The following is based on a communication written by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and other UN experts to the Government of Bahrain on 30 December 2021. The communication remained confidential for 60 days before being made public, during which time the Government was expected to respond. The Government did not respond during this period, and any reply, if sent, will be available on the UN communications database.
This is a shorter version of the original communication.
Topic: the further deterioration of the health of human rights defender Abduljalil Al-Singace.
Mr. Abduljalil Al-Singace was the Director and Spokesperson of the Human Rights Bureau of the Haq Movement for Civil Liberties and Democracy. He was arrested in August 2010 at Bahrain International Airport after returning from participating in a seminar on the human rights situation in Bahrain at the UK House of Lords. After being released without charge, Mr. Al-Singace was arrested again in March 2011, and allegedly disappeared for approximately two months. It is alleged that during his disappearance, Mr. Al-Singace was subjected to various forms of ill- treatment. He was sentenced to life imprisonment on multiple terrorism and State security charges in June 2011. While at liberty, Mr. Al-Singace actively engaged with the UN Human Rights Council as well as other UN human rights mechanisms. Mr. Al-Singace has a disability that required the use of crutches, but now requires a wheelchair.
Since 2010, Mr. Al-Singace has been the subject of several communications by Special Procedures mandate holders, including most recently AL BHR 4/2021, addressed to the Government of Bahrain on 15 November 2021, wherein we expressed concerns as to the deteriorating health of Mr. Al-Singace following his commencement of a hunger strike in July 2021 in response to the alleged arbitrary confiscation of research materials he had been preparing while in prison.
The case of Mr. Al-Singace was included in the 2021, 2012 and 2011 reports of the Secretary-General on cooperation with the UN in the field of human rights for various allegations of acts of reprisal due to his engagement with several UN mechanisms, including the Universal Periodic Review and the treaty bodies..
Since 25 October 2021, the last date to which the concerns expressed in our previous communication on Mr. Al-Singace’s situation referred, there has been a further deterioration in the human rights defender’s health. This has included a severe drop in his blood pressure levels, episodes of vertigo, seizures, shortness of breath and a drop in his oxygen levels requiring him to use an oxygen mask.
As of 24 November 2021, Mr. Al-Singace has required intravenous support, however, he has been refusing this assistance for approximately three weeks, in protest at the denial of video calls with his family which he was previously permitted on a weekly basis. Mr. Al-Singace has also stopped taking vitamin supplements as part of this protest.
Mr. Al-Singace remains at Ebrahim Khalil Kando Community Medical Centre, where he is held under 24-hour police supervision. His attendance by doctors has reportedly reduced to one visit every two to three weeks, and he has suffered further weight loss since the sending of our most recent
communication on his situation, with his blood sugar levels currently dangerously low.
The research materials belonging to Mr. Al-Singace, the confiscation of which formed part of the alleged ill-treatment that prompted the human rights defender to embark on hunger strike, have yet to be returned to him or his family, despite Mr. Al-Singace having reportedly been informed that a review of his materials had been conducted and that the authorities would be willing
to return them to him if he ended his hunger strike.
In the communication we urgently renewed and underscored our serious concerns relating to the health of Mr. Al-Singace and the confiscation of his research materials, and expressed fresh concern as to the alleged suspension of his video calls with his family. In expressing these concerns, we reiterated our strong belief, as previously communicated to the Bahraini Government, that the sentence under which Mr. Al-Singace remains detained is based solely on his legitimate, peaceful advocacy for the respect and protection of human rights in Bahrain.