His Excellency Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa
Ministry of Interior
Kingdom of Bahrain
Human Rights Watch has learned that on August 13, authorities detained Dr. Abduljalil al-Singace at Manama airport on his return from the United Kingdom, where he was on a six-week vacation with his wife and two daughters. We request that the government provide more information regarding the reasons for Dr. al-Singace's arrest and detention and any charges brought against him. Unless formal charges are brought against him, Human Rights Watch urges the government to release Dr. al-Singace immediately.
Dr. al-Singace is the head of the Human Rights Unit of the Haq Movement for Civil Liberties and Democracy in Bahrain, and a professor of engineering at the University of Bahrain. He is an opposition activist and outspoken critic of the Bahraini government, especially with regard to its treatment of the country's Shia Muslim population. Security forces have previously arrested and detained Dr. al-Singace and other Haq members in connection with their civil and political activities.
Dr. al-Singace's family told Human Rights Watch that around 5 am, just after collecting his luggage at the airport, approximately six uniformed officers and five plainclothes officers approached Dr. al-Singace. They then separated him from his family and took him to an undisclosed location, while officers searched the family's luggage in the presence of his wife and daughters. Dr. Al-Singace's family told us that officers confiscated his laptop and mobile phone, along with several other mobile phones, Blackberry devices, digital cameras, a video camera and additional personal effects that belonged to him and his family.
Neither Dr. al-Singace's family nor his lawyer has been informed about the reason for his arrest and detention or where he is being detained. Dr. al-Singace's attorney, Mohammed al-Tajar, also told Human Rights Watch that authorities were scheduled to present his client to the Public Prosecution Office for questioning at 9 pm Friday, but as of Saturday evening there was no sign of Dr. al-Singace.
Bahraini law requires that "every person who is arrested shall be informed of the reasons for his arrest," and "shall have the right to contact any of his relatives to inform him of what has happened and to seek the aid of a lawyer." Suspects must be presented to the Public Prosecution Office within 48 hours of arrest. We also remind you that pursuant to articles 9(2) and 9(3) of the international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Bahrain acceded to in 2006, "anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him," and "shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power."
Human Rights Watch requests that government officials allow Dr. al-Singace to contact his family and lawyer immediately, and provide information about (1) Dr. al-Singace's whereabouts, (2) the reason for his arrest and detention and the charges, if any, against Dr. al-Singace, and (3) why his and his family's personal effects have been confiscated.
We appreciate your urgent attention to this matter, and look forward to hearing from you soon.
Middle East and North Africa division