Bahrain: Sick Human Rights Defender Must Be Released
Dr. Abduljalil al-Singace (60) is a Bahraini academic, blogger, and human rights defender. He was among fourteen opposition activists who were arrested between 17 March and 9 April 2011 during the Bahrain uprising. Most were arrested in the middle of the night by groups of security officers who raided their houses and took them to an unknown location, where they were held incommunicado for weeks. Many of the 14 activists have alleged they were tortured during their first few days of detention when they were being interrogated by officers from the National Security Agency (NSA). None of them were allowed to see their lawyers during NSA interrogations just after they were arrested. Some saw their lawyers during questioning by the military prosecutor ahead of the trial, while others were only allowed to see them during the first court hearing in May 2011, which was the first time any of the activists had seen their families since their arrest. On 22 June 2011, Bahrain's National Safety Court, a military court, announced its verdict and sentenced them to between two years and life in prison on charges including “setting up terror groups to topple the royal regime and change the constitution”. In April 2012, the case was transferred to a civilian court for an appeal trial. On 6 January 2013, the Cassation Court confirmed the verdict.
In June 2011, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) was appointed by Royal Order to investigate and report on human rights violations committed following the anti-government protests in February and March 2011. At the launch of the BICI report in November 2011, the government publicly committed itself to implementing the recommendations set out in the report. Instead, it went onto a path of sustained repression over the past decade, disbanding opposition groups, independent media and sentencing peaceful activists to harsh sentences. The BICI report documented the torture and ill-treatment of Dr. Abduljalil al-Singace, reporting that police had subjected him to nightly beatings for two months while placed in solitary confinement, targeted his disability by confiscating his crutches, making him “stand on one leg for prolonged periods”, pushing his crutch “into his genitals”, and “threatened him with rape and made sexually explicit comments about his wife and his daughter”.