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    By Les Neuhaus - Mintpress news

    December was not the best month for Bahrain. The tiny island nation was the center of 745 protests, 183 arrests and 207 home raids during the month, according to a report released last week by the country’s Liberties and Human Rights Department in al-Wefaq Society, a human rights body monitoring unrest in the country that is also affiliated with the political opposition.

    Sayed Hadi al-Musawi, who heads the group, also said there had been 17 cases of torture. He said 400 of the protests had been “repressed by Bahrain security forces, causing injuries to protesters and suffocation among inhabitants inside homes as a collective punishment.”

    According to the neutral Bahrain Center for Human Rights, though restrictive laws are already on the books in Bahrain and used by the authorities to criminalize freedom of expression, much harsher punishments were proposed and approved by the government. They allow police to crackdown on what is arbitrarily interpreted as “insulting the King.” The new law allows for long prison sentences that could reach up to seven years and significant financial fines.

     

    ‘We are the Giant’

    Maryam Al-Khawaja, currently in exile from Bahrain in the U.S., is the acting president for the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. Her father, Abdelhadi Al-Khawaja has been in a Bahraini jail since 2011. Her uncle and sister are also being held in prison at this time.

    A documentary is premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah this week called, “We are the Giant,” directed by Greg Barker, who is a former war-correspondent-turned-filmmaker who has worked in more than 50 countries across six continents. His previous films include “Ghosts of Rwanda;” “Sergio,” which won the documentary editing award at Sundance in 2009; “Koran by Heart;” and “MANHUNT,” which premiered at Sundance last year and went on to win a Primetime Emmy Award.

    “We are the Giant” follows several people in Bahrain, Libya and Syria during the Arab Spring. The two individuals Barker chose for Bahrain are Maryam and her sister Zainab. She said she is not affiliated with any of the opposition or political groups.

    “I think that if the regime is serious at all about a dialogue then they need to take trust-building steps, like releasing all political prisoners and ending the daily crackdown, and include the opposition leaders who are imprisoned,” Al-Khawaja, 26, told MintPress on Friday from Park City, Utah, during her U.S. visit. “To have a successful dialogue the regime needs to create an environment in which a dialogue can actually succeed, which is not the case at the moment.”

    She maintains the human rights situation is deteriorating

    “We continue to document systematic torture, enforced disappearances, house raids by masked men in civilian clothes, [the] systematic use of sectarianism as a tool, attacks on all forms of protests — the list is very long,” she said.

    Foreign governments are ignoring events in Bahrain, she claims, because it “is an inconvenient revolution, due to geopolitical and economic interest the West has with the Gulf Cooperation Council monarchies.

    “Governments that claim to hold human rights and democracy as cornerstones of their foreign policy turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the human rights situation (in Bahrain) because of economic and short-sighted security interests.”

    Continue reading on http://www.mintpressnews.com/crackdown-dissent-bahrain-talks-opposition-continue/177286/

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    The Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) express concerns about the ongoing deterioration of the status of human rights defenders in Bahrain

    According to information received by the GCHR and BCHR, imprisoned medic Ebrahim Al-Demstani, deputy head of the Bahrain Nurses’ Society, has been on a hunger strike since 20 December 2013, in protest against his continued ill-treatment in prison, and deprivation from his right to receive adequate medical care.  Ebrahim Al- Demstani has been suffering from a chronic pain in his back, resulting from severe torture he was subjected to following to his first arrest on 2011.

    Al-Demstani is currently serving a 3 year prison sentence in Jaw prison for his role in treating injured protesters in 2011. Following to his first arrest in 2011, and for five days, Al-Demastani was reportedly tortured, beaten, and forced to stand for almost 24 hours a day. He was suffering from a prolapsed disc before his arrest, and it is alleged that when the prison guards found out about it they started kicking him in the back until they caused a fracture in his coccyx bone. [1]

    Since his second arrest on 2 Oct 2012 he has not been allowed to see a specialist doctor for his back pain, despite a court order obliging the authorities to give him access to a specialist, and many appeals submitted to the public prosecution, judge of verdict execution, and the ombudsman. On 2 January he was scheduled to see a specialist doctor at the military hospital. However, he was sent to the doctor’s assistant, who didn’t physically examine the patient, and who refused to take a new x-ray, though the available x-ray is 3 years old.

    Additionally, Al-Demstani has not been allowed to receive appropriate winter clothes for the cold weather, and he has not been allowed to contact his lawyer for the past four months.[2]

    The GCHR and BCHR believes that the imprisonment of medic Ebrahim AlDemstani, and depriving him of adequate medical care is directly related to  his role in defending human rights by providing medical care to injured protesters in 2011.

    Furthermore, another human rights defender, Hussain Jawad, is facing reprisal for his human rights activities at local and international levels. Jawad, Chairman of the European-Bahraini organization for Human Rights (EBOHR), has spent 46 days in detention and was released on 9 January 2014 on bail of 100 Bahraini Dinars (US$265) while his charges are still standing and he might face a trial at any time. He was charged with, among other things, “inciting hatred against the regime”.  He is one of the defenders who was targeted by a defamation campaign in November 2013 by some GONGOs and local pro-government newspapers. As he went to the police station to file a complaint for defamation he was arrested, interrogated and detained for the above mentioned charges. [3]   

    The GCHR and BCHR believes that  human rights defender Hussain Jawad, has been targeted and prosecuted solely due to the legitimate exercise of freedom of speech and peaceful activities in defense of human rights in Bahrain.

    Therefore, the GCHR and the BCHR call on the US administration, the UK government, the EU and other  governments that have influence in Bahrain in  and  leading human rights organizations to:

    • Call for the immediate release of human rights activist and medic Ebrahim Al-Demstani as well as all other detained human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience in Bahrain.
    • Call for  adequate medical care to be provided to the medic Ebrahim Al-Demstani
    • Drop all charges against human rights defender Hussain Jawad and stop the prosecution of human rights defenders
    • Increase the pressure on the Government of Bahrain to stop the on-going daily human rights violations and the escalating attacks against human rights defenders.
    • To put pressure on the Government of Bahrain to guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
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    Detention of the Writer and Islamic Researcher Mahmood Al-Mousawi on the Charge of Hiding a Wanted Person

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concern for the security practices and use of excessive force, including firing live bullets in residential neighbourhoods during an arrest which resulted in injuries among other people. The BCHR also condemns the regime’s continued practices of forced disappearances and whose victims were the writer and Islamic researcher Sayed Mahmood Adnan Al-Mousawi and the wanted Ali Abdulameer– 18 years old, Sayed Mahmood Al-Mousawi’s relative who was arrested after the security apparatuses had chased them, and as a result of that his friends Sadiq Al-Asfoor and Fadhel Abbas were shot with live bullets before arresting them all. Until now the families of detained victims and injured have not been provided with a chance to contact their families to be reassured about their health condition and place of detention.

    According to the information received by the BCHR, the three youth Ali Abdulameer (18 years old), Sadiq Al-Asfoor (17 years old) and Fadhel Abbas (19 years old) were in a visit to a person who had been released recently in the village of Markh on the night of 8 January 2014, when they were chased by the security apparatuses who were targeting Ali Abdulameer; live bullets where shot at the youth in an attempt to arrest them, and which resulted in the injury of Sadiq Al-Asfoor and Fadhel Abbas; they were arrested with their injuries along with Ali Abdulameer. The Ministry of Interior posted on its official account on the social media network Twitter on the night of the incident that its men were able to ‘arrest a number of accused in an operation to smuggle explosives and an arms depot and the injury of two while attempting to escape and running over policemen[i]. No information was provided directly to the families of detainees and injured that could confirm their arrest or health condition.

    The BCHR indicates that the use of live bullets in a residential area to arrest a wanted person is a type of use of unbalanced excessive force and which puts the lives of civilians at risk; while the need to use it was not apparent.

    Manipulating the families of injured detainees and putting off giving them their right to contact their sons

    Although two weeks have passed since the shooting incident, the families of Sadiq Al-Asfoor and Fadhel Abbas are still unable to be reassured about the health condition of their children or their place of detention, despite the confirmed information of them facing injuries on the night of the incident. On the next day of the incident 9 January 2014, Sadiq Al-Asfoor’s father headed towards Salmaniya Medical Complex and then to BDF hospital to enquire about his son Sadiq, however the officials at both hospitals denied knowing any information about his son or about being entered to the hospital. Sadiq’s father then headed to Budaiya’s police station, then to the Public Prosecution who also denied having any information about Sadiq, and even when they checked their electronic system they could not find any cases registered against him.

    On 16 January 2014, Sadiq Al-Asfoor’s father received a call that is believed to be from the Criminal Investigation’s side informing them that Sadiq is in the hospital and that they have to coordinate with the Public Prosecution if they wished to visit him. Sadiq’s father attempted to coordinate a visit on the same day with the Public Prosecution, however they told him that it was late (2 o’clock pm) and that he had to wait until Sunday to try again. On Sunday he was informed that he had to write a letter requesting a visit, and although he wrote a letter on the same day 19 January 2014, he did not receive any response even with the end of the working week. Later, he was told that he had to write a new letter because the previous letter becomes ineffective after the end of the week.

    Detaining Sayed Mahmood Al-Mousawi on the grounds of covering up and the enforced disappearance of Abdulameer after being subjected to beating

    The family of the detainee, the writer and Islamic researcher Syed Mahmood Sayed Adnan Sayed Ali Al-Mousawi stated that at the dawn of Thursday 9 January 2014, civilian forces, backed up by regime forces, raided Sayed Mahmood’s house[ii] in the village of Bani Jamra, and they searched the house and tampered the contents without showing permission for that. They added that the forces were escorted by a blindfolded youngster and every now and then they were asking him about the place where the weapons were hidden. Al-Mousawi’s family stated that the youngster was in a miserable state; his clothes were torn and there were signs of blood streaming down his face. Given that his face features had changed, apparently from the extreme beating, the family was only able to recognize and identify him at a later time as the activist Ali Abdulameer who was arrested in a mysterious manner the night before.

    Photo – the result of the security raid of Sayed Mahmood’ house

     

    The family mentioned that the forces had left the house for a few moments and then returned to Hashim (12 years old) – Sayed Mahmood’s son – and asked him how well he knew Ali Abdulameer and when he denied knowing him they threatened to arrest and torture him.  In an attempt to intimidate him, the forces took his number and asked him to work with the intelligence by informing them about the timings of protests in Bani Jamra. They then went to the rooms and started searching them; they confiscated an amount of money, two phones, two computers, some books and family albums. Then they arrested Sayed Mahmood and took him to an unknown destination. On 12 January 2014, Sayed Al-Mousawi was brought forth to the Public Prosecution who ordered his detention for 7 days on the charge of covering up and his detention was renewed for another extra 10 days on 19 January 2014 where he is currently being held at the Dry Dock Prison. It’s worth mentioning that Sayed Mahmood Al-Mousawi is an Islamic researcher and writer known in cultural circles, and the author of 20 books, in addition to writing several researches and attending conferences, and writing articles for newspapers, and participating in civil society institutes, as well as being one of the founders of Al-Resalah Islamic Society in Bahrain. [iii]

    Ali Abdulameer did not get a chance to obtain any information about his place of detention or his health condition since his arrest. They only received a few seconds’ calls telling them words that seem dictated that ‘he is fine’. It is feared that he will be subjected to further torture after the way he appeared in during the house raid of Sayed Al-Mousawi.

    These types of cases of excessive use of force upon arrest and which reaches attempted murder is not the first of its type, the BCHR had previously monitored in December 2012 a shooting incident against a youth that was not wanted for security reasons and he suffered a serious injury in the face when the security forces attempted to arrest the other youngster escorting him.[iv]

    The BCHR believes that the spread of these practices is clear evidence that there is green light from supreme bodies allowing junior officers and members of security apparatuses to continue to commit violations especially amid the lack of accountability and control and the prevalence of impunity.

    Based on the above, the BCHR calls on the United States, United Kingdom and United Nations and all the regime’s close allies and relevant international institutions to:

    • Immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners;
    • Put an end to the use of excessive force when dealing with cases of arrest and peaceful protests;
    • Allow parents of the injured detainees Sadiq Al-Asfoor and Fadhel Abbas to contact their families and to be reassured about their health condition;
    • Put pressure on the regime in Bahrain to take into account and maintain human rights;
    • Put pressure for the intervention of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights;
    • Trial Bahrain internationally for the continuous and constant violations of the international conventions and treaties it had already endorsed.

    It also calls on the regime in Bahrain to:                                                       

    • Stop practicing and pursuing the policy of enforced disappearances;
    • Hold all those implicated in the violations and torture accountable whether by supervision and / or order and subject them to questioning, especially the higher ranking ones.
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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is appalled by the news of the extra-judicial killing of 19-year-old Fadhel Abbas Muslim Marhoon by police fire, following 18 days of his enforced disappearance.

    On Wednesday January 8, 2014, 17-year-old Sadeq Jaffar Alasafoor, 19-year-old Fadhel Abbas Muslim, and 18-year-old Ali AbdulAmir were subjected to violent arrest by the police while visiting a released prisoner in the village of Markh. The three youth were reportedly chased by members of the National Security Forces who opened fire, injuring two of them. They were subsequently arrested and held incommunicado. The Ministry of the Interior released a statement the following day, stating that arrests were made “regarding the involvement of suspects in the smuggling of weapons and explosives”, resulting in the injury of two suspects during their attempt to escape when one tried to run over the police with his car and the other was believed to be reaching for a weapon[1]. No information pertaining to the whereabouts and wellbeing of their sons was ever provided. Furthermore, the family was not provided with basic information as to who was arrested or who was injured. Subsequently, according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the three youth were subject to enforced disappearance since the incident. (refer to BCHR Statement http://bahrainrights.org/ar/node/6726)

    An eye witness contacted the BCHR and gave the following testimony (name withheld for safety reasons):

    “Around 11pm I heard shooting, it was several shots and very loud. Approximately 10 minutes later I got up on the roof of the house, and I saw three civilian cars and people running. The place where the incident took place is where laborers live, and it’s a pretty big open space. Five minutes later, approximately riot police vehicles arrived to the place of the incident, followed by two ambulances who arrived and left rapidly. More riot police vehicles arrived accompanied by NSA vehicles who stayed at the site of the incident until 5am before leaving.”

    Further evidence of this enforced disappearance is given by Fadhel Abbas Muslim’s father who went to Budaiya police station where he was told there were no detainees with his son’s name. He sought further answers at the Salmaniya Medical Complex but was again told his son was not hospitalized. Finally, he went to the Military hospital where he was immediately escorted out.

    There was no official communication to the family throughout the 18 days following the January 8 incident. Fadhel Abbas Muslim was held incommunicado in an unknown condition, at unknown location until he was finally announced dead by the Ministry of the Interior on January 26, 2014.

    To further exacerbate the situation, The Ministry of the Interior claimed in a statement released on January 26, 2014 that Fadhel Abbas Muslim was injured “while resisting arrest”, “intentionally trying to run over the policemen, who were forced to use their weapons to defend themselves”[2]. However, the deceased suffered a wound in both the back of his head and in the back of his leg indicating that he was shot from behind. Additionally, bruises were seen on the head and several areas of Fadhel’s body indicating that he was subject to brutal beating at time of arrest.

    According to medical sources, who have viewed photos of the injury suffered by Fadhel, there are no marks of surgical interference, indicating that his condition was beyond surgical intervention.

     

    Photos of Fadhel Abbas' body (Very graphic)

     

    The Ministry of the Interior has labeled all the victims as criminals, despite the fact that the father of Fadhel and the father of Sadeq were not given any information regarding if charges were filed against their sons when they were seeking information at the police station. For example, Sadeq AlAsfoorhas no criminal cases logged against him in the police electronic system, as per what his father was told at the police station. Sadeq AlAsfoor, the other victim of shooting, has been subject to enforced disappearance for over 15 days before his family was finally allowed to briefly see him at the prisoner’s clinic at the HQ of the Ministry of the Interior, on Friday January 24, 2014, under security presence and with restrictions on their talk limited to his medical condition. Sadeq’s family was made aware that he was injured in his kidneys, stomach, and back, despite a clear mark of operation in his belly. It was not clear how many bullets were removed from his body.

    This is not the first incident of violent arrest leaving serious injury. In December 2012, BCHR reported the shooting of a young man in the face by police, as they were trying to arrest his companion.[3]

    At the funeral of Fadhel on January 26, 2014, security forces once again dealt with mourners and protesters in the same violent manner as February 2011, with shotgun and excessive tear gas fire. Serious injuries by shotgun fire in the upper parts of the body were reported.

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights has continuously documented the cases of extra-judicial killing since 2011, but no one has been held adequately accountable for any of the over 80 cases. In the few show trials held for low-rank policemen, the passed sentenced ranged between a few months after appeals to acquittal. [4] The widespread systematic culture of impunity and the absence of international pressure are encouraging more extra-judicial killing by the government of Bahrain.

    The BCHR calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and all other allies and international institutions to put pressure on the Government of Bahrain to

    • Stop its use of excessive force in dealing with peaceful citizens and end the systematic policy of impunity,
    • Immediately initiate an impartial and independent investigation into the killing of Fadhel Abbas and all other victims of extrajudicial killings, and hold all those involved in the killing accountable, especially those in high positions who gave the orders.
    • To consider a meaningful solution to resolve the persistent political issues of instability in the country.

     

     

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    The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses grave concern regarding the Bahraini authorities’ treatment of Nabeel Rajab, imprisoned President of the BCHR and General Secretary of GCHR, in addition to their refusal to grant him early release that he is eligible for as per the law. A request for early release was submitted by Nabeel Rajab’s lawyers on 21 January 2014 to the Court but it was rejected without any reasons given.

    On 21 January 2014, the penalty enforcement judge once again rejected a request that was submitted on the same day to release leading human rights defender Bahrain Center for Human Rights President Nabeel Rajab. Before passing judgment, the judge reportedly did not a take any action to investigate whether conditions for early release had been met. This is the third attempt submitted by Rajab’s lawyers requesting his release, based on article 349 of Code of Criminal Procedures which sets conditions for early release. These are as follows: three quarters of the sentence has already been served, trustworthy good behavior during detention and the imprisoned person is not a threat to public security. Although these conditions apply to Rajab’s case, all requests submitted by his lawyers were rejected. (See about previous requests on http://bahrainrights.org/en/node/6635)

    In the letter submitted to the judge on 21 Jan 2014, Nabeel Rajab’s lawyer provided evidence of his eligibility for early release and complained about the discrimination against Rajab in applying the law of early release, as well as the harm he suffered because of the prolonged delay in responding to his request which was submitted to the Court of Cassation to suspend the sentence. 

    The evidence provided by Rajab’s lawyer is detailed below:

     (Following are excerpts from the letter submitted to the court)

     

    First: the availability of the conditions of the conditional release of our client:

    1. In regards to showing trustworthy behaviour while in prison, that condition is met by our client and nothing at any time has been provided by the prison administration that may contradict that, especially as  it has been proved that he took the initiative while in prison to report to the prison administration, Public Prosecution and General Secretariat of Complaints at the Ministry of Interior a about  torture that took place and that was committed by some of the members and officers of the Ministry of Interior against some inmates inside Jaw Prison.

    Based on this report, the Public Prosecution began to investigate the matter according to a statement issued by the Chief Prosecutor, Head of the Special Investigation Unit, Nawaf Hamza, on 7/12/2013, published by Bahrain News Agency (BNA) where it stated the Chief Prosecutor’s confirmation, ‘the Special Unit received a report from the sentenced Nabeel Rajab about a number of inmates at the Facility of Correction and Rehabilitation being subjected to abuse by some policemen, and the Unit initiated an investigation into the incident as soon as it received the report’.

    This confirms that our client is trustworthy: his statement about the incident corresponded with the investigation carried out by the General Secretariat of Complaints and Special Investigation Unit at the Public Prosecution and which ended with referring the defendants who are members of the public security forces to court.

    In this context, it is noteworthy that our client had taken the initiative as soon as he knew about the crime to inform the Administration of Jaw’s Prison about it, however the prison administration did nothing indeed, it interrupted and disconnected our client’s phone call when he was about to tell his wife about the incident, with the aim of conveying the information to his lawyer, so that the latter could inform the official channels on his behalf.

    1. As to the condition that the sentenced person would not cause a threat to public security, our client’s charges are limited to offenses related to peacefully practising freedom of expression and opinion while carrying out his duties as a human rights defender, and thus, he naturally does not form any threat to public security.
    2. As to the third condition regarding the period the sentenced has spent in prison, our client has spent more than 20 months which exceeds three fourths of his prison sentence of two years. Our client has spent detention periods at Hura Police Station pending the hearing of cases in which he was accused , as follows:
      • In case no 4705/2012 he spent 15 days in detention from 5/5/2012 until 20/5/2012.
      • In case no 4947/2012 he spent 8 days from 20/5/2012 until 28/5/2012.
      • In case no 5807/2012 he spent 21 days from 6/6/2012 until 27/6/2012.

    The total number of days our client has spent in detention is 15+8+21=44 days

    The penalty was implemented from 9/ 7/2012 until now, i.e. 558 days. Hence, the total amount he has spent in jail is 558+44=602 days, which exceeds 20 months, more than three fourths of his sentence period.

     

    Second: submitting a request from the Prison Warden is not a condition for release:

     The law does not require that the release is guaranteed by submitting a request from the prison warden. Article 350 of the Law of Criminal Procedure states that the conditional release is by order of the Judge of Penalty Implementation, on the basis of evidence provided by the Manager of Penal Facilities. Submitting a request from the prison warden is just a matter of regulatory procedure, in cases where the sentenced cannot make a request himself. Thus, it is not a requirement to be eligible for release, as it is inconceivable that legislation would intend to mortgage the inherent right of a sentenced to the will or mood of an administrative body.

    Henceforth, the sentenced person can submit a request considering him an inherent right and interest holder, and in this matter the Judge of Implementation asks the prison administration about the whether the detained person has met the aforementioned first and third condition, regarding the behaviour of the sentenced person prison and whether or not he had spent three fourths of his prison sentence.

    Note that we had submitted two letters on 9/9/2013 and 25/11/2013,  to the Director of the Correction and Rehabilitation Facility Lieutenant Colonel  Mohammed Rashid Al-Hoseini requesting the conditional release of our client, and for his name to be included  among those exempted from the remaining sentence period, However the prison administration did nothing in that regard.

     

    Third: the availability of evidence of discrimination against our client:

    It is confirmed from what has been presented that the prison administration neglected the report submitted by our client regarding the crime committed by its employees, and it also ignored or did not respond to his requests for conditional release or to exempt him from the remaining sentence period. However, and according to information published in the Official Gazette regarding the release of 208 prisoners in October 2013 and the release of 172 prisoners in January 2014, we know that, the administration handles hundreds of releases constantly whether through conditional release or exemption from the remaining sentence period.

    Based on the above, it has been proven to your Justice that our client is being subjected to discrimination by excluding him from conditional release provisions or exemption from the remaining sentence period despite the fact that all the prescribed requirements have been met according to the law.

    It seems that depriving him from his right to conditional release is part of a broader campaign against human rights defenders, aimed at silencing the voices that condemn human rights violations in Bahrain, human rights violations that have been documented in official reports such as the report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) established by his Majesty the King, and by several UN institutions such as the UN Human Rights Council.

    Human rights defenders in Bahrain have shed light on these human rights violations with the aim of putting an end to their  continuation and holding those responsible for them accountable, in order to maintain human dignity and rights as called for by the country’s constitution.

     

    Fourth: persistence to harm our client by postponing the decision on his urgent request to stop the implementation of the sentence against him:

    In addition to  the above , at a time when our client is being discriminated against by the prison administration, that is associated with a carelessness in making a decision to stop the implementation of the sentence against him which he submitted to the Court of Cassation in the list of appealing the discrimination in the current sentence that is being implemented; the appeal was submitted on 10/1/2013, more than a year ago, and a court session has not been specified to look into the urgent request to stop the implementation until now, although an urgent request has been made to the Court of Cassation.

    Based on the above, we ask of Your Justice, after enquiring from the prison administration about the good conduct of our client and the prison sentence he has already served, to issue a conditional release order for our client Mr / Nabeel Ahmed Rajab immediately.

    His lawyer stated that all documents and proofs were submitted with the letter, however, the judge did not  ask the prison administration to confirm the  time that Rajab has already served or about his behavior and  rejected the request on the same day, without providing any justification and without replying to the discrimination complaint.

    The GCHR and BCHR believes that Nabeel Rajab is being subjected to discrimination by the Bahraini authorities  and that the reason for denying him the legitimate right to early release is because of his activities as a human rights defender.  

     

    Therefore, the GCHR and the BCHR calls on the US administration, the UK government, the EU and other governments that have influence on the Bahraini authorities  and  leading human rights organizations to call the Bahraini government to abide by its own laws and immediately release leading human rights defender Nabeel Rajab.

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses concern about the continuation of grave violations including abduction of civilians, severe beatings and leaving them in a stranded area. These actions appear to come as a form of punishment and threat for those who participate in pro-democracy protests in the country. The BCHR has document numerous such cases in different areas that witness daily protests demanding the right to self-determination.

    A civilian, who asked to remain unnamed for safety reasons, told the BCHR that he was abducted by security forces on the 17th of January 2014. He was reportedly severely beaten with different weapons and blunt objects. He added that he was verbally abused, and the security forces used very derogatory sectarian terms during the beating. The victim was then taken to Karraneh beach, where he thought he would be dumped, but the security forces continued to beat him until he lost consciousness after which they left. A number of Karraneh residents found him and moved him to a house where he was treated by a volunteer nurse as he feared anticipated arrest if he were to go to the hospital.

    Photo: Injuries of the citizen who was abducted

    The BCHR has documented many similar cases like the Karraneh victim; one of the latest being two victims who were abducted in Bilad AlQadeem on the 11th of January 2014. The two victims, whose names are also withheld for safety reasons, stated to the BCHR that they were abducted by security forces, tied and blindfolded, then severely beaten. These two victims also reported verbal abuse, and the constant use of sectarian derogatory terms. The victims added that the security forces threatened them to stop protesting or they will come back for them; they were released approximately an hour later.

    Photos: Injuries of the two young men who were abducted and beaten in Bilad Al-Qadeem

    At a time when the authorities in Bahrain claim that security forces adhere to the rules of Police Conduct and that this guarantees their best behavior while on duty, the BCHR has documented numerous cases of abductions, including children; when the victims are subjected to severe beatings then released with threats that they must stop protesting or face further consequences. In several cases victims were forced to work as informants for the police. Recommendation number (1722 - c) of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry stated: “To implement an extensive program of public order training for the public security forces, the NSA and the BDF, including their private security companies, in accordance with UN best practices. To ensure future compliance with the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, and the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, the security forces should be trained in the human rights dimensions of detention and interrogation, and in particular the obligation to refuse to participate in any actions involving torture and other prohibited ill-treatment.

    The BCHR believes that these practices are meant to create a culture of fear to prevent people from their legitimate right to peaceful protest. These violations and the continuation of other violations come as a direct result of the culture of impunity implemented by the highest levels of the government. The same officials in charge of similar violations documented in the BICI report continue in their positions, unless promoted, thus the continuation of these violations come as no surprise.

    Based on the above, the BCHR calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and all other ally governments and relevant international institutions to:

    1. Immediately intervene to put an end to these abductions which are used to terrorize people and end protests
    2. Pressure Bahrain to respect the conventions that Bahrain is signatory to, and to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human rights, especially that related to freedom of expression and assembly
    3. Hold the Government of Bahrain accountable internationally as it has proved impossible to do so locally

    The BCHR calls on the Government of Bahrain to:

    1. Launch an independent and impartial investigation into the abductions
    2. Hold accountable all those involved, especially those in high positions
    3. Allow space for people to practice their right to free expression and peaceful protest without terrorizing civilians or creating fear
    4. Compensate all victims of violations committed by the Government of Bahrain
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    Cells with no ventilation, deprival of winter clothes and no hot water

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concern for the deterioration of the conditions of prisoners in the overcrowded Bahraini prisons especially with the start of winter and low temperatures.

    Several families of the detainees at the (Dry Dock) Detention Center and the convicted at the Central Prison (Jaw) stated that the prisons administrations prevented them from admitting winter clothes to their detained sons, and it also prevented them from admitting heavy blankets for sleeping, despite their frequent attempts. Among them was the family of the nurse Ebrahim Al-Demistani which the prison administration prevented from admitting winter clothes for and it also prevented admitting his medicine for his disc treatment.

    According to the information received, the prison administration does not provide heating devices for the cells despite the prisoners repeated demands for it; prisoners are only allowed light blankets for sleeping that do not provide the required warmth. As to the bathing water, the number of water heaters available, and which are only 3 in the Dry Dock Prison, does not meet the massive number of prisoners. This forces the majority to shower in extremely cold water. Worth noting, both prisons lie close to the sea which makes temperature even colder.

    Besides that, the poor health condition of the detention centers in light of the overcrowded prison makes the prisoners easily vulnerable to cold diseases.

    Statistics indicate that there are approximately 3000 detainees which exceeds the capacity of prisons. In ward number 3 in the Dry Dock Detention Center there are 10 cells; each of these cells can accommodate 12 beds, however, in fact, six additional prisoners are forced to sleep on the floor because of the overcrowded cells. In some cells, there aren’t windows for ventilation at all.

    Similar complaints were received about the deteriorating health condition and poor ventilation in the Women’s Prison in Isa Town. The detained activist Zaynab Al-Khawaja stated that the prisoners are forced to keep the air conditioners on despite the cold weather because of the air stench.

    While the prisoners find themselves in an environment that fosters and transmits diseases, what increases their suffering is the lack of necessary medical care; the number of doctors and nurses in the prison clinic does not correspond with the immense number of prisoners, medication is not given according to each patient’s schedule, and prisoners are not allowed to read the instructions supplied with the medicine they are taking which drives some of them to refuse to take the medicine.

    On 19 December 2013, the father of the detainee Sajjad Al-Alawi stated that his son was suffering from a cold sickness because the cell had no window, and the fan that refreshes the air is broken. [i] He complained from the prison administration’s repeated refusal to admit changing clothes for his son for more than a month although they had taken out the old clothes. [ii] Sajjad Al-Alawi was not able to attend his court session on 23 December 2013 as a result of his illness.

    In January 2014 the detainee Salah Al-Khawaja’s was delayed for his scheduled visit in Jaw prison for more than an hour because of his request to be allowed to wear socks and shoes during the visit to avoid the cold, as he is infected with sickle cell disease and being subjected to cold weather could lead to a deterioration in his health. He was only allowed the visit after sufficing with wearing sandals and no heavy jacket.

    The neglect to take precautions against cold weather is not limited to inside the prisons; it even applies to the prisoners when being transported outside prison. The blind detainee Ali Saad was seen in light summer clothes in Salmaniya Medical Complex at a time when the temperature in Bahrain dropped to less than 18° C.

    What intensifies the sufferings of the prisoners’ families is that they are forced to wait for long hours in a queue in front of a room outside the prison building with no shading to take the visit dates. While the visit was weekly, the time between one visit and the other has become 11 days, and sometimes the visit is cancelled without prior notice. Several families mentioned that they are inspected in a humiliating manner before the visit begins, and they are only allowed to communicate with their detained relative through a glass partition from which you cannot always hear. During the phone calls from the prisoners to their families, the call is closely monitored, and the families can hear the prison guards cursing every time the political situation is brought up in the conversation.

    On 26 December 2013, the Ministry of Interior announced the death of one of the detainees as a result of an ailment. [iii] Amid the lack of independent investigation in these incidents and the lack of independent monitoring on the detention centers, the BCHR holds the Ministry of Interior the full responsibility for any death incident or any diseases the prisoners and detainees get subjected to.

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights emphasizes the significance of the international conventions on the protection of persons subjected to detention or imprisonment, especially that, ‘All persons under any form of detention or imprisonment shall be treated in a humane manner and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person’; it therefore calls on the US, UK, UN and all the regime’s close allies and relevant international organizations to pressurize the government of Bahrain to guarantee the rights of detainees and prisoners, especially the children, including:

    1. Improve the daily living conditions as stated in Article (60) of ‘The Standard Minimum Rules’ as follows: ‘The regime of the institution should seek to minimize any differences between prison life and life at liberty which tend to lessen the responsibility of the prisoners or the respect due to their dignity as human beings.’ Article (10) states: ‘All accommodation provided for the use of prisoners and in particular all sleeping accommodation shall meet all requirements of health, due regard being paid to climatic conditions and particularly to cubic content of air, minimum floor space, lighting, heating and ventilation.’
    2. Providing sufficient bathing utensils for prisoners in regards to temperature as stated in Article (13): ‘Adequate bathing and shower installations shall be provided so that every prisoner may be enabled and required to have a bath or shower, at a temperature suitable to the climate, as frequently as necessary for general hygiene according to season and geographical region, but at least once a week in a temperate climate.’
    3. Allow prisoners clothes that appropriate for the weather, especially during cold weather as mentioned in Article (17), which states: ‘Every prisoner who is not allowed to wear his own clothing shall be provided with an outfit of clothing suitable for the climate and adequate to keep him in good health. Such clothing shall in no manner be degrading or humiliating.’
    4. Provide the necessary medical care to the sick or injured prisoners in the manner stated in Article (22): ‘Sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals. Where hospital facilities are provided in an institution, their equipment, furnishings and pharmaceutical supplies shall be proper for the medical care and treatment of sick prisoners, and there shall be a staff of suitable trained officers.
    5. Guarantee the prisoners right in relation with contacting the outside world as far as communication with family and friends is concerned, in the manner stated in Article (37) of ‘The Standard Minimum Rules’, and Article (39): ‘Prisoners shall be kept informed regularly of the more important items of news by the reading of newspapers, periodicals or special institutional publications, by hearing wireless transmissions, by lectures or by any similar means as authorized or controlled by the administration’, and with the development of media, that can be provided by means of television and radio channels as well.
    6. Bahrain should sign The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, which states that there will be a permanent committee to visit prisons and the visits could be surprise visits. This matter could be a practical step forward that demonstrates the sincerity of the regime’s intentions to improve the conditions of prisons.

     

    Finally, worth mentioning that the recommendations of the BCHR in regards to the prison conditions in Bahrain does not in any form mean marginalizing or annulling the main recommendation and which is the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners.

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    Further information on UA: 232/12 Index: MDE 11/007/2014 Bahrain Date: 31 January 2014

    URGENT ACTION

    Bahraini activist Zainab Al-Khawaja was sentenced to a further four months in prison by a Criminal Court in relation to two new cases brought against her for “destroying government property”.

    On 27 January Zainab Al-Khawaja, dual Bahraini and Danish national, was sentenced by the Lower Criminal Court in Manama, the capital, to a further four months’ imprisonment on charge of “destroying government property”. After neither she nor her lawyer attended trial, Zainab Al-Khawaja was sentenced namely for ripping pictures of the King belonging to the Ministry of Interior, on 4 and 6 May 2012. The trial of another case against her is also due to begin on 5 February. She is charged with “insulting a police officer” because she verbally defended another prisoner who was insulted and humiliated by a prison guard on 22 June 2013 in ‘Issa Town detention centre for women, south of Manama, where both women are held.

    Since 27 February 2013 Zainab Al-Khawaja has been serving several short prison sentences in five other cases and was due to be released on 20 February 2014. The sentences issued against her by lower criminal courts are final because she refused to appeal before higher courts believing that Bahrain’s judiciary is controlled by the government. She has also refused to pay bail for her release. Zainab Al-Khawaja has been boycotting court hearings and refusing to appear before the Public Prosecution. However, on 27 January she was informed of the court session half an hour before it was due to take place and she informed her lawyer shortly afterward but he was unable to attend.

    Please write immediately in Arabic, English or your own language:

    • Expressing concern that Zainab Al-Khawaja is a prisoner of conscience held solely for peacefully exercising her rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, and urging the authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally;
    • Urging them to quash her prison sentences, drop all the charges and overturn all her convictions;
    • Urging them to respect and protect the rights to freedom of expression and assembly and ensure that all human rights organizations and human rights defenders are able to carry out their work without hindrance, intimidation or harassment.

    PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 14 MARCH 2014 TO:

    King

    Shaikh Hamad bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa

    Office of His Majesty the King

    P.O. Box 555

    Rifa’a Palace, al-Manama, Bahrain

    Fax: +973 1766 4587 (keep trying)

    Salutation: Your Majesty

     

    Minister of Interior

    Shaikh Rashid bin ‘Abdullah Al Khalifa

    Ministry of Interior

    P.O. Box 13, al-Manama, Bahrain

    Fax: +973 1723 2661

    Twitter: @moi_Bahrain

    Salutation: Your Excellency

     

    And copies to:

    Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs

    Shaikh Khalid bin Ali bin Abdullah Al Khalifa

    Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs

    P. O. Box 450, al-Manama, Bahrain

    Fax: +973 1753 1284

    Email: minister@justice.gov.bh

    Twitter: @Khaled_Bin_Ali

    Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:

    Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salutation

    Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the eighth update of UA: 232/12. Further information: http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/020/2013/en

     

    Additional Information

    Zainab Al-Khawaja is the daughter of activist ‘Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, a prisoner of conscience. She has been arrested and released several times since December 2011. She was last arrested on 27 February 2013. That day the Appeal Court had upheld a one-month prison sentence, issued on 10 December 2012 by the Lower Criminal Court, for "entering a restricted area" (al-Farooq Junction, formerly Pearl Roundabout). Zainab Al-Khawaja had already served eight days of this sentence before being released pending appeal. The Appeal Court further upheld a two-month prison sentence for "destroying government property", as she had torn up a picture of Bahrain’s king while detained in May 2012, however she had already served this sentence. On 28 February 2013 Zainab Al-Khawaja was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment by the Appeal Court in Manama, for “insulting an officer” in a military hospital, overturning the verdict of a lower criminal court which had acquitted her on 2 May 2012. On 9 May 2013 the Appeal Court upheld a three months sentence for “illegal gathering and rioting” as she had staged a one-person protest in al-‘Aali, north east of Manama, on 26 November 2011, to stop the police from attacking mourners grieving for a man who was allegedly killed by the police. On 22 May 2013 a lower criminal court sentenced her and fellow activist Ma'suma Sayyid Sharaf to, respectively, three months' imprisonment and bail payment of 100 Bahraini Dinars (approximately US$265); and six months’ imprisonment and bail payment of BD200 (approximately US$530). Both had been convicted of "illegal gathering", "inciting hatred against the regime" and a further charge related to their alleged assault on police officers during arrest in December 2011. Finally, on 25 June 2013 she was sentenced to two months in prison for ”insulting a policewoman” while being detained.

    At the launch of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report in November 2011, the government publicly committed itself to implementing its recommendations. The report recounted the government’s response to the mass protests and documented wide-ranging human rights abuses that took place in 2011. Among its key recommendations, the report called on the government to bring to account those responsible for human rights violations, including torture and excessive use of force, and carry out independent investigations into allegations of torture.

    Over two years have passed since the BICI report and the government has failed to implement the report’s key recommendations. Prisoners of conscience, including some arrested during the protests, remain behind bars and the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly continue to be suppressed and more people have been jailed simply for daring to express their views, whether via Twitter or on peaceful marches. The establishment of BICI and its report was considered to be a groundbreaking initiative, but the promise of meaningful reform has been betrayed by the government’s unwillingness to implement key recommendations around accountability; this includes its failure to carry out independent, effective and transparent investigations into allegations of torture and other ill-treatment and excessive use of force, and to prosecute all those who gave the orders to commit human rights abuses. For further information see the report Reform shelved, repression unleashed (Index: MDE 11/062/2012), November 2012, http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/062/2012/en.

    Bahrain’s parliament held an extraordinary session on 28 July 2013, after which it submitted 22 recommendations to the King, Shaikh Hamad Bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa. The recommendations toughen punishments laid out in the 2006 anti-terrorism law. A few days later the King issued several decrees further curtailing the right to freedom of expression, including banning all protests, sit-ins and public gatherings in Manama indefinitely and giving the security forces additional sweeping powers. A joint statement signed by 47 countries at the UN Human Rights Council on 9 September expressed serious concern about the ongoing human rights violations in Bahrain.

    Name: Zainab Al-Khawaja

    Gender m/f: f

    Further information on UA: 232/12 Index: MDE 11/007/2014 Issue Date: 31 January 2014

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    The Bahraini authorities must immediately investigate the death in custody of a 19-year-old boy who was shot in the head by security forces, said Amnesty International.

    “Bahrain’s authorities must come clean and open a full, independent investigation to establish the truth about the death of Fadel Abbas. Those responsible for his death must be held to account,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “The conflicting information that has emerged over the version of events that led to his death makes such an investigation even more urgent.”

    Fadel Abbas was wounded when security forces tried to arrest him and others as they went to visit a recently released prisoner in the village of Markh.

    The Interior Ministry said in a statement on 26 January that Fadel Abbas had died of his wounds after he was shot on 8 January when he “purposefully” drove a car into members of the security forces as he attempted to escape arrest for smuggling arms and explosives. The Ministry said its forces had acted in self-defence.

    Human rights activists, who published pictures of the body of Fadel Abbas, said that he sustained bullet injuries in the head and wounds to the leg during a violent altercation with the security forces.

    Fadel Abbas’s family were also not told he had been arrested when they asked police about him after he went missing.

    Fadel Abbas’s mother said that the Criminal Investigation Directorate had contacted her on 26 January to inform her of her son’s death. Prior to this the family said they were not given any information about his whereabouts or medical condition and were not allowed to visit him in hospital. The Interior Ministry has stated that Fadel Abbas’s family were allowed access to him on 13 January.

    The killing of Fadel Abbas has triggered protests in the village of Diraz, west of the capital Manama where his funeral was held. Police fired tear gas and gunshots as they clashed with protesters after the funeral.

    “The latest protests show that there remains a deep lack of trust in information issued by the authorities. Such mistrust is largely due to the authorities’ unwillingness and abject failure so far to adequately address abuses by its security forces and provide justice for those who have died,” said Said Boumedouha.

    Since anti-government protests erupted in Bahrain on 14 February 2011, a number of low ranking police officers have been tried over the deadly crackdown on protester. However they have either been acquitted or given sentences that do not match the seriousness of their alleged offences.

    The authorities have yet to implement a number of key recommendations made in the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report, including carrying out investigations into killings by the security force during the uprising.

    Demonstrations have continued to take place regularly outside of Manama calling for human rights and political reform. 

    https://www.amnesty.org/en/news/bahrain-death-young-detainee-shot-head-must-be-investigated-2014-01-27

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    Reporters Without Borders reiterates its condemnation of the arbitrary behaviour of the Bahraini judicial system, which has postponed the trials of several detained news and information providers in the past two weeks.

    The judicial authorities must abandon all the trumped-up charges they have brought against journalists just because they covered anti-government street protests, the media freedom organization said.

    Reporters Without Borders also calls on the authorities to systematically order independent investigations whenever torture and mistreatment in detention is alleged. Failure to investigate violates article 12 of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

    RWB and nine other human rights groups wrote to Frank La Rue, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, and Juan Méndez, the UN special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, on 15 December asking them to investigate the arrests, detention and torture of three Bahraini journalists.

    Arrested for covering recent protests, the three journalists – reporter Mohamed Hassan, freelance photographer Hussain Hubail and freelance cameraman Qassim Zain AlDeen– all say they were tortured. Hassan has been released but Hubail and Deen are still held.

    In the latest act of judicial foot-dragging, a judge yesterday postponed the well-known photographer Ahmed Humeidan’s trial until 26 March, when a verdict is supposed to be issued. He has been held since December 2012 on a charge of attacking a police station in Sitra in April 2012, although he was not even there at the time.

    His trial began last February but the prosecution kept on postponing hearings because it had difficulty producing witnesses. His lawyer has repeatedly but unsuccessfully requested an independent investigation into his client’s allegations of torture. His requests to the prison authorities to let his client be examined by a doctor have also been unsuccessful.

    On 27 January, the trial of the freelance photographerHussain Hubail and the blogger Jassim Al-Nuaimi were postponed until 16 February for the final defence statements.

    Winner of the independent newspaper Al-Wasat’s prize in May 2013 for a photo of protesters in a cloud of teargas, Hubail was arrested on 31 July and was charged on 21 August with “managing (electronic) accounts calling for the government’s overthrow,” “promoting and inciting hatred against the government,” “inciting others to disobey the law,” and calling for illegal demonstrations.

    He was also charged with “contributing to the Twitter account of the 14 February media network.” During the 27 January hearing, he accused a certain Lt. Fawaz Al-Sameem of torturing him and threatening him and the women in his family with rape.

    Nuaimi, who was a very active blogger during the uprising, was arrested at his home by masked plainclothesmen on 31 July 2013 on charges of using social media to incite anti-government hatred and call for illegal demonstrations.

    After being held for several days at the General Directorate of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), he was transferred to Dry Dock prison on 3 August, only to be transferred back to the CID and then taken before a prosecutor. He says he was tortured and forced to sign a confession.

    During the 27 January hearing, Nuaimi testified that he was not in Bahrain when the offending messages were posted and that he had sold his computer before they were posted, so he could not have been responsible.

    According to information received by Reporters Without Borders, Hubail and Nuaimi reported that Red Cross representatives examined them earlier this month in connection with their claims of mistreatment.

    Abdullah Salman Al-Jerdabi, a photographer who was arrested on 13 September 2013, was sentenced on 22 January to six months in prison on charges of participating in an illegal demonstration and misuse of social networks.

    The freelance cameraman Qassim Zain AlDeen, who was arrested at his home on 2 August 2013 in the run-up to the “Tamarod” demonstrations in mid-August, was sentenced in December to three months in prison on a charge of participating in an illegal demonstration.

    He was sentenced to an additional six months in prison on 15 January on another charge of participating in an illegal demonstration and a charge of “vandalism.” He is due to be tried on 16 February on a charge of “vandalism” inside the prison where he is being held.

    http://en.rsf.org/bahrain-detained-journalists-and-bloggers-30-01-2014,45809.html

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    (Beirut) – Bahraini authorities should urgently open an independent and impartial investigation into a January 8, 2014 incident in which police officers shot and fatally wounded one man and seriously injured a 17-year-old boy. Authorities should make the results public and explain why they did not inform the victims’ families of their injuries or their whereabouts for more than two weeks.

    According to a death certificate issued by the Bahrain Defense Force military hospital, Fadhel Abbas Muslim Marhoon, 19, died from a “traumatic cerebral oedema” on January 8. Photos of his body show what appears to be a gunshot wound in the back of the head, but the location of the entry wound appears to contradict a January 26 Interior Ministry statement saying that Marhoon was driving an “oncoming car” at police officers in the town of Markh and that the police fired at the car in self-defense.

    “If Bahraini security forces want to fix the reputation they have for covering up abuses, they should promptly investigate the conduct of the officers who fired the fatal shots at Fadhel Marhoon and seriously wounded a 17-year-old boy,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “The Interior Ministry needs to explain why it didn’t say a word to the victims’ frantic families about their missing sons for more than two weeks.”

    Authorities did not alert Marhoon’s family or inform them of his whereabouts until they announced his death on January 25. Nor did the authorities notify the family of Sadeq al-Asafoor, 17, whom the police shot, seriously injured, and detained in the same incident, until January 23, when they transferred him out of a military hospital to a clinic at the Interior Ministry headquarters.

    A third person involved in the incident, Ali Abd al-Amir Khamis, was not injured. On January 29, a court charged him with planting explosives that injured police officers. A lawyer engaged by his family told Human Rights Watch that authorities have prevented him from seeing his client. Family members who visited al-Amir in prison on January 29 told Human Rights Watch that after the incident he spent 20 days in detention at the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) headquarters, where he says he was tortured.

    The Interior Ministry statement says that the shooting of Marhoon and al-Asafoor was linked to a highly publicized incident in which the government alleges that unnamed people attempted to smuggle weapons and explosives into Bahrain by boat. The statement says of the shooting:

    There were two suspects in the building when police arrived. While the two were trying to flee in their car, the driver, Fadhel Abbas, attempted to run over the policemen despite being repeatedly warned, both verbally and by warning shots. Finally, police were compelled to use their weapons to defend themselves and stop the oncoming car.

    A member of al-Asafoor’s family told Human Rights Watch that he went to visit a friend in the village of Markh at around 9 p.m. on January 8. What happened leading up to the shooting is not clear. The family member who visited al-Amir in Jau prison on the morning of January 29 told Human Rights Watch that al-Amir claims that he and his two friends were caught in a police trap.

    The police shot al-Asafoor when he left the car, apparently to collect something, based on the relative’s account from al-Amir. Al-Amir and Marhoon fled the scene in a car under fire from police, but returned later to look for al-Asafoor. A police jeep then rammed their car, forcing it to stop, and the police fired multiple shots into the vehicle, killing Marhoon. 

    This account of events as well as the photos of Marhoon’s fatal wound call into question the Interior Ministry’s narrative. The photos Human Rights Watch examined appear to show a bullet wound 1 centimeter in diameter in the back of Marhoon’s head. No bullet wound is visible on the front of his head. The death certificate states that the cause of death, at 11:30 p.m. on January 25, was an “intracranial injury” that caused a “traumatic cerebral oedema” but it makes no reference to a gunshot.

    Family members visited al-Asafoor on January 24 in the al-Qala’a clinic at Interior Ministry headquarters. They told Human Rights Watch they saw what appeared to be gunshot injuries on his lower torso. They later told Human Rights Watch that plainclothes officials at the clinic warned the family not to discuss the incident that led to his injuries or they would prevent them from making further visits. They added that security officials supervised their visit and did not permit them to meet with medical personnel responsible for treating their son.

    Had Marhoon been driving an oncoming car toward police officers, it would seem likely that any shots they fired in self-defense would have struck him in the front of his head, not the back.

    “The families’ accounts of the incident, if true, indicate that Marhoon’s death may have constituted an extrajudicial execution,” Stork said. “Police may have had legitimate reasons for wanting to apprehend these three men, but it does not appear that they had any legitimate cause to shoot them.”

    The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, appointed to investigate official conduct during antigovernment protests in 2011, concluded that: “police units used force against civilians in a manner that was both unnecessary and disproportionate. This was due, at least partially, to inadequate training of field units [and] ineffectual command and control systems...”

    As a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Bahrain is required to protect and respect the right to life. It should abide by the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms, which state that lethal force may only be used when strictly unavoidable, to protect life, and must be exercised with restraint and proportionality. The principles require governments to “ensure that arbitrary or abusive use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials is punished as a criminal offense under their law.”

    A family member told Human Rights Watch that the authorities consistently refused to acknowledge they were holding Marhoon or al-Asafoor, or inform either of the families of their relatives’ whereabouts or well-being. In the days following the incident, the family member said, al-Asafoor’s family went to Salmaniya medical center, the Bahrain Defense Force military hospital, and the Office of the Public Prosecutor to ask if al-Asafoor was injured or in custody. All denied holding him or any knowledge of his whereabouts.

    On January 12, a staff member at the military hospital told the family that al-Asafoor was in custody at the hospital and stable, but the following day staff there again denied he was in the hospital.

    International law classifies authorities’ refusal to acknowledge the fact they are detaining persons, or their whereabouts, as enforced disappearance. The authorities should explain why they failed to inform the family of a grievously injured child of his whereabouts and life-threatening injuries, even though the family was actively searching for him.

    Al-Amir made a brief phone call to his family in the week after the shooting. The family contacted a Bahraini lawyer, who filed a written application to represent al-Amir and submitted it to the public prosecutor on January 13. The public prosecutor informed him that he would be unable to speak to his client until after an initial trial hearing on January 29, where he is to face charges of attacking a police officer, the lawyer told Human Rights Watch.

    Neither Bahrain’s Criminal Procedure Law, nor its 2006 counterterrorism law, make provision for refusing access to a lawyer in such a way. This would be a violation of fair trial rights guaranteed by Bahrain’s constitution as well as international human rights law.

    http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/01/30/bahrain-investigate-fatal-shooting-police

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    Reconciliation talks between Bahrain’s ruling monarchy and opposition groups have resumed amidst a continued crackdown on dissidents. The Bahraini government has waged a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters since an uprising broke out in February 2011. The U.S.-backed monarchy is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, which is responsible for all naval forces in the Gulf. Bahrain is a key strategic asset in the region because it directly faces Iran. "We are the Giant," a new documentary premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, looks at the situation in Bahrain through the lens of a prominent family of activists, the Alkhawajas. The well-known human rights attorney Abdulhadi Alkhawaja is serving a life sentence, while his outspoken daughter, Zainab, is also behind bars. We are joined by Maryam Alkhawaja, who currently serves as acting president the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, while living in forced exile.

     

     

    Transcript

    This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

    AMYGOODMAN: We are broadcasting from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, as we turn now to Bahrain, where reconciliation talks between the ruling monarchy and opposition groups have resumed amidst a continued crackdown on dissidents. On Tuesday, Shiite opposition groups reportedly met with a Royal Court minister and expressed hope for a new start to a stalled national dialogue. The Bahraini government has waged a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters since an uprising broke out in February of 2011. The U.S.-backed monarchy is home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which is responsible for all naval forces in the Gulf. Bahrain is a key strategic asset in the region because it directly faces Iran.

    Well, a new documentary here at Sundance looks at the situation in Bahrain through the lens of a prominent family of activists. Directed by Greg Barker, the documentary is called We are the Giant. In this clip, we hear from Zainab Alkhawaja, followed by her sister Maryam.

    ZAINABALKHAWAJA: For centuries, a lot of Arabs have been feeling that no matter what I do, this is not going to change, nothing is going to change in this country. Without hope, you’re not going to get anywhere, because you have to actually believe that this is going somewhere. And that’s why I can’t quit, I can’t give up.

    Where are our rights? Do our lives not matter unless there are cameras here? This is my question.

    I’ve been arrested maybe seven times, I think. I’ve been beaten, and I’ve been injured. And I have more than 13 cases against me in court. I do feel guilty when I leave my daughter for a long while, when she wakes up in the middle of the night worried that I’m going to prison. Just last night, she woke up, and she woke me up to tell me, "Please don’t go to jail." And I never told her that I went to jail, but she hears stuff. You know, kids are so smart. And she wakes me up, and she tells me, "Don’t go to prison.

    Read the full transcript on http://www.democracynow.org/2014/1/24/we_are_the_giant_bahrains_top#.UuKKTPz8_4U

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    The decision to exile oneself from their home country is certainly not easy, but for the Bahraini human rights activist Said Yousif al-Muhafda, the choice for himself and his family was a plain one.

    Said Yousif Al-Muhafda is the 31-year-old human rights activist whose position as Head of Monitoring and Documentation with the BCHR (Bahrain Center for Human Rights) has placed him at the tumultuous crossroads of Bahrain’s decades-long political crisis and the Arab Spring–and the implications for himself have been very serious. As a Twitter activist and close affiliate of Nabeel Rajab, he has been threatened, detained, beaten, and acquitted, in retaliation to his on-the-ground work documenting cases of human rights violations, but he has continued to believe that these were the necessary risks inherent in being an outspoken critic of the Bahrain regime.

    However, the threats he received over his recent work on the BCHR’s “Wanted For Justice in Bahrain” campaign became too specific and too credible to not be taken seriously, and so he came to the painful decision that the safest and most effective thing to do was to leave Bahrain with his family and announced his decision on 2 December, 2013. The “Wanted for Justice in Bahrain” campaign was one of the BCHR’s most bold moves against the regime, in that it consisted of posting to their website and to Twitter the names and photos of high-profile Bahraini officials alleged to be the perpetrators of gross human rights, and called for them all to be put on trial, outside Bahrain, according to international standards of justice. The BCHR’s acting president, Maryam Al-Khawaja, describes the program as such, on their website:

    It is about time we put a face to the violations. Continuously referring to the perpetrators of widespread human rights violations from the 1990’s until now as the “Government of Bahrain” or the “regime” allows the individuals involved to continue living and traveling freely. Let their faces be known, not only in Bahrain, but internationally. All the names included in our list are people who should be given a fair trial according to international standards, and if found guilty, should be held accountable. We also hope that this campaign will help encourage international actors to stop doing business with these individuals, and start thinking about individual sanctions.

    I spoke with Said via Skype to learn more about his background, his present situation, and to hear his analysis of the situation in general in Bahrain. The following are the main excerpts from our conversation.

    How did you get started with the Bahrain Center for Human Rights?

    “I’ve been working with the BCHR since 2007. I started working with their IT issues — I created Facebook & Twitter pages and a Youtube channel because we just had a website before. I then started taking courses in learning how to write Arabic human rights reports.”

    Continue reading on https://imaginingif.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/culture-of-impunity-interview-with-said-yousif-al-muhafda/

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    Parliament passed three separate resolutions on Thursday, calling on all parties in Thailand to respect the rule of law and democratic principles; demanding full respect for the right to education and an end to all forms of pressure against Romanian teaching institutions in the Transnistrian region; and condemning all human rights violations in Bahrain, while expressing grave concern at the treatment of Nabeel Rajab and other human rights activists.

    MEPs insist on "for the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience, political activists, journalists, human rights defenders and peaceful protesters, including Nabeel Rajab, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Ibrahim Sharif, Naji Fateel, and Zainab Al-Khawaja". They express "grave concern regarding the Bahraini authorities’ treatment of Nabeel Rajab and other human rights activists, in addition to their refusal to grant him the early release for which he is eligible in accordance with the law."

    The EU foreign policy chief and member countries should work together "to develop a clear strategy" in respect of EU actions "to actively push for the release of the imprisoned activists and prisoners of conscience", say MEPs.

     

     

    Read the full resolution on http://www.marietjeschaake.eu/2014/02/plenary-speech-and-resolution-on-human-rights-in-bahrain/

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    DW- Activists in Bahrain say the misuse of teargas by security forces against protesters amounts to chemical warfare. They believe a German-South African defense company is among the suppliers.

    Used properly, tear gas is non-lethal. Used improperly it can cause death, blindness and miscarriage. Used improperly in great quantities on a daily basis, it is considered tantamount to chemical warfare. That, say Bahrainis, has become the face of their existence.

    A layman could easily be forgiven for thinking teargas canisters a uniform product, but the average Bahraini is more expert than lay. Citizens on the tiny Gulf Island have become so familiar with the canisters that have rained on them since their uprising in early 2011 that they can easily differentiate between the various models in circulation.

    Many are boldly emblazoned with their country and even company of origin. Not so, however, the widely used 40mm silvery gold canisters with a thick red band and lettering. Activists at the human rights organization Bahrain Watch say the unnamed cartridges bear an uncanny resemblence to those manufactured by the German-South African defense company Rheinmetall Denel Munition Pty (RMD).

    Bahrain Watch has a track record of tracing scantly unmarked spent canisters back to their place of manufacture. Last year the group’s research into the provenance of an unlabelled brand led them to South Korea’s Dae Kwang chemical corporation. "The company had the products on its website," Reda al-Fardan of Bahrain Watch told DW. "The features were the same as those on the ones being fired and the dimensions gave us further confirmation."

    Having established that Dae Kwang was poised to export up to three million canisters to Bahrain in early 2014, the rights group launched a campaign to stop it. And they achieved their goal. In the first week of January, South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced it would halt the planned shipment on grounds of "political instability" in the recipient country.

    Verification issues

    Amnesty International’s Head of Arms Control, Brian Wood, heralded the change of tack, as "a clear message that the Bahraini authorities’ ongoing repression of peaceful protests is unacceptable and will not be rewarded with future weapons transfers." But there is always another supplier eager to do business.

    Scouring defense manufacturers’ brochures and stands at arms fairs for products that match used cartridges is a painstaking process, but in a sector characterized by shady dealings, Al-Fardan says it is often the best starting point. Bahrain Watch has seen photographs of RMD’s tear gas canisters in its promotional material, and says their size and markings appear to be the same as the models that litter the streets of the country.

    DW has seen the images and can confirm the visual similarities, but for copyright reasons cannot publish the pictures. Despite repeated requests, Rheinmetall Denel did not make a picture of its tear gas canisters available. It did, however, offer a statement saying its subsidiary Rheinmetall Denel Munition (Pty) Ltd had to date "neither offered nor supplied tear gas cartridges to the government of Bahrain."

    A follow-up request for information about any exports to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - both of which provided military power to help crush the uprising three years ago - went unanswered.

    Continue reading on http://www.dw.de/bahrains-government-addicted-to-teargas/a-17387205

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    UA: 21/14 Index: MDE 11/008/2014 Bahrain Date: 4 February 2014

    URGENT ACTION

    Ahmed Mohammad Saleh al-Arab continues to be denied family visits after 27 days of detention. There are fears the authorities are hiding that he has been tortured while held incommunicado. He has been denied medical care.

    Ahmed Mohammad Saleh al-Arab, aged 22, was arrested on 9 January 2014 during a police raid on the family home of one of his friends in Hamad Town, central Bahrain, where he was hiding. He was forced into hiding after his arrest and torture in February 2012 during protests marking the first anniversary of the uprising in Bahrain. During his arrest on 9 January, Ahmed and his friend were beaten and other people from the house were searched and threatened.

    On the same day, security forces subsequently raided Ahmed al-Arab’s family home in Bani Jamra. Security forces entered and searched the house without a warrant. During the search, security officers denied having arrested Ahmed, although a family member saw him inside the police vehicle as he was being beaten.

    Despite requests made by Ahmed al-Arab’s family to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID), the Public Prosecutor‘s Office and the police, they remained without news of him until 13 January, when he made a very brief phone call to his father to say he was fine and then hung up. His family received similar phone calls at least six times afterwards. At the same time, they continued to receive court and police summons ordering Ahmed to appear in court as a suspect in relation to at least six different cases.

    On 29 January Ahmed phoned his family to inform them that he was transferred to Jaw Prison. On 4 February he called his family again to say he has been forced to sleep on the floor, in the open air and denied medical treatment for the shoulder injuries he sustained as a result of being hanged by his arms for five days. He said he feels he may have broken ribs and has been deprived of sleep. Ahmed has never been presented before a judge despite his name was amongst others being tried. When his family sought to visit him a few days before in Jaw Prison, they were told they would not be able to do so until 3 March, raising further fears about Ahmed’s health condition.

    Please write immediately in Arabic, English or your own language:

    • Urging the Bahraini authorities to provide Ahmed Mohammad Saleh al-Arab with immediate access to his lawyer, family and any medical care he may need;
    • Calling on them to investigate allegations that Ahmed Mohammad Saleh al-Arab was tortured and otherwise ill-treated and bring those responsible to justice;
    • Calling on them to either charge Ahmed Mohammad Saleh al-Arab with a recognizably criminal offence or release him.

    PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 18 MARCH 2014 TO:

    King

    Shaikh Hamad bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa

    Office of His Majesty the King

    P.O. Box 555

    Rifa’a Palace, al-Manama, Bahrain

    Fax: +973 1766 4587 (keep trying)

    Salutation: Your Majesty

     

    Minister of Interior

    Shaikh Rashid bin ‘Abdullah Al Khalifa

    Ministry of Interior

    P.O. Box 13, al-Manama, Bahrain

    Fax: +973 1723 2661

    Twitter: @moi_Bahrain

    Salutation: Your Excellency

     

    And copies to:

    Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs

    Shaikh Khalid bin Ali bin Abdullah Al Khalifa

    Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs

    P. O. Box 450, al-Manama, Bahrain

    Fax: +973 1753 1284

    Email: minister@justice.gov.bh

    Twitter: @Khaled_Bin_Ali

    Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:

    Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salutation

     

    Additional Information

    Ahmed Mohammad Saleh al-Arab was arrested for the first time on 14 February 2012 during demonstrations to mark the first anniversary of the uprising in Bahrain. He was then kept in police vehicle for several hours during which he was repeatedly beaten. Afterwards, he was taken to the CID, where he was again beaten until he fainted. He was interrogated about his relationship with the “14 February Movement” and received further beating upon denying any connection with the movement.

    His family had no news of him for two days despite requests to the Public Prosecution Office, the CID and the police. Late on the second day of his arrest, he phoned his family to inform them that he was in the prison hospital. On the third day, his father received a phone call to come to pick him up.

    Following uprising in Bahrain in February 2011, Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), appointed by Royal Order on 29 June 2011, was charged with investigating and reporting on human rights violations committed in connection with the 2011 protests. At the launch of the BICI report in November 2011, the government publicly committed itself to implementing BICI’s recommendations. The report recounted the government’s response to the mass protests and documented wide-ranging human rights abuses. Among its key recommendations, the report called on the government to bring to justice those responsible for human rights violations, including torture and excessive use of force, and carry out independent investigations into allegations of torture.

    The establishment of BICI and its report was considered to be a groundbreaking initiative, but the promise of meaningful reform has been betrayed by the government’s unwillingness to implement key recommendations around accountability; this includes its failure to carry out independent, effective and transparent investigations into allegations of torture and other ill-treatment and excessive use of force, and to prosecute all those who gave the orders to commit human rights abuses. For further information see the November 2012 report Reform shelved, repression unleashed (Index: MDE 11/062/2012), http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/062/2012/en.

    Bahrain’s parliament held an extraordinary session on 28 July 2013, after which it submitted 22 recommendations to the King, Shaikh Hamad Bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa. The recommendations toughen punishments laid out in the 2006 anti-terrorism law. A few days later the King issued several decrees further curtailing the right to freedom of expression, including banning all protests, sit-ins and public gatherings in Manama indefinitely and giving the security forces additional sweeping powers.

    A joint statement signed by 47 countries at the UN Human Rights Council on 9 September expressed serious concern about the ongoing human rights violations in Bahrain.

    Name: Ahmed Mohammad Saleh al-Arab

    Gender m/f: m

    UA: 21/14 Index: MDE 11/008/2014 Issue Date: 4 February 2014

    https://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/008/2014/en

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    Bahrain King passes new amendment to Article 214 that allows up to 7 years imprisonment for insulting him

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses grave concern about the continued crackdown on the right to freedom of expression. Hamad Alkhalifa, Head of Executive, Judiciary and Government of Bahrain, issued an amendment to the 1976 Penal Code, Article 214 on the 4th of February 2014 stating:

    “a punishment of imprisonment for a period of no less than one year and no more than seven years and a fine of no less than BD1,000 and no more than BD 10,000 will be inflicted upon any person who offends in public the Monarch of the Kingdom of Bahrain, the flag or the national emblem” [1]It is not specified within the language of the law what constitutes as an offence, and by leaving it vague it allows space to criminalize any form of criticism of the King.

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights recently released a report about civilians targeted due to practicing their right to freedom of expression by criticizing the King of Bahrain, and were charged with “insulting the king”. The BCHR has documented around 30 cases in 2013 alone wherein people were charged, tried or detained for “insulting the King” because of public speeches, online posts or other forms of peaceful expression. At least nine were sentenced to one year’s imprisonment, more than ten are awaiting trial and at least two including a journalist are currently on trial.[2]

    The new amendment allows the already problematic judiciary system, which is not independent  nor fair, to sentence civilians to maximum seven years imprisonment and up to BHD 10,000 (equivalent to 26,525 US Dollars) for practicing their right to free expression.

    This new amendment to Article 214 of the penal code violates people’s basic rights as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and conventions that Bahrain is signatory to. Article 19 of the UDHR states: (Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.)

    The BCHR believes this latest step comes as an escalation to the ongoing crackdown against freedom of speech, and as a result to the increase of civilians criticizing and mocking the king of Bahrain due to the continuous use of excessive force. The head of the government and supreme commander of the Bahrain Defense Force, Hamad Alkhalifa, is placing himself outside the limits of criticism by issuing this amendment. By making himself the head of all governments during his unilateral change to the constitution in 2002, and as head of the ruling monarchy in Bahrain, Hamad Alkhalifa has placed himself in a position for public criticism.

    Based on the above, the BCHR calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and all other allies and relevant international institutions to pressure the Government of Bahrain to:

    1. Immediately repeal the new amendment to Article 214, and all other laws that infringe on people’s basic rights as guaranteed by the UDHR.
    2. Abolish the Penal Code that allows for numerous human rights violations against people’s civil and human rights.
    3. Reform the Judiciary system so that it abides by international standards of due process and fair trials.
    4. Hold all those who issue and implement abusive laws against civilians in Bahrain accountable, especially those in high positions.
    5. Immediately allow space for the people of Bahrain to practice their right to free expressions, as well as freedom of assembly and association without fear of retribution.
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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses grave concern about the well-being of Bahraini actor Sadiq Jaffar Mansoor AlShaabani, 31 years old, who was arrested by intelligence agents in Oman on the 27th of January 2014. According to information received by the BCHR, Omani authorities handed AlShaabani over to Bahraini authorities on the same day of his arrest. Until the time of publishing this statement, AlShaabani’s whereabouts and condition remain unknown. AlShaabani has not been allowed access to a lawyer or his family, nor has he been allowed any phone calls. His family made several attempts to inquire about his wellbeing with the authorities in Bahrain, to no avail. Authorities in Bahrain continue to practice systematic torture in order to obtain confessions to use against them in court when subjecting individuals to enforced disappearance as has been documented by the BCHR repeatedly.

    Sadiq AlShaabani is known actor in Bahrain, mostly in the drama genre, from BiladAlQadeem, and was previously arrested during the State of National Safety in 2011. His arrest lasted for two months and twenty days after his picture was broadcast on Bahrain National television during a campaign to defame individuals who had participated in the popular pro-democracy protest movement. During that period of arrest, AlShaabani was reportedly subjected to torture as was revealed after his release. Among the various types of torture used, he was subjected to:

    1. Hanging from the joints
    2. Electric shocks
    3. Sexual harassment
    4. Severe beatings on all parts of the body
    5. Forced to stand for several consecutive days
    6. Cold water poured on him, then put in the “freezer”
    7. Denial of drinking water
    8. Degrading and humiliating treatment (forced to make animal sounds)

    AlShaabani was sentenced to two months imprisonment on charges of participating in illegal protests against the regime. In addition, he was fired from his job at the University of Bahrain during the period when more than 4000 people were fired from their jobs in 2011 as retribution for the pro-democracy protests. Almost a year ago, AlShaabani was put on the “wanted” list, which forced him into hiding and then to leave the country in fear of anticipated arrest and torture. None of those implicated in AlShaabani’s former arbitrary arrest and torture were held accountable, thus there is imminent fear that the violations against him will be repeated.

    Sadiq AlShaabani’s family notified the Bahrain Center for Human Rights that they inquired about him at the Central Informatics Directorate (CID), as well as different police stations. Everyone they spoke to denied having any information on AlShaabani or having him in their custody. The second time the family inquired about him at the CID, they were told that they will receive a phone call from the CID, which implies that AlShaabani is in their custory. The CID has become infamous for practicing systematic torture to obtain confessions from civilians during the first period of their arrest, usually during enforced disappearance.

    The family added that they received a summons for SadiqAlShaabani on Tuesday, 4th February 2014, to appear before the Fourth Criminal Court. In the summons, AlShaabani was considered to have not attended the first court session. The judiciary system is either not aware or covering up the fact that SadiqAlShaabani is in custody and subjected to enforced disappearance, which further escalates the concern for AlShaabani’s wellbeing. AlShaabani’s lawyer, Mohammed AlMarzoog, submitted a request to the public prosecution to reveal AlShaabani’s place of detention; in addition to submitting a letter to the court stressing on the importance of bringing AlShaabani to his next court session on the 16th of Febraury 2014. His request to the public prosecution was denied, and he received no response from the court.

    It is important to note that Sadiq AlShaabani’s brother, Baqer AlShaabani, is serving a three year prison sentence since May 2011 on charges of participating in the peaceful protests during February 2011. The AlShaabani family notified the BCHR that Baqer started a hunger strike in prison demanding that authorities reveal his brother’s whereabouts.

    The authorities in Bahrain had recently revealed that one of the victims of enforced disappearance had died after he had been shot and forcefully disappeared for 18 days.

    The BCHR considers the continuation of the practice of systematic enforced disappearance and torture to be evidence that the Government of Bahrain has not initiated a reform process, but rather continues to use methods that violate basic rights in an attempt to prevent protests against the regime. The continuation of these practices also comes as a direct result of the continued policy of the culture of impunity which is practiced by the highest authorities in government.

    Based on the above, the BCHR calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and all other close allies and relevant international institutions to pressure the Government of Bahrain to:

    1. Immediately reveal SadiqAlShaabani’s whereabouts and allow him access to his lawyer and family.
    2. The immediate and unconditional release of SadiqAlShaabani and all other political prisoners who are being targeted due to participating in the pro-democracy protests.
    3. Put an end to the systematic practice of subjecting civilians to enforced disappearance, and to ratify the convention on the “International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance”
    4. Hold to account all those implicated in cases of torture, especially those in high positions who hold administrative responsibility for the ongoing systematic use of torture.
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    Link to the full report.

     

    Since the King of Bahrain assumed the throne after his father, he issued most of the laws currently in use through royal decree, as well as issuing legal decrees to a lesser extent. Through such decrees it was agreed to participate in UN agreements related to women’s rights including the convention against torture and others such as cruel treatment, harsh or inhumane penalties and the international convention for the elimination of all types of sexual discrimination. Further it also included the UN convention for children’s rights and participation in the International Labor Organization’s 1999 convention eliminating the worst forms of child labor and the immediate action to abolish it as well as the convention to eliminate all types of discrimination against women. Similarly Bahrain participated in the Optional Protocol regarding involvement of children in armed conflict and the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography included under the UN convention for Child’s Rights. The Bahraini government agreed to participate in the international treaty related to economic, social and cultural rights. In 2006 and 2007, under royal decree the Kingdom of Bahrain participated in the International covenant for political and civil rights. In 2011 it ratified the convention on rights of persons with disabilities. Finally on 23/11/2013, Bahrain signed the UN agreement on arms trade.   

    In comparison to other regions of the world, Bahrain is lacking in the provision of protection of human rights relative to its adherence to its international treaties. Furthermore there are no efficient regional mechanisms to enforce and protect human rights similar to for example the US courts, the EU human rights courts or even the African Commission on human and tribal rights. The current example of such regional mechanism is the Arab Charter on human Rights which has been ratified by a number of Middle Eastern countries. It is however criticized for being amongst the weakest of similar charters internationally, mainly due to questions surrounding the effectiveness of the authority set up to implement the charter. Furthermore, the Arab League of Nations agreed to establish an Arab Criminal Court in Bahrain, despite Bahrain not being a signatory to the Rome convention for International Criminal courts. Questions may arise in regards to its mandate, who will be appointed as judges and under which legal principles will it conduct its proceedings?

    The ratification of such treaties is an important matter, as it is upon ratification that a government holds itself to the obligations of these treaties and conventions. The real challenge however is in actual implementation of these rights as it requires a strict compliance and strong political will form the part of the government. Furthermore, it also requires the participation of civil societies and public engagement in order to ensure proper and transparent adoption of policies entailed in the treaties. This is particularly true for segments of society whose voice is often the weakest due to the discrimination and other similar factors.

    Interpreting these treaties is the mental process intended to draw on the content and extent of the legal provisions contained in the international agreement in preparation for application to the reality. Currently, however, what is happening in Bahrain is a process of throwing away the book of laws and instead adopting an “end justifies the mean” approach, making the obligations contained in the treaties secondary to the challenge of limiting activism through preventing their rights to express their political views, peaceful assembly or association, getting a divorce and participating in government. Therefore it is not surprising that as a result there have been greater human right violations particularly against women. 

    Link to the full report.

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    Link to the full report.

     

    Bahrain is a signatory of the 1979 U.N. Convention of the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, more commonly referred to as CEDAW.

    In 2002 Bahrain ratified the convention with “reservations”. This was mostly the nationality clause, Article 9, which holds state signatories responsible for granting women equal rights with men to acquire, change or retain

    their nationality as well as the right of women to pass their nationality on to their children and husbands. Bahrain has five reservations on the optional protocol of the CEDAW, which refer to articles 2, 9, 15, 16 and 29.

    1) Article 2, paragraph two, states that a country should condemn all types of discrimination against women

    2) Article 9, paragraph two, states that women should enjoy the same rights as men in terms of giving citizenship to their children

    3) Article 15, paragraph four, states that women should be given the same rights as men in choosing their homes

    4) Article 16 states the need to provide equal marital rights for females and males, particularly in marriage contracts, raising children and custody

    5) Article 29, paragraph one, and relates to disputes between two state parties.

    Lifting these reservations could mean that Bahrain would finally introduce a family law, which would specify in writing how family issues such as divorces and child custody cases are to be resolved. Bahrain’s reservations to CEDAW must be withdrawn.

     

    Link to the full report.

     

     

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