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    Two men have been detained incommunicado in Bahrain for months. For nearly three months, since his arrest, Sayed Fadhel Abbas Radhi has been detained without access to family or lawyer. Similarly, Sayed Alawi Hussain has spent nearly two months in detention without access to family or lawyer and without being informed of the official charges against him. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) strongly condemns the practice of incommunicado detention and expresses great concern over the safety of the victims and their wellbeing.

    On 29 September 2016, Sayed Fadhel Abbas Radhi (24-years-old) was arrested during a house raid at his home at 3AM by security men in civilian clothes who jumped over the walls and broke into the house without showing any arrest or search warrants. They asked for Radhi and then immediately handcuffed him and arrested him. They also searched the house and confiscated two telephones. Since then, Radhi’s family was not able to see him or visit him. Despite getting four visit permissions from the public prosecution, the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) which is detaining Radhi has refused to allow the family to visit him. During these three months of arrest and up until 10 December 2016, Radhi has called his family three times for short calls. His family told BCHR that on his call on 10 December he sounded very weak and his father didn’t recognize his voice. He has not made any calls nor had no access to his lawyer.

    His family filed a case with the ombudsman to be allowed to have access to him. They have also approached the National Human Rights Institute (NHRI) for help.

    This is not a unique case of incommunicado detention. BCHR continues to follow the ongoing detention of Sayed Alawi Hussain Alawi (43-years-old), who is in detention since 24 October 2016 without being allowed a single visit by his family or any kind of access to his lawyer. His whereabout and location of detention remained unacknowledged by the authorities for a month after arrest and his family received only two calls from him, the last on 14 December 2016 which ended suddenly when the family asked him about his charges. His lawyer was unable so far to get any information of the official charges from the public prosecution.

    The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture considers that incommunicado detention creates conditions that facilitate the perpetration of torture and can, in itself, constitute a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or even torture. Indeed, as has been the case in many instances reported by BCHR, the period of disconnecting detainees from contact with the outside world is often the period they are allegedly subjected to torture to force confessions at the notorious CID.

    The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considers that incommunicado detention “constitutes the most heinous violation of the norm protecting the right to liberty of human beings under customary international law. The arbitrariness is inherent in these forms of deprivation of liberty as the individual is left outside the cloak of any legal protection.”

    According to Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Bahrain acceded in 2006, “Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release.”

    Therefore, BCHR calls on the government of Bahrain to:

    • Immediately release Sayed Fadhel Abbas Radhi and Sayed Alawi Hussain Alawi, who are arbitrarily detained without any access to legal procedure and may be at risk of torture; and
    • Put an end to the practice of enforced disappearance, incommunicado detention and arbitrary arrests in Bahrain.
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    H.E. Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein
    United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
    Palais Wilson
    52 rue des Pâquis
    CH-1201 Geneva
    Switzerland

    CC: David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on Free Expression
    Michele Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders

    Dear Mr. High Commissioner,

    We, the undersigned human rights organizations, write to urge your office to urgently and publicly call on the Government of Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and drop the charges against him. His next, and likely final, trial date is scheduled for 28 December.

    Nabeel Rajab's trial is ongoing following the fifth extension of his court proceedings on 15 December. The further delay of Rajab's trial to late December is additionally concerning due to the precedent established by the Bahraini government to take advantage of the time period around the end of year holidays to further violate human rights. For example, on 28 December 2014, the Government of Bahrain arrested and charged Sheikh Ali Salman, the Secretary General of the now dissolved Al-Wefaq political society, in relation to his free expression. Salman continues to serve a nine-year arbitrary prison sentence following his own lengthy trial.

    This December, Nabeel Rajab could face up to 15 years in prison on charges regarding tweets and re-tweets from his account addressing torture in Bahrain's Jau Prison, as well as criticizing Bahrain's participation in Saudi Arabia-led military operations in Yemen. These military actions in Yemen, according to the United Nations, have so far been responsible for the deaths of more than 8,100 civilians, and include numerous unlawful airstrikes on markets, homes, hospitals, and schools. Rajab's comments on Twitter about the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Yemen led to his arrest on 2 April 2015. Bahrain's penal code provides for up to 10 years in prison for anyone who “deliberately announces in wartime false or malicious news, statements or rumors.”

    Bahraini authorities released Rajab on 13 July 2015 in accordance with a royal pardon for previous Twitter-related charges following extensive international pressure. However, the Public Prosecution maintained this second round of charges against Rajab following his release and ordered his re-arrest nearly a year later on 13 June 2016. Rajab is also facing charges of “offending a foreign country” – Saudi Arabia – and “offending national institutions” for his comments about the torture of inmates at Jau Prison in March 2015. In October 2016, after months of trial hearings, the court reopened his case for investigation rather than dismissing the charges against him due to the lack of evidence.

    Moreover, the government brought an additional charge against Rajab in relation to an open letter published in the New York Times on 4 September 2016. The Bahraini authorities immediately responded by charging Rajab with “undermining the prestige of the state.”

    Since June 2016, Rajab has been held in pre-trial detention, including two weeks of solitary confinement following his initial arrest. The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Non-Custodial Measures state that “pre-trial detention shall be used as a means of last resort in criminal proceedings, with due regard for the investigation of the alleged offence and for the protection of society and the victim.” The government's use of pretrial solitary confinement against Nabeel Rajab while prosecuting him for free expression is clearly an additional form of reprisal for his work as a human rights defender and is in breach of the UN's standards for detention.

    Nabeel Rajab is the co-founder and president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, the founding director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights, a Deputy Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) from 2012 to 2016, and holds advisory positions with Human Rights Watch. Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience. His human rights activism and his peaceful criticism of the Bahraini authorities have resulted in his imprisonment on two previous occasions, between May 2012 and May 2014, and between January 2015 and July 2015.

    Mr. High Commissioner, your office has pursued and published a number of communications in relation to human rights abuses perpetuated against Nabeel Rajab. Yet with his likely final court appearance approaching, it is imperative, now more than ever, to use the weight of your office to publicly defend him. We therefore call on you to issue a public statement in defense of Nabeel Rajab as a human rights defender arbitrarily detained for his free and peaceful expression. We further urge you to publicly call on the Government of Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release Rajab, and to drop all charges against him.

    Sincerely,

    Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain
    Albanian Media Institute
    ARTICLE 19
    Association of Caribbean Media Workers
    Bahrain Center for Human Rights
    Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism
    Cambodian Center for Human Rights
    Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
    Center for Media Studies & Peace Building
    Digital Rights Foundation
    Electronic Frontier Foundation
    Foro de Periodismo Argentino
    Foundation for Press Freedom - FLIP
    Freedom Forum
    Freedom House
    Free Media Movement
    Globe International Center
    Gulf Centre for Human Rights
    Independent Journalism Center - Moldova
    Index on Censorship
    International Press Institute
    Journaliste en danger
    Maharat Foundation
    MARCH
    Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
    Media Institute of Southern Africa
    Media Watch
    National Union of Somali Journalists
    Norwegian PEN
    OpenMedia
    Pacific Freedom Forum
    Pacific Islands News Association
    Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms - MADA
    PEN American Center
    PEN Canada
    PEN International
    Reporters Without Borders
    South East European Network for Professionalization of Media
    Vigilance pour la Démocratie et l’État Civique
    World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

    Amnesty International
    Bahrain Human Rights Society
    Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)
    Bahrain Press Association
    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    English PEN
    European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights
    European Center for Democracy and Human Rights
    International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
    International Service for Human Rights
    No Peace Without Justice
    World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

    Individuals:
    Clive Stafford Smith OBE, Founder, Reprieve

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    Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), and the European Center for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) condemn the violence that occurred earlier this morning when Bahraini security forces raided houses and attacked protesters around the residence of Sheikh Isa Qassim.

    Bahraini security forces began lining the streets around prominent religious cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim’s house on the morning of 21 December 2016. Protesters around Sheikh Isa Qassim’s house were alerted to the presence of the security forces and became fearful that the government may move in to arrest Sheikh Isa Qassim. Security forces then moved in on the protesters. BIRD and ADHRB spoke to eyewitnesses in Diraz who indicated that there were approximately a dozen police vehicles. Videos show the security forces firing tear gas at the protesters. Since these clashes occurred, there have been two reported injuries from tear gas canisters shot at protesters; one of these victims is a minor. Protests then erupted in some villages, including Abu Saibah, Sitra, and Aldaih.

    “Bahrain is gambling with its stability and plays with fire by raiding houses and attacking protesters,” said BIRD Director of Advocacy Sayed Ahmed AlWadaei. “Attacking protesters this morning after six months of siege on the village shows that the government is continuing to veer further down their path of repression.”

    The Ministry of Interior in Bahrain confirmed on their Twitter account that they have conducted some arrests. Witnesses to the violence this morning have shared photos with ADHRB & BIRD of damaged houses from reported police raids.

    Sheikh Isa Qassim is the most prominent spiritual Shia cleric in Bahrain. The Government of Bahrain arbitrarily revoked Sheikh Isa Qassim’s citizenship on 20 June 2016 and has since brought charges against him for money laundering. These charges are in relation to the Shia-specific practice of khums, a charitable donation given by individuals to the community. Since his citizenship revocation in June, protesters have participated in a peaceful sit-in around the residence.

    “Without serious pressure from Bahrain’s allies, especially the United States and the United Kingdom, Bahrain will continue its repressive campaign against peaceful protesters,” said ADHRB Executive Director Husain Abdulla. “Despite promises of reform after government violence that took place in the 2011 pro-democracy movement, the Government of Bahrain continues to utilize violence against protesters.”

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    21 December 2016 – Bahraini authorities have today interrogated imprisoned human rights defender Nabeel Rajab on allegations stemming from a letter he recently published in the French newspaper Le Monde. The undersigned NGOs condemn in the strongest possible terms any further legal action against Rajab for exercising his fundamental right to free expression and call on the Government of Bahrain to secure his immediate release.

    According to a spokesperson for the Department of Anti-Corruption, Economy, Security, and Electronics, the Ministry of the Interior’s Cybercrime Unit has removed Rajab from custody in order to question him over the contents of a Le Mondearticle published in his name on 19 December. The Cybercrime Unit has accused Rajab of using the article to “spread false information and tendentious rumors” that insult Bahrain and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states” and harm their relations.

    In the article, Rajab writes: “In September, when I wrote an open letter to the US administration, the Bahraini government brought new charges of damaging Bahrain’s reputation against me.” He added, “France and Germany, you need to reassess your relationship with these monarchies, which actively work against democracy and human rights and fan the flames of violence and extremism…My trial is not exceptional, it is ordinary. Thousands of Bahrainis are in prison for voicing criticism and demonstrating against the government, and thousands more have been murdered across the Arab world for daring to exercise their right to self-determination. That is truly appalling.”

    Sayed Ahmed AlWadaei, Director of Advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) said, “As Nabeel Rajab exposes the thin skin of the Bahraini government he continues to pay the price for exercising his right to free opinion. If France does not speak up against Bahrain’s outrageous actions, its silence will be seen as a betrayal of human rights by the supposed champions of free speech in Europe.

    Rajab, president of BCHR, has been detained since June 2016 on separate charges related to his use of Twitter, including comments discussing torture in Bahrain and criticizing the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen. If convicted of these charges, he could face up to 15 years in prison. Moreover, as Rajab noted in his Le Monde article,  Bahraini authorities issued an additional 1-year charge against him for another letter  published in the New York Times in September.

    Nabeel Rajab’s recent letters remind us of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” said Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB).  “Like King, Nabeel is a true champion of human rights. President Obama rightfully admires Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists for their struggle to secure equality in the United States, and his administration must recognize that same principled fortitude in the face of repression here, in Nabeel’s case. President Obama must take clear action by suspending arms sales to Bahrain immediately and repeat his call for his Nabeel’s immediate release”

    The right to freedom of expression is protected under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the latter of which Bahrain acceded to in 2006. We, the undersigned organizations, call on the Government of Bahrain to respect the right to freedom of speech and release Nabeel Rajab and immediately drop all charges against him. We also strongly urge the Government of France to publicly call for Nabeel Rajab’s release and the release of all other prisoners of conscience in Bahrain.

     

    Undersigned NGOs:

    Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)

    Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)

    Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)

    European Centre for Democracy & Human Rights (ECDHR)

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    On 4 December 2016, the sixth higher court of appeal in Bahrain, headed by judge Ebrahim Al-Zayed, upheld death sentences against three individuals, Sami Mushaima, Abbas Al-Samea, and Ali Abdulshaheed Al-Singace; as well as life sentences against five other defendants: Ali Jameel Al-Samea, Taher Al-Samea, Husain Ahmed, Ahmed Matooq and Redha Mushaima. The court also ordered the denaturalization of all of the defendants. We, the undersigned members of the Bahrain human rights community, strongly condemn the confirmation of these sentences and calls on the Government of Bahrain to drop all death sentences immediately.     

    The detainees were arrested more than two years ago, on 3 March 2014, by security forces in house raids, on charges of allegedly using improvised explosive devices which led to the killing of three police officers, one of them being an Emirati citizen. The state-sponsored media quickly published photos of the defendants, publicly accusing them of murder, before officials completed their investigation. On 26 February 2015, the High Criminal Court convicted them of all charges and passed sentence. On 31 May 2016, a court of appeal rejected their first appeal. Subsequently a court of cassation referred their case back to appeal court in October 2016; however their second appeal was rejected as well. None of these courts have investigated allegations of torture, despite repeated requests from defense lawyers.

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) has closely monitored these cases and has repeatedly raised concerns regarding questionable interrogation practices and ill-treatment of these detainees. The three detainees were refused access to their families and lawyers for several days after their arrest. They reported that security forces subjected them to torture during their interrogation to coerce confessions. Yet, despite concrete evidence against their charges, the Bahraini court convicted Mushaima, al-Samea and al-Singace based off their coerced confessions, and sentenced them to the harshest of all punishments--death. All defendants have denied the charges against them, and plead innocence.

    As reported to BCHR, the security forces subjected detainees to more than a week of enforced disappearance, during which they allege that they were tortured by security forces. Several days after his arrest, the mother of Sami Mushaima, one of three individuals sentenced to death, observed that Sami’s teeth were either broken or pulled out. She reported that he was wearing a jacket to conceal signs of abuse, and that there were visible burn marks on his hands. Abbas al-Samea – similarly sentenced to death – also alleged he was subjected to various form of torture, including electric shocks, sleep deprivation, and sexual assault. Other detainees in the case have reported being subjected to the same forms of torture.

    Following this latest ruling, the number of Bahrainis on death row now totals eight, two of whom (Mohamed Ramadhan and Hussain Ali Moosa Hussain Mohamed) have have exhausted all legal means of appeal. They await only the king’s confirmation of their execution. Ramadhan was arrested and detained for his participation in the pro-democracy protests after the al-Dair bombing. In detention Ramadhan was subjected to various forms of torture including beating, electrocution, sexual assault and psychological torture, according to his wife Zainab Ebrahim. Moosa was also arrested one week after the al-Dair bombing. Moosa was also a subject of torture while in detention - including beating, threats concerning his family facing fabricated charges and threats to rape his sisters. Both, Ramadhan and Moosa, were forced to sign unknown confessions. They both are sentenced to death for their supposed involvement in a bomb explosion that resulted in the death of a policemen. They continue to await their imminent execution.

    The lack of due process is a common practice in Bahrain. The arbitrary prosecution, the failed investigations, and use of torture to coerce confessions are clear signs of legal and due process rights in Bahrain.

    The use of the death penalty is a violation of article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Bahrain ratified in 2006, that states that, “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.” Though Article 6 of the ICCPR permits the use of the death penalty in limited circumstances, it also provides that “nothing in this article shall be invoked to delay or to prevent the abolition of capital punishment by any State Party to the present Covenant.” The Government of Bahrain should respect its international commitments and abolish the use of the death penalty.


    We, the undersigned, call upon the Government of Bahrain to:

    • Commute all death sentences;
    • Establish a moratorium on the death penalty with a view to abolition;
    • Investigate and prosecute all acts of torture, mistreatment, enforced disappearance; and,
    • Establish procedures to ensure the fairness of all criminal trials and appeals.

    The names of the detainees sentenced to the death penalty on political cases:

    • Sami Mushaima
    • Abbas Al-Samea
    • Ali Abdulshaheed Al-Singace
    • Mohamed Ramadhan  
    • Hussain Ali Moosa Hussain Mohamed
    • Salman Isa
    • Hussain Abdulla Khalil Ebrahim
    • Maher Al-Kabaz

    Signed,

    Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain
    Bahrain Center for Human Rights
    Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy

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    We are seriously concerned about the ongoing prosecution of Nabeel Rajab, a co-founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, who has been detained since 13 June 2016 for exercising his right to freedom of expression.  

    Mr Rajab, who was convicted and then pardoned for tweets he wrote in 2014, currently faces a series of charges. These relate to comments on social media regarding torture in Jaw prison, and critiquing the Saudi-led coalition’s airstrikes in Yemen, charges that carry maximum sentences of 10 and three years respectively. .  

    On 5 September he was additionally charged with “intentionally broadcasting false news and malicious rumours abroad impairing the prestige of the State”. These charges were brought by the General Prosecutor in response to an article by Mr Rajab published on 4 September in the New York Times. This charge carries a sentence of at least one year.  

    On 15 December, Mr Rajab’s trial was postponed for the fifth time. His next hearing is scheduled for 28 December.  

    Criticising the Government should not be the grounds for detention or prosecution and we call on the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr Rajab.  

    We also urge the Government of Bahrain to take all necessary steps to secure the right to freedom of opinion and expression in accordance with fundamental principles set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Bahrain ratified in 2006.  

    Read the full report here.

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    28 December 2016 – A Bahraini court earlier today ordered the provisional release of human rights defender Nabeel Rajab on bail. However, the Public Prosecution subsequently ordered his continued detention for seven days, citing further investigation into another case in which Rajab is accused of “spreading false news,” likely to be related to letters published in the New York Times and most recently in Le Monde newspapers. His seventh hearing is set for 23 January 2017. We, the undersigned, condemn Bahrain’s continued judicial harassment of Nabeel Rajab and call for his immediate and unconditional release.

    Bahraini authorities arrested Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), on 13 June 2016 on charges of “spreading false news and rumors about the internal situation in a bid to discredit Bahrain.” Following his imprisonment, authorities brought an additional two charges against him, including “posting information that could incite others and disrupt civil peace” and “illegally defaming a statutory body” for tweets he posted regarding torture in Jau Prison and the high number of civilian deaths in Yemen from Saudi-led coalition airstrikes.

    In September 2016, following the publication of Rajab’s op-ed in the New York Times, the Bahraini government added an additional charge of publishing “false news and statements and malicious rumors that undermine the prestige of the kingdom.” On 21 December 2016, Bahraini authorities interrogated Rajab following the publication of an opinion piece in his name in the French paper Le Monde.

    On 20 December 2016, over 50 NGOs urged the UN to call for Rajab’s release, a call which the UN’s leading expert on free speech endorsed. On 23 December, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement calling for Rajab’s release. His spokesperson stated, “Criticising the Government should not be the grounds for detention or prosecution and we call on the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Rajab.

    Rajab has been in pre-trial detention since his arrest in June 2016. The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Non-Custodial Measures state that “pre-trial detention shall be used as a means of last resort in criminal proceedings, with due regard for the investigation of the alleged offence and for the protection of society and the victim.” According to his family, Rajab’s extended pre-trial detention, much of which has been in solitary confinement, has caused a deterioration in his health and stands in clear violation of the UN’s rules.

    Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, the Director of Advocacy of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD): “It was too early to absorb the court order of releasing Nabeel Rajab, only to find out that prosecution has held him over other free expression charges. Bahrain plays with his life despite his deteriorating health condition and UN calls for his unconditional release. The latest judicial harassment exposes Bahrain’s mockery of justice. Bahrain’s allies in the EU & UK must speak out before it’s too late”

    The US has called for Rajab’s release “full stop,” and the EU’s top human rights official has expressed his “hope” for Nabeel’s release. In September 2016, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights used his opening statement at the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council to warn Bahrain: “The past decade has demonstrated repeatedly and with punishing clarity exactly how disastrous the outcomes can be when a Government attempts to smash the voices of its people, instead of serving them.”

    “Nabeel Rajab’s ongoing trial and detention is a reprisal against both him and the entire human rights community in the region,” states Husain Abdulla, the Executive Director of Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB). “We were glad to see the State Department’s public call for the release of Nabeel. Nabeel’s case has proven that despite international calls to commit to protecting human rights, the Bahraini authorities remain steadfast in their efforts to silence civil society. The U.S. should suspend arms sales to Bahrain to show the Bahraini authorities that continued human rights violations will not be tolerated.”

    We, the undersigned, condemn the continued detention and judicial harassment of Nabeel Rajab, which are forms of reprisal for his work as a human rights defender and his right to free expression. We call for his immediate and unconditional release.

    Signed,

    Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain
    Bahrain Center for Human Rights
    Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy
    European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights

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    29 December 2016 - The public prosecution in Bahrain today interrogated human rights defender Nabeel Rajab regarding a case related of allegedly “disseminating false documents and malicious rumors” and announced a seven-day detention order according to his lawyer. This follows the announcement yesterday when the High Criminal Court ordered Rajab’s release on bail and the postponement of his hearing to 23 January 2017.

    The undersigned organizations strongly condemn the continued judicial harassment and detention of Nabeel Rajab and call on the Bahraini authorities to immediately release him and drop all charges against him.

    Bahraini authorities yesterday announced the release of Nabeel Rajab after nearly seven months in pre-trial detention for tweets he posted about torture in Bahrain’s Jau Prison and the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. However, following the announcement of Rajab’s release, the Bahraini government immediately re-arrested him for investigation on separate charges. The public prosecution ordered a seven-day detention period on charges of “disseminating false documents and malicious rumors on the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain that could damage its status.

    “Today's judicial harassment against leading rights activist Nabeel Rajab is another reminder of the repressive nature of Bahrain ruling family,” said BIRD’s Director of Advocacy Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei. “Bahrain rulers abandoned their commitments to reform and have now escalated repression to the highest degree we’ve seen since 2011. The repression continues to increase because of impunity for authorities’ abuses that are largely undenounced by Bahrain's allies, including the UK and the US.”

    The Bahraini government originally arrested Rajab on 13 June 2016 and charged him with “spreading false news and rumours about the internal situation in a bid to discredit Bahrain” later they referred him to the High Criminal Court on charges related to comments he made on Twitter about the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and documentation of the torture epidemic in Bahrain’s Jau Prison. Rajab has been subjected to ongoing detention since that time, with periods mostly in solitary confinement. Rajab’s health has suffered due to his ongoing detention, and he has been rushed to the hospital for heart conditions on several occasions.

    “The continued escalation of repression could be avoided if Bahrain’s allies pressured the Bahraini government to start a path of reform,” said ADHRB Executive Director Husain Abdulla.“The failure by European states to call for the release of Nabeel Rajab coupled with the US administration’s decision to lift the arms ban to Bahrain last year has give the authorities a green light to continue their assault on human rights in Bahrain.”

    We, the undersigned, condemn in the strongest terms the ongoing detention and judicial harassment of Nabeel Rajab. We call on the Government of Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release Nabeel Rajab, drop all charges against him, and lift his travel ban.

     

    Signed,

     

    Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)

    Bahrain Center for Human Righs (BCHR)

    Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)

    European Center for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)

     

    Further information

    In September 2016, the New York Timespublished a letter written by Rajab from his jail cell. Authorities subsequently charged Rajab for allegedly publishing false statements undermining Bahrain. In November 2016, Rajab published another letter in the French newspaper Le Monde. Authorities called Rajab in for questioning over the article and has since accused him of “spreading false information and tendentious rumors” that insult Bahrain and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

    On 20 December 2016, over 50 NGOs urged the UN to call for his release, a call which the UN’s leading expert on free speech endorsed. On 23 December, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement calling for Rajab’s release. His spokesperson stated, “Criticising the Government should not be the grounds for detention or prosecution and we call on the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Rajab.

    Since his arrest in June 2016, a number of international government figures have called for the release of Rajab. The US State Department has called for the release of Rajab multiple times and stated they believe it is “clear that the government lacks evidence to support its case.” Members of the European Parliament have put out a series of video messages in support of Rajab and called for his release. Additionally, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights used his opening statement at the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council to warn the Bahraini government that it must not continue on a path of repression. “The past decade has demonstrated repeatedly and with punishing clarity exactly how disastrous the outcomes can be when a Government attempts to smash the voices of its people, instead of serving them.”



    The United Kingdom and Bahrain

    Pressure mounted this week on the Prime Minister to call for Nabeel Rajab's release. While Theresa May told parliament at Prime Minister's Questions this week that "We do raise the issue of human rights when we meet the Gulf states", the UK Government has never publicly called for the release of any prisoners of conscience in Bahrain.
     
    On Tuesday 14 December, 23 MPs penned a joint letter to the Foreign Secretary calling on the UK Government to demand the “unconditional release” of Nabeel Rajab from prison, and for the charges against him to be dropped. The letter  signed by a cross-party group of MPs from the Conservatives, Labour, Scottish National Party, DUP, Liberal Democrats, Green and SDLP, urges the UK Government to follow the lead of the US State Department, the European Parliament, and the United Nations, in calling for Bahrain to release Mr Rajab. The letter said: We urge you, in advance of the trial tomorrow, to make it clear to Bahraini officials that the United Kingdom wishes to see his unconditional release from prison, and for the charges brought against him, which are related to his right to freedom of expression and freedom of speech, to be dropped. 
     
    On the same day, rights groups including Index on Censorship and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy protested outside Downing Street and delivered a letter to the Prime Minister.  Theresa May was in Bahrain last week to set out her new "bold vision" for British-Gulf relations. Human rights was not mentioned in her speech to Gulf leaders, nor by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who was also in Bahrain for a separate security conference.  The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy and Index on Censorship, along with three NGOs also wrote a letter to the Prime Minister: "There is nothing bold in silence over clear human rights violations, and we urge you to now make a public call for Nabeel Rajab’s immediate and unconditional release."
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    The Bahraini authorities are starting 2017 with more oppression and practising human rights violations against the people, as indicated by cases documented by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR).

    Arbitrary Arrest

    In the last week of 2016, BCHR has recorded the arrests of 48 persons, including eight children and two women. On 1 January 2017, the Ministry of Interior announced the escape of 10 prisoners from the central prison at Jau following what it referred to as a “terrorist attack” that resulted in the death of a security guard. Since then, mass house raids and arrests were conducted in several areas of Bahrain. In Bani Jamra alone, the home village of several of the escaped prisoners, over 23 persons were arrested in the first three days of the year, including Sayed Jawad Sayed Ridha and his four sons who were arrested on 1 January 2017 during a house raid at dawn. Other areas including Daih, Karzakan, and Samaheej were targeted with mass arrests and the total number of people arrested in the first four days of the year is 44 persons. Additionally, security checkpoints were established across the country resulting in traffic jams and some arrests.

    On 30 December 2016, Bahraini security forces raided the house of Abdulla Yousif Ahmed at dawn with more than 40 security officers in civilian clothes, and arrested Ahmed without presenting any warrant. Additionally, his wife, Anwar Shubbar Sayed Nasser (21 years old), was also arrested and kept in detention for over 48 hours for refusing to hand over her husband’s phone to the security forces. Her two children, a two-year-old girl and a 13-month-old infant who is fully reliant on his mother for feeding, were left in a poor health situation until their mother was released on bail on 2 January 2017.

    Two men continue to be detained incommunicado in Bahrain. For over three months, since his arrest, Sayed Fadhel Abbas Radhi has been detained without access to family or lawyer. Similarly, Sayed Alawi Hussain has spent over two months in detention without access to his family or lawyer and without being informed of the official charges against him.

    On 1 January 2017, the president of BCHR, Nabeel Rajab, completed 200 days of detention on free expression related charges, despite the fact that the court ordered his release on 28 December. He was ordered immediately to be detained for a week on new charges. On 5 January 2017 the public prosecution renewed his detention to 15 days.


    Attacks on Peaceful Assembly

    On 1 Jan 2017, the security forces attacked a peaceful demonstration in Sitra with tear gas, and arrested some of the participants. The practice of using excessive force, including the shooting of a single person, are repeated scenes that date back to 2011 and prove the absence of reform of unlawful police practices. (Video)

    On 3 January 2017, shotgun injuries were reported after the security forces attacked a protest in AbuSaiba.


    200 Days of Duraz Siege

    As the siege on the area of Duraz hits 200 days, new reports came on the eve of the new year that the security forces have been shooting in the area of the open-ended sit-in near prominent religious cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim’s house. Such a threat of using force against the protestors is not the first. On 21 December 2016, the security forces attempted an attack on the peaceful protesters.

    Instead of putting an end to the mass punishment for the over 20,000 residents of Duraz, the authorities have complicated the sige by placing new barriers on the road leading to the medical center.

    Click to enlarge

     


    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights reiterates its calls on the Bahraini government to put an end to the oppression of rights, to stop the arbitrary arrests, to immediately release all political prisoners and allow the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

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    On 5 January 2017, the public prosecution renewed the detention of leading human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), for 15 days. BCHR strongly condemns the ongoing arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Rajab over baseless charges related to the fundamental right to freedom of expression, and calls on the Bahraini authorities to immediately release him and drop all charges against him.

    The public prosecution had initially ordered the detention of Rajab on 29 December 2016 for seven days over new charges of “disseminating false and malicious news, statements and rumors about the internal affairs of the kingdom of Bahrain that could damage its status.” This case relates to media interviews he gave in 2015. The move came immediately after a court ordered his release on another case related to tweets and re-tweets. His next hearing in this case is scheduled on 23 January. However, the prosecution has again renewed the detention on the new charges for a further 15 days on 5 January 2017.

    Rajab has been in detention for over 200 days since 13 June 2016, when he was arrested for “spreading false news and rumours about the internal situation in a bid to discredit Bahrain." Since then, he received additional charges over an Op-ed published in “The New York Times” in September 2016, and then again he was interrogated in December 2016 over an article in the French newspaper “Le Monde”. He was accused of using the latter article to “spread false information and tendentious rumors” that allegedly insult Bahrain and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and harm their relations. In sum, Rajab is facing over 15 years in prison if convicted.

    Since his arrest, Rajab’s health has suffered due to poor detention conditions and he was transferred to the prison hospital multiple times for chest pain and irregular heart beats.

    BCHR calls on the government of Bahrain to respect its obligations for the protection of human rights defenders and the freedom of expression, and to end the judicial harassment against Nabeel Rajab and immediately and unconditionally release him.

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses great concern over the wellbeing and access to medical care of the detainee Elias Faisal Al-Mulla, who is suffering from stage 3 colon cancer, and whose family is unable to get consistent up to date reports of his medical status.

    Elias Faisal Al-Mulla (25 years old) was arrested on 11 May 2012, and sentenced on 5 May 2013 to 15 years in prison on multiple charges of alleged “attempt to murder, riot and illegal gathering, and possession of molotov cocktail.” He is currently detained at Jau central prison, south of the capital Manama.

    In March 2015, during a protest that was met with violence at Jau prison, Al-Mulla was reportedly subjected to extensive inhalation of tear gas that caused him cramps. He was allegedly beaten repeatedly in his stomach by the security forces, and he reported to his family that even the doctor at the prison clinic beat him in his stomach when he suffered from cramps, which made Al-Mulla stop asking to go to the clinic anymore. In May 2015, he started to have a severe stomach ache and was taken to the prison clinic for analysis but without results. On 1 August 2015, he was taken to the military hospital because he was continuously vomiting a lot of blood. In the hospital, on 5 August 2015, he had surgery involving the removal of lymph nodes, without the knowledge of his family. His mother told BCHR that during the period from 5 August to 10 August 2015 she was turned back and refused access to see him at the hospital.

    On 13 August 2015, he was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer, but he was taken back to prison a few days later, where he suffered from ongoing vomiting as he reported in a call to his mother. Al-Mulla is a young man who didn’t suffer from any diseases in his colon before, nor does he have a family history of such diseases either.

    Between 16 August 2015 to 29 September 2015, Al-Mulla’s mother tried repeatedly to get the medical report by requesting it from the military hospital and the administration of Jau prison without any luck. She had lodged a complaint with the ombudsman about the case requesting help. During this period, Al-Mulla had been taken for two check-ups at the Salmaniya hospital without bringing his medical report, which made it useless. Eventually the medical report was presented during the medical check-up at Salmaniya hospital on 29 September 2015.

    Al-Mulla started chemotherapy at Salmaniya on 8 October 2015, and took 7 doses in total up until 13 March 2016, some of which were delayed after he suffered strong side effects including tingling in the limbs, hair loss, and blurred vision. His 8th dose, which was scheduled in April 2016, was canceled as his doctor felt there was a risk to Al-Mulla if he continued, due to his weak immunity. He also took chemical pills and vitamins. Though he was supposed to take a dose every three weeks, his appointments were often postponed, because his immunity was too weak. For that reason, he was given injections to improve his immunity. However, as reported to BCHR by his family, he was sometimes not given all the pills that he needed, other times not given the pills at all, and at times not given the immunity injections as well. In addition, the poor prison conditions put him at risk of getting more sick due to his weak immunity. During his chemotherapy, he wasn’t given the food recommended to him by the doctor. Also, during chemotherapy he suffered from general fatigue; pain all over his body, particularly in the joints, and in his legs; stomach ache; broken teeth; hair loss; vision loss; weight loss; back pain; his skin changed color and peeled off; paresthesia in his fingertips; irregular body temperature; and dizziness. He still suffers from stomach aches (pain in the place of the surgery), pain all over his body and particularly in the joints, paresthesia in his fingertips, vision loss, and hair loss.

    The doctor at Salmaniya hospital has asked the prison guard to make an appointment for Al-Mulla to do examinations to find out the reasons of his weak immunity, broken teeth and vision loss. However those appointments and examinations were never made. Al-Mulla has indicated to his family that he is mistreated by those who accompany him to the hospital.

    On 1 December 2016, he had an appointment to conduct an endoscopy procedure at the military hospital, as requested by his doctor to confirm the cancer status. It was postponed as the prison security guard didn’t provide Al-Mulla with the required solution to take before the procedure. The scan was then conducted on 8 December 2016. When Al-Mulla’s mother went to the hospital on that day to talk to the doctor she says that she was refused access to the doctor, and she was threatened by security men and forced to leave the hospital. Since then, she has faced repeated refusals to provide her with the report of her son’s medical results or to have a discussion of her son’s condition with his doctor.

    Al-Mulla’s health is deteriorating, and his family is afraid that if his cancer reaches stage 4 that he may be at risk of losing his life due to inadequate medical care.

    BCHR reiterates the importance of upholding the international conventions related to the protection of individuals subjected to incarceration, specifically, the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, including article 22 which states, “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.”

    Based on the above, BCHR calls on the government of Bahrain to:

    • Immediately and unconditionally provide Elias Al-Mulla with adequate, and timely, access to medical treatment;
    • Allow him and his family access to up to date medical reports of his condition; and
    • Immediately and unconditionally release detainees held for politically motivated charges, and convicted using confessions extracted under torture.

     

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    The human rights black hole no one wants to talk about for fear of exposing imperialism fingerprints, Bahrain has died a thousand oppressions under the unrepentant gaze of western capitalism – the monarchy to be sustained so that a region could be tamed.

    Bahrain has officially gone backwards in its reform process. In a last-ditch attempt to crackdown on the opposition, the al-Khalifa monarchy has now chosen to tighten its grip on the kingdom by giving its security apparatus exceptional powers against all dissidents.

    The term 'dissident' here applies to whoever imagines oneself free.

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    9 January 2017 – The Court of Cassation in Bahrain today upheld the death sentence against three defendants, life imprisonment against seven other defendants, and revocation of citizenship for eight of these ten defendants. They were convicted of killing three policemen in a bombing incident on 3 March 2014. We, the undersigned, condemn this sentence where authorities extracted coerced confessions using torture and did not guarantee fair trial procedures.

    The Court of Cassation upheld upheld the death sentences of three individuals – Sami Mushaima, Abbas Al-Samea, and Ali Abdulshaheed Al-Singace; and life sentences for seven others – Ahmed Jaffar, Ali Jameel Al-Samea, Taher Al-Samea, Husain Ahmed, Hasan Sabah, Ahmed Matooq and Redha Mushaima. The government also revoked the citizenship of the defendants. The ten were arrested nearly three years ago, on and after 3 March 2014. Security forces arrested them in house raids on charges of allegedly using improvised explosive devices which led to the death of three police officers, one of them an Emirati citizen. State-sponsored media quickly published photos of the defendants accusing them of murder before the investigation was completed. On 26 February 2015, the High Criminal Court convicted them of all charges and handed down the defendants’ sentences, including stripping them of their citizenship. We, the undersigned, have previously condemned the sentence for unfair trial procedures and the use of evidence extracted under conditions of torture.

    In October 2016, the government ordered a retrial for the eight defendants, and last month, an appeals court upheld the death sentence against al-Samea, al-Singace, and Mushaima. After just one month, the Court of Cassation convened to uphold the sentence a final time. The three individuals are now facing imminent execution after exhausting all legal remedies. Following today’s decision, their only recourse is a royal pardon from the king.

    We have previously recorded the torture allegations of Abbas Al-Samea and Sami Mushaima, two of the three sentenced to death. Al-Samea, a teacher, was at school at the time of the bombing incident. Sami Mushaima is illiterate. Bahraini authorities subjected them to torture and convicted them of plotting and carrying out the attack. The Court of Cassation claimed that “there was no evidence of coercion in the case documents.” No investigation into the torture allegations was conducted during any of the several trial stages.

    Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB): “Bahrain shows every indication that it will not change its long-standing course of violating judicial rights and procedures. This recent sentencing of torture victims based on coerced confessions is just the latest example. There must be strong international condemnation to these judicial practices, including a US arms ban until the Bahraini government can prove that it will commit to human rights reforms.”

    Abbas al-Samea was arrested on 3 March 2014, three hours after the bombing incident that sparked the arrests. Security forces repeatedly kicked him in the head and body and hit him in the face with a gun. After arriving at the General Directorate of Criminal Investigations (CID), security forces took al-Samea into a series of rooms, subjecting him to different kinds of torture in each one. In one room security forces handcuffed and stripped al-Samea naked before kicking him repeatedly in his genitals. In another room, five officers stood on al-Samea’s chest. Security forces also subjected al-Samea to electric shocks in private and sensitive areas, including his genitals. Security forces beat al-Samea while he was suspended from the ceiling and denied him access to food and water for three days. Al-Samea has also reported that the Public Prosecutor threatened him with additional torture if he did not confess to being culpable in the explosion.

    Forces also arrested Sami Mushaima in March 2014 and held them incommunicado for at least 11 days. Security officials subjected Mushaima to beatings, electrocution, and sexual assault. His front teeth were severely damaged. Mushaima’s family believes he was coerced into falsely confessing through the use of torture.

    Additionally, during their detention at Jau Prison, a riot took place at the facility on 10 March 2015 in protest of overcrowding and the abusive treatment of inmates. The riot, in which only a minority of inmates participated, was met with excessive force. Officer collectively punished hundreds of prisoners, which included beatings and humiliation. A small number of prisoners, Al-Samea among them, were selected for transfer to “Building 10,” where reports allege authorities subject detainees to severe torture. Al-Samea’s nose was broken and his teeth were knocked out.

    There are now five persons facing imminent execution in Bahrain. All of them have suffered a combination of mistreatment, torture, and unfair trials. In addition to today’s victims, in 2015 the Court of Cassation upheld the sentences of Mohammad Ramadan and Husain Moosa, sentenced to death in 2014 for their alleged role in the death of a policeman. They now face imminent execution. Both allege that they were tortured. Ramadan maintains that someone from the government has told him they knew he was innocent, but that he was a traitor deserving of these violations.

    Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy at BIRD “Today’s decision increased the torture victims on death row to five. They are facing imminent execution. Bahrain’s allies must condemn this blatant disregard of life.  Given the lack of due process and the inclusion of confessions obtained under torture, these sentences are a mockery of justice. Three stateless men sit on death row. If they are executed they will die as no one.”

    By upholding the death sentence of Abbas al-Samea, Sami Mushaima, and Ali al-Singace, the Government of Bahrain has violated their rights to life. Bahraini authorities have additionally violated all ten individuals’ rights to fair trial proceedings in their use of torture to extract coerced confessions. The stripping of citizenship likely renders the victims stateless and must be immediately reversed.

    We, the undersigned, condemn the violations of the ten defendants’ rights, in particular the death sentences of Abbas al-Samea, Sami Mushaima, and Ali al-Singace. We call on the Government of Bahrain to:

    • Release all those currently sentenced to death and drop all charges against them, including Abbas al-Samea, Sami Mushaima, and Ali al-Singace due to Bahraini government’s use of torture to extract confessions and unfair trial procedures;
    • Reinstate all citizenships stripped;
    • Investigate and prosecute the use of torture.

    Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain

    Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy

    Bahrain Center for Human Rights

    European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights

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    A Bahraini court on Monday upheld death sentences against three people convicted of killing three police including an Emirati officer in a bomb attack.

    Emirati First Lieutenant Tariq Al Shehi and two Bahraini policemen were killed when the improvised device exploded as security forces tried to disperse protesters in the village of Daih, near Manama in March 2014.

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    A British security company criticised after its spyware was used by authoritarian foreign states has been invited to attend a government sales conference.

    Gamma International UK has defied a ruling by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that it broke human rights guidelines after its spyware was used by Bahrain to target dissidents in Britain.

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    Bahrain’s highest court has today (9th January) upheld the death sentences of three men, despite allegations that they were tortured into making false confessions. Their executions are now imminent.

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    Bahrain Mirror: Yusuf Al-Muhafda, deputy head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), denied what is being circulated on social media and attributed to the detained activist Nabeel Rajab about Jaw incident.

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    Looking at Bahrain and how western capitals insist on treating al-Khalifa regime as the only ally to be had in the pursuit of geopolitical control, I often recall former US President Jimmy Carter’s comment in 1978 when he boasted of the Shah of Iran’s grip on power.

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    The British military has provided training to a Saudi war crimes investigations unit headed by a Bahraini judge accused of sentencing peaceful protesters to lengthy jail terms, where they were often tortured.

    Campaigners say the training, which was detailed in Foreign Office documents released on Monday, make the British government complicit in both whitewashing abuses in Bahrain and the failure to properly investigate potential war crimes committed by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

    The appointment last year of Colonel Mansour al-Mansour, a military lawyer, as a legal adviser to the Saudi-led Joint Incident Assessments Team (JIAT) was heavily criticised by human rights groups at the time, who said the military judge was complicit in torture in the wake of pro-democracy protests in 2011. 

    Colonel Mansour was the presiding judge of the National Security Court, which activists claim, oversaw the lengthy detention of more than 300 protesters in what amounted to military trials. 

    Many of the protesters went on to claim they were tortured while in custody. The court also oversaw the trial of the so-called “Bahrain 13”, a group of leading human rights defenders and politicians who were arrested from March to May 2011 and subjected to torture while in custody.

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    British commandos trained Bahrain’s security forces in small arms and sniping tactics just two days after Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain would not “snipe” from the sidelines over human rights concerns in the county, Middle East Eye can reveal.

    An investigation by MEE has revealed that the controversial training for Bahraini forces - which violently put down pro-democracy protests during the Arab Spring in 2011 - took place during Pearl Dagger 2016, an infantry exercise held in the country in December.

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