Bahrain: 16-year-old Abbas Oun Arbitrarily Arrested and Subjected to Enforced Disappearance

Oun brothers

A 16-year-old boy, Abbas Oun, has been subjected to enforced disappearance since his arrest six days ago. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) calls on the government of Bahrain to end the practice of arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearance in Bahrain, and to respect the rights of the child.

On 14 February 2017, at around 8pm, Abbas Ali Abbas OunOun (16 years old) was arrested a few meters away from his home. Oun is a handball player on the team of the Samaheej sports Club. His family told BCHR that he was beaten on the head at the time of arrest, and when his mother tried to talk to the officer, a security man pushed her then beat her with a gun on her shoulder. As well, Oun’s sister was slapped in the face, beaten with a gun on her shoulder and sprayed in the face with pepper spray. Marks of the attack on the shoulder were still visible on the next day.

On 16 February 2017, Oun had an interrogation session at the public prosecution where he was charged with “illegal gathering, possession of a molotov cocktail, damage of a police vehicle” –  all charges which he has denied. Oun told the prosecutor that he was subject to beating immediately after his arrest by police officer Nawaf Al-Buaineen, who beat Oun on his eye. He was interrogated at Samaheej police station where he was threatened with torture to force his confessions. He was not allowed to talk to his lawyer prior to the interrogation. The prosecutor has ordered Oun to be kept in detention for another 15 days pending investigation, which puts him at risk of being subject to further ill treatment at the police station.

Since then, Oun’s family were not able to have any direct contact with him. They have expressed fear for his safety given that he is a sickle cell patient.

Abbas, the youngest brother in the family, is the latest victim of the practice of arbitrary arrests, torture, and excessive force. Another three brothers are already in detention over similar circumstances.

Jaffar Ali Oun (29 years old) 

Jaffar Ali OunJaffar Ali Oun has been subject to repeated arrests since 2012, but his last arrest was on 11 October 2013. He was beaten from the time of arrest in the street, then subjected to 8 days of enforced disappearance. He was sentenced in 2014 to 3 years on charges of allegedly attacking the police and rioting. He was moved to detention at Jau prison since June 2014. He has reportedly been subject to torture on different occasions since his arrest including during the disturbances in the prison in March 2015. He was allegedly beaten on his head, ears, and back with plastic hoses, iron rods and wires until he was bleeding. His family reported in August 2016 that he has been suffering from a growing swelling in the head for which he didn’t receive treatment for several months. He was eventually taken for surgery to remove the swelling, however he was not provided his reports or taken to any follow up appointments.

In November 2016, he finished his 3 year sentence, and his family paid a fine to suspend the sentences pending appeal on another 2 cases, however he was taken back to the Criminal Investigation Directorate, held incommunicado for several days, then sent back to Jau prison to serve a 5-year sentence on a case he was never interrogated for, nor tried for, although he was sentenced in absentia over charges of illegal gathering and rioting.

Ahmed Ali Oun (21 years old)

Ahmed Ali OunAhmed was injured in 2012 with a metal pellet lodged in his eye which was fired from a police shotgun during an attack on a pro-democracy demonstration. He sought treatment in a private hospital where he received the primary surgery on his cornea. A second surgery was needed to remove the bird shot from his eye, but he was arrested from the hospital by plain-clothed police officers on 13 May 2012 before this could be completed. He was reportedly beaten and subjected to sexual harassment in detention. He informed his family that he suffers from bleeding in his eye and severe pain and that he fainted multiple times during detention. Due to deprivation of medical care, Ahmed has lost the vision of his right eye.

He was arrested again multiple times. On 21 March 2014, he was shot by police while he was jogging in one of the streets of Samaheej village, close to Bahrain International Airport. According to the family’s statement, Ahmed’s injury was described as critical as the splinters settled in the face, neck and right shoulder in addition to the chest and hands, which required transferring him to Intensive Care while he was unconscious. He was then officially arrested and kept in police custody.

On 19 October 2014, he was sentenced to 5 years in prison for rioting, illegal gathering, and attacking police. It was later reduced to 3 years on February 2015. Additionally, he received another 6-month sentence in June 2014 for illegal gathering in a different case.

Hasan Ali Oun (23 years old) Hasan Ali Oun

Hassan Ali Oun was arrested multiple times since 2011, the last time on March 2015. During his multiple arrests he was reportedly subjected to torture, including being repeatedly raped by insertion of a hose in his anus. Following an arrest in 2012, the results of torture were visible on Hassan’s body as his lawyer at that time reported. He told her that he had been beaten severely, he was forced to stand for more than 11 hours, was beaten with a hose on his feet, was stripped naked and threatened with rape.

Hassan was sentenced to 5 years in prison on November 2015 for rioting, and he is still going through other trials.

Article 37 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that “States Parties shall ensure that: (a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

BCHR calls on the government of Bahrain to do the following:

  • Immediately and unconditionally release Abbas Oun, and guarantee his safety from further ill-treatment in detention;
  • Allow Abbas Oun to have direct and immediate contact with his family and lawyer;
  • Put a stop to the practice of arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance and torture; and
  • As a signatory to the International Convention for the Rights of the Child, respect, uphold and implement the conditions of the international treaty.