Four minors are on trial in Bahrain before Branch Four of the High Criminal Court, a court specializing in terror-related cases, on charges including arson and handling Molotov cocktails. At least two of them have been interrogated without the presence of their lawyers.
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Minister Khaled bin Ali Al Khalifa
Ministry of Justice
82 Road No. 72
Fax: +973 1753 0574
Ambassador Shaikh Abdullah bin Rashed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa
Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain
3502 International Drive NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 342 1111 I Fax: 202 362 2192
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
I write to you today to express my serious concern about the situation of four minors – Husain Abdulrasool Salman Abdulla Husain (16), Sayed Hasan Ameen Jawad Abdulla (16), Faris Husain Habib Ahmed Salman (17) and Mohammed Jaafar Jasim Ali Abdulla (16) – who are being tried as adults before Branch Four of the High Criminal Court, a court specializing in terror-related cases. They stand charged with arson for handling (and using) Molotov cocktails on 14 February 2020 in Karrana, a village north west of the capital, Manama. They each face between two and ten years in prison.
On 30 November 2020, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) summoned Husain Abdulrasool, interrogated him without the presence of a lawyer or a parent, and detained him. The CID referred his case to the prosecution unit for terrorism crimes. On 10 February 2021, the CID summoned the other three boys and their fathers and told them to attend court the next day. On 11 February, the court held the four boys’ first trial hearing during which three boys were formally charged and detained. All four denied the charges. Later, the CID interrogated Sayed Hasan without the presence of his lawyer or father. The court held two further hearings on 16 and 24 February. The next one is scheduled for 4 March 2021. The 4 boys remain held at the Juvenile Reform and Rehabilitation Center at Dry Dock.
As a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Bahrain is in breach of its obligations. Being under the age of 18, the four boys are children and should be treated in accordance with the principles of a child justice system. The Committee on the Rights of the Child has stated that “children… should always be dealt with in specialized child justice systems” and “treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child’s sense of dignity and worth”.
In light of the above, I urge you to investigate the reasons why the boys have been interrogated without a lawyer or legal guardian and urge you to refer their cases to the child justice system. I call on you to treat all four boys in a manner consistent with their best interests as children and ensure that detention is used only as a measure of last resort, and for the shortest possible time; and prioritize use of alternatives to custody, throughout proceedings.