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    Redha Abdullah Isa Al-Ghasra Arrested, Injured

    27 May 2013

    Activists and tweeps broadcast a sound recording of ‘Redha Al-Ghasra’s’ torture during his arrest, and regime loyalists broadcast a photo of him being arrested

     

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    30 May 2013

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its grave concern over the authorities’ arbitrary arrest of 10 people in Bani Jamra village at dawn, without warrants, after the alleged blast in the area. The BCHR is seriously worried that these individuals will be subjected to torture and ill-treatment in order to extract forced confessions.

     

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    Ceartas has submitted its report ‘Human Rights Standards and the Accreditation of RCSI-Bahrain’ to the Irish Medical Council highlighting past and on-going violations of rights within hospital facilities in Bahrain.

    English

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    When the crackdown against pro-democracy protests started in Bahrain, blogger and online activist Ali Abdulemam went into hiding. He was later tried in absentia by a military court for plotting against the regime. Host Michel Martin speaks to Abdulemam about his escape from Bahrain, and how he now feels about his country.

    English

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    Further information on UA: 114/13 Index: MDE 11/017/2013 Bahrain Date: 30 May 2013

    URGENT ACTION

    Activist NAJI FATEEL JAILED FOR SIX MONTHS

    Bahraini human rights activist Naji Fateel was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment on 22 May for “illegal gathering” in February 2012. He is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for his human rights activities.

    English

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    When teenagers Jehad Sadeq Aziz Salman and Ebrahim Ahmed Radi al-Moqdad were jailed at Bahrain’s Jaw Prison, the authorities there had to make special uniforms to fit them because there were none available in their size.

    The boys’ conundrum is symbolic of a much wider problem facing scores of children being held in adult prisons in Bahrain.

    English

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    House Raids in Bahrain Continue Using Same Methods Described in the BICI Report in 2011

    The BCHR is gravely concerned about the practice of home raids that security forces are conducting on a near nightly basis. The BCHR has outlined some cases below as recent examples, but it is important to note that this is just a sample of this large-scale practice.

    English

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    English

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BHRC) is gravely concerned for the health and wellbeing of Ali Abdullah Al-Singace, who is still subjected to torture, denied access to adequate medical care, and has been in solitary confinement for the last ten days.

    English

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is gravely concerned in regards to the escalation of attacks on women as they are subjected to arbitrary arrests, detention, torture and deprived from their basic rights in prison; including but not limited to visitation rights and adequate medical care. The number of female detainees and those sentenced to imprisonment has considerably increased recently.

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is following with great concern the arrests of Bahrainis and the practice of systemized torture to extract false confessions claiming their involvement in terrorism acts. The last case that was documented in this regard by the BCHR is the arrest of Muneer Habib, a 31 year old from Al-Quraifa village, whose house was raided at dawn on Tuesday 28th May 2013 by security forces in civilian clothes accompanied with police patrols. (The news of Muneer’s arrest in a local newspaper: http://www.alwasatnews.com/3927/news/read/779165/1.html (

    Muneer Habib’s family said that a group of people in civilian clothes raided their house at dawn and arrested him. He was subjected to forced disappearance for four days during which time he was severely tortured in the Criminal Investigation Directorate building, and forced to confess to the false charge of being a member of Feb14 youth coalition, which is a political opposition party demanding the downfall of the regime and to change the system from a monarchy to a republic. He was then taken to the public prosecution and his detention was renewed.

    The family also added that Habib told the public prosecutor, Ali Al Jazaf, that he is very exhausted from the severe torture and is suffering from severe pain in his hands and different parts of his body, including head and back. However, the public prosecutor did not pay any attention to what he said and continued the interrogation, accusing him of a number of charges (violence, possession of Molotov cocktails, riot, attacking security force members and patrols by throwing metal skewers and burning two containers).

    Despite Habib denying all charges, the existence of physical evidence that there were no protests in the area the night that he was arrested, and that he was at work at the time that security forces claim that he committed the charges he was accused of, a security forces member, Lieutenant Abdulkarim, confirmed that he saw Habib do all of the things he is accused of. His lawyer said that Habib expressed his fear of being subjected to further torture to extract more confessions, but the public prosecutor told him that this won’t happen and ordered his release. However, all of the evidence in support of Habib did not help him, and a higher order came to renew his detention pending investigation to 60 days under the terrorism law.

    When his family visited him, torture marks were apparent around his eyes including swelling in his right eye; Habib couldn’t walk normally. He testified that he was subjected to daily torture and was being taken to the CID for interrogation where his confessions the charges that he is leading Feb14 youth group in Al-Quraifa, Jufair, Mahooz and Manama were video recorded. Also, he was severely tortured to force him into falsely confessing the involvement of his sister, a previous political detainee, in the charge of affiliation with Feb14 youth coalition.

    Muneera Sayed Habib, 27 years old, was previously arrested at dawn on Wednesday 28th November 2012 after groups of special security forces backed up by masked armed civilian militias raided her house in Al-Quraifa at 3am Manama timing (A video of Muneera Sayed Habib talking about the violations she was subjected to during her arrest http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Blk-88QjNU0). She was detained until 1st December 2012. Muneera confirmed to members of the BCHR monitoring and documentation team that she was subjected to a number of violations at the hands of security forces (The BCHR statement on Muneera’s arrest and the violations she endured http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/ar/node/5552).

    The BCHR therefore demands:

    • The immediate release of Muneer Habib and have him seen by a neutral doctor to document the torture he endured
    • Putting an end to fabricating charges against him
    • Ensuring not to target Muneera Sayed Habib as the BCHR holds the government responsible for whatever happens to her in the future
     
    Document Type: 
    Feature: 
    Issue: 

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is gravely concerned in regards to the authorities in Bahrain fostering the culture of impunity and continuing the practice of systematic torture which is used to extract forced confessions by their security forces personnel. An officer in Bahrain’s security forces uploaded a very disturbing video of an arrested youth who was forced to “confess” on camera what the officer dictated to him. The video was disseminated on the social network website “YouTube” and “Twitter” and went viral.

     

    On 11 June 2013 at 1pm, a video was uploaded on YouTube apparently from the mobile of user “abdul rahman” http://www.youtube.com/user/MultiAlmannai otherwise identifying himself as Abdulrahman Al Mannai, who was later found to be a member of Bahrain’s security force. The video shows a shirtless young man being interrogated on camera. He identifies himself as Hussain Jameel Jafer Ali Marhoon from Hamad Town. After the video went viral, Abdulrahman Al Mannai deleted the video from his account http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzDCPwY87VE; however, the BCHR had already obtained a copy.

     

    Video link: http://youtu.be/1iBrRtKxDGc

     

    A screen shot of Abdulrahman Al Mannai’s youtube account. On the right is his account before he removed the video

    The interrogator asked Hussain Marhoon whether he had been abused by the police, to which the latter responded he had not, adding that his injuries were from a fall. The BCHR translated the video and sent it to an expert for his opinion.  

    Dr. Vincent Iacopino, MD and a Senior Advisor for Physicians for Human Rights, stated after examining the video that:

    “The YouTube video is very disturbing as it seems likely that the confession was obtained through physical and/or psychological abuse. The detainee is naked, at least from the waist up; he appears anxious and fearful, and there is a bruise on his left shoulder that is visible when he stands up at the end of the interview.”

    Dr. Iacopino added:

    “In my opinion, the YouTube video of the alleged confession and the prevailing circumstance of detention in Bahrain (the absence of basic safeguards for persons deprived of their liberty, effective criminal complaint procedures, effective legal investigations of alleged crimes, and prompt (less than 24 hours) forensic medical evaluations of possible physical and psychological evidence of alleged abuse by independent experts in accordance with international, Istanbul Protocol standards) suggests that the confession was obtained through torture and/or ill treatment. Any allegations of abuse by the detainee should be prosecuted and adjudicated in accordance with international legal standards and any information obtained through torture and ill treatment should not be admissible in court.”

    After the responses online to the video, the Ministry of Interior tweeted that they would investigate the incident and that those responsible had been suspended. Given the involvement of MOI officials at the very top level in wide spread human rights abuses; as well as the ongoing practice of systematic torture, the BCHR does not find the statement of the MOI about accountability to be credible.

    Photo: Abdulrahman Al Mannai on a poster made by the ministry of interior 

    This is not the only incident in which security force members publicly share such materials. A few weeks ago, a photo and a voice recording of another detainee were leaked on social media. The detainee, Redha Al Ghasra, was unconscious on the ground after being reportedly severely beaten and the audio recording was of him screaming from pain while being beaten reportedly during the arrest (More: http://bahrainrights.org/en/node/6146)

    Also previously, an account on Instagram with the username @alnaq33b (the lieutenant) published a photo of 16 year old Mohammed Jassim who the user called a “son of a dog” stating that he is a terrorist and had been arrested. It is not possible for us to independently verify whether or not this user is actually a member of the security forces, as there is no name or picture; but the type of pictures published on this account suggest the person either works for the MOI or is closely connected. In spite of the authorities ability to find out whom the account belongs to, there has been no accountability or attempt to stop this user.

     

    Torture

    The BCHR has documented thousands of torture cases since 2011 and even before. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry referred to the practice of torture by security forces and the culture of impunity in its report. A number of detainees were killed due to torture; however, the practice of torture and the culture of impunity have not been addressed by the Government of Bahrain since accepting the findings of the BICI report. It is apparent by the ongoing systematic nature of these abuses that those in charge of the Ministry of Interior, the Central Information Department and the Public Prosecution are ordering, participating in, aware, and/or overlooking the violations (please refer to this report on CID complicity http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/5739). Unfortunately, there has not been accountability for the crimes committed by government agents, with the few low level police who are taken to court are either found innocent or given very short term sentences. Uploading the above-mentioned video by a member of the security force is a clear indication of the confidence of such officers in the lack of accountability within the Ministry of Interior; and the Government as a whole.

    It is important to note here that the culture of impunity is implemented by the very top levels of the Government of Bahrain, namely King Hamad bin Isa AlKhalifa (read more here http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/5495). It is also very concerning that the same institution which is supposed to be investigating torture claims in Bahrain, namely a section of the public prosecution, continues to use confessions extracted under torture in court in political cases. To add to that, the judicial system in Bahrain is neither independent nor fair, and has been time and time again used as a tool to target political dissidents and human rights activists.

    It should be noted that the Government of Bahrain delayed the visit of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, twice; effectively cancelling it. Juan Mendez has expressed his disappointment in a public statement when his visit was canceled for the second time. He denied the authorities allegations in the local media that he was responsible for the cancelation of the visit. The BCHR believes that the cancellation of the visit is due to the ongoing practice of systematic torture in Bahrain and the attempt to prevent the SR on Torture from reporting on it.

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the UN and all other allies and relevant institutions to put pressure on the Government of Bahrain to:

    • Schedule an urgent visit of the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Torture
    • Immediately launch an independent investigation into the case of Hussain Marhoon and all other torture victims
    • Hold Abdulrahman Al Mannai and other officers proved to be involved in torturing detainees accountable of their crimes
    • Hold all higher officials who are aware of and/or order such violations accountable
    • Immediate release all political prisoners who have been detained and sentenced due to confessions extracted under torture; and allow them access to rehabilitation and adequate medical care
    Document Type: 
    Feature: 

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    LRWC prepared a brief, endorsed by the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights expressing concern with the continuing wrongful arrest, prosecution, conviction and sentencing of human rights advocates in Bahrain for peacefully exercising their internationally protected freedoms of expression and assembly. The large number of people jailed for peacefully criticizing the government of Bahrain has been censured by many groups, states and monitors, but laws authorizing the practice remain in force. The joint brief compares Bahrain law and procedure with international law obligations as interpreted by a variety of courts and other tribunals and calls for reform and the release of people arbitrarily detained. This brief is part of a campaign by LRWC and other NGOs and monitors to promote adherence to international law obligations and protect the work and security of human rights defenders in Bahrain.

    Full PDF Version

    Text Version:

     

    Dear Sirs;

    Re:      Freedom of Assembly in Bahrain:

    Domestic law and practice violates international law obligations

     

    We write to outline our concerns about freedom of assembly in Bahrain, on behalf of Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), a committee of Canadian lawyers who promote human rights and the rule of law internationally. This briefing is supported by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a Canadian organization founded in 1981 that works to defend and protect the right to free expression in Canada and around the world. CJFE manages IFEX on behalf of its members worldwide, which includes the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR). BCHR was registered as an NGO in July 2002, and despite an order by the authorities in November 2004 to close, the BCHR continues to monitor violations and promote human rights in Bahrain.

     LRWC, CJFE and BCHR remain concerned by the wrongful arrest, prosecution, conviction and sentencing of human rights advocates in Bahrain for peacefully exercising their internationally protected freedoms of association and assembly. We understand that some of these punitive actions have been carried out under the purported authority of Law 32/2006 on Public meetings, Processions and Gatherings (“Law 32/2006”)[1]{C}{C}{C} and Articles 178 to 182 of the Bahrain Penal Code.{C}{C}[2]{C}{C}{C} 

    Freedom of assembly is a key means of exercising freedom of expression collectively by assembling to criticize government action and lobby for reform. As recommended by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), the United Nations Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of Bahrain and other international experts, Bahrain must bring national laws into compliance with international law obligations and remedy violations of internationally protected rights.  Instead, the Attorney General of Bahrain continues to conflate criticism of government with treason and authorize wrongful prosecutions.  Arbitrary detentions continue and laws illegitimately criminalizing freedom of assembly remain in force.

     The resulting injustice is demonstrated by the prosecution and detention of Nabeel Rajab, a well-known human rights defender incarcerated since July 2012 for peacefully exercising his internationally protected rights to freedoms of expression and assembly. Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to three years imprisonment for participating in assemblies deemed unauthorized or prohibited and imputed responsibility for acts of violence or aggression committed by others pursuant to Law 32/2006 and the Bahrain Penal Code.

    Another example of such injustice is the ongoing detention of activist Zainab Al-Khawaja, who has been arrested numerous times, harassed and injured for peacefully exercising her internationally protected rights to freedoms of expression and assembly. She has been charged with illegal gathering even in incidences when she protested alone, not breaking the 5 person rule Penal Code provision. Zainab is currently serving 9 months and 22 days with at least one case pending.[3]

    There are hundreds of people imprisoned in Bahrain for exercising freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly, including the people known as the Bahrain 13 case. The cases of Nabeel Rajab and Zainab Al-Khawaja are cited as examples of the practice in Bahrain of using illegitimate charges to imprison human rights defenders for exercising their freedom of expression and assembly to criticize government.

    The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has defined arbitrary detention as any detention contrary to the human rights provisions of the major international human rights instruments. Detention for exercising rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (“UDHR”) and/or the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”) is specifically identified as arbitrary.{C}{C}{C}[4]{C}{C}

    LRWC CJFE and BCHR conclude, in accordance with the determination of the WGAD, that Nabeel Rajab and Zainab Al-Khawaja are arbitrarily detained, having been detained for exercising freedoms protected by the UDHRand ICCPRBICI Chair Cherif Bassiouni denounced the National Security Court’s use of the Penal Code to convict “persons seeking to exercise their internationally guaranteed right of freedom of assembly, without the need to prove the commission of material or tangible conduct”.[5]

     

    UDHR and ICCPR Articles on Freedom of Assembly and Expression

     

    As a member of the United Nations and as a party to the ICCPR, Bahrain has legal obligations to ensure and protect freedoms of assembly and expression.

    Article 19 of the UDHR stipulates:

    Everyone has the right to freedom or 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.

    Article 20(1) of the UDHR provides that:

    Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

     

    Article 19 of the ICCPR provides protection for freedom of expression and explains the narrow restrictions on that right:

     

    1.      Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.

    2.      Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.

    3.      The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:

    a)      For respect of the rights or reputations of others;

    b)      For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.

     

    Article 21 of the ICCPR recognizes the freedom of assembly: 

    The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

     The legitimacy of Law 23/2006 and Penal Code sanctions on freedom of assembly was considered and rejected during the second Universal Periodic Review (“UPR”) of Bahrain. The resulting report was adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council on 19 September 2012. During the UPR, several states called on Bahrain to bring its national laws into compliance with ICCPR obligations to protect and ensure freedom of assembly.[6]{C}{C}{C} States also recommended the release of Mr. Rajab and others detained for exercising freedoms of expression and assembly.{C}{C}[7]{C}{C}{C}  Bahrain accepted Canada’s recommendation to amend its laws on assembly and association to comply with ICCPR obligations but has not made the required amendments.

    Bahrain has also failed to implement the recommendations of the November 23, 2011 Report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry[8]{C}{C} to vacate wrongful convictions. The BICI urged the Government of Bahrain to ensure that all persons charged with offences involving political expression, not consisting of advocacy of violence, have their convictions reviewed and sentences commuted or, as the case may be, outstanding charges against them dropped.{C}{C}[9]

    Law 32/2006 and Articles 178 to 182 of the Bahrain Penal Code exceed legitimate restrictions that a state may impose on the exercise of freedoms of assembly and are incompatible with Bahrain’s legal obligations to ensure and protect assembly rights arising from both the UDHR and the ICCPR.

     

    The Report of the Special Rapporteur

    The 21 May 2012 Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association highlighted best practices for states to promote and protect the rights to freedom of assembly and association.   

    {C}{C}1.      {C}{C}Negative obligation not to interfere unduly with assembly rights

    Blanket time and location prohibitions must not be imposed except when necessitated by a competing public interest and no other measure would suffice. The state should avoid imposing blanket time and location prohibitions.  Prohibition should be a last resort and may prohibit a peaceful assembly only when a less restrictive response would not achieve the legitimate aim(s) pursued by the authorities.[10]{C}{C}

    The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recently specified that a “measure of last resort” must be understood as a measure “adopted to protect lives”.{C}[11]

    Article 11 of Law 32/2006 imposes blanket restrictions on both time and location.  Demonstrations cannot start before sunrise or continue after sunset except by special written permission from the general director of the police or his deputy.  The Governor may specify a number of public areas in his province to hold demonstrations, for which organizers must apply for permission.

     {C}{C}2.      {C}{C}Positive obligation to protect and ensure assembly rights

     Beyond the requirement of non-interference with the right to freedom of assembly, states have positive legal obligations to protect participants in peaceful assemblies.  These obligations include protecting participants from others whose aim is to disrupt or disperse such assemblies.  The organizers should not have to assume this obligation.  This includes protection from individuals working on behalf of the state.   Such responsibility should be explicitly stated in domestic legislation.[12]{C}{C}

     

    Law 32/2006 does not provide for the state’s duty to ensure the protection of peaceful participants nor does it specify that the organizers should not assume such responsibility.  Instead, in the case of a public meeting that has not been authorized by prior notice, the person(s) organizing the meeting can be held responsible for any resulting damage or violence notwithstanding that person’s lack of involvement in the damage or violence.

     {C}{C}3.      {C}{C}Support of human rights defenders in promoting peaceful assemblies

     States have a duty to support the work of human rights defenders.  This includes supporting the organization of peaceful protests by publicly recognizing the prominent and constructive role of human rights defenders and providing access to medical assistance for victims of violations during protests.[13]{C}{C}

     

    Law 32/2006 does not provide for any such monitoring of assemblies.

     

    {C}{C}4.      {C}{C}{C}Prior notification and authorization

     Freedom of assembly must not be fettered by a requirement for prior notification or consent. While the Special Rapporteur recognized that assemblies should not be subject to previous authorization by the authorities, a prior notification (not exceeding 48 hours prior to the planned date of assembly) may be required to allow state authorities to facilitate that freedom and take measure to protect public safety and the rights and freedoms of others.[14]{C}{C}{C}Failure to provide notification cannot legitimately result in criminal or civil sanctions.{C}{C}[15]

     

    Law 32/2006 requires both prior notification and authorization.  Article 2(a) requires notification at least three days before the assembly, which exceeds the maximum of 48 hours recommended by the Special Rapporteur.  Article 3 specifies that this notification procedure corresponds to an application for authorization of the meeting.  Article 3(c), provides that the notice can be considered invalid or the meeting time or place changed.   Article 11 prohibits the use of vehicles without special written permission from the general director of the police or his deputy.  Article 13(c) provides for imprisonment and/or fine for violations of Article 11.  Article 9 provides that the head of police or his deputy can modify the route of the march without providing any justification for that decision.

     

    Regarding criminal and civil sanctions for failure to provide prior notification, the Special Rapporteur concluded that if organizers fail to notify authorities, the assembly should not be dissolved immediately nor should organizers be subject to criminal or civil sanctions.  Legislation should allow for the holding of spontaneous assemblies or assemblies without organizers and they should be exempted from any notification requirement.{C}[16]

     State action to disband an assembly because of no prior notification is an unreasonable restriction on freedom of assembly. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in the case Bukta and Others v. Hungary[17]{C}{C}{C}ruled:

     …in special circumstances when an immediate response, in the form of a demonstration, to a political event might be justified, a decision to disband the ensuing, peaceful assembly solely because of the absence of the requisite prior notice, without any illegal conduct by the participants, amounts to a disproportionate restriction on freedom of peaceful assembly. [18]

     “Special circumstances” refer to cases when “an immediate response to a current event is warranted in the form of a demonstration”. 

     

    Law 32/2006 does not contain provisions guaranteeing that, in absence of notification, an assembly will not be automatically prohibited. There are no provisions ensuring that spontaneous assemblies are exempted from prior notification.  Even in the event of a notification procedure, Article 3(c)(5) states that if the application does not provide all the information required, the procedure will be invalidated and thus the assembly prohibited.  Organizers are subject to both criminal and administrative sanctions resulting in fines and imprisonment under Article 13(a).

     {C}{C}5.      {C}{C}{C}Criminalization of peaceful protest

     The exercise of freedom of assembly cannot legitimately be restricted and punished through criminal sanctions that either impute accountability for the acts of others or impose punishment for participation in unauthorized assemblies. The State should presume the peaceful intentions of participants.  A peaceful protestor does not cease to enjoy the right to peaceful assembly as a result of sporadic violence or punishable acts committed by others in the course of the demonstration.{C}[19]

     

    The Human Rights Committee has emphasized the state duty to carefully discriminate between those peacefully protesting and those committing criminal acts and ensure that only those committing criminal offences during demonstrations are arrested.{C}[20]

    Article 13 of Law 32/2006 considers that from the moment a meeting is prohibited, any person participating should be considered a criminal offender and should accordingly be punished by imprisonment and/or fine, even if the person was behaving peacefully.  Article 13(e) imposes criminal sanctions on any person who violates any provisions of Law 32/2006. 

    Articles 178 to 181 of the Penal Code criminalize the attempt to participate in violence without having to prove that tangible steps have been taken towards the commission of the crime.  Article 182 of the Penal Code criminalizes the participation in any demonstrations for which an order to disperse has been given.

     

    The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights stated:

     The promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests require not only an adequate legal framework, but also continuous efforts for their effective implementation. Dialogue between protest organizers, administrative authorities and the police, as well as human rights training programmes for police forces, including on the use of force during protests, can also contribute to the promotion of human rights linked to peaceful protest.[21]

     The United Nations Human Rights Council on 18 March 2013 repeated the call on states to bring domestic law and practice in line with international law obligations and urged, 

     States, as a matter of priority, to ensure that their domestic legislation and procedures are consistent with their international obligations and commitments in relation to the use of force by law enforcement officials, in particular applicable principles of law enforcement such as the principles of necessity and proportionality, bearing in mind that lethal force may only be used to protect against an imminent threat to life and that it may not be used merely to disperse a gathering;[22]{C}{C}

     The Special Rapporteur concluded his report with a series of recommendations for the protection of freedom of peaceful assembly.  The following table identifies failures of the Law 32/2006 and the Bahrain Penal Codeto accord with these recommendations.

     

    Special Rapporteur

    Recommendations

     

    Law 32/2006 and the Bahrain Penal Code

     

    {C}{C}{C}o        {C}{C}A presumption in favour of holding peaceful assemblies should be established in law in a clear and explicit manner.

    Law 32/2006 Article 13(a)

    Imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or a fine not less than 100 Dinars or both punishments shall be imposed on the organizers and members of the committees for public meetings, marches, demonstrations and gatherings which are held without permission or despite being banned. The same punishment will be imposed on the persons who continue to call for the same actions despite the ban.

     

    Law 32/2006 Article 13(b)

    Imprisonment for a term not exceeding four months or a fine not less than 50 Dinars or both punishments shall be imposed on any person who participates - despite the warnings of the general security - in a meeting or march or demonstration or gathering which has not applied for permission or for which there has been a banning order or who resists an order to disperse.

     

    Law 32/2006 Article 13(c)

    Imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month or a fine not less than 50 Dinars or both punishments shall be imposed on anyone who uses a vehicle in any march or demonstration or gathering without special permission from the head of the general security or his deputy.

     

    Law 32/2006 Article 13(e)

    Imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month or a fine not less than 50 Dinars or both punishments shall be imposed on anyone who violates any of other judgments stated by this law.

     

    {C}{C}{C}o        {C}{C}States should facilitate and protect peaceful assemblies, including through negotiation and mediation.

     

    {C}{C}{C}o        {C}{C}Wherever possible, law enforcement authorities should not resort to force during peaceful assemblies and ensure that, “where force is absolutely necessary, no one is subject to excessive or indiscriminate use of force” (Council resolution 19/35, para. 6).

     

    Penal Code Article 180

    If one of the public authority officers finds that 5 persons or more have demonstrated with the intent of causing a riot, he may in such capacity order them to disperse.  Thereafter, he shall be empowered to take the necessary measures for dispersing those who have not complied with the order by arresting them and may use force within reasonable limits against any person resisting the said order.  He may not use firearms except in extreme necessity or when someone's life is threatened.

    Persons still demonstrating after the issuance of an order to disperse while being aware of such order, shall be liable for imprisonment and a fine not exceeding BD300, or either penalty.

     

    {C}{C}{C}o        {C}{C}The exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly should not be subject to prior authorization by the authorities, but at the most to a prior notification procedure, which should not be burdensome.

     

    {C}{C}{C}o        {C}{C}When an assembly is not allowed or restricted, a detailed and timely written explanation should be provided, which can be appealed before an impartial and independent court.

    Law 32/2006 Article 2(a)

    Any person who wishes to organize a public meeting has to notify the head of general security at least three days before the meeting.

     

    Law 32/2006 Article 3(c)

    Those who apply for the authorization must be:

    1) Residents of the place in which the meeting is going to be held.

    2) His residency shall be in that town or village and shall be known among the residents by his good reputation.

    3) Must be entitled to their political and civilian rights.

    4) Must mention their names, profession and the place of residency.

    5) If the application does not have all this information, it will be considered invalid.

     

    Law 32/2006 Article 4(2)

    The decision to ban the meeting will be sent to the organizers or to one of them or to the address provided in the application.

     

    Law 32/2006 Article 9(2)

    The head of general security or his deputy has the right to modify the route of the march or the demonstration after he informs the organizers in accordance with article (4) of this law.

     

    Law 32/2006 Article 11

    No demonstrations or marches or rallies can start before sunrise or continue after sunset except by special written permission from the head of the general security his deputy. It is not allowed to organize marches, demonstrations or gatherings, which are set up near hospitals, airports, commercial units, or places of security nature, provided that the ministry of interior shall specify these places and announce them.

     

    Law 32/2006 Article 5(2)

    Public meetings must not be held before 7 am and must not last till after 11.30 pm except when permission from the head of the general security has been obtained.

     

    {C}{C}{C}o        {C}{C}Spontaneous assemblies should be recognized in law, and exempted from prior notification.

    Penal Code Article 178

    Every person who take part in a demonstration in a public place where at least five persons are assembled with the aim of committing crimes or acts intended to prepare or facilitate the commission of such crime or aimed at undermining public security, even though for the realization of a legitimate objective, shall be liable for imprisonment for a period of no more than two years and a fine not exceeding BD200, or either penalty.

     

    {C}{C}{C}o        {C}{C}Simultaneous assemblies should be allowed, protected and facilitated, whenever possible.

    Law 32/2006 Article 3(a)

    When applying for authorization for the meeting, the organizers must point out the time, the place and the theme of meeting and the objectives of the meeting, lecture or general debate.

     

    {C}{C}{C}o        {C}{C}Assembly organizers and participants should not be held responsible and liable for the violent behaviour of others.

    Law 32/2006 Article 2(b)

    if the meeting or the demonstration is held without authorization, the organizers of the meeting will be held responsible for supporting the aggressors and they will be responsible for compensating for the damage.

     

    Penal Code Article 170

    If one demonstrator or several demonstrators attempt to use violence for the realization of the purpose for which they have assembled, their action shall be deemed as a riot.  The penalty for each person who knowingly takes part in such riot shall be a prison sentence and a fine not exceeding BD500, or either penalty.

     

    {C}{C}{C}o        {C}{C}States should also ensure the protection of those monitoring and reporting on violations and abuses in the context of peaceful assemblies.

     

    Bahrain law does not provide for the state’s duty to ensure the protection of peaceful participants nor does it specify that the organizers should not assume such responsibility. 

     

    6.         Conclusions

    LRWC, CJFE and BCHR call on authorities in Bahrain to:

     

    • Make the amendments and policy changes necessary to bring domestic legislation and procedures into conformity with Bahrain’s international obligations and commitments to ensure and prevent violations of freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly;

    • Ensure that laws and procedures adhere to the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association;

    • Review the convictions and commute the sentences of Nabeel Rajab, Zainab Al-Khawajaand others convicted for exercising rights to peaceful assembly and expression;

    • Release Nabeel Rajab, Zainab Al-Khawaja and all others detained for exercising freedoms of expression and assembly, pending the reviews;

    • Ensure a determination by an independent and impartial tribunal of the legitimacy of the restrictions to assembly and expression rights contained in Law 32/2006 and the Bahrain Penal Code in consideration of Bahrain’s international law obligations under the ICCPR and UDHR.

     

    Sincerely,

                                

    Gail Davidson, Executive Director, LRWC         

    {C}{C}{C}{C}

    Arnold Amber, CJFE President

    Maryam Al-Khawaja, BCHR Acting President

     

    Copied to:

     

    Mr. Tom Macdonald,

    Ambassador of Canada to Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain and Oman

    c/o Consulate of Canada
    GBCorp Tower, 16th floor
    Building 1411, Road 4626
    Block 346, Bahrain Financial Harbour District
    PO Box 2397, Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain
    Tel: 17536270
    Fax: 17532520
    Email: canadabh@zubipartners.com  

     

    The Honourable John Baird, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs

    2249 Carling Ave Suite 418

    Ottawa, Ontario K2B 7E9;

    Tel: 613-990-7720 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting  

    613-990-7720 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting; Fax: 613-993-6501;

    Email: bairdj@parl.gc.ca 

     

    Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders,
    Mrs. Margaret Sekaggya
    c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Palais Wilson
    United Nations Office at Geneva
    CH 1211 Geneva 10 Switzerland

    Urgent-action@ohchr.org

     

    Maini Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

    Palais des Nations
    CH-1211 Geneva 10
    Switzerland
    Fax : + 41 22 917 9006
    Email : freeassembly@ohchr.org

     


    [1]{C}{C}{C}Law 32/2006 on public meetings, processions and gatherings, amending the law of Decree 18/1973.

    [2]{C}{C}{C}Bahrain, Penal Code, Special Section, Part I, Chapter 3 Demonstrations and Riots.

    [4]{C}{C}{C} Working Group on Arbitrary Detention accessible at http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/manual/en/wgad_m.htm

    [5]{C}{C}{C}Report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, Mahmoud Charif Bassiouni, Nigel Rodley, Badria Al-Awadhi, Philippe Kirsch, Mahnoush H. Arsanjani, Presented in Manama, Bahrain, on 23 November 2011 (Final Revision of 10 December 2011), para. 1286, online at: http://www.bici.org.bh/BICIreportEN.pdf

    [6]{C}{C}{C} Report of the Working Group on Universal Periodic Review – Bahrain, A/HRC/21/6, July 2012, paras. 115.24 (Slovakia), 115.27 (Ireland), 115.99 (Canada). 

    [7]{C}{C}{C}Ibid, paras. 115.100 (CzechRepublic), 115.101 (Germany), 115.122 (Norway).

    [8]{C}{C}{C} Human Rights Watch, Bahrain: Promises Unkept, Rights Still Violated, Head of Independent Commission: Implementation ‘Inadequate’, 22 November 2012, online at: http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/11/22/bahrain-promises-unkept-rights-still-violated

    [9]{C}{C}{C}Supra. 5 para. 1291.

    [10]Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, 20th session, A/HRC/20/27, 21 May 2012, para. 39, online at: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session20/A.HRC.20.27_En.pdf.PDF

    [11]{C}{C}{C}Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 22nd session, Agenda items 2 and 3, A/HRC/22/28, 21 January 2013, para. 12, online at: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session22/A.HRC.22.28.pdf

    [12]{C}{C}{C}Supra. 10, para. 33.

    [13]Seminar "Human Rights Defenders and Peaceful Protests" held in Oslo on 6-8 June 2012, Statement by the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights andthe Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations, 6 June 2012, para. 4, online at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=12524&LangID=E

    [14]Supra, 10, para. 28.

    [15]{C}{C}{C}Supra, 10, para. 29.

    [15]{C}{C}{C} European Court of Human Rights, Bukta and Others v Hungary, Application no. 25691/04, para. 36, online at: http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/eng/pages/search.aspx?i=001-81728

    [16]{C}{C}{C}Supra. 10, para. 29.

    [17]{C}{C}{C}Supra. 15.

    [18]{C}{C}{C}Supra. 10, para. 29.

    [19]Supra 10, para. 25.

    [20]{C}{C}{C}Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee: Canada, CCPR/C/CAN/CO/5, 85th session, 20 April 2006, para. 20, online at: http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/898586b1dc7b4043c1256a450044f331/7616e3478238be01c12570ae00397f5d/$FILE/G0641362.pdf

    [21]{C}{C}{C}Supra. 11, para. 78.

    [22]{C}{C}{C}The promotion and protection of human rights defenders in the context of peaceful protests, 22nd session, Agenda item 3, A/HRC/22/L.10, 18 March 2013, para. 8, online at http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/alldocs.aspx?doc_id=21380

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    The Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR)  and the Bahrain center for Human rights (BCHR) call for the immediate release of human rights defenders and president of the Bahrain Teachers Society, Mahdi AbuDeeb, who has had his appeal rejected on 01 July 2013 by the Court of Cassation, alongside with the vice president Ms Jalila Al-Salman.

    Mahdi AbuDeeb is in detention since 6 April 2011, currently serving a 5 years imprisonment sentence at Jaw prison. on 23 September 2011 Mahdi and Jalila were sentenced by a military court to 10 and 3 years imprisonment respectively for calling to a teachers strike. On 21 October 2012 their sentences were reduced to 5 years and 6 months imprisonment respectively. They were charged with halting the educational process, inciting hatred, attempting to overthrow the ruling system by force. Jalila has been released after she served the 6 months prison sentences, but barred from teaching in state schools due to her conviction.

    When AbuDeeb was arrested, he was thrown from the second floor then taken by the security forces. He was held incommunicado for more than a month with no access to his family or lawyer, and kept in solitary confinement for the whole period until his first military court hearing on 7 June 2011. He reported that the security forces subjected him to severe torture and ill-treatment. Both Abudeeb and Al-Salman have reported torture to the court during their trial, however the allegations were not investigated although the court issued its verdicts in the case.

    According to new reports received by both the GCHR and BCHR, AbuDeeb is still subjected to harassments at Jaw prison. On 6 June 2013 he was denied visitation rights for refusing to replace his medical shoes with the regular prison sandals. AbuDeeb wears the medical shoes as a health requirement due to the torture he was subjected to immediately after his arrest.

    The GCHR and BCHR call on the Bahraini government to immediately release Mehdi AbuDeeb and to revoke the sentences issued against him and his colleague Jalila Al-Salman and to respect the trade union’s freedom to work.  We also call on government of Bahrain to stop arbitrary procedures against the Teachers Association of Bahrain and allow it to work freely and reinstate the dismissed teachers to their previous jobs and the abolition of all administrative penalties issued against them and their colleagues.

     

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    by: Zainab Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja

    Human rights defender

    Published on: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

    June 22, 2013. It is around 8:30 p.m. and I sit reading in my cell when I suddenly hear prison guard Aysha shouting at the top of her lungs. Her shouting so loud that the whole prison goes silent.

    This prison guard is known for being one of the worst, almost always barking orders and insults at the prisoners. But this time it is worse and she won't stop shouting for no apparent reason other than asking a prisoner, "Why the hell she was on this side of the prison."(Note: while the prison cells are open; prisoners move freely from one side of the prison to the other). My cellmates go check, and they come back and tell me it is Rabab Mohammed who is being shouted at while she stands completely silent.

    Rabab is a sweet and very quiet 31-year-old first grade teacher who knows very well the price of speaking up for oneself in this country. She was first arrested in Ramadan when riot police stopped her on the street and started swearing at her using vulgar language; after calling her a "dirty Shia whore." Rabab looked them in the eye and told them they had no right to speak to her that way. This landed her in prison. While in detention a prison guard started taunting her, hurling insults at her and her "disgusting terrorist Iranian people." To which Rabab finally answered that she was an Arab, a proud Bahraini and no terrorist. She then asked the prison guard where she was from. The prison guard, who is one of the newly naturalized, judging by the way she looked and the difficulty she was having to speak a Bahraini accent, replied "Yes I'm "mujanasa" (note: term used for those politically naturalized by Bahrain regime specifically to work for the police & security forces who are responsible for most of the crimes committed against the people of Bahrain) and continued: "And you close your mouth and bow your head because we are the crown on your heads." Responding with "no, you are not" is what became the second case against Rabab and the reason why she is currently in prison.

    After the second case, Rabab's lawyer gave her very strict orders: "No matter what they say to you, or how they insult you, swallow your pride and stay quiet. "And that's exactly what she's been doing since she got here a month ago. She has been shouted at, she has been insulted, but she remains quiet and walks away. In fact the guards seem to take extra pleasure in insulting her just waiting for her to respond.

    22nd of June. As prison guard Aysha is in a fit of rage, Rabab tries to walk away but the prison guard won't let her. Another prisoner (an older woman) is so scared the prison guard will hit Rabab that she keep asking Rabab to please just apologize. I look out of my cell and see the look on Rabab's face as she raises her head and quietly says "I am sorry" to which the prison guard smirks, waving her away saying "Go! Get lost."

    On the 22nd of June at around 9 p.m. I walk out of my cell and go to the sitting area where 3 prison guards, including Aysha sit overseeing more than 60 prisoners. I walk up to Aysha and the following exchange ensues:

    "You had no right to shout at Rabab in that way."

    I had barely spoken when she starts shouting "and who the hell do you think you are, you think you're everyone's lawyer!? Shut your mouth and go to your cell."

    I respond "I'm nobody's lawyer, but when I see something wrong I will not shut my mouth at all and I will tell you exactly what I think. Your prison guard uniform gives you no right to insult and humiliate people."

    She shouts "you want to teach me my manners you piece of trash. You're the one who wasn't raised properly, I will make you eat shit if you dare to speak to me."

    To which I reply "if your point is to prove you're not ill-mannered then using that language is not the best way, and if you choose to speak like this I will not stoop to that level."

    Prison guard Aysha goes into a screaming fit, stands up and as other guards hold her back she starts shivering and hysterically shouting "Go back to your country, you are not Bahraini, you traitors, etc." to which I smile & say nothing.

    An hour later the same police start calling prisoners as witnesses, calling only a few prisoners who are the closet to them. They are the prisoners who get the "special treatment" like getting more food, longer phone calls and are dubbed "the human cameras" by the other prisoners because they report everything that happens beyond the hearing and monitoring of the prison administration.

    Upon seeing this, a couple of prisoners who are not Bahraini go to the police and say they want to testify. The police asks them, "who insulted who?" A Moroccan woman replies "prison guard Aysha insulted Zainab," to which the police responds "then we don't want your testimony... go." When another prisoner also tries to be a witness, she is told they are out of papers. Political prisoner Siddiqa refuses to leave and insists she wants to write what she saw. They finally let her write; after which they read her testimony out loud in front of her. Prison guard Aysha keeps repeating the insults Siddiqa had written on the paper, laughing. "Yeah so I said those things, what's wrong with that."

    June 24. I am called to the prison administration office. First I see the "specialist" Rana who had threatened to slap me at an earlier time when I told another prisoner she shouldn't allow them to interrogate her without her lawyer present. "Al-Westa police are here to speak to you about the new case against you." I half expect it to be the same Al-Westa police who had beaten me six months ago but it's not. A police woman walks in "Zainab you are accused of verbally attacking & assaulting a prison guard. Telling her that she," the police woman looks at her paper and reads, "that she has no manners, that she is trash, and ill-bred, and that she is not a Bahraini. What do you say to these accusations?" I look at the police woman. "Zainab you should talk, this case is probably going to trial and whomever was wronged will get justice," I smile. "I will talk, but I will not sign anything without my lawyer, and I will not go to the public prosecution or attend any trial. Because I know, from experience, that is not a place where those who are wronged get justice."

    June 25. I have woken up early, and I'm sitting in my cell. Today I will be sentenced. I'm not sure in which case, and because I'm boycotting the court so I sit here waiting for my sentence. I have a phone call today, my only mode of communication since I have not been allowed family visits for almost four months now. Four months since I saw my 3-year-old, Jude.

    I worry my mother or husband might get upset to know there's yet another case against me. But I know what ill tell them: "Don't worry about me if I get new cases. When you really need to worry is if one day I see something wrong, an injustice in front of me, and I sit quiet because I'm worried about myself."

    Note: this description of events might be too long only to give a better picture of the situation, although this incident is hardly representative of the much worse human right abuses and violations that are taking place in my country. To add to that, my sentence is almost not worth mentioning compared to my fellow countrymen who suffer under torture, in solitary confinement, and are sentenced to spending decades in prison, many of them just children.

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    The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) expresses its deep concern for the Judge’s renewal of Naji Fateel’s imprisonment – administrative member of the BYSHR – in remand for 45 days pending the case, where he was not charged with any accusation related to establishing the ‘14 February Coalition Movement’ (For more information: http://byshr.org/?p=1404).

    Today – 2nd July – Naji was presented to the renewal Judge after his pre-trial detention ended (60 days) and the lawyer was present with Naji for his defense. The renewal Judge decided to renew for an additional 45 days.

    Naji Fateel had removed his clothes before the Judge, and the Judge and defense lawyer saw the torture marks clearly evident on his back. The lawyer asked the Judge that he is presented to the forensic doctor immediately to record the injuries that were caused by the torture he was subjected to. (For more information: http://byshr.org/?p=1381).

    The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) demands:

    1.The immediate release of the prominent human rights activist Naji Fateel.
    2.Drop all charges against Naji Fateel.
    3.The immediate and urgent investigation in the torture allegations Naji Fateel was subjected to in the Criminal Investigation Department.
    4.Bring those responsible for torture to fair trials.

    For more information on the case of Naji Fateel: http://byshr.org/?p=1375

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its grave concern regarding the authorities continued and escalated campaign of discrimination against Shiaa Muslims, and attacks on religious freedom. In 2011, the Government of Bahrain demolished numerous Shiaa mosques and places of worship. Despite Hamad Bin Isa AlKhalifa’s promises to rebuild them[1], the authorities have decided to turn the site of one of these demolished mosques’ into a public park. This is a clear act and an attempt to create further sectarian tensions against one of the main component of the Bahraini society and an attempt to remove their historical links to the land.

    In 2011, the government of Bahrain started a brute and mass campaign against pro-democracy protesters, and part of the campaign was demolishing more than 50 Shiaa religious places, including 38 mosques. On 19 April 2011, 10 places of worship were demolished in one day only, including Abou Thir Al Ghiffari mosque. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, which was fully accepted by Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, investigated 30 of the demolished sites that took place in the period covered by the report.

    Photo: map of the site and area of Abou Thir Al Ghiffari mosque

    The BICI stated in its report: “The Commission investigators were concerned about the demolition of the ten places of worship in the Nuwaidrat village, Barboura, Middle Municipality. This was the largest number of places of worship to be demolished both in one day and in one single location during the February/March 2011 events.”[2]

    Abou Thir Al Ghiffari mosque is a historical mosque which was built prior to the existence of the survey and land registration law (1979). Historian Jasim Hussain Al Abbas estimates the mosque to have been built more than three centuries ago[3] though it has been renewed and rebuilt in the 90s before getting demolished in 2011. It was restored based on official records, and it has an official survey certificate issued on 10 April 2008 with ID 13060248[4], but authorities claimed it did not have a permit and decided to demolish it during the national safety period (Martial law).

    On 27 June 2013, the Ministry of Municipalities announced that the land of the demolished mosque will be turned into a public park[5] . Official documents prior to 2011 do not indicate the illegality of the building or the plan to turn in it into a public park, on the contrary, papers confirm the presence of a mosque. The mosque even had an officially appointed person looking after it by the Ministry of Justice.

     

    On 22 June 2013, security forces banned people from praying on the site of the demolished mosque, a practice that was carried by people during the past two years. The land was surrounded with yellow tape and security forces remain guarding the land since banning any prayers on the site. On 1 July the riot police shot tear gas at people who had gathered in an attempt to pray on the site. Some injuries were reported.[6] On 2 July 2013 a citizen “Mustafa Bahar” was arrested for praying on the site, alone.

    The BICI raised concern in its report about the timing of demolishing these mosques, saying:

    “The GoB must have been aware of the construction of these structures and that they lacked proper legal permits and did not conform to building regulations. Nonetheless, the GoB had not stopped the construction of these structures nor taken action to remove them for a number of years. The Government should have realised that under the circumstances, in particular the timing, the manner in which demolitions were conducted and the fact that these were primarily Shia religious structures, the demolitions would be perceived as a collective punishment and would therefore inflame the tension between the GoB and the Shia population[7]”.

    Although, the authorities continuously say that the reason for demolishing these mosques, Abou Thir Al Ghiffari mosque, and 9 other mosque in Nuwaidrat, is having no permit, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Urban Planning, Dr Jumaa Bin Ahmad Al Kaabi gave a completely different reason to the BICI saying that the Ministry of Interior was behind the decision based on security reasons, he stated:

    Nuwaidrat village, Barboura was considered one of the main flash points of riots during the February/March 2011 events. Dr Al Kaabi also said that these sites were labelled by the MoI as dangerous sites where Shia youth gathered, organised and armed themselves.” (BICI – 1324, b)

    The BCHR believes that the decision comes as an attempt to escalate tensions with the majority Shiaa. It is a clear provocation to their religious beliefs and is in violation with human rights conventions and laws, the international covenant of civil and political rights states in article 18: “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.” The conflicting statements by the authorities of the reasons behind the demolition, the timing of the demolition and the governments haste to turn the land into a public park are all strong indications to the fact of the government discrimination based on religious beliefs.

    It is important to note here that the Government of Bahrain has for decades implemented a policy of systematic marginalization and discrimination against the Shiaa population; which was document by the Bandargate report as well as past reports issued by the BCHR. Also, recently, a paper was released by the Commission on Foreign Relations about how the Government of Bahrain has worked on creating sectarian tensions in Bahrain http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/6206.

    Therefore, the BCHR immediately calls on the international community to immediately pressure the Government of Bahrain to:

    • Put an end to discrimination based on religious beliefs
    • Effective cancel the decision to turn the site of Abou Thir Al Ghiffari mosque into a public park
    • Re-build the demolished mosques
    • Apologies to the Shiaa in Bahrain for targeting their religious beliefs

     

    Article 18 of the ICCPR provides: ―

    1) Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching...

    3) Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others…‖

     


    [1] The BICI report http://www.bici.org.bh/BICIreportEN.pdf

    1335. On 22 May 2011, HM King Hamad announced that new Shia places of worship would be built. The statement was made shortly after several religious structures were demolished by the GoB.

    1336. The Commission recommends a follow up on the King‘s statement to the effect that the GoB will consider rebuilding, at its expense, some of the demolished religious structures in accordance with administrative regulations. The Commission welcomes the GoB addressing this question at the earliest possible time.

    [2] The BICI report, footnote 667

    [7] The BICI report, paragraph 1334

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concern over the continued attacks on human rights defenders in Bahrain. Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafdha, the BCHR’s Acting Vice President and Head of Documentation Unit, was acquitted on 11 March 2013, however, the public prosecution appealed his acquittal. His ruling hearing was postponed to 12 September 2013.

    On 17 December 2012, Mr  Al-Muhafdhah was arrested from the capital Manama while he was monitoring a protest and tweeting about the violations against protesters. The following day he was taken to the public prosecution for interrogation and was ordered to 7 days detention pending investigation. He was released a month later on 17 January 2013 on BD100 bail.

    He was charged with disseminating false news over twitter. Following his arrest, the Deputy Attorney General stated that the public prosecution began investigating into the anti-cyber crime unit’s report against Yousif Al Muhafdha for disseminating false news about security forces attacking protesters on Monday (17 December 2012) in Manama Souq on his personal account on twitter. The court acquitted Sayed Yousif on 11 March 2013 because of lack of evidence and that no link could be established between Said Yousif’s tweet, that has been claimed to have caused protests and riot, and the protests that took place in the area. Also, a witness confirmed that there were other accounts calling for protests in Manama on the given date. These contradict article 168 of punishment law that states punishment for disseminating false news can only be implemented if lead to harming public security.

    The first appeal hearing was on 1 July 2013 but the hearing was postponed to 12 September 2013. It is possible that the next hearing will be the ruling hearing, and it could lead to could lead to an overturning of the initial verdict.

    The Bahraini government has targeted many activists in an attempt to silence them and stop the reporting of human rights violations committed by security forces against peaceful protesters and civilians. Nabeel Rajab, Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, Zainab Al Khawaja and Naji Fateel are Bahraini human rights defenders and activists sentenced to prison for their human rights work.

    The BCHR call on the United States, the United Kingdom, the UN and all other close allies and international institutions to put pressure on the Bahraini authorities to:

    1. Drop all charges against all human rights defenders and put an end to sham trials.
    2. Immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience and activists including leading human rights defenders Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Nabeel Rajab and Zainab Al-Khawaja and Naji Fateel.
    3. Immediately stop all actions that restrict freedom of opinion and expression.
    4. 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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    URGENT ACTION

    release of Prisoner of Conscience denied

    Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Deeb the former president of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association (BTA) had his request for temporary release rejected by the Court of Cassation on 1 July. He is a prisoner of conscience.

    On 1 July 2013, the Court of Cassation in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, rejected a request made by lawyers acting on behalf of Mahdi 'Issa Mahdi Abu Deeb and Jalila al-Salman not to implement the previous verdict until the two defendants’ allegations of torture are investigated. This refusal means that Mahdi Abu Deeb will remain in prison. The Court of Cassation has not yet set a date for taking a final decision on the two defendants’ appeal. Mahdi Abu Deeb has already spent some two years and three months of his five years’ sentence in Jaw prison. Jalila al-Salman completed her six-month sentence last November.

    As well as being a diabetic and having high blood pressure, Mahdi Abu Deeb suffers from neck, lower back and knees pain resulting from the torture and other ill-treatment he was subjected to. He was initially receiving physiotherapy and medical treatment in the Salmaniya Medical Complex but this was stopped around October 2012. Since then he has only been seen by the prison doctor as he has been refusing to be referred to the Bahrain Defence Force military hospital in al-Riffa'a in central Bahrain where he said he was tortured and ill-treated.

    Both were initially sentenced before a military court in 2011 on charges including using their positions as vice-president and president of the BTA to call for a strike by teachers, halting the educational process, "inciting hatred of the regime", and "attempting to overthrow the ruling system by force". On 21 October 2012, an appeal court upheld the verdict against the two but reduced their prison sentences. Mahdi Abu Deeb’s sentence was reduced from 10 to five years in prison while Jalila al-Salman’s was reduced from three years to six months, the lawyers then submitted the above-mentioned request before the Court of Cassation.

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

    • Urging the Bahraini authorities to release Mahdi Abu Deeb immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression and assembly;
    • Urging the Bahraini authorities to allow Mahdi Abu Deeb immediate access to any adequate medical treatment he requires.

     

    PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 15 AUGUST 2013 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 check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the tenth update of UA 227/11 Further information: http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/060/2012/en

     

    URGENT ACTION

    release of Prisoner of Conscience denied

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

    On 29 March 2011, Jalila al-Salman’s house in Manama was raided by more than 40 security officials. She was then reportedly taken to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) in Manama and ill-treated and verbally abused. She remained there for eight days until she was transferred to a women’s detention centre in ‘Issa Town, on the outskirts of Manama, where she was kept in solitary confinement for 18 days. She was then transferred to a cell with other women within the same facility. Jalila al-Salman was released on bail on 21 August after more than five months in detention. Mahdi Abu Deeb was detained on 6 April 2011 after a raid on his uncle’s house. Both he and his uncle were arrested; his uncle was released 72 days later. Mahdi Abu Deeb's family did not know where he was for 24 days. He spent 64 days in solitary confinement, during which he says he was tortured. His family and lawyer were only allowed to see him during the first session of his trial on 7 June 2011. Mahdi Abu Deeb has remained in prison since his arrest. He was sentenced with Jalila al-Salman on 25 September by the National Safety Court of First Instance to 10 years in prison while she received a three years prison term. Their appeal before a civilian court of appeal started on 11 December. On 21 October 2012, their guilty verdicts were upheld on appeal but their sentences reduced. Mahdi Abu Deeb’s sentence was reduced from 10 to five years in prison while Jalila al-Salman’s was reduced from three years to six months. She was arrested on 7 November to serve the remainder of her sentence and released on 25 November.

    The Court of Cassation verdict was issued on 1 July 2013 as European Union (EU) state officials and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) were convening in Bahrain for their annual ministerial meeting just a few kilometres away from the prisons where prisoners of conscience are being held. The issue of human rights violations was not on the agenda of this ministerial meeting with the GCC nor properly addressed in EU statements.

    Two years after the uprising in Bahrain, and beneath the fanfare of subsequent reform, 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. In recent months, not only have prisoners of conscience not been released, but more people have been jailed simply for daring to express their views, whether via Twitter or on peaceful marches. Bahraini courts have appeared more concerned with toeing the government’s line than offering effective remedy to all Bahrainis and upholding the rule of law.

    The 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 the recommendations set out in the report. 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 account those responsible for human rights violations, including torture and excessive use of force, and carry out independent investigations into allegations of torture.

    However, many of the government’s pledges remain unfulfilled. The establishment of BICI and its report was considered to be a groundbreaking initiative, but more than a year on, 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 Bahrain: Reform shelved, repression unleashed, (Index: MDE 11/062/2012), November 2012, http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/062/2012/en.

    Name: Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Deeb

    Gender m/f: m

     

    Further information on UA: 227/11 Index: MDE 11/021/2013 Issue Date: 4 July 2013

    http://amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE11/021/2013/en/6c7277f2-498b-45c4-bc7c-022a96bfa002/mde110212013en.html

    Document Type: 

    0 0

    Further information on UA: 126/13 Index: MDE 11/022/2013 Bahrain Date: 4 July 2013

    URGENT ACTION

    LAWYER’S PRISON SENTENCE FOR TWEET UPHELD

    Bahraini lawyer, Mahdi al-Basri, had his one-year prison sentence upheld by the High Criminal Court of Appeal on 3 July, for allegedly insulting the King of Bahrain in messages posted on Twitter. He may be a prisoner of conscience. On 3 July Branch 3 of the High Criminal Court of Appeal in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, upheld the one-year prison sentence against the 25 year-old lawyer, Mahdi al-Basri. His lawyers will launch an appeal with the Court of Cassation but there are fears that by the time the court reviews the case, he would have already served his sentence. Mahdi al-Basri is held in Jaw Prison on the outskirts of the capital.

    Mahdi al-Basri was arrested on 11 March 2013 following a police raid on his home in Karrana, northern Bahrain. Four other men, Mahmood ‘Abdul-Majeed ‘Abdullah Al-Jamri (34), Hassan ‘Abdali ‘Issa (33), Mohsen ‘Abdali ‘Issa (26) and ‘Ammar Makki Mohammad Al-Aali (36) were arrested at dawn on 12 March. The trial of the five in separate cases began on 24 March before Branch 3 of the Lower Criminal Court on charges of insulting the King in messages posted on Twitter. Mahdi al-Basri was accused of posting twitter messages in June 2012 that were traced to his IP address. He has denied the charges, stating that his personal Twitter account was not the account used to post these messages and that he had no connection to the account that used his IP address. All five were sentenced to one-year imprisonment on 15 May, under Article 214 of Bahrain’s Penal Code which criminalizes “offending the emir of the country [the King], the national flag or emblem”.

    Amnesty International has no new information about the cases of the four other men.

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

    • Expressing concern that Mahdi al-Basri’s one-year prison sentence has been upheld and that he maybe a prisoner of conscience, in which case he should be released immediately and unconditionally;  
    • Calling on the Bahraini authorities to ensure that the review of Mahdi al-Basri’s case before the Court of Cassation takes place without delay;
    • Noting that his and the other four men’s detention is in breach of Bahrain’s international obligation to uphold freedom of expression as guaranteed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Bahrain is a state party.

    PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 15 AUGUST 2013 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 Salutation: Your Excellency

    Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country

    Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the first update of UA 126/13. Further information: http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/016/2013/en

     

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION 

    On 14 April 2013, Bahrain’s cabinet endorsed an amendment to Article 214 of the Penal Code, increasing the penalty for offending King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah or the country’s flag and other national symbols. The amendment, which has been endorsed by the National Assembly and is awaiting the King’s ratification, would make such offences punishable by up to five years in prison and a 10,000 Bahraini Dinars (about US$ 26,400) fine.

    Article 214 of Bahrain’s Penal Code states: “A prison sentence shall be the penalty for any person who offends the emir of the country [the King], the national flag or emblem”; this violates the right to freedom of expression.

    Over two years after the uprising in Bahrain, and beneath the fanfare of reform, 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. In recent months, not only have prisoners of conscience not been released, but more people have been jailed simply for daring to express their views, whether via Twitter or on peaceful marches. Bahraini courts have appeared more concerned with toeing the government’s line than offering effective remedy to Bahrainis and upholding the rule of law.

    The 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 the recommendations set out in the report. 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 account those responsible for human rights violations, including torture and excessive use of force, and carry out independent investigations into allegations of torture. However, many of the government’s pledges remain unfulfilled. The establishment of BICI and its report was considered to be a groundbreaking initiative, but, 18 months on, the promise of meaningful reform has been betrayed by the government’s unwillingness to implement key recommendations around accountability. 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.

    In September 2012, Bahraini authorities expressed its views on the conclusions and recommendations of the report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) during the 21st session of the UN Human Rights Council. It stated: “Freedom of speech and expression are guaranteed by Bahrain’s Constitution, national laws and international covenants ratified by Bahrain. Additionally, all charges related to freedom of expression have been dropped. All cases are being reviewed in civilian courts. Furthermore, legislative amendments concerning free expression are being reviewed”. The UN Human Rights Committee which oversees the implementation of the ICCPR, observed that the mere fact that statements are considered insulting to a public figure is not sufficient to justify imposition of penalties. Moreover, public figures, including heads of states, are legitimately subject to criticism and political opposition. UN human rights experts say alleged defamation of public figures, such as politicians, should not be criminalized, as those in the public eye "should be expected to tolerate more criticism than private citizens”. They have also said that freedom of opinion and expression involves the right to freely criticize politicians and other public personalities.

    Name: Mahdi al-Basri, Mahmood ‘Abdul-Majeed ‘Abdullah Al-Jamri, Hassan ‘Abdali ‘Issa, Mohsen ‘Abdali ‘Issa and Ammar Makki Mohammad Al-Aali Gender m/f: m

    Further information on UA: 126/13 Index: MDE 11/022/2013 Issue Date: 4 July 2013

    http://amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE11/022/2013/en/04fce542-2e39-4de7-8c26-0e65d198bc49/mde110222013en.html

    Document Type: 

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