Rights groups sue Royal Jet over Bahrain rendition flight | News

The Emirates airline flew dissident Ahmed Jaffar Mohammed Ali from Serbia to Bahrain, where he is being tortured, human rights groups say.

Emirati airline RoyalJet may have violated a European Court of Human Rights order and UN human rights treaties by carrying out the “unlawful” rendition of a Bahraini dissident from Serbia, a group of human rights groups said.

Ahmed Jaffar Mohammed Ali, 48, was extradited on January 24 under an international arrest warrant from 2015, despite a ECtHR ruling that he could not be sent home pending further investigation.

The Bahrain Institute of Rights and Democracy (BIRD) last week quoted the Strasbourg-based ECHR as saying that Ali should not be extradited before February 25 to give it time to “consider possible risks of torture and/or ill-treatment with which the applicant would face faced to investigate.” if extradited to Bahrain”.

In a letter to Royal Jet on Monday, 11 human rights groups said an A6-RJC plane of the private airline – which is based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – flew Ali from the Serbian capital Belgrade to the Bahraini capital Manama, where he was staying. . handed over to the Bahraini authorities.

“We fear that by using your company’s aircraft to carry out the wrongful rendition of Mr Ali, you have played an active role in violating the ECHR provisional measures and Article 3 of the UN Convention against torture, which enshrines the principle of non-refoulement,” the groups said in the letter published on the Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) website.

“You have also violated the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, under which the responsibility of companies to respect human rights requires that they seek to ‘prevent adverse human rights impacts directly related to their activities, products or services. or limit it through their business relationships, even if they have not contributed to those effects.”

Ali was convicted of “terrorism-related crimes” – a charge often passed on to many considered dissidents by the state.

On January 25, Bahrain’s interior ministry said Ali had been extradited “after coordination and communication with a friendly country”.

He was sentenced in absentia to three life sentences and a further 10 years in prison for “terrorism-related offenses between 2012 and 2015, including murder, and the manufacture and possession of explosives,” the report said.

The signatories to Monday’s letter — including groups such as the Association for Victims of Torture-UAE, the European Center for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) and the BIRD — said Ali was tortured by Bahraini authorities in 2007.

They said he had repeatedly stated his intention to seek asylum in Serbia since his arrest in November 2021, citing the risk of torture and death he would face if he returned to Bahrain.

The groups called on Royal Jet to explain its role in the rendition and outline the steps it would take to ensure its aircraft would not be used for refoulement in the future.

Bahrain has persecuted hundreds of protesters and banned key opposition groups after a failed 2011 uprising led by members of the country’s Shia Muslim majority and crushed with the help of neighboring Saudi Arabia.

Most prominent opposition figures and human rights activists are imprisoned or have fled abroad.

Bahraini authorities have denied targeting the opposition, saying they protect national security, and deny any discrimination against the country’s Shia citizens.

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