Canadian Government must intervene to assist Canadian citizen Naser Bader AI-Raas sentenced in Bahrain
The Honourable Diane Ablonczy
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs)
House of Commons
October 26, 2011
Dear Minister of State Ablonczy,
URGENT: Naser Bader Al-Raas Sentenced in Bahrain
I am writing this open letter to you further to our letters of October 3 and 25, 2011 regarding the case of Canadian citizen Naser Bader Al-Raas, who faces a five year prison term in Bahrain.Amnesty International has now had an opportunity to review his case fully, including the verdict delivered yesterday. Our concerns have only mounted.
If he is taken into custody pursuant to yesterday’s verdict sentencing him to five yearsimprisonment, Amnesty International would consider Naser Bader AI-Raas to be a prisoner of conscience. From our review of the case it is clear that the charges and conviction in his case stem solely from the exercise of his rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. As such, we are calling on the Bahraini government to drop the charges, for the verdict and sentence to be quashed and for Mr. AI-Raas not to be imprisoned.
The appeal of his case will be heard on 22 November, but it is vitally important that the Canadian government bring pressure to bear on Bahraini authorities to drop the case unconditionally and immediately, before then. Canada must also insist forcefully that he not be taken back into custody. Very simply, he should not be imprisoned because he would be a prisoner of conscience. But this is of even graver concern as Mr. Al-Raas is suffering frommedical problems which would very likely be aggravated in detention.
We also remain deeply concerned that there has not been any independent investigation into the detailed allegations of torture made by Mr. Al-Raas when he was detained between 20 March and 20 April of this year. Canada must demand that those allegations be fully investigated and that anyone found to be responsible will be brought to justice.
Mr. Al-Raas had arrived in Bahrain on 6 March to visit the country as a tourist and to visit his fiancée and his sister. While in the country he took part in a number of protests. He was arrested at the airport on 20 March when he was leaving Bahrain. His family or friends did not know his whereabouts for one month. During this month he was held in solitary confinement and he claims he was tortured including by being beaten with sticks, standing for long hours and being verbally abused.
He was admitted to the Bahrain Defence Force Hospital and then released without explanation on 20 April. Months later, on 4 October, he was found not guilty by a military court of charges including killing a policeman. However, he was charged in a separate case related to his participation in protests. We have attached an unofficial translation of those charges that has been provided to us. He was sentenced on 25 October to five years in prison.
We will be in touch with your office seeking a meeting about this case.
cc. Honourable John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Canadian Embassy, Saudi Arabia
Canadian Consulate, Bahrain
Unofficial translation of criminal charges against Naser Bader Al-Raas
1 Participated in several protests in several public places ( Cooperation Council Roundabout, in front of Salmanya Medical center, Al-Seef, Royal court, the financial harbor, Al Safereya, in front of the Ministry of Interior, in front of Radio and TV organizations, in front of Bahrain mall, in front of the parliament, in front of the Council of Ministries, in front of the Saudi Embassy, in front of the American Embassy, in front of Passports building, in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in front of the UN building, in front of the General Department of Investigation and Intelligence Building and others). Within gathering of crowds that exceeded every time hundreds of people. That is for the purpose of disrupting the General Security in the country through the conditions that it has been through in that time, and as described in thepapers.
2. Publicly incited hatred and contempt against the regime. That they chanted to the crowds and repeated with them statements incites to that and to abort the regime, King and the government. The accused no. thirteen and as his proficiency and competence in the field of computer, and through the Media camp in the Cooperation Council Roundabout, he printed the small signs that incites to abort the regime, and to spread the spirit of resistance, steadfastness and confrontation towards the regime, and not to accept any solutions but abort it, and as described in the papers.
Amnesty International Canada
613-744-7667, ext 236