Bahrain: 10 years in prison for the photographer Ahmed Humaidan out of revenge for his camera after an unjust trial
Posted: 15 Apr 2014 09:11 AM PDT
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its deep concern for the Bahraini Authorities continuous disregard towards the international and human rights demands to stop using the security grip against those demanding freedom and democracy especially journalists, photographers and human rights activists who were able to, through their peaceful activism, to break the media blackout and publish the violations that are widely committed by the Authorities in Bahrain. The Third High Court issued on Wednesday 26 March 2014 a 10 years’ imprisonment sentence against the photographer Ahmed Humaidan in the case of attacking Sitra Police Station.
It is worth mentioning that Humaidan has won 163 photography awards amid competitions in the United States, Hungary, Serbia, and he comes second in place as far as awards are concerned in the Arabian Gulf. He was arrested in December 2012, and he stated that he was subjected to torture in the Criminal Investigation Department notorious for its torture which caused him a nervous breakdown. Amongst the torture methods that Humaidan was subjected to was forcing him to stand in a very cold room for hours while being handcuffed and blindfolded. Humaidan informed his family that while he was blindfolded and handcuffed at the Criminal Investigation Department he was forced to carry a strange object and the interrogators told him that it is a time bomb that is ready to explode. The strange object remained in his hands for hours, where he was constantly being monitored during that time and shouted at if he even moved an inch. In addition to that, Humaidan informed his family that while he was questioned he was forced to confess to a crime which he claims he did not commit; the interrogators threatened to accuse his siblings of crimes if he did not confess. The interrogators named his siblings and they chose random accusations which they threatened to fabricate against them.
Fadhel Al-Sawad, Humaidan’s lawyers said that no evidence was presented against Ahmed except for the confessions that were extracted under torture and the reports that come from confidential sources that usually the Criminal Investigations depends on to fabricate charges against the defendants. The lawyer added that the Court issued the maximum sentence against Humaidan although he presented during the trial that continued for almost a year evidence of his innocence and memorandums of defence, while at the same time it acquitted two fugitive defendants who did not present anything to prove their innocence and no one came forth to defend them. Furthermore, Humaidan was subjected to unjustified delay in his trial that continued for more than a year because the witnesses from the Ministry of Interior had evaded and declined to attend for 6 months, in addition to the inconsistency in the witnesses’ testimony, especially in regards to the place where the fire took place and which is the essence of the crime attributed to Humaidan. The one carrying out the investigation said that the attack on the police station took place from the bank heading towards the central market which caused a fire in the west tower, while the police station’s guard said that the fire was in his right leg and not in the station. The person in charge of the directorate said that the fire took place in the station’s front yard. Despite the inconsistencies which are enough to pull down the foundation of the case, the court continued to issue its verdict against Humaidan, neglecting the demands to investigate the torture allegations.
The regime and for three years, since the beginning of the peaceful revolution of Bahrain, has been practicing the most dreadful violations against photographers and journalists. While more than 10 media workers lie behind bars, others have been subjected to torture that leads to death as had happened to the blogger Zakariya Al-Ashairi, and others faced extrajudicial killings as had happened to the photographer Ahmed Ismail Hasan. While more than 20 photographers and media workers were dismissed from their jobs during the period of declaring the emergency law, some were arrested after house raids, and their families were intimidated, and their personal photography equipment was stolen and they were tortured physically and mentally and what is worse than that is that the government did not practice any form of accountability against those who committed those violations. Yet, on the contrary, the policewoman Sara Al-Moussa was recently acquitted from torturing the journalist Nazeeha Saeed who stated that during her arrest in 2011 she faced torture, beating and electrocution, in addition to a degrading treatment.
The authorities still practice the same violations until the date of this report, there are media workers and photographers who undergo forced disappearances and who face torture to falsely confess as had happened in the case of the photographers Ahmed Fardan and Jaffar Madhoon or to torture and neglect of health as took place in the case of the photographer Hussein Hubail and the blogger Jassim Al-Noaimi. The Bahraini Authorities targeted by direct shooting the correspondent of the German agency the journalist Mazen Mahdi and the photographer Mohammed Al-Sheikh the correspondent of the French news agency on 26 February 2014, where the journalist Mazen Mahdi who was directly shot in his leg confirmed that the security forces aimed several shots of teargas in the direction of the photojournalists, adding that the angle of shooting and deliberately aiming the shots directly at us confirms that the targeting was intentional.
Although the crime of targeting photographers and media workers and throwing them in prison received condemnation by international human rights institutes and organizations, where the Reporters without Borders organization considered it a means of drying up the sources of publishing news and violations to the world and the Committee to Protect Journalists considered it to be not a good welcome for the period of hosting the Formula 1 by Bahrain which was held in April this year, however, the regime in Bahrain still strongly seeks to stop publishing these violations and prevents international journalists and correspondents from entering Bahrain out of fear that they will transmit the real image of what is going on in Bahrain.
Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the United States, United Kingdom, United Nations and all the Authority’s close allies and relevant international institutes to the following: