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    20 January 2017 – We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the position of the Bahrain National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR) which, in a statement released earlier this week, supported the extrajudicial executions of torture victims Ali Al-Singace (21), Abbas Al-Samea (27) and Sami Mushaima (42).

    Ali, Abbas and Sami were executed on Sunday 15 January 2017, less than a week after the Court of Cassation, Bahrain’s highest court of appeals, upheld their death sentences. All three allege torture during interrogation. We, the undersigned, also documented the torture of Abbas Al-Samea in prison in 2015. The defendants were denied basic fair trial guarantees and their torture complaints were dismissed by the Special Investigations Unit, a body which is not independent from the Bahraini government and mandated to investigate torture. Ali Al-Singace was sentenced in absentia and had no access to legal defense after he was arrested in 2015 which resulted in no representation for him at the Court of Cassation. Their executions were declared extrajudicial by the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings.

    Despite these violations to Ali, Abbas and Sami’s fundamental rights, the NIHR judged the executions as being “in accordance with recognized international standards.” The NIHR commended law enforcement agencies for following the Code of Criminal Procedures and congratulated the Kingdom of Bahrain’s implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1373/2001 on the elimination of terrorism. The NIHR’s findings are wholly contrary to the UN human rights expert’s assessment, as well as those of local and international human rights groups.

    Following the executions, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a statement, expressing alarm: “We are appalled at the execution by firing squad of three men in Bahrain on Sunday.  The men had been convicted of a bombing in Manama in 2014 that killed three police officers. They were found guilty after being allegedly tortured into making false confessions and their lawyers were not given access to all the evidence against them nor allowed to cross-examine prosecution witnesses during court hearings.” In a tweet, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings further condemned the act, claiming “torture, unfair trial and flimsy evidence” all constituted “an extrajudicial killing” carried out by the Government.

    Husain Abdulla, Executive Director, ADHRB: “For a National Human Rights Institution to welcome an act that, regardless of the trial circumstances, violates the most basic human right to life as guaranteed by the ICCPR, clearly indicates that the NIHR is merely an extension of the Governmentnot an impartial and independent national institution dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights. This assessment was confirmed by the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions, when Bahrain failed to attain accreditation in compliance with the Paris Principles, instead achieving a ‘B’ status.”

    The NIHR’s statement also lauds Bahrain’s highly problematic Anti-Terror Law on the Protection of Society against terrorism acts and its amendments. This law widely criminalizes many forms of dissent, and recently enabled the Bahraini government to arbitrarily strip up to 26 individuals of their citizenship, rendering them stateless. Human rights defenders, political activists, journalists and protesters are among those who have been convicted under the Anti-Terror Law, which has a broad definition of terrorism, and criminalizes the exercise of free expression, opinion, peaceful assembly and association.

    Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy, BIRD: “Bahrain’s Anti-Terror Law allows authorities to hold individuals without trial for up to six months. This contravenes Article 9 of the ICCPR which requires that anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge should be brought promptly before a judge and should be entitled to a trial or to release ‘within reasonable time’.”

    It is not the first time the NIHR and its members have shown a disregard for the right to life. A senior commissioner of the NIHR and member of Bahrain’s National Assembly, Khaled Al-Shaer, has publically called for the death penalty against persons exercising their free speech. In April 2016 he tweeted: “Who accuses his majesty the king, god protect him, of involvement in crimes against the nation, I think they have committed a great treason against the nation and deserve the death penalty. Soon after they would retract their words.” Al-Shaer remains a commissioner of the NIHR to date and is a member of the NIHR’s Civil and Political Rights Committee.

    We, the undersigned, maintain that the NIHR fundamentally lacks independence from the Government of Bahrain. In a July 2014 report, ADHRB and BIRD found that “Neither the Office of the Ombudsman of the Ministry of the Interior nor the Bahrain National Institute for Human Rights has shown independence from the government or a willingness to take a stand against problematic government policy or action.” In June 2016 report, BIRD called on the Government of Bahrain to “amend Decree 26/2014 establishing the National Institute for Human Rights, in particular article 5(a), to remove all government involvement in the commissioner appointment process, and to restrict membership of the NIHR from members of governmental bodies, including the National Assembly, Shura Council, state bureaucracy and Gulf Cooperation Council bodies, in order to ensure total independence.”

    We therefore call on the National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR) to redact its statement and to condemn the unlawful executions that took place on 15 January 2017. We also call on the Government of Bahrain to commute all death sentences and establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty and reiterate our calls that the NIHR be made independent of the state.

    Signed,

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

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    In response to the news today that the Bahraini authorities have postponed the verdict in the case of prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, Samah Hadid, Deputy Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Regional office in Beirut said:

    “The Bahraini authorities must stop playing games with Nabeel Rajab’s freedom. He has been arrested and released repeatedly over the past five years and has been banned from leaving the country. By postponing his trial for a sixth time today they are cruelly stringing him along as punishment for his peaceful activism. Their refusal to release him from custody in December despite a court order suggests this is part of a deliberate strategy to harass him.

    “Instead of flouting his rights to freedom of expression and depriving him of his liberty they should end this campaign of harassment, immediately and unconditionally release him and drop all the charges against him.”

     

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    The prosecution in a Bahraini court on Monday presented what it said was evidence against prominent rights activist Nabeel Rajab, accused of spreading "false information" about the kingdom, a judicial source said.

    They submitted an "expert report" that they said confirmed Rajab was in charge of his Twitter account where allegedly offensive tweets were posted, the source said. 

    The defence, for its part, reiterated it case that Rajab was not in control of his account at the time the tweets were posted.

     

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    Bahrain Mirror: Bahrain's third minor court started on Monday (January 23, 2017) looking into the case of human rights defender and president of Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab, in which he is accused of disseminating false news and rumors about Bahrain's internal situations.

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    Security forces carried out a wide raid campaign in Sitra that led to arresting at least dozens of citizens, according to information published on social media outlets.

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    Security forces wearing black ski masks have clashed with protesters near the Bahrain home of a prominent Shiite cleric.

    Activists said police fired birdshot and live ammunition in Diraz, home to Sheikh Isa Qassim, early Thursday. The cleric lost his citizenship in June over the Sunni-ruled government's allegations that he fueled extremism and laundered money

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    GENEVA (25 January 2017) – Two United Nations human rights experts have appealed today to the Government of Bahrain to spare the lives of Mohammad Ramadan and Hussein Moosa, who are at risk of imminent execution, and to ensure a re-trial of the defendants in compliance with international standards.   

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    Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate and unconditional release of leading Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, who has been held since June and had to appear in court this week.

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    26 January 2017 – In the early hours of 26 January 2017, Bahraini security forces fired live ammunition at protesters in Diraz, Bahrain. The security forces shot 18-year-old Mustafa Ahmed Hamdan in the head; he is currently receiving urgent medical care at Salmaniya Medical Center. Hamdan is in critical condition. We, the undersigned organizations, are seriously concerned about the health of Hamdan and other individuals injured, condemn the excessive use of force against protesters, and call on the Government of Bahrain to immediately launch investigations into the attack.

     

     

    Unknown Bahraini security forces wearing black balaclavas shot Hamdan during the early hours of 26 January 2017. It is currently unclear under which branch the security forces involved in the attack operate. The live ammunition from the attacks recovered from the area in Diraz is consistent with the types of ammunition Bahrain’s riot police use. The ammunition found at the scene of the attacks appears to be Victory Starlight 32gr cartridges. These weapons are manufactured in Cyprus.

     

     

    Reports from Hamdan’s family indicate that his skull is fractured from the ammunition, which entered into the back of Hamdan’s head. Hamdan was first taken to Bahrain International Hospital, a private hospital, which refused to treat him. He was then transferred to Salmaniya Medical Center, where doctors performed emergency surgery. According to a medical source, Hamdan has suffered an injury to his brain from the live bullet and bleeding from his nose. His vital signs were poor on arrival before the emergency evacuation and craniotomy.  Hamdan is now reportedly in critical but stable condition. His mother said in a media interview that he is “between life and death”.

    Hamdan is one of several reported injured in the recent attack by security forces in Diraz, who opened fire using live ammunition and birdshots on unarmed protesters. Additionally, there are reports of around five arrests from the area, including a minor that was arrested during a brutal house raid that involved breaking the doors. The reason the individuals have been taken into custody are unclear at present. The recent attack seemingly comes amid an incitement campaign against Diraz protesters, including a Bahrain News Agency report that 20 people are facing charges in three separate cases. According to reports, the defendants are facing charges over alleged attacks on suspected informants in Diraz. One of these suspected informants was allegedly tortured and has since died.

    A permanent sit-in in Diraz has been ongoing since 20 June 2016, when the Bahraini authorities revoked the citizenship of prominent spiritual leader Sheikh Isa Qassim. Sheikh Isa Qassim’s residence is in Diraz, and protesters have gathered around his house since June 2016 to protect him from possible reprisals. Since the beginning of the sit-in, the Bahraini government has tightened security around Diraz. Security has set up checkpoints into area staffed with police who prevent non-Diraz residents from entering and who, residents state, carry machine guns. Some of the last reports of violence in Diraz by security forces was 21 December 2016, when Bahraini security forces raided houses and attacked protesters.

    The human rights situation in Bahrain has reached a critical level recently. On 15 January 2017, the Government of Bahrain carried out the execution of three torture victims on death row. Since that that time, hundreds of Bahrainis have participated in protests around the country. The repression of civil society has reached high levels, as human rights defender Nabeel Rajab faces a number of charges in two separate cases - all of which relate to the exercise of his rights to free speech. A number of UN Special Procedures mandates have also responded to the recent heightened persecution of the Shia majority population. Since August 2016, the undersigned organizations have documented the harassment of at least 70 Shia clerics, with nine sentenced to between one year and two and a half years in prison for their speech and assembly.

    The attack last night and this morning in Diraz is the latest step in what is continuing to be a critical time in Bahrain. The Bahraini authorities have disregarded individuals’ internationally-sanctioned rights to assembly by violently shooting protesters gathering in Diraz with live ammunition. We, the undersigned, condemn this excessive and deadly use of force by the Bahraini security forces. We call on the Government of Bahrain to do the following:

    • Immediately launch an investigation into the attack in Diraz on 25 January and 26 January;
    • Hold those security forces who attacked and shot protesters, including Mustafa Ahmed Hamdan, accountable for their crimes;
    • Ensure the rights of those arrested last night and this morning are respected and that they are given fair treatment under the law.

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

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    At least one teenager, Mustafa Hamdan, has been critically wounded and numerous injured after armed masked men launched an armed attack against civilians and protesters in the village of Duraz.

    On 26 January 2017 at approximately 3 am, at least 20 masked individuals dressed in black civilian clothing and carrying arms attacked civilians next to the home of Shia Cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim in the village of Duraz. Protesters have camped there since June 2016 when the Ministry of Interior revoked the nationality of Sheikh Isa Qassim. The village has faced extreme security measures since then including complete police control over individuals that may enter. All entrances to the village have been set up with police checkpoints, with police controlling who may and may not enter the village. The government has also imposed a nightly internet shutdown in the village for over 200 days.

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    Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab is facing a lengthy prison sentence simply for stating that journalists and international NGOs cannot enter Bahrain.

    The accusation was made at a court hearing on Monday, from which Rajab and his lawyer were excluded. Even though Rajab has been in police custody since June 2016, he was not taken to the courtroom.

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    Bahrain Mirror- Exclusive: Information from Jaw Central Prison revealed that there is significant deterioration in political prisoners' conditions, especially in building number 10 in which some of its detainees were tortured and put in solitary confinement.

    It was confirmed that torturing detainees is taking place on daily basis in building number 10. The prison's administration also execute collective punishment against the prisons through banning them from using restrooms, bringing in riot forces, beating prisoners, assaulting them and preventing them from performing prayers.

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    Al-Sayed Alawi Hussain al-Alawi continues to be detained without charge or access to a lawyer since his arrest in October 2016. His family have not heard from him since 14 December 2016, nor have they received any information about his whereabouts or well-being. Amnesty International is concerned that he is a victim of enforced disappearance and is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

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    Protests have erupted in Bahrain after three men convicted of carrying out a bomb attack were executed amid allegations their confessions were extracted under torture. 

    The executions marked the kingdom's first use of capital punishment since 2010, provoking outcry from human rights groups who say the prisoners did not receive a fair trial.

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    Bahrain Mirror: Information reported that the young men who were detained by civilian armed forces on the dawn of Thursday (January 26, 2017), informed their families that they are held in the Criminal Investigations Department building.

    In this context, observers ridiculed how local newspapers doubted that government security forces were the ones that opened fire on protesters in Diraz; an attack that caused a severe head injury to one of the protesters, who currently lies in the hospital in a critical condition.

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    ALDE MEPs have expressed their concern about the worsening human-rights situation in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait. Authorities in Bahrain recently carried out three executions, ending a seven-year moratorium on the death penalty, while seven people were executed in Kuwait. 

    MEP Petras Auštrevičius (Liberal Movement of Lithuania), ALDE Coordinator in the Subcommittee on Human Rights, said the European Parliament should consider sending a fact-finding mission to the Arab Peninsula: “It is unimaginable that in modern times, Raif Badawi, the laureate of the European Parliament´sSakarov´s Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2015, still remains in prison. I think it is essential that the European Parliament´s delegation visits this courageous whistle-blower to find out about his condition and to discuss other pressing human rights concerns with Saudi authorities as soon as possible.”

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    Abbas al-Samea, a school teacher, was shot dead in Bahrain last Sunday (15 January 2017), even though he had an alibi from the school where he taught. He was executed by firing squad along with two other men, who all said police interrogators subjected them to torture, including electric shocks, beatings and sexual assaults, in order to obtain false confessions.

    Sami Mushaima signed a confession document that he could not read; he was illiterate. The third man, a teenager, Ali al-Singace, was only 18 at the time of the alleged offence. He had been harassed by police since the age of 15. When he refused to work as an informant, they savagely beat him.

    When there is so much business to be done, human rights seem to be taking a back seat. The UK provides assistance to the police in Saudi Arabia and death row guards in Bahrain, but this proximity has done little to make their security forces stop torturing suspects into making false confessions or putting protesters on death row.

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    Clashes erupted between police and protesters in Bahrain on Monday before a hearing in the trial of a leading Shia cleric accused of illegal collection of funds and money laundering, witnesses said Monday.

    Security forces fired tear gas and buckshot at hundreds of demonstrators overnight in several Shia villages around the capital Manama protesting the trial of Sheikh Isa Qassim.

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    Bahrain has restored arrest and investigatory powers to an intelligence agency that conducted “terrorizing” house raids and systematically tortured detainees in 2011, Human Rights Watch said today. The decision to grant Bahrain’s National Security Agency (NSA) the power to arrest and detain people suspected of terrorist offenses reverses one of the few significant security sector reforms introduced after 2011.

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    In response to the Bahraini security forces firing live ammunition at peaceful protesters in Diraz, Freedom House issued the following statement: 

    “Bahrain’s security forces regularly use deadly force against protestors, as happened January 26 in Diraz,” said Dokhi Fassihian, senior program manager for Middle East and North Africa programs. “The government should hold its security forces accountable for its repeated excessive use of force.”

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