Free Ebrahim SharifThe first trial of the Secretary-General of the National Democratic Action Society (Waad), Ebrahim Sharif, is due to be heard in front of a martial court in the Kingdom of Bahrain on Sunday morning, amidst continued violations of his legal and constitutional guarantees.
Accordingly, we express our deep concerns over these trials, which lack the utmost basic fair trial guarantees, as pledged by the standards of international covenants on human rights and local laws. The violations of such guarantees are as follows:
1. The inadmissibility of civilian trials before military courts
Article 105 (b) of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain with respect to trial of civilians before military courts stipulates that,
"[t]he jurisdiction of military courts shall be confined to military offences committed by members of the Defence Force, the National Guard, and the Security Forces. It does not extend to other persons except when martial law is declared and within the bounds prescribed by the law.”
Therefore, in the absence of declaration of martial law, the trial of civilians before military courts is a clear contradiction of Article (105) of the Constitution.
2. Violation of the guarantees established by the Code of Criminal Procedures for the accused
Article 61 of the Code of Criminal Procedure stipulates that,
“[e]very person who is arrested shall be informed of the grounds for his arrest. He shall have the right to contact his relatives to inform them of what happened and to seek the aid of an attorney.”
Article 146 of the same law stipulates that,
“[t]he Public Prosecution shall have the power to order that the accused detainee shall not have contact with other detainees nor have visitation rights, without prejudice to his right to always contact his attorney without the presence of a third party.”
Article 134 of the same law further confirms that,
“[w]ith the exclusion of cases of flagrante delicto or urgency due to the fear of loss of evidence of crimes, a member of the Public Prosecution shall not question the accused nor confront him with other defendants or witnesses except upon requesting the presence of his attorney, where available.”
Article 135 of the same law further confirms,
“The accused’s attorney shall be allowed access to the investigation at least one day prior to the date of the cross-examination or confrontation, unless the member of the Public Prosecution decides otherwise. In all cases, the accused shall not be separated from his attorney in the course of questioning.”
The aforementioned provisions clearly demonstrate that the relatives of the accused and his attorney shall be made aware of the nature of the charges brought against him, in addition to affording the accused the right to contact his family. The reality of the matter in this case is otherwise, where the Secretary General of Waad, Ebrahim Sharif, was not allowed visitation rights with his family. Additionally, his attorney was not summoned to appear during the many stages of interrogation except once. Moreover, such summons are only given a few hours prior to the commencement of the interrogation and are coupled with complicated and time-consuming procedures prescribed by the military authorities. Such included the transport of attorneys to the place of interrogation via blacked-out military vehicles, and preventing the attorneys from accessing the case files prior to commencement of investigation or post referral of the case to martial courts. Additionally, the attorneys were only contacted with respect to the date of trial at 8:00 pm the day before the trial is due to take place, and were not provided with any documents setting out the nature of the charges.
3. Repeated torture
It has come to our attention that Ebrahim Sharif was subjected daily to repeated torture, a fact that was confirmed by a number of detainees and Ebrahim himself before the military prosecutor during the investigation. This fact demonstrates that there have been attempts to extract confessions under torture, which is in direct contravention with Article 19 (d) of the Constitution stipulating that any confession obtained under torture is void.
In accordance with the abovementioned, we urge all foreign embassies in the Kingdom of Bahrain and international human rights organisations to appear in these trials, which are conducted behind closed doors and in unlawful secrecy, follow the proceedings closely and ensure that the rights set out by international standards and local laws are upheld during the trial. We also reiterate that the charges brought against him are purely political.