According to reports received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), Bahrain's Public Prosecutor charged human rights defender Naji Fateel with the alleged "establishment of a group in order to disable the provisions of the Constitution" and ordered his imprisonment for a period of 60 days pending investigation under the internationally criticized terrorism law. Fateel is a board member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR).
Reports by BYSHR and other groups allege that Fateel has been subjected to severe torture during interrogation in the notorious Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID). BYSHR said that he received electrical shocks to his genitals, left foot, and back, and been subjected to simulated drowning and severe beatings, and been threatened with publishing photographs of his wife (taken from her camera which was confiscated when security forces raided the family home). Fateel was also subjected to verbal abuse, hanging by his hands from the ceiling, sexual harassment, threats to rape him, and sleep deprivation.
Local sources reported that Fateel was handcuffed and blindfolded in a CID building. They were only removed after he was transferred to the Dry Dock prison on 5 May 2013. Follow-up reports also confirmed that he has been taken twice to the Interior Ministry Hospital for treatment due to the severe torture he suffered.
Naji Fateel was arrested without a warrant by security officers in civilian clothes at his home in the village of Bani-Jamra at dawn on 2 May 2013, and then transferred to an unknown location. The first contact with his family took place on the eve of 4 May 2013 when he told them about his presence at the CID.
GCHR and BCHR deplore, in the strongest terms, the targeting and imprisonment of human rights defender Naji Fateel, as well as the torture he has allegedly suffered. The two NGOs believe that the arrest and charges are solely related to his legitimate and peaceful activities in the field of human rights.
Both organizations call on the US administration and other governments that have influence in Bahrain including the government of the UK, the EU and leading human rights organizations to put pressure on the government of Bahrain to:
- Immediately and unconditionally release Naji Fateel and all human rights defenders and activists held in Bahrain as a result of their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities;
- Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into all reports of alleged torture of Naji Fateel with the goal of publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in line with international standards;
- Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Naji Fateel;
- Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.