 2017, despite the lack of any official charge, he learned he was being accused of different crimes, including having sheltered some fugitives escaped form Jau Prison on 31 January 2017. Therefore, he firstly travelled to the United Arab Emirates, then to Iran and finally he flew to The Netherlands, seeking for asylum. His brother is a refugee living in Germany who has publicly spoken against the Bahraini government. Mr. AlShowaikh is indeed worried that his brother’s activism may be related to his persecution from the authorities.

In October 2018, the Dutch government rejected his asylum request because he has not been able to prove any danger of persecution in Bahrain. Furthermore, on 20 October 2018 he was deported to Bahrain, despite his request to be deported in any other country but Bahrain. Police officers arrested him right after he arrived at the airport.

Mr. AlShowaikh was subject to forced disappearance for 11 days. He was brought to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID), where officers interrogated him and tortured him to coerce a false confession. Moreover, he was transferred to the Office of Public Prosecution (PPO). He tried to condemn the “physical and psychological torture” he was subject to and he denounced the fact that the confession was coerced. Nevertheless, the PPO ordered his detention pending trial. Both during the interrogation and once at the PPO, Mr. AlShowaikh was prevented from being represented by a lawyer. Similarly, before his trial he was not allowed to meet with a legal counsel for ten weeks. Finally, he was tried under the highly criticised Anti-Terrorism Law of Bahrain.

On 28 February 2019, Bahrain’s Fourth High Criminal Court sentenced him to life imprisonment. Furthermore, he has been stripped of his nationality and fined 500 Bahraini dinars.  The charges pending on him are “harboring and concealing members of a terrorist group, possession of unauthorized firearms and ammunition for the use of disrupting public order, and harboring and concealing fugitives charged with felonies which are punishable with the death penalty or prison terms.”

On 20 April 2019 a King’s order reinstated citizenship to 551 individuals, including Ali AlShowaikh. Then, he was transferred to Jau prison, where he is still detained. He reported that prison conditions are poor, his cell is overcrowded, detainees can exit the cell only for one hour a day and they are denied medical care.

The government of the Netherlands was aware of the ongoing human right violations happening in Bahrain. The use of torture as a means to coerce conessions, unfair trial and arbitrary detention are just some of the risks that Mr. AlShowaikh faced when he had been deported. Hence, with its decision the government of The Netherlands contributed to put Mr. AlShowaikh’s life at risk.

On 1 July 2019, our partner organisation Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) participated in the 126th session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Switzerland, concerning the review of the Netherlands.

According to an ADHRB’s report on the Submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee for the Netherlands’ Review under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Netherlands was in violation of 6, 7, 9, 10, 13 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) is highly concerned about the current situation of Mr AlShowaikh. We welcome the report released by ADHRB, nevertheless we condemn the decision taken by the Dutch government to deport Mr AlShowaikh in Bahrein despite the risks he was facing.