Detained Since: May 2, 2013.
Charges: The establishment of a group for the purpose of disabling the constitution.
Sentence: A combined twenty-five years in prison.
Biography: Naji Fateel is a board member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR), a blogger and prolific tweeter, reporting on human rights violations. During marches and protests in villages he gave speeches about human rights and encouraged people to document and monitor violations. On May 2, 2013, Naji Fateel was arrested at dawn at his home in the village of Bani Jamra, northwestern Bahrain, without a warrant. The house, surrounded by riot police, was raided and searched by 12 plain clothes police officers who took away his daughter’s laptop, his camera and his phones. No reason for his arrest was given and he was tortured and suffered ill-treatment before he was transferred to Dry Dock Prison on May 5, 2013.
On July 11, 2013, Naji Fateel appeared before the Fourth Criminal Court and was charged under Article 6 of the Terrorism Act. He received a sentence of 15 years' imprisonment. Photographic evidence of torture inflicted against Naji Fateel during his detention has emerged. On May 29, 2014, the Appeals Court of Bahrain upheld the 15-year sentence. Front Line Defenders sent an observer to Naji Fateel's first instance trial, which did not meet due process guarantees.
On March 10, 2015, security forces attacked prisoners in Jaw Prison using rubber bullets, teargas and shotgun pellets, following a disruption caused by prisoners protesting restrictions on family visits. Naji Fateel was not involved in the protest but was injured during the attack, suffering a broken leg, and was subsequently sentenced to an additional 10 years for assault and damage to prison property.
In a statement released by the NGO Salam For Democracy and Human Rights, Naji Fateel details the torture and lack of medical care he has experienced in prison. The complaints he has lodged have been ignored (November 15, 2018, Salam For Democracy and Human Rights).
Naji Fateel reportedly began a hunger strike on November 12, 2018. Fateel was supposed to call his family on November 19, 2018 but they never received the call and there is no update about his current condition (November 28, 2018, Gulf Center for Human Rights).
On the 8th anniversary of the Pearl Uprising, Rep. James P. McGovern inserted remarks into the Congressional Record calling on the government of Bahrain to release Naji Fateel and other prisoners of conscience and reform policies that risk fostering extremism (February 14, 2019, Congressional Record).
The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) reported that Fateel has entered the second month of a hunger strike to protest the denial of medical care, physical and psychological abuses and restrictions on religious freedoms and family visits (October 2, 2019, ABNA).
Human Rights Watch and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy reported that Bahraini authorities are failing to provide adequate medical care to high-profile prisoners, including Naji Fateel (October 8, 2019, HRW).
- The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor sent a communication to the government of Bahrain expressing concern for the allegations of torture, and other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment faced by Mr. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Mr. Abduljalil Al-Singace, and Mr. Naji Ali Fateel. (July 8, 2021, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders)