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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights urgently appeals to the international community, especially the United Nations and the ICRC to investigate report from Bahrain’s Dry Docks prison. The families of the detainees have received calls from the prison that political prisoners held at the Dry Docks prison have been reportedly subjected to severe torture and abuse. The reports from the Dry Dock also confirmed that prison guards and security forces used teargas and stun grenades inside closed cells which resulted in at least 40 injuries.

    The families of detainees in ward 10 of the Dry Docks prison, where political prisoners tried under the terrorism law are being held, such as the cases known as “The Imam Army”, “5 tons explosives” and “February 14 case” of which the Human Rights Defender Naji Fateel is charged, said that in the early hours of morning a large number of prison guards started a sudden search. They humiliated, tortured and abused political detainees by cursing, severely beating with batons, using peper sprays and threatening them. Some of the prisoners defended themselves that resulted in the security forces using more violence. The BCHR received confirmed information from sources that the prison guards and security forces used stun grenades and teargas inside closed cells that resulted in at least 40 injuries.

    The Director of Reformation and Rehabilitation Colonel Mohammed Rashid Al Hussaini claimed, on the Ministry of Interior twitter account, that “a number of detainees at the detention center were involved in rioting. They tried to break doors, the police interfered and restored order.”

     

     

     

     

     

    However, the families are in a state of panic after the calls and reports they from the prison. One of the families said that they heard the screams and the sound of the shooting when they were on the phone with their son. Another family spoke of their son crying out to be saved. The last call received was reported at 5am. At the time of writing this report, no further information was available. The reports obtained from the prison stated that there are dozens of injured prisoners and at least one in a critical condition.

    It’s important to note that prisoners in this section of the prison have been continuously subjected to ill-treatment and denied their rights of visits and were prevented from going outside their cells.

    Maryam Al-Khawaja, Acting President of the BCHR, said:

    “Abuse and ill-treatment of political prisoners is systematic in Bahrain. The use of crowd control weapons inside the prisons is specifically alarming, as this violates many local and international laws. We are especially concerned about the injuries at a time when prisoners in Bahrain are not allowed access to adequate medical care. We need urgent actions from the United Nations and the ICRC to look into the situation of these political prisoners. We reiterate that the further deterioration of the human rights situation both inside and outside prisons is the direct result of the lack of local and international accountability for the Government of Bahrain. This is especially in regards to the international impunity granted to the authorities in Bahrain by their closes allies, namely the United Kingdom and the United States”

    This is not the first time BCHR receives information on violent attacks on prisoners in Bahrain at prison facilities. BCHR holds Major-General Ibrahim Habib al-Ghaith, the Ministry of Interior's Inspector General and Colonel Mohammed Rashid Al Hussaini, the Director of Reformation and Rehabilitation directly responsible for any harm to the prisoners.

    Based on the above, the BCHR calls the following:

    1. Immediately allow local and international independent NGO’s and the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit the prisons and the permanent and temporary detention centers. Also, provide the environment for these bodies to carry out their roles, neutrally and independently;

    2. Immediately investigate all claims of the use of excessive force against political prisoners, and bring forth anyone found guilty to a fair and independent court of law.

    3. Inform the families of prisoners and detainees about the conditions of their sons and the extent of the damage that has befallen them from these injuries, as well as provide the necessary and instant treatment for them.

    4. Abide by the international standards for the treatment of prisoners, foremost the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners adopted by the United Nations in December 1990, as well as the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners recommended for adoption by the First United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and the Treatment of Offenders, held at Geneva in 1955 and approved by the Economic and Social Council in July;

     

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) calls for the urgent intervention in the case of Nafeesa Al-Asfoor who has suspicious breast lumps and suffers from other diseases as well. She is being denied adequate medical care for her condition despite the several attempts of her family with the prison administration for her to receive medical attention.

    Nafeesa AlAsfoor got arrested on the 20th of April 2013 with Rihanna AlMousawi after peacefully protesting at the F1 race with t-shirts and slogans that called for the freedom of an imprisoned human rights activist and a photographer. She was reportedly tortured to extract confessions, and was charged under the terrorism law for aiding in an attempt to plant a fake bomb at the F1 race when she was first arrested. She was later charged in the case known as the “February 14th Terrorist Cell” and charged with attempting to overrule the constitution and attempting to overthrow the regime. (Read more: http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/5729)

    According to the family Nafeesa AlAsfoor was checked for suspicious multiple breast lumps in the past which she travelled to Jordan for further treatment for and returned on the 15th of February 2011.  AlAsfoor has informed her family during visits and phone calls after a month of her arrest that she noticed the return of a suspicious breast lump upon self-examination in detention accompanied by pain.

    Her husband made appointments for her at Salmaniya Hospital but the detention center refused to transfer her to hospital and has asked him instead to get an approval from the Public Prosecution, which he did through her lawyer. The prison administration continued to refuse to take her to the hospital.  When the appointment passed, the husband repeated the process four times but AlAsfoor was not transferred to the hospital for treatment. It is important to note that AlAsfoor was taken to the Bahrain Defense Force Hospital for checkups, but no treatment was provided nor have they informed her about the results of the checkups.

    Another health problem Nafeesa AlAsfoor suffers from is the dislocation of jaw joints which causes a friction between the jaw and head bones, and for which she needs a particular diet. She is also required to wear a TMJ splint that stops her jaw from sliding out of place. Her husband took the splint to the detention center, but they claimed to have lost it. After AlAsfoor lost a considerable amount of weight, the prison administration contacted the husband and asked him to bring her another TMJ splint, which he did. In addition to her jaw problem, AlAsfoor also suffers from severe migraines for which she requires ongoing treatment.

    Photo of Nafeesa during detention in a wheelchair

    During the last visit, her husband noticed that Nafeesa AlAsfoor had broken her foot as a result of she losing consciousness and falling. She was using walking sticks. It is important to note that AlAsfoor has reportedly lost consciousness many times during detention. A Russian detainee imprisoned for criminal charges, who speaks Arabic, informed the husband during a visit that AlAsfoor had fainted for about 45 minutes before the ambulance transported her to the hospital.

    On the 16th of August 2013, the family received a call from AlAsfoor informing them that she is at the Fort Prison Hospital and that that she will stay for a couple of days. The following day the family received news that AlAsfoor was diagnosed with anemia which has been the reason for her loss of consciousness several times during detention, and that she will be held under observation. The family and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) hold the Bahraini authorities responsible for the life of Nafeesa AlAsfoor and her physical and psychological wellbeing.

     

    The BCHR calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, the European Union and all close allies and relevant international institutions to put pressure on the Government of Bahrain to:

    • Immediately and unconditionally release Nafeesa AlAsfoor along with all other political prisoners, especially in the case in which the only evidence are confessions extracted under duress
    • Provide Nafeesa AlAsfoor and all other prisoners with adequate medical care especially those with potentially life threatening illnesses.
    • Launch an impartial and independent investigation into the allegations of torture and assault made by Nafeesa AlAsfoor during her imprisonment in Bahrain and prosecute all officials involved in her torture
    • Immediately end the culture of impunity in Bahrain and hold accountable all those involved in violations, especially those in high position in government.

     

     

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses its grave concern about the ongoing escalating crackdown led by the authorities in Bahrain against unarmed citizens, this time inside their homes. The regime forces attacked a family inside their home, injuring a sixteen-year-old girl with a pellet shotgun. They claimed to be chasing protesters.

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) documented the testimonies of the family who stated that on the afternoon of Friday, 16th August 2013, security forces attacked their home in AlKawara village after the suppression of a peaceful sit in which was announced by the 14 February Youth Coalition. The father, Mansour AlKhawaja told the BCHR that masked security forces ordered his family to go inside their home within ten seconds, and when the family were not able to do so within the time told, they attacked those inside the house. They reportedly shot of teargas inside then approached the children, (siblings who are 8, 10 and 16 years old) threatening to kill them with the pellet shotgun. They then reportedly beat the children, including Noor Mansour AlKhawaja who is 8 years old and who was injured with a rubber bullet in her leg. On their way out, they shot one round of pellets in the courtyard of the house causing the injury of Fatima Mansour AlKhawaja, 16 years old, with several pellets in the abdomen; three of which pierced her stomach, while another two settled under her skin. Security forces then surrounded the AlKhawaja home for hours and reportedly videotaped the house from the inside in continuous violation of the family’s privacy. In addition, security forces also prevented anyone from going to the house including BCHR’s Said Yousif AlMuhafdah, Head of Documentation and Acting Vice President, who went there to document the what had happened. Security forces threatened AlMuhafdhah with arrest if he did not leave.https://twitter.com/SAIDYOUSIF/status/368439948648513536

    Photo of Said Yousif AlMuhafdah being ordered to leave

    Minutes after the attack on Fatima, an ambulance arrived to transfer her to the hospital, but due to the continuous militarization of hospitals in Bahrain, her mother refrained from transferring her to the hospital. Hours later, security forces finally agreed to leave if the whole family went to the central police station, which they did. The father insisted on filing a complaint despite several requests from the officer at the police station that he “not make a problem”. Around midnight the family was finally allowed to leave the police station, and Fatima Alkhawaja was transferred to Salmaniya Hospital, as her health condition deteriorated and she started to vomit blood. Doctors informed the family that they discovered three pellets which penetrated the abdomen, and Fatima had to be kept in the ICU for a period of more than five hours before being transferred to the treatment ward after her condition stabilized. (https://twitter.com/SAIDYOUSIF/status/368830852953677824)

    Despite Fatima Alkhawaja’s health condition, Fatima’s mother informed the BCHR that a policewoman in civilian clothes was guarding Fatima’s hospital room since the morning of Saturday, August 17. Fatima's mother has stated that the police were periodically passing by Fatima's room and that they videotaped her.

    The family was surprised on Sunday's afternoon August 18, 2013 with a phone call from the Central police station asking them to bring Fatima to the Public Prosecution to interrogate her on charges of illegal gathering and insulting the king. Fatima's aunt has stated on her social media account on Twitter that the case came in retaliation of Al-Khawaja family’s refusal to drop the case filed at the police station against the security forces. In the details of the incident, Suaad AlKhawaja stated that police called the father: "… asking him to bring in his daughter who is still lying in a hospital, on the grounds that there is a complaint submitted against her by a policeman. As it seems they are trying to make a bargain with the father in order to make him waive the complaint he filed against those who assaulted his family. One of the policemen has already asked him yesterday for waiver of the complaint, citing that his daughter's health condition was stable and to avoid what he called "problems". The father has refused to waive his right to complain”. Source: https://twitter.com/SuadAK

    Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) calls for:

    • An independent and impartial investigation into what took place which placed minors at risk and caused them injuries
    • Accountability for the police officers who attacked the AlKhawaja family
    • Compensation for Fatima AlKhawaja and her family for the caused psychological and physical damages
    • Immediately drop all trumped up charges against minor Fatima Alkhawaja
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    SUBMISSION TO THE COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN

    On the occasion of the review of Bahrain's Third Periodic Report at the Committee’s pre-sessional working group, July 2013

    Submitted by The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) with the support of FIDH

     

    In cooperation with Caram Asia and with the support of FIDH, BCHR submitted an alternative report to the Committee in 2008. This report focused on the situation of women migrant domestic workers in Bahrain. It was then decided to tackle specifically this issue as there were specific concerns on an issue which was at this time not specifically addressed.

    Since February 2011, the violent repression against the protest movement in Bahrain led to human rights violations that affected, and even specifically targeted, women's rights.

    This report will examine the implementation of key observations made by the CEDAW Committee in 2008 and highlight the consequences of the current crisis in Bahrain on the fundamental rights and freedoms of women.

     

    Read the full report

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    UA: 221/13 Index: MDE 11/033/2013 Bahrain Date: 16 August 2013

    URGENT ACTION

    Seddiqa al-Basri, a 27-year-old mother of two, has been detained since 14 August. Three other women and a girl were detained with her but released shortly after. Seddiqa al- Basri is a possible prisoner of conscience and is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. On 14 August, at around 3pm, Seddiqa al-Basri, together with three other women and a 14-year-old girl, were arrested as they tried to join an anti-government demonstration in Sayf Junction in the capital, Manama. Seddiqa al-Basri was driving the car the women were travelling in when police stopped her. The women were removed from the car by force and taken away in a police vehicle to the capital’s al-Hurra police station. There they were interrogated by the police for several hours. At around 1am on 15 August the three women, Tayyiba Derwish ‘Issa, Sharifa Sayyid Sa’eed Mahdi and one other whose name has not been disclosed – and the 14-year-old girl, ‘Adhra’ Mohammad, were released. Around the same time, Seddiqa al-Basri was transferred to a women’s detention centre in ‘Issa Town, south-west of Manama.

    On 15 August, Seddiqa al-Basri was presented to the Public Prosecution Office (PPO) and was interrogated with her lawyer present. Her lawyer had requested permission to be present at the police station when Seddiqa al-Basri and the four others were being interrogated by the police, but the request was rejected by the PPO. She was charged (at the PPO) with “attempting to run over two police women”, which she has denied. Seddiqa al-Basri had already been imprisoned for six months this year, from 28 January till 17 July, after she had been found guilty of “hurting a policeman’s feelings” and “public gathering”. At her initial interrogation for this previous incident she was reportedly tortured.

    Please write immediately in Arabic, English or your own language: ν Urging the Bahraini authorities to release Seddiqa al-Basri immediately and unconditionally if she is held solely for exercising her rights to freedom of association and assembly; ν Urging them to protect Seddiqa al-Basri from torture and other ill-treatment.

    PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 27 SEPTEMBER 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 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 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.

     

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

    Anti-government protests were organized in many Shi’a villages in Bahrain on 14 August. Protesters were planning to march to Manama but security forces prevented them by using tear gas and, in some instances, by erecting barbed wire around the villages. At least 18 people were arrested. The Tamarrod (rebellion) movement, made up of youth groups, chose 14 August to organize anti-government protests to denounce government repression and call for genuine political reforms. Mainstream opposition associations were also planning a large anti-government rally, but this was cancelled because of the heavily intimidating security presence in Manama.

    More than two years since the uprising in Bahrain and the subsequent fanfare of reform, prisoners of conscience (including many arrested during the protests) remain behind bars and the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly are still being suppressed. In recent months 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.

    In response to a recent increase in violence, and in anticipation of planned large demonstrations by the opposition, Bahrain’s parliament held an extraordinary session on 28 July at which it submitted 22 recommendations to the King, Shaikh Hamad Bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa; the recommendations toughen punishments laid out in the 2006 anti- terrorism law. The King welcomed the recommendations the next day, and ordered the prime minister to ensure that they were urgently implemented by the government. Bahrain’s constitution (Article 38) gives the King the power to issue decrees that have the force of law when parliament is in recess. In these circumstances the government prepares the draft amendments and the King ratifies them.

    The King issued two emergency decrees on 6 August 2013. One of them amends the 1973 Law on Public Gatherings and Demonstrations, to ban demonstrations, sit-ins, marches and public gatherings in the capital, Manama. The 1976 juvenile law was also amended and now stipulates that if anyone under 16 years of age takes part in a demonstration, public gathering or sit-in, his or her parents will be warned in writing by the Ministry of Interior. If six months after the warning the juvenile is found in a new demonstration his or her father could face jail, a fine or both. Amnesty International fears that these draconian measures will be used, as was the case on 14 August, to crack down on anti-government protests.

    Name: Seddiqa al-Basri Gender m/f: F

    UA: 221/13 Index: MDE 11/033/2013 Issue Date: 16 August 2013

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/033/2013/en

     

    Also Read: 

    Bahrain: Right to Defense Denied, Mother of Two Sentenced to Prison in Politically Motivated Trial

     

     

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    Lawyers Withdraw From the Court in Protest Against Biased Judges

     

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses grave concern over the continued use of the judicial system for show trials of political prisoners in biased courts that lack the basic requirements for a fair trial.

    Ten detained defendants are currently on trial under the internationally criticized terrorism law in the case known as “Al-Emam Army cell”, along with another 12 defendants who are wanted, but not in custody. Seven of the men are accused of “establishing and leading the Jaish Al Imam (Army of Imam) terrorist group with the intention of arming and training its members to carry out acts of terrorism targeting property, the public and police.” They are also accused of “conspiring with Iran to plot terrorist attacks in Bahrain - establishing ties with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and providing them with information about Bahrain's military, security and vital facilities.” The others are accused of joining, supporting or funding the “terrorist group” and “receiving training to carry out acts of terrorism”.

    Eight of the defendants have been in detention since January 2013. Three of them were arrested from Oman and they were submitted to the Bahraini authorities. However, the first session of their trial only started 6 months later on 22 July 2013.

    Observations from the 2nd Session – 15 Aug 2013

    On 15 August 2013, the 4th lower criminal court which has been formed recently to look into the growing number of political cases, refused to hear the testimonies of the defendants. This was the second time since the start of their trial that the court head, Judge Ali Khalifa AlDhahrani refuse to give the defendants any chance to speak in front of the court regarding the violations to their rights during arrest, detention and interrogation.

    One of the defendants in the case, Sayed Faisal Al-Alawi, raised his voice to tell the court: “I have the right to speak, as I suffer from three weeks in solitary confinement while handcuffed, I’m deprived from visits and phone calls to my family, there are no human rights in Bahrain.” Another defendant, Ali Sanqoor, also said to the court: “We have the right to speak, this is the second time we are brought here and not allowed to speak, the private photos of my family, my wife and my sisters, were confiscated and since my arrest they have not been yet returned, I can’t allow such violations to the sanctity of my family.”

    However, the court didn’t record any of the defendant’s complaints, but the judge asked for the names of those who spoke to be recorded.

    At this session, the lawyers requested that the judges be disqualified from hearing the defendants’ trial, on the grounds of bias, and in accordance with the article 211 of the Bahraini criminal procedures law:

    • Among the charges against the defendants is disabling the provisions of the constitution and dissolving the parliament - which is headed by the judge's father Ali Khalifa AlDhahrani - which can be considered as a conflict of interest.
    • Among the charges against the defendants is that of seeking to overthrow the regime which is represented by the ruling Al Khalifa family – which is the family of Judge Hamad Al Khalifa - which can be also be identified as a conflict of interest.

    In addition, the court has ignored the lawyers’ request to refer the defendants to an impartial medical committee for examination of any injuries they might have suffered while in detention.

    Observations from the 3rd Session – 20 August 2013

    Representatives from BCHR have attended the 3rd sessions of the trial on 20 August 2013.

    In this session, six out of the nine lawyers withdrew from the case to express objection to the disregard to their request regarding disqualification of the judges from hearing. The lawyers submitted a memo to the court on which they expressed that according to the law, since the lawyers have requested disqualifications of the judges, the case should be suspended until a decision is made by the supreme judicial council.

    At time the court did not allow the defendants to speak about violations during detention, the court proceeded with hearing the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, one of them is accused in several cases of torture, in addition to this case. The first witness, Officer Mohamed Khalid AlSaeedi, said that his “confidential sources” have led him to conclude that the defendants were involved in founding this “terrorist cell”. He added that the defendants have been communicating through viber, skype and email and they were having Iranian and Omani telecom chips.

    The witness was not able to answer all the questions from the lawyers regarding the details of the case, and his answers were either “Check it in the investigation records”, “I forgot” or “It’s confidential sources”. His answer to one of the lawyer’s questions was in conflict with his statement on the investigation records.

    One of the defendants told the court that the witness, officer Mohamed Khalid AlSaeedi, is the same person who tortured him during interrogation at the Criminal Investigation Department. He stated that he was tortured both physically and mentally, and that the confessions are not genuine.

    In the testimony of the second witness, he stated that one of the defendants was transferring monetary amounts from Oman to the company account of another defendant in Bahrain. The defendant replied that he has business relationship with the other defendant, and that these transferred amounts were salaries and rents; he stated that his detention puts forty families at risk of losing their income.

    At the end of the session, detainee Sayed Faisal Alawi shouted that he was tortured physically and psychological at the Criminal Investigation Department and that he is still placed in solitary confinement in Asri detention center. He added that he is being subjected to ill-treatment in prison, the guards were cursing the prisoners and the Shiite sect and that one of the officers there, Major Ahmed al-Khalidi, describes Shiite as terrorists.

    The next session will be held on 29 Aug 2013, the sessions are being held on weekly basis so far, which indicates that this is meant to be a quick trial.

     

    Torture allegations

    The defendants have been subjected to many violations to their rights since arrest. Their names and photos were broadcasted via the state media even before the trial began.

    One of the defendants in the case is the lawyer Ali AlSamaheeji (35 years old). His wife said that her house was raided at 2:00am on 21 January 2013, and Ali was arrested at this time by masked men. All of the family’s electronic devices, including mobile telephones and laptops, were confiscated. There was no news of Ali for several days. She stated that her husband has been subjected to sever torture following his arrest, including being placed in solitary confinement. He was forced to stand for long hours and was deprived from sleeping and from praying for seven days. The first time that he received a visit by his family several days later, they were able to see torture marks on his body. The defendants were subject to mental torture including threats to arrest and rape their wives and sisters.

    Another defendant, Ali Sanqoor, who was arrested on 21 January 2013, was seen blindfolded and handcuffed at the public prosecution on 23 June 2013. Human Rights defender Mohamed AlMasqati who also saw him on that day described his state as “in bad condition”.

    Investigation

    All the witnesses in the case are employees of the Ministry of Interior. No substantial evidence was presented to prove the alleged accusations. Among what the public prosecution called evidences are: “encrypted flash memories, money transfers, mobile devices and laptops, cameras, CDs, red horn, first aid kit, some nails, fire extinguisher” in addition to documents about the February 14 revolution including “Lulu Revolution charter” which has been distributed online since February 2012. The public prosecution has not actually provided any evidence that link these defendants with any kind of terrorist activities apart from saving documents on electronic devices.

    The case is mainly based on the confessions of these defendants who allege being tortured. The court is refusing to listen to their allegations, let alone investigate.

    The defendants who are currently in detention include:

    1. Sayed Faisal Jameel Al-Alwai (33 years old) – arrested from Oman
    2. Ali Yousif AlSamaheeji – arrested 21 Jan 2013
    3. Ali Riadh Sanqoor (35 years old) – arrested 21 Jan 2013
    4. Mazin Mansoor Alwanna (36 years old) – arrested 26 Jan 2013
    5. Sayed Saeed Ali Al-Alawi – arrested 27 Jan 2013
    6. Sayed Mahmood Mahdi Fadhel – arrested 25 Jan 2013
    7. Ali Jafar Alhayki – arrested from Oman
    8. Haitham Mohamed Al-Haddad (35 years old) – arrested from Oman 21 Jan 2013 (he is the designer of Bahrain vision 2030 logo below, seen on all government websites)
    9. Hasan Ahmed Salman
    10. AbduAli Ebrahim Alhadad

     

     

     

    The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and all other close allies and international institutions to put pressure on the Government of Bahrain to:

    1. Release all detainees in this case, drop the charges against them, and stop the trials which lack the conditions of a fair trial as the judiciary lacks both impartiality and independence.

    2. Conduct a fair and impartial investigation into all allegations of torture raised by these defendants, and bring those responsible to justice and compensate victims.

    3. Stop exploiting the judiciary as a tool of repression, and stop using it in favor of the regime and as means for revenge from the opposition who's only crime was demanding freedom and democracy.

    4. To annul the terrorism law and to amend the Penal Law in accordance with the international conventions and obligations. 

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    UA: 233/13 Index: MDE 11/035/2013 Bahrain Date: 22 August 2013

    URGENT ACTION

    A 13-year-old Bahraini boy, Salman Mahdi Salman, has been arrested and had his detention order renewed for seven days by the Public Prosecution on 21 August. He is held in a juvenile detention centre, but at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

    Salman Mahdi Salman, aged 13, was arrested on 11 August at around 5pm near a shopping mall on al-Budaiya’ Street, in the west of the capital, Manama. According to an eyewitness, Salman Mahdi Salman was walking alone when he was surrounded by members of the security forces who arrested him; there was no demonstration in progress in the street at the time. He was taken to al-Budaiya’ police station and released at 1am on 12 August. The police contacted his family that day asking them to bring Salman Mahdi Salman back to the police station for further interrogation, but the family did not do so. The police then contacted Salman’s uncle and threatened to raid the family's house and arrest the boy, if they refused to comply. The family handed Salman Mahdi Salman over to the police the next day. The Juvenile Prosecution ordered his detention for seven days pending investigation, and this order was renewed for a further seven days on 21 August.

    Salman Mahdi Salman is held in a juvenile detention centre where his family visited him on 18 August. He told them that following his arrest and during his interrogation he was slapped in the face to force him to confess that he was masked at the time he was arrested, carrying a Molotov cocktail and a cigarette lighter.

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

    • Urging the Bahraini authorities to ensure that Salman Mahdi Salman is treated in accordance with the international standards of juvenile justice;
    • Urging them to disclose the reason for his arrest and release him immediately unless he is charged with an internationally recognizable criminal offence;
    • Urging them to protect him from torture and other ill-treatment.

     

    PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 3 OCTOBER 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

    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 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.

     

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

    The Bahraini authorities have stated publicly their intention to introduce reforms and learn lessons from events in February and March 2011, when they cracked down on anti-government protesters. In November 2011, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) submitted a report, which concluded that the authorities had committed gross human rights violations with impunity. Despite the authorities’ claims to the contrary, abuses are still being committed against those who oppose the Al Khalifa family’s rule.

    In response to a recent increase in violence, and in anticipation of planned large demonstrations by the opposition, Bahrain’s parliament held an extraordinary session on 28 July at which it submitted 22 recommendations to the King, Shaikh Hamad Bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa; the recommendations toughen punishments laid out in the 2006 anti-terrorism law. The King welcomed the recommendations the next day, and ordered the prime minister to ensure that they were urgently implemented by the government. Bahrain’s constitution (Article 38) gives the King the power to issue decrees that have the force of law when parliament is in recess. In these circumstances the government prepares the draft amendments and the King ratifies them.

    The King issued two emergency decrees on 6 August. One amends the 1973 Law on Public Gatherings and Demonstrations, to ban demonstrations, sit-ins, marches and public gatherings in the capital, Manama. The 1976 juvenile law was also amended and now stipulates that if anyone under 16 years of age takes part in a demonstration, public gathering or sit-in, his or her parents will be warned in writing by the Ministry of Interior. If six months after the warning the child is found in a new demonstration his or her father could face jail, a fine or both. Amnesty International fears that these draconian measures will be used, as was the case on 14 August, to crack down on anti-government protests.

    Under Article 15 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to which Bahrain is a state party, “1. States Parties recognize the rights of the child to freedom of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly. 2. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of these rights 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”.

    Article 37 of the CRC requires that "States Parties shall ensure that: (b) No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time; (d) Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action." Under Article 40: “2(a) No child shall be alleged as, be accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law by reason of acts or omissions that were not prohibited by national or international law at the time they were committed; 2(b)(ii) To be informed promptly and directly of the charges against him or her, and, if appropriate, through his or her parents or legal guardians, and to have legal or other appropriate assistance in the preparation and presentation of his or her defence and 2 (b)(iv) Not to be compelled to give testimony or to confess guilt; to examine or have examined adverse witnesses and to obtain the participation and examination of witnesses on his or her behalf under conditions of equality”.

    Name: Salman Mahdi Salman

    Gender m/f: m

     

    UA: 233/13 Index: MDE 11/035/2013 Issue Date: 22 August 2013

    http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/035/2013/en

     

    Also read:

    Amnesty Int'l: Bahrain: Child sent to prison after demonstration

    Amnesty Int'l: Bahrain: In harm’s way – Bahraini children jailed in adult prisons

     
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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is gravely concerned in regards to the authorities in Bahrain fostering the culture of impunity and continuing the practice of systematic torture that is used as a method to extract enforced confessions from detainees. The most recent case the BCHR documented that proves the ongoing lack of fair process from the time of arrest to the trial is the case of two brothers who were reportedly tortured for confessions.

    Mahmood AlMansi’s Case

    Mahmood Abbas Hassan AlMansi (25 years old) was arrested on the 24th of May 2013 on charges related to illegal gathering, rioting and damage of the house wall of a ruling family member, Abdulrahman bin Mohmmaed Rashed Al Khalifa in Juffair.

    On Friday, May 17, 2013 at 4:30 am, was the first time the AlMansi home was raided by masked men in civilian clothing who were backed by security forces in uniform. The father was questioned about who resided in his home, including their names and ages.   

    The second house raid occurred on Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 1:30 am when masked men in civilian clothing backed by security forces in uniforms surrounded their residential area. Mahmood's mother heard unusual sounds outside the house, and then she realized that their house had been completely surrounded by security forces and informed the father who went to open the front door. Before he got to the front door, he found a masked man in civilian clothing inside his living room ordering him to open the front door. The family later came to know that he had gotten into the house after they had removed the window of the house garage to get inside.

    The father was questioned about the location of his son, Mohammed, and he informed them that he is at work as a driver at the Crown Plaza Hotel. He was then questioned about Mahmood, and the father informed them that he lives in an apartment located inside the house, they ordered him to show the way. When the father went with them and knocked the front door, one of them told him "this is not the way to knock the door" and started hitting the door with force. When the father informed them that he is not inside, they told him that they will break the door, but he objected and contacted Mahmood and asked about his whereabouts to which he responded that he was at work. The security forces left, leaving a summons for Mahmood to appear the next day at Criminal Investigations Department.

    Mahmood and Mohammed’s mother told the BCHR "My son Mahmood told us that he is going to give himself in, but he will go to work first to complete some tasks then head to the Criminal Investigations Department. On the same day, 24th of May 2013, he was arrested from the parking area of his work, and he was taken to the Criminal Investigations Department. They wanted him to confess to charges of illegal gathering, rioting and damaging the house wall of Abdul Rahman bin Mohammed Rashid Al Khalifa which is located in Juffair area." The family added that Mahmood was also reportedly told to confess that his brother, Mohammed, was involved in the incident as well. He told his family that he was subjected to verbal abuse and tortured during his time at the Criminal Investigations Department and was forced to confess under duress. Mahmood’s brother, Mohammed, reportedly received a call that day from the CID in which he heard his brother screaming under torture, then told him "turn yourself in, or we are going to kill him". Mohammed responded that he will turn himself in immediately.

    The family received the first call from Mahmood on Monday, 27th of May 2013, and he informed them that he and his brother are in Dry Dock prison Block 3.  

    The AlMansi family informed BCHR that they received another call from Mahmood informing them that on Friday, 16th of August 2013, security forces raided their prison block and severely beat activist Abdali AlSingace and Mahmood when he tried to defend him. Activist Abdali AlSingace was taken to solitary confinement.

     

    Mohammed AlMansi’s Case

     

    Mohammed Abbas Hassan AlMansi(20 years old), who is mentally challenged and has needed psychological therapy for most of his life, was arrested on the 24th of May 2013 and is serving a one-year sentence on charges of alleged possession of Molotov cocktail and attacking a security patrol. In addition, he is pending trial for other charges related to rioting and illegal gathering.

    After the arrest of Mohammed’s brother, Mahmood, and the phone call Mohammed received from the Criminal Investigations Department threatening his brother’s life, Mohammed went to the CID.  He was reportedly subjected to torture to extract confessions to the charges brought against him: illegal gathering, rioting and destroying Abdul Rahman bin Mohammed Rashid Al Khalifa house wall in a Molotov attack in Juffair.  He confessed under torture and was transferred to the Dry Docks prison with his brother in the same block. A week later Mohammed was sentenced in another case on charges of possession of Molotov cocktails and the attack on a security patrol and was transferred to Jaw Prison to serve his sentence. His mother informed the BCHR that presented documentation to the court that Mohammed receives psychological help, but it was rejected by the court under the pretext that the document was old (from 2002). The family was able to acquire Mohammed’s work attendance sheet from his employer that served as an alibi as Mohammed was at work during the alleged attack on the security patrol. Unfortunately this evidence was acquired after the verdict had already been delivered.

    Photo of Mohammed’s Work Attendance Sheet

     

    Mohammed’s lawyer later submitted a court appeal request in order to present all the records and documents that prove his client’s innocence.

    On Tuesday, 20th of August 2013 was the first hearing for both AlMansi brothers on charges of illegal gathering, rioting and damaging the house wall of Abdul Rahman bin Mohammed Rashid Al Khalifa in Juffair. The court hearing was postponed to the 28th of August 2013.

    It is important to note here that while reporting on the procedures of the court cases, the very basis of the judiciary system in Bahrain is faulty. The judiciary system is neither independent nor fair, and thus cannot guarantee anyone a fair trial according to international standards.

    Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) 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:

    • Immediately and unconditionally release Mohammed and Mahmood AlMansi, and all other political prisoners who have been detained and sentenced based on confessions extracted under torture; and allow them access to rehabilitation and adequate medical care.
    • Hold all perpetrators and higher officials who are aware of and/or order such violations accountable.
    • Schedule an urgent visit of the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Torture

     

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights express grave concern over the escalated level of impunity that has gone as far as detaining the fathers of extra-judicial killing victims who continue to demand justice for their sons.

     

    On 11 August 2013, Ahmed Abbas Mowali was arrested from Arad following to a police attack on a peaceful protest that called for rights and freedoms. On 13 August 2013, the public prosecution ordered the detention of Ahmed for 45 days pending investigation on charges of “illegal gathering”.

     

    Ahmed is the father of Yousif Mowali (23 years old), who was arrested, tortured and then drowned in January 2012.  His mother was told at the Samaheej police station that Yousif was at the Criminal investigation department and that he was fine. A few days later, police said they found Mowali's body floating in the water on January 13th in the Amwaj area. A state doctor reported the cause of death as drowning and ruled out signs of violence. However, a second autopsy performed by an independent forensic pathologist concluded Mowali was electrically tortured and unconscious when he drowned.

     

    The investigation into the death of Mowali has not made any progress, and no one has been held accountable for either his death or torture.

     

    On 22 August 2013, Abdulhadi Mushaima was arrested from his home following a raid by the riot police and security men dressed in civilian clothing during the early hours of the morning. On 24 August 2013, he called his family and informed them that he was given a detention order of 45 days. He was interrogated at the public prosecution in the absence of a lawyer and was charged with “illegal gathering” on the basis of his participation in peaceful protests for rights and freedom.

    Abdulhadi is the father of the first victim on Feb 14, 2011; Ali Mushaima was killed in front of his own house by police officers firing birdshot. The death of Ali was confirmed in the Bahraini Commission of Inquiry Report (BICI) [Case #1 –start at paragraph 896] which stated that:

     

    “The death of Mr Almeshaima can be attributed to the use of excessive force by police officers. At the time of the shooting, there were no reports of any disturbances in the Daih area. Furthermore, the fact that Mr Almeshaima was shot in the back at close range indicates that there was no justification for the use of lethal force.”

    Description: http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/BCHR/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Mushaima1.jpg

     

    Since his death, the family of Ali Mushaima has been subjected to ongoing attacks by the authorities. The family's home has been attacked more than three times. On 13 January 2012, their home was directly attacked with tear gas after the security forces raided the house by entering the kitchen, where they broke teapots and assaulted the deceased victim’s sister by spitting in her face and shouting at her. From what she recognized the security forces were Yemeni, and they were filming the assault. The officers attempted to beat Ali Mushaima’s father, then they threw tear gas at the entrance of the house, which caused the teargas to spread throughout the house. Ali Mushaima’s aunt was in the home at the time, and the teargas caused the 83 year-old woman to have difficulty breathing, high blood pressure, and an infection in her kidney, all of which she had not suffered from prior to the attack. Although the family attempted to leave the house to escape the toxic gas, the security forces encircled the home and prevented their exit for a period of time.

     

    On 31 January 2013, the 3rd criminal court sentenced one policeman who is accused with “beating that led to death” of Ali Mushaima to 7 years in prison. He was released during the appeal trial and the court will hear his appeal on 16 September 2013.

     

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights believes that both Ahmed Mowali and Abdulhadi Mushaima were targeted and detained for exercising their basic rights and publicly demanding justice for their killed sons. The BCHR has previously documented several cases of attacks on families of extra-judicial victims that included detention. On 26 October 2012, Jawad Al-Shaikh was arrested from a peaceful protest in Manama that demanded self-determination. Until this day, no has been held accountable for the death of his 14 year-old son Ali Alshaikh who was killed by police with a shot to his neck from behind on 31 August 2011.

     

    These arrests are acts of intimidation directed at all other relatives of killed victims, who continue to accuse the regime with the killing of their sons and continue to participate in peaceful protests to demand justice. This is part of a systematic policy of granting impunity for the violators of human rights as a report by the BCHR has shown: The BCHR Holds the King Responsible for the Spread of the Culture of Impunity which Has Claimed the Lives of Tens of Victims.

     

     

    Therefore, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls for the following:

    1. The Bahraini government must release Ahmed Mowali and Abdulhadi Mushaim immediately, as they have been targeted for practicing their legitimate right to peaceful assembly and demanding justice in peaceful ways.

    2. Stop the acts of harassments and intimidation directed at the relatives of the victims of the human rights violations who continue to raise awareness about it and demand justice.

    3. Those responsible for the killing of civilians must be held accountable and brought to an independent judicial system.

    4. Families of extra-judicial killings must be compensated both morally and materially for their losses, as well as for the attacks they have been subjected to.

    5. The international community must condemn the Bahraini regime's use of vengeance in the case of the families of victims of extra-judicial killings.

     

     

    Also read:

    One year later in Bahrain, killers are still free and martyrs' family members assaulted and detained (16 Feb 2012)

     

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its grave concern over the escalated use of excessive force by the authorities in Bahrain to suppress peaceful protests and the arbitrary and violent arrest of citizens, which is a result of the culture of impunity.  Abdullla Yousif Mohammed (24 years old), and Zuhair Yehya Majid (23 years old) were both violently arrested on the 14th of August 2013 on charges related to attacking an official.

     

    On Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 5:30 pm there was a sit-in protest near the homes of these two men when security forces attacked the demonstrators and surrounded them with approximately five police vehicles and asked them about their names. Following an interrogation that focused mostly on Abdullah and which lasted for around 45 minutes as reported by the witnesses, they asked Abdulla about his ID card, he replied that it is inside their home. The officer who was wearing civilian clothes asked him to have someone to bring it to him from inside, but Abdulla suggested that he would bring it himself since no one was inside his house except for his old mother, the officer rejected.

     

    Soon after, citizens from the village started gathering around the scene, and the police forces attacked them using the shotguns, teargas, and sound bombs. One policeman sprayed pepper spray in the face of Abdullah's sister and his brother's wife.

     

    Later more armored troops, police jeeps, and civilian cars arrived in which Abdulla was taken inside after being kicked and beaten. Zuhair was arrested because he tried defending Abdullah and was taken by the police jeep to Hamad Town Station. Link to the video which shows their violent arrest:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epCDsXQVpPY&feature=youtu.be&a

     

    Zuhair's brother drove behind them and he saw them entering the station. When he asked the security guard at the gate that he wanted to see his brother, he replied "You won't get anything now, go now and they will call you".

     

    After eight days, Wednesday, August 21, 2013, the family of Abdullah has received a call from him from Dry Dock prison. While the family of Zuhair has received a call from him on the same day of the arrest Thursday, August 15, 2013 from the Hamad Town Station. Both were taken on the second day to the Public prosecution without a lawyer, and were detained for 7 days pending investigation.  On the evening of Thursday, August 15, 2013, both were transferred to the Dry Dock prison.

     

    The brother of Zuhair informed the BCHR that after he was transferred to the Dry Dock prison, his condition worsened as a result of the torture he received. The family received a call from Zuhair informing them that he was transferred to the Military Hospital on Friday, 16th of August 2013, and was returned to Dry Dock Block 10 again on Thursday, 22nd of August 2013, without informing the family. It is important to note that from the day of Zuhair's arrest until the time of writing this statement, he has not been allowed any family visits. The brother of Abdulla informed BCHR that Abdulla's first family visit was on Thursday, August 22, 2013 during which he informed his brother that he was beaten by officers using their hands, feet and weapons, and that they were also harassed sexually by two officers. Zuhair also informed his brother of the same information in a phone call.

     

    Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) calls for the following:

     

    • The immediate and unconditional release of Abdulla Yousif and Zuhair Yehya, and all other political prisoners in Bahrain;
    •  Immediately put an end to all forms of torture and sexual harassment;
    • End the culture of impunity and hold accountable all those accused of conducting, overseeing or enabling torture and mistreatment; including senior government officials who, if not directly supervising the violations, are involved in the protection of the violators.

     

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    While the world is focused on the upheavals in Egypt and Syria miles away, a small but dedicated group of young activists planned the latest round of protests against an autocratic regime in the island nation of Bahrain last week.

    The pro-democracy protests on August 14th — exactly 42 years after the country's independence in 1971 — are the latest installment in Bahrainis' long struggle for democracy and human rights in their country of 1.32 million people.

    (..)

    Among the most well-known reformists is Maryam al-Khawaja, daughter of famed Bahraini human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja. When she was two years old, Maryam's father brought her to Denmark as a political asylee. Banned from Bahrain for his activism in the 1980s, Abdulhadi and his family sought and found refuge in Europe, where he and other Bahrainis are living in exile. From there, he co-founded the Bahrain Human Rights Organization, now known as the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. In 2001, after finally being allowed re-entry to Bahrain, Abdulhadi made a fateful decision: to return home. 

    Maryam graduated from the University of Bahrain in 2009, then left the country on a Fulbright scholarship to Brown University. She returned in 2010 but couldn't find a job because of Abdulhadi's continued disfavor with the government, so she traveled abroad to raise awareness about Bahrain's human rights violations. She hasn't returned to Bahrain since January 2013, to visit family in prison and do documentation work.

    Read the full report on http://www.policymic.com/articles/59771/these-young-activists-are-risking-their-lives-to-speak-out-on-bahrain-s-despotic-regime

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    To mark the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights releases a report detailing a sample of cases of enforced disappearances in Bahrain. In 2011, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry concluded that "the commission is able to determine that the Government of Bahrain concealed or withheld from detainees and/or their families information about the detained persons' whereabouts for periods ranging from days to weeks". The authorities continue to heavily rely on this illegal practice to terrorize the population. 

    In a typical enforced disappearance, a family's home is raided in a pre-dawn attack by the security forces, along with men in civilian clothing wearing masks over their faces. A member of the family is abducted by the authorities, and the home is ransacked. The authorities often take electronics and cash, which are never returned. Almost without exception, the family is not presented with an arrest warrant. When the family then tries to contact the abducted individual at the local police station, they are informed that the person is not in their custody, which often later turns out to be false. Detainees are frequently prevented from contacting their family for days, and sometimes weeks. Victims of enforced disappearances have been repeatedly subjected to torture and ill-treatment, interrogated without the presences of a lawyer and coerced into signing false confessions. They are deprived of their most basic rights.

     

    Link to the full report.

     

     

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    Nafeesa al-‘Asfoor, a mother-of-two, was arrested along with Rayhana al-Mousawi on 20 April as they were peacefully protesting near the Formula One Grand Prix circuit in Manama. They are both to be tried, have been tortured and Nafeesa al-'Asfoor is being denied the medical care she requires.

    Nafeesa al-‘Asfoor, 31, and Rayhana al-Mousawi, 38, were arrested on 20 April near the Manama Formula One Grand Prix circuit, while participating in a protest against the imprisonment of prominent Bahraini political activists, including Zainab Al-Khawaja. The two women told their families that they had been tortured or otherwise ill-treated by the police during interrogation. They were forced to sign confessions which they later withdrew when interrogated by the Public Prosecution. They have both been charged with “attempting to plant an exploding device at the race circuit” and “membership of a “terrorist” group”. Their case is currently under investigation by the Public Prosecution. Rayhana al-Mousawi is being tried in another case known as the “the 14 February Coalition Cell”. During the first session of the trial in early July Rayhana al-Mousawi told the court that she had been tortured, including by being threatened with rape. The trial has been adjourned till September. Nafeesa al-‘Asfoor and Rayhana al-Mousawi are held in a women’s detention centre in ‘Issa Town, south-west of the capital Manama.

    Nafeesa al-‘Asfoor is being denied adequate medical care as she has found suspicious breast lumps and suffers from other health conditions, including migraines that require regular medication. Her family have requested several times that the prison administration refers her to the Salmaniya Medical Complex for treatment. She has only been granted preliminary medical examinations at the Bahrain Defence Force military hospital and has so far not been informed of the results.

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

    • Urging the Bahraini authorities to provide Nafeesa al-‘Asfoor, with any medical attention she may require, including access to specialised hospitals;
    • Urging the Bahraini authorities to release Nafeesa al-‘Asfoor and Rayhana al-Mousawi immediately and unconditionally if they are held solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly;
    • Urging the authorities to order an immediate and independent investigation into Nafeesa al-‘Asfoor and Rayhana al-Mousawi’s allegations of torture and bring anyone found responsible for abuses to justice.

     

    PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 02 OCTOBER 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

    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 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.

     

     

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

    The “February 14 coalition” is a movement of several Bahraini youth groups, named after the date of the beginning of Bahrain's uprising in 2011, and led by anonymous individuals who organise protests mainly via new-media sites.

    In the run up to the April 2013 Formula One Grand Prix in Bahrain, clashes between protesters and security forces increased and continued during the event, resulting in dozens of arrests. Later on 24 April the Bahraini government cancelled a planned visit by the United Nations' Special Rapporteur on torture for a second time in two years.

    More than two years since the uprising in Bahrain and the subsequent fanfare of reform, prisoners of conscience (including many arrested during the protests) remain behind bars and the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly are still being suppressed. In recent months more people have been jailed simply for daring to express their views, whether via Twitter or during 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.

    In response to a recent increase in violence, and in anticipation of planned large demonstrations by the opposition, Bahrain’s parliament held an extraordinary session on 28 July at which it submitted 22 recommendations to the King, Shaikh Hamad Bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa; the recommendations toughen punishments laid out in the 2006 anti-terrorism law. The King welcomed the recommendations the next day, and ordered the prime minister to ensure that they were urgently implemented by the government.

    The King issued two emergency decrees on 6 August 2013. One of them amends the 1973 Law on Public Gatherings and Demonstrations, to ban demonstrations, sit-ins, marches and public gatherings in the capital, Manama. The 1976 juvenile law was also amended and now stipulates that if anyone under 16 years of age takes part in a demonstration, public gathering or sit-in, his or her parents will be warned in writing by the Ministry of Interior. If six months after the warning the juvenile is found in a new demonstration his or her father could face jail, a fine or both. Amnesty International fears that these draconian measures will be used, as was the case on 14 August, to crack down on anti-government protests.

    Name: Nafeesa al-‘Asfoor; Rayhana al-Mosawi

    Gender m/f: F

    UA: 232/13 Index: MDE 11/034/2013 Issue Date: 21 August 2013

     

    http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/034/2013/en

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    (Aug 16 2013 - 2:15pm)

    Freedom House is deeply disturbed by reports that photographer Ahmed al-Fardan, the 2013 winner of Freedom House’s “Images of Repression and Freedom” photo contest, was detained and beaten by police in Bahrain on August 8, in an attempt to prevent him from covering recent protests.  Freedom House calls on the Bahraini government to respect the rights to freedom of assembly and to a free press, and to reverse recently adopted regulations banning public assembly and limiting free speech.

    Al-Fardan, a professional news photographer, said two plainclothes police officers approached him near his home and asked to speak with him.  He was then taken to a car, punched and choked, and told that he would be arrested if he did not provide information about protesters and journalists. Police further intimidated Al-Fardan with threats to him and his family before releasing him.

    Al-Fardan’s winning photo “Political Participation and Toxic Gas,” showed a masked protester standing in a cloud of tear gas during protests in 2012 and is emblematic of the Bahraini government’s brutal crackdown.

    Bahraini protesters took to the streets this week on August 14, the anniversary of Bahrain’s independence from the British Empire.  Citizens have been engaged in a two-and-a-half year face-off against the ruling royal family calling for greater freedoms.  The Bahraini government has ramped up its repression of journalists and photographers in anticipation of the anniversary of Bahrain’s independence, and according to human rights groups, five journalists have been arrested since the end of July.
     

    http://www.freedomhouse.org/article/photo-auction-winner-targeted-bahraini-authorities

     

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    by: Brian Dooley

    I’m going to the Lincoln Memorial on Wednesday to hear President Obama mark the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech and I wish Zainab Al Khawaja could come with me. She’s a human rights defender, an expert on King’s philosophy and activism, stuck in a Bahraini prison until February for peacefully protesting against the repressive regime there.

    "King's philosophy of nonviolent resistance has always been a major influence on Zainab's activism; she studied it, learned from it, tried to apply it in Bahrain. And it's landed her in jail," her sister Maryam told me. In March, Zainab wrote a letter from jail saying she felt that King “is reaching out to us from another land and another time to teach very important lessons ... that we must not become bitter, that we must be willing to sacrifice for freedom, and that we can never sink to the level of our oppressors.”

    When we last spoke, before she was jailed in February 2013, Zainab again told me about how important King’s experience was in shaping her own approach to what was happening in Bahrain, including  how difficult it can be to persuade protestors to stay nonviolent when they see few benefits from peaceful resistance.

    “When I look into the eyes of Bahraini protesters today, too many times I see that hope has been replaced by bitterness,” she wrote in a letter smuggled from jail. “It’s the same bitterness Martin Luther King Jr. saw in the eyes of rioters in the slums of Chicago in 1966. He saw that the same people who had been leading non-violent protests, who were willing to be beaten without striking back, were now convinced that violence was the only language the world understood. I, like Dr. King, am saddened to find some of the same protesters who faced tanks and guns with bare chests and flowers, today asking ‘what’s the use of non-violence, or of moral superiority, If no one is listening?’”

    continue reading on http://www.policymic.com/articles/61193/dr-king-s-lessons-inspire-a-bahraini-activist

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    By Bill Law

    BBC News, Manama

     

    Authorities in the Gulf island kingdom of Bahrain say they have undertaken a lengthy list of reforms of the police but critics say the reforms are little more than window dressing.

    The police were heavily criticised in November 2011 by a panel of international human rights experts for the brutality with which they had put down anti-government unrest earlier that year.

    Dozens died, hundreds were injured and hundreds more arrested - almost all Shia Muslims, the majority population in a country ruled by a Sunni Muslim royal family, the al-Khalifas.

    The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), established by King Hamad al-Khalifa in response to an international outcry, delivered a damning verdict.

    The report found the police responsible for nine deaths which "resulted from the use of excessive and unnecessary lethal force".

    It found that a further five people died as a result of torture while in police custody.

    In response, amongst other initiatives, the government set up a Special Investigations Unit to investigate police wrongdoing, established the position of police ombudsman and installed video cameras in every interview room.

    However opponents of the government say that even after the release of the BICI report police continue to behave with impunity.

    International human rights organisations and al-Wefaq, the main opposition party in Bahrain, have documented further deaths in custody, the excessive use of tear gas and birdshot, arbitrary arrests and abuse in detention.

    Video evidence

    Tarik al-Hassan, Bahrain's chief of police, rejects much of the criticism, noting that the police are frequently under assault from petrol bombs and other homemade weapons.

    In early July an officer was killed when a homemade bomb exploded.

    "The reform of the police in Bahrain have gone beyond the requirements of the BICI," he told the BBC.

    "You will find that all interview rooms have been fitted with video and audio recording and you know there is still room for improvement. It is not something that we will say it is done and that's it."

    And the country's Justice Minister Sheikh Khalid al-Khalifa said "the end-game is to have a culture change, to end the culture of impunity, if it exists."

    But the BBC uncovered evidence that challenges the government's assurances.

    It is a video filmed by an officer in June of this year in a police station and posted on his Facebook site. Shot close-up, it shows a young Shia being interrogated. He is shirtless and appears terrified.

    The young man, Hussein Ali Marhoon, gives rote replies to a set of questions from the officer, suggesting he has been coached.

    He confesses to being paid 10 Bahraini dinar ($30) a day, by two senior Shia clerics to attack and kill police officers.

    As the video ends and he stands up, a deep wound is visible on his left shoulder.

    The video proved an embarrassment to the police. It was quickly removed and the officer was arrested.

    However Mr Marhoon, despite the evidence of a confession extracted under duress, remained in jail more than two weeks after the incident happened.

    The BBC asked Chief Hassan how, with all the emphasis on proper procedure and CCTV cameras in every interview room, such a thing could have taken place in a police station.

    "Well," he replied, "that was not in the interview room. That was in the corridor and now we have a plan to have all corridors fixed with CCTV."

    The chief said he was outraged by the video: "It does not represent our principles, it does not represent what we stand for."

    That is a view the opposition does not share.

    The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) released a report called "Five Days in Bahrain" in late July.

    The centre documented what it called "60 cases of illegal arrests, 140 shotgun injuries, and over 150 house raids in just the last five days".

    BCHR said the majority of arrests occurred "after policemen, accompanied by masked civilians, raided individuals houses without an arrest warrant".

    It reported one youth seriously wounded with birdshot while participating in what it called a peaceful demonstration.

    Chance for change?

    These kinds of allegations and the abuse of Hussein Ali Marhoon are what the police ombudsman Nawaf Almaawdah told the BBC he will investigate.

    His post, which includes the authority to investigate prisons, is unique in the Gulf, indeed unique in the region.

    Mr Almaawdah has the opportunity to have a huge impact on how the police behave and how they are perceived by the Shia community, if he is allowed to.

    He was shown the video and said: "This is unacceptable and we are keeping a close eye on this case."

    But he was unable to say if Mr Marhoon, a victim of police abuse, had been visited by anyone in his office.

    That in itself raises questions about how effective the ombudsman will be.

    When asked how he responded to criticism that the post was little more than window dressing, M. Almaawdah replied: "Wait for our public report and give us the chance to progress in this office."

    But in the Shia villages where anger against the police runs deep very few people are prepared to give the ombudsman, or indeed the government any chance at all.

    As one government opponent commented: "There is a big difference between what they say and what they do on the ground. They can say whatever they want. But in reality what happened? They are just good at talking."

     

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23436140

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    Global Voices Advocacy and bloggers around the world are calling for the release of Mohammed Hassan (Safybh), a young Bahraini blogger and human rights advocate who has been held in detention in Bahrain since July.

    Hassan was arrested and taken from his home in Sitra, Bahrain on the morning of July 31. Security agents seized Hassan's computer and other electronics. He was held at the Criminal Investigation Directorate in Manama until August 4, when he was reportedly transferred to Dry Dock Detention Center in the town of Hidd.

    His lawyer, Abdulaziz Moosa, was arrested on August 7, allegedly for stating that Hassan had been exposed to torture while in prison.

    Hassan reportedly has been charged with being a member of the 14 February Media Network, calling for and participating in public demonstrations, inciting hatred against the government and being in contact with exiled members of the the Bahraini opposition. Multiple sources have reported that he has been beaten while in prison, and forced to confess to charges against him.

    Global Voices Advocacy, an international citizen media advocacy network, is calling for Hassan's release. Bahraini activist and Global Voices author Ali Abdulemam, who recently fled Bahrain after enduring years of persecution by authorities, has been active in pressing for Hassan's release. Currently living with political asylum in the UK, Abdulemam has urged international NGOs and foreign governments to intervene on Hassan's behalf:

    We are asking for the release of Mohamed Hassan and all bloggers and activists who have been imprisoned because of their efforts to protect human rights and make our society more open. We should not have to sacrifice our rights to free expression and assembly for the safety and security of the state.

    Authorities have harassed and detained Hassan several times since early 2012. He was previously summoned for interrogation in June 2012 in connection with his writing and involvement in supporting reforms in the country.

    Hassan has long promoted democratic values, protections for human rights, and peace in Bahrain. In 2011, he played an active role in the first Bahraini dialogue, held in Manama. A blogger and author for Global Voices Online, Hassan often covered human rights and politics in Bahrain on his blog, Safybh. Hassan stopped blogging on April 29, 2013.

    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights both enshrine the right to freedom of expression. As party to both documents, the Kingdom of Bahrain has agreed to protect its citizens rights to speak freely. United Nations representatives have on multiple occasions stressed that these rights must be applied in traditional media as well as online.

    We urge the government of Bahrain to release Hassan and call on international NGOs, foreign governments, and other powerful entities to join us in advocating for Hassan's freedom.

    For more information or interviews, contact Hisham Almiraat (Director, Global Voices Advocacy) or Ellery Biddle (Editor, Global Voices Advocacy) at advocacy [at] globalvoicesonline [dot] org

     

    SUPPORT SAFY

    We urge readers to share this story widely. Use hashtag #FreeSafy and tweet links to this press release or recent reports by Bahrain Center for Human Rights. Use the campaign image below to highlight his case. We thank everyone for their support!

    http://advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org/2013/09/03/press-release-internet-activists-demand-release-of-bahraini-blogger-mohammed-hassan/

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    The official Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported on Monday that the kingdom would host the permanent headquarters of the Arab Human Rights Court following its approval at an Arab League meeting in Cairo.

    (..)

    However, Maryam AlKhawaja, the acting head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, said the court's creation was a public relations stunt that would do nothing to improve the rights of those in Bahrain, or other Gulf states. 

    "The Gulf states are not held accountable for their human rights abuses. No one will take this seriously. For them to have a court such as this is a slap in the face to those who have documented abuses in Bahrain, for which there have been no consequences."

    She said that if the court does become established, it would be used as a political tool. "It will probably file against people like Bashar al-Assad," she said, referring to the president of Syria. "But it will have no role in the Gulf countries and I would not be surprised if it was used to go after those who are actually trying to promote civil society."

    Find the full article on http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/09/20139219939454621.html

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) was informed that the defendants in the case of the February 14th Coalition have announced their boycott of the court session on the 5th of September. This court session was supposed to be for questioning prosecution witnesses. The session did not go ahead due to the boycotting of the defendants and their lawyers; and the judge did not show up to the session either. Despite the session not taking place, a court decision was issued announcing the 19th and 20th of September as possible verdict reading dates.

    The detainees of the February 14th Coalition case issued a statement published on social media saying that they were boycotting the court for the following reasons: "The illegal arrest details, the violations of the interrogators during the interrogations and the fabrication of charges against us, the lack of independence of the Public Prosecution that was proven to us when they forced us to confess to the charges fabricated against us during the interrogations, and the circumstances of the trial in the court sessions confirmed the lack of independence of the judiciary."

    The signatories of the statement also stated "All what we mentioned, and other reasons which we cannot disclose, have delivered us to the conclusion that the verdicts were prepared in advance, and that the trial is only a legal cover for these verdicts, thus we refuse to be a part of the charade meant to delude the public opinion about the independence of the judiciary. We say this with our appreciation for the defense team and their great efforts in the case, but our conviction rejects the trial completely and we hope from them – meaning the defense team – not to take any action against our will."

    Human rights activists announced their boycott of the session as well; Said Yousif AlMouhafdah of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), and Mohammed AlMaskati of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR), boycotted the trial stating that the court proceedings were incompatible with the international standards for a fair trial, and they considered the continuation of the judiciary is in violation with the principle of "no conflict of personal interests," which affects the independence of the court.

    In a previous session, the legal defense team, which includes 50 Bahrainis; 49 men and one woman, requested a response from the Forth Authority High Criminal Court regarding a letter they handed to them. The legal letter included a request to change the court due to conflicts of interest, as well as requesting the formation of a medical committee to investigate the torture the defendants were subjected to.

    The defense team withdrew from the session and justified the withdrawal by basing their refusal of the court on Article 211 of the Criminal Procedure Law of Bahrain, which states that the defense team can refuse the judge's ruling in the cases mentioned in the previous article and in other cases which are prescribed by the law.

    It was clear from the first session of the trial that it is nothing more than a show trial designed to pass political judgments against the defendants, as the court refused to hear the allegations of torture made ​​by the defendants or even document/investigate them. The court also refused to release the detainees despite the risk of being tortured again when returned to prison. To add to that, the judge did not note down the requests as stated by the lawyers, and no investigation was conducted on the complaints of torture made ​​by most of the detainees in the case of the February 14th Coalition case. Moreover, the court disregarded the fact that some of the defendants did not even have assigned lawyers.

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) believes that the continuation of the court and the judges in sessions and calling the witnesses although it was not asked by the lawyers, and reserving the case for the verdict, while continuing to disregard requests made legal defense team and those they represent, confirms that it is nothing more than a sham court. This process is similar to the National Safety courts that took place in 2011 and disregarded demands of lawyers and the complaints and statements of the detainees about being subjected to torture. The only tool these courts are used for are to deliver a verdict seemingly already decided before the case was presented to court. These courts are nothing more than another block in a long line of violations starting from the time of arrest until the verdict is passed.

    Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) demands the following:

    • Immediate release of the defendants of above mentioned case as well as all other political prisoners
    • Independent investigation into the complaints and allegations of torture
    • Accountability for those responsible for the torture, ill-treatment and sexual harassment

     

    Read Also:

    Bahrain: First Hearing of the"14th of February Coalition Cell" Case Lacks the Most Basic Elements of a Fair Trial

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is gravely concerned about the authorities’ escalation in targeting the imprisoned political and human rights leaders known as the Bahrain13.  The activists’ rights according to the “standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners” have been repeatedly violated with a serious escalation recently. They have been put in smaller area in the prison, deprived from medical treatment and visitation, among other violations, which puts the life of some of them at serious risk.

    According to the families, the activists are incarnated in poor conditions and are being deprived of many of their rights. Their complaints to the prison administration has not only been repeatedly ignored and disregarded, but their situation has rather worsened (Read: http://bahrainrights.org/en/node/5740).

    1. The group was transferred from Building 6 to a separate extension of the same building on Tuesday the 13th of August 2013, placing them in isolation from the other prisoners. Due to the transfer, the 13 prisoners were given 4 prison cells as opposed to 7, resulting in some of them having to sleep on the floor due to overcrowding. Furthermore, the rooms used for reading, writing and personal hygiene such as shaving were no longer provided. Instead of allowing the group outdoors to the "fence area" (a large open courtyard surrounded by a fence, that contains space for sports, with sunshades and a little garden), the authorities have replaced it with a small area surrounded by walls and covered by a metal fence-like barrier on top, similar to a giant cage. As the group is not allowed to interact with other prisoners, they do not benefit from the professional and athletic programs available to other prisoners, nor do they have a substitute to that.    

    2. Both Hasan Mushaima and Dr. Abduljalil AlSingace remain deprived of family visits and medical care for the period of over five months now, as punishment for their continued refusal to wear prison clothing. It is important to note here that the limited time Mushaima was allowed a medical visit was following international pressure, as an exception and not as it should be to secure the health and safety of the prisoners of conscience.

    3. Abdulwahab Hussain continues to decline contacting his family for approximately 6 months, in protest of the calls being secretly monitored by an entity that he believes to be the National Security Apparatus. Other prisoners of the same group have been facing the same issues; many times their family calls are cut as soon as the conversation takes a direction that is not approved by the security guard monitoring the call.

    4. The prison administration has begun to divide the family visitations of some of the activists in the group and their relatives who are held in the same prison. This has been the case with Shaikh Abduljalil Al-Meqdad and his brother, Shaikh Mirza Al-Mahroos and his brother, as well as Shaikh Abdulhadi Al-Mukhodher and his nephew. Previously, the administration would allow for joint visitations as a substitute to meetings that would occur between relatives that are held in the same prison. However with the cancellation of joint visitations, the members of the group will be deprived from meeting their imprisoned relatives altogether. On that pretext, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja has not been allowed to meet with or contact his daughter Zainab Al-Khawaja, who has been held at the women's prison, at all since her arrest around 6 months ago, on 27 Feb 2013.

    5. The prison administration continues to prohibit the prisoners from access to Al-Wasat newspaper, which is the only daily newspaper not affiliated with the government. A few months the prison administration also blocked access to all magazines including the Kuwaiti magazine Al-Arabi, The Economist, Foreign Policy and Foreign Affairs.

    6. The duration to family visitations has been reduced from 2 to 1 1/2 hours (twice a month) to only 1 hour. This duration has proven too short specifically for married prisoners who have a large number of siblings and children. This has happened for the Bahrain13 despite it being a right they have had for more than two years. The administration has also completely stopped allowing some relatives from visiting such as sons and daughters in-law.

    7. The administration in charge of the group has prohibited lawyer visitations with the justification that the final verdict has already been made in the case. However, by international standards the provision of legal consultations should be allowed to prisoners in all conditions, especially that some of them have outstanding court cases. 

    8. The prison administration has recently banned prisoners from sending letters, handmade objects and receiving clothes.

    9. The prison administration (and supervising judicial entities) have disregarded speeches and complaints raised against them by the Bahrain13, displaying a clear prejudice of the management itself as there have been no replies to the written complaints nor have there been interrogations with the officers or the public prosecution, except when there are pressures from entities outside the prison. In regards to the public prosecution's visitations, they have only been used to justify the prison administration’s harassment and targeting whilst spreading false news about them abroad.

    10. The group has not seen any benefit in regards to the visitations of the International Red Cross to them in prison, as the deteriorating situation and targeting has happened during the period in which these visitations took place. Despite the efforts of this international organization and their sincere concerns about the conditions of prisoners, it is apparent that they do not have the persuasive measures and pressure needed. Pressure from the media has proved to have more impact on high standing officials in the country, next to judicial and executive powers. An example of that is the treatment of Hasan Mushaima, and the sexual harassment that some prisoners of minor age were subjected to (which includes Mostafa, son of Shaikh Abduljalil Al-Meqdad).

    The main subject of the BCHR’s concern despite all that has been presented above, is the ongoing imprisonment of the group which has been subjected to arbitrary arrest with political motives, and held further following an unjust trial. This was despite the recommendations presented by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, which was appointed by the government, as well as the pressures of international organizations and entities calling for the release of the group considering them prisoners of conscience. Furthermore, investigation into the ill treatment and torture the group has been subjected to continues to be put on hold, and that is due to the absence of a neutral and independent entity as per international standards.

    The authorities continue to violate the preserved rights of the political prisoners according to the “standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners”, such as article 6 that states “there shall be no discrimination on ground of …. political or other opinion ..”. Also article 19: “every prisoner shall, in accordance with local and international standards, be provided with a separate bed ..”. The standard minimum rules emphasize that every prisoner shall be provided with adequate medical treatment, article 23.2: “sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialized institution to civil hospitals.”, when punishing the prisoners it shall be “with no more restriction than is necessary for safe custody and well-ordered community life.” Furthermore, prisoners shall be allowed to communicate with their families and friends “both by correspondence and by receiving visits”, to mention just a few of the violations.

    The BCHR urges the international community and in particular the States that are close allies to the Government of Bahrain like the United States and the United Kingdom, to call upon the Bahraini authorities to: 

    1. Immediately and unconditionally release the Bahrain13 as well as all other detained human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience in Bahrain.
    2. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of the Bahrain13 as well as all political prisoners in Bahrain.
    3. Put an end to acts of harassment and targeting against all human rights defenders and political dissidents in Bahrain.
    4. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Bahrain.
    5. Hold accountable all those responsible for human rights violations, especially those in high positions in government.
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