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    It is six years on from the Arab Spring. But for many of us, the protest movements which began have never ended. My country, Bahrain, was the third country to rise up in revolt in 2011, with our movement beginning on 14 February 2011. It was just days after the fall of Mubarak, and the 10-year anniversary of Bahrain's National Action Charter – a government manifesto which had become a list of broken promises.

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    A "terrorist blast" slightly injured a woman near the Bahraini capital on Thursday, the Interior Ministry said on its Twitter account, in the latest in a series of explosions in the small Western-allied kingdom.

    The ministry said the explosion happened in the village of Sanabis, west of Manama and that police was at the scene but gave no further details.

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    News that the White House will approve the sale of military jets to Bahrain without any human rights restrictions is as depressing as it is predictable. The $3 billion deal would be a dangerous misstep, showing that the new administration is handling its foreign policy with all the surety of a blindfolded guy juggling eggs. 

    Congress needs to step in to stop this happening.

    Read more here

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    Your Excellency,
     
    In view of the marked deterioration in the already poor human rights situation in Bahrain, and as the minimum collective action required, we urge your delegation to support a joint statement expressing concern over and calling for improvements in the human rights situation in Bahrain at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council.
     
    The Human Rights Council (HRC) has largely remained silent on the situation in Bahrain since 35 states delivered a 5th joint statement on Bahrain at the 30th session of the HRC in September 2015. In the intervening period, and particularly since mid-2016, the situation has worsened significantly. We believe it is extremely important for HRC member and observer states to put their strong concerns about this situation on record.
     
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    Nabeel Rajab, co-founder and President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was set to be tried on 21 February for a series of charges including “deliberately spreading false information and malicious rumours with the aim of discrediting the State, “insulting a statutory body,” “disseminating false rumours in time of war” and “offending a foreign country.” The “foreign country” at issue is Saudi Arabia.

    On 21 February the High Criminal Court of Bahrain postponed the trial based on charges related to tweets until 22 February. The hearing on charges related to televised interviews has now been postponed to 7 March.

    In order to allow judges to hear the testimony of the investigation officer and to give Rajab’s lawyer access to copy of the evidence, the tweet-related trial was pushed back from February 22 to 22 March.

    Continue reading here.

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    In order to prevent dictatorships from abusing European technology to crack down on political opposition, the EU started regulating the export of surveillance technology a few years ago. But that has far from stopped the exports to problematic countries, a cross-border investigation reveals.

    Read the entire article here.

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    We, the undersigned, in reaction to the statement made today by Bahrain’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr. Abdulla Faisal al-Doseri, during the High Level Segment of the Human Rights Council (HRC), are concerned by Bahrain’s continued lack of commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights. Mr. al-Doseri used the opportunity to underscore Bahrain’s legal framework, to highlight national human rights mechanisms and claim cooperation with international bodies and domestic civil society. We would like to call attention not only to the inaccuracy of these claims, but also to the use of empty rhetoric to distract from Bahrain’s widespread and systematic practices of human rights abuse. Furthermore, we are gravely concerned by Mr. al-Doseri’s attempt to frame the ongoing human rights violations in the country – including systematic arbitrary detention and torture; draconian restrictions on free expression, assembly, and association; religious discrimination; and political exclusion –  as successful reforms, thus underscores Bahrain’s commitment to further fueling the deepening human rights crisis.

    New Laws Threaten Rights

    Mr. al-Doseri’s praise of Bahrain’s constitution and expansive legislation to protect human rights, drastically contradict their vague provisions and flawed application in courts. The government has continued to use broadly-defined counterterror legislation to target activists, human rights defenders, and other members of civil society. In January 2017, under the guise of counterterror measures, the authorities further facilitated such abuse by re-empowering the National Security Agency (NSA), to arrest and detain civilians under the anti-terror law, which criminalizes expression of dissent or participating in protests. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) initially recommended that the authorities strip the NSA of its arrest powers due the agency’s direct involvement in the arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, and torture of civilians in 2011. The reversal of this recommendation – one of only two BICI recommendations that had been fully implemented – is a sign that the the Bahraini government is actively abandoning what few reforms it had previously instituted.

    In February, King Hamad of Bahrain began the process of amending Bahrain’s Constitution which would allow military courts to try civilians. The National Assembly has approved the amendment, which will now be referred to the Shura council. The current Constitution prohibits military courts from trying cases of civilians unless the king has declared a state of emergency, thus activating the country’s martial law. The proposed amendment will remove all legal limitations on the martial courts. During the 2011 state of national safety, National Safety Courts oversaw hundreds of unfair trials against protesters, human rights defenders, and political leaders.

    Civil Society At Risk

    Despite Mr. al-Dosari’s declaration of Bahrain’s commitment to work openly and collaborate with civil society, the government has continued to target civil society and has failed to adequately protect their rights to free expression, assembly, and association. Human rights defenders have repeatedly been harassed and imprisoned for their work. Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and one of Bahrain’s most prominent human rights defenders, faces up to 18 years in prison in two trials. He has already served over seven months in pre-trial detention, on charges relating to his free expression. Other human rights defenders, such as Abdhuladi Al-Khawaja and Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace, have remained arbitrarily detained, despite international calls for their release. Many other human rights defenders have also faced reprisals for their work, including interrogations, travel bans and forced exile.

    Political Space Closing

    In today’s remarks, Mr. al-Dosari condemned the politicization of human rights by some groups for their own political gain. While the government continues to reject attempts by independent human rights groups for the promotion and protection of human rights, Bahrain has also moved to restrict all political space for dissenting views. The Bahraini government has recently escalated its harassment of political opposition societies and dissidents, including by dissolving Al Wefaq National Islamic Society, Bahrain’s main opposition group. The closing of Al-Wefaq’s headquarters and seizing of its assets, in addition to an increase in the prison term of Sheikh Ali Salman, the party’s Secretary-General, from four years to nine, on appeal – represent further restrictive measures on Bahrain’s political space. Members of secular leftist societies including Fadhel Abbas, the former Secretary-General of Al-Wahdawi, and Ebrahim Sharif, the former Secretary-General of Wa’ad have also been targeted.

    Religious Discrimination

    In his speech, Mr. al-Dosari highlighted Bahrain’s efforts to promote moderation and religious tolerance, all while taking steps to counter radicalization and hate speech. However, discrimination against Bahrain’s majority Shia community has increased dramatically in the past year. Shia individuals are disproportionately targeted by arbitrary arrest, denaturalization, and deportation. Since June 2016, Bahraini authorities have also targeted over 75 Shia religious leaders, nine of which have been imprisoned on charges relating to their freedom of expression or assembly. Sheikh Isa Qassim, the most senior Shia cleric in the country, was stripped of his citizenship in June 2016 and is currently being prosecuted on charges related to the traditional Shia practice of khums. Since his denaturalization, his home town of Duraz has been under police blockade due to widespread protests to his persecution by the Government. Nightly internet blackouts, collective punishment and disruptions to freedom of movement represent just some of the restrictive measures employed by Bahraini authorities in Duraz.

    Further, Bahrain has maintained deeply sectarian police and military forces in the kingdom. The Government has maintained its policies to naturalize foreign Sunni nationals into the security forces, who continue to use excessive force against Bahrain’s Shia population. The Bahrain Defense Force also maintains deeply sectarian rhetoric in training manuals and practices.

    No End to Impunity

    While Mr. al-Doseri expressed pride in Bahrain’s national human rights institutions, he neglected to explain why these institutions have increasingly served to obfuscate allegations of abuse. We have consistently found that Bahrain’s accountability mechanisms – the Ministry of Interior Ombudsman, the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), the Prisoners’ and Detainees’ Rights Commission (PDRC), and the National Institute for Human Rights (NIHR) – operate without the requisite independence from the government and continually fail to bring perpetrators to justice. Most recently, these mechanisms failed to competently investigate credible allegations of severe torture in the cases of Sami Mushaima, Ali al-Singace, and Abbas al-Samea, three individuals who were executed by the Government earlier this year. The SIU dismissed their torture after investigations which did not adhere to international standards. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned the executions, as did the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, who recently raised doubts over the MoI Ombudsman’s “independence, professionalism and thoroughness.”

    Conclusions

    Contrary to Mr. al-Doseri’s statement, the human rights situation in Bahrain has declined to one of its lowest points in years. We are gravely concerned by the systematic enforcement of arbitrary detentions, disappearances, torture, and denaturalizations of Human Rights Defenders, unionists and political dissidents. Despite the establishment of several accountability mechanisms, these have failed to effectively address abuses, and have put the lives of the most vulnerable victims – at significant risk. Recent decisions to re-empower the NSA and expand military courts represent further alarming regressions. These indicate that Bahrain is far from walking the path to reform.

    Husain Abdulla, Executive Director, ADHRB: “Today’s High Level statement by the Bahraini government is yet another deeply disappointing failure to seize true opportunities for reflection, honesty and reform, Bahrainis today are facing the most serious and widespread human rights violations in years. At the Human Rights Council, the government has an opportunity to address these abuses head on, to frankly address the need for reform, and to seek the support of the international community in the promotion and protection of universal human rights. Unfortunately, the government has failed yet again to seize this opportunity.”

    Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy, BIRD: “Actions speak louder than words, and Bahrain’s actions have included executions and new repressive laws, a blanket ban on all speech and reprisals against human rights defender. This is the true face of Bahrain, and the international community must use their opportunity at the Human Rights Council to condemn Bahrain’s doubled-down repression.”

    We call on the Government of Bahrain to immediately make substantive and transparent reforms, including by implementing the 26 recommendations of the BICI, the recommendations of its Second Cycle Universal Periodic Review, and by engaging in full and open cooperation with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Procedures.

    Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain

    Bahrain Center for Human Rights

    Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy

    European Center for Democracy and Human Rights

     
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    Telecom companies in Bahrain have been deliberately disrupting internet services in the village of Duraz between 7:00pm-1:00am everyday for 250 days. The current sustained levels of internet disruption in the village for over 8 months is unprecedented anywhere in the world.

    The shutdown has been maintained by disabling cell towers and dropping approximately 90% of packets on fixed-line connections. A Bahrain Watch investigation found that the shutdown has been systematic and continuous since 23 June 2016. A coalition of NGO’s sent a letter to the Bahrain Telecommunications Regulation Authority in August 2016 but have not received a response. An economic analysis by Bahrain Watch now estimates the cost of the internet shutdown to be more than 210,000 Bahraini Dinars (more than half a million USD) paid for by consumers.

    Read more here.

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    Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) has compiled a brief summary of the Joint Communications Report, released by the Special Procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council on 23 Feb, 2017. The report documents human rights violations from recent complaints they have received and taken up with respective governments. The summary by ADHRB consists of all the cases raised for GCC States (Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman) and Yemen. 

    Access the full summary here: GCC Cases Raised in the HRC 34 Special Procedures Joint Communications Report

    See the section written on Bahrain below:

    Bahrain

    Complaint: 04 Jul 2016, Bahrain, JUA, BHR 3/2016

    Mandate(s)

    • arbitrary detention
    • freedom of opinion and expression
    • freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
    • health
    • human rights defenders
    • torture

    Communication Summary and Findings

     Information received concerning Mr. Nabeel Rajab who has been repeatedly arrested and has served several prison sentences as a result of his human rights work and for leading a pro-democracy uprising in 2011.
    “Concern is expressed at the arbitrary arrest, detention and charges brought against of Mr. Rajab, as well as the raid of his residence and the confiscating of his personal electronic equipment, and the that these actions appear to be directly related to the exercise of the right to freedom of expression through his peaceful and legitimate activities advocating for human rights in Bahrain. Grave concern is expressed at the alleged placement of Mr. Rajab in prolonged solitary confinement and the consequent deterioration of his health status, which may require access to specialized medical treatment. Finally, we express concern at the continued use of repressive legislation that constitute restrictions to the right to freedom of expression that are incompatible with international human rights law.”

    Complaint: 07 Jul 2016, Bahrain, JAL, BHR 2/2016

    Mandate(s)

    • freedom of opinion and expression
    • freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
    • human rights defenders

    Communication Summary and Findings

    Information received concerning the alleged condemnation of Mr. Ali Salman to 9 years of imprisonment as well as the suspension of Al Wefaq National Islamic Society.
    “We express particular concern the measures undertaken against Al-Wefaq, including the ordering of its dissolution and blocking of its website, represent limitations to the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association that are incompatible with the standards of international human rights law. Serious concern is expressed about the broader impact of the above allegations, in particular the criminalization of speech, which may have a “chilling effect” on civil society and human rights defenders, particularly on individuals exercising their rights to freedom of association and expression, such as political activists, human rights defenders and organizations.”

    Complaint: 08 Jul 2016, Bahrain, JAL, BHR 4/2016

    Mandate(s)

    • freedom of opinion and expression
    • freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
    • human rights defenders

    Communication Summary and Findings

    Information received concerning allegations of a travel ban imposed on human rights defenders, Mr. Hussain Salam Ahmed Radhi, Ms. Ebtesam Abdulhusain Ali-Alsaegh, Mr. Ebrahim Al-Demistani and Mr. Abdulnabi Al-Ekry in an act of reprisal for their cooperation with the United Nations Human Rights Council, and their human rights work through the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association.

    “Grave concern is expressed at the allegations that the travel bans issued against Mr. Radhi, Ms. Ali-Alsaegh, Mr. Al-Demistani and Mr. Al-Ekry constitute acts of reprisal for the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association in relation to their human rights work, including in seeking to cooperate with the United Nations, its mechanisms and representatives in the field of human rights, namely with the Human Rights Council. Additional concern is expressed about the broader effect of the imposition of travel bans as a means of preventing the legitimate exercise of rights, which may have a chilling effect on human rights defenders and civil society as a whole, particularly those with dissenting opinions, exercising their rights to freedom of association and freedom of expression.”

    Complaint: 10 Aug 2016, Bahrain, JUA, BHR 5/2016

    Mandate(s)

    • arbitrary detention
    • freedom of opinion and expression
    • freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
    • human rights defenders
    • independence of judges and lawyers
    • migrants
    • privacy
    • religion or belief
    • terrorism

    Communication Summary and Findings

    Information received concerning systematic persecution and repression of the Shias in Bahrain through undue restrictions to their rights to freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, including: dissolution of Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, shutting down of faith based organizations, restriction on the practice of Khums, harassment of Shia clerics, restrictions on Friday Prayers and peaceful assembly, denaturalization of Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim and other Shias, discriminatory treatment of Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace in prison and the travel ban imposed on Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman. Alleged victims: 28

    “While we do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of these allegations, we are deeply concerned by the systematic persecution and repression of the Shia population, religious leaders, peaceful dissidents, including human rights defenders, in Bahrain based on their religion or belief. Concerns are expressed at the harassment of the religious clerics through arbitrary arrests, detention and interrogation; violation of freedom of expression, including by criminalizing legitimate speech and undue restriction to access to the Internet. Additional concern is expressed at the restrictions of movement and freedom of 6 assembly and association of the Shias, including for Friday prayers. Further concern is expressed at the unfair processes of denaturalization of many dissidents and religious clerics that lead to statelessness and arbitrary deportation. We are also concerned at the discriminatory treatment and the lack of medical attention to Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace.”

    Complaint: 15 Aug 2016, Bahrain, JAL, BHR 6/2016

    Mandate(s)

    • executions
    • independence of judges and lawyers
    • torture

    Communication Summary and Findings

    Information received concerning the alleged lack of investigation into torture and other ill-treatment of Mr. Mohammed Ramadan, a Bahraini citizen, resulting in a false confession that led to his conviction and the imposition of the death penalty.

    “Concern is expressed at the absence or at least serious delay of a thorough, independent and impartial investigation or prosecution into the allegations of torture and ill-treatment of Mr. Mohammed Ramadan and the continued upholding of his conviction and imposed death sentence following judicial proceedings that do not appear to have fulfilled the most stringent guarantees of fair trial and due process, particularly in connection with the reliance on false confessions extracted under torture as a basis for the verdict. While we welcome the opening of a new investigation into the allegations of torture and ill-treatment of Mr. Ramadan, we express concern at the entrusting of this important investigation to the same State institution, the Ombudsman’s Office, whose earlier investigations raised serious doubts regarding their independence, professionalism and thoroughness.”

    Complaint: 25 Nov 2016, Bahrain, JAL, BHR 7/2016

    Mandate(s)

    • freedom of opinion and expression
    • freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
    • human rights defenders

    Communication Summary and Findings

    Information received concerning allegations of a travel ban imposed on human rights defenders, Mr. Mohammed Jawad, Ms. Nedal Al-Salman, Mr. Hussain Salam Ahmed Radhi, Mr. Mohammed Al-Tajer and Ms. Enas Oun in an act of reprisal for their cooperation with the United Nations, and their human rights work through the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and of association.

    “Grave concern is expressed at the travel bans issued against Mr. Mohammed Jawad, Ms. Nedal Al-Salman, Mr. Hussain Salam Ahmed Radhi, Mr. Mohammed AlTajer and Ms. Enas Oun, in connection to their human rights work and exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and association. We also express serious concern that the travel bans may constitute an act of reprisal against the above-mentioned human rights defenders for their efforts seeking to cooperate and share information with the United Nations and its mechanisms of human rights, including with the Human Rights Council and with the COP 22 of the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Additional concern is expressed about the broader effect of the increased and repeated imposition of travel bans as a means of preventing the legitimate human rights work and exercise of rights, which may have a chilling effect on human rights defenders and civil society as a whole in Bahrain.”

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    The British government has refused to back a joint United Nations statement criticising Bahrain over its deteriorating human rights record, Middle East Eye can reveal.

    The Gulf kingdom has been on the receiving end of fierce international criticism after it resumed executions earlier this year, amid warnings the country was on the brink of a “human rights crisis”.

    Read the full article here

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    The US Department of State Human Rights Report cover internationally recognized individual civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments. It provides a global overview as well as sections on each country. 

    See the executive summary written on Bahrain below:

    The constitution does not explicitly protect freedom of religion, but does provide for freedom of worship, and the government generally respected the right of citizens and foreign residents to practice their religion. The trend in the government’s respect for religious freedom did not change significantly during the year. The Sunni Muslim citizen population enjoyed favored status. The country experienced some sectarian violence and predominately Shia groups conducted regular demonstrations and protests calling for political reform. The government increasingly scrutinized clerics’ sermons, arrested members of the Shia community, including clerics, and stripped the citizenship of 31 Shia citizens, including three clerics, it deemed posed a security threat to the country. There were allegations of excessive use of force, torture, and mistreatment of detainees arrested during protests. The government took steps to implement the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) recommendations related to the Shia community, such as reinstating many Shia governmental and parastatal employees who were dismissed in 2011, and rebuilding some of the Shia religious sites that were destroyed in 2011. The government welcomed the transfer of the Roman Catholic Vicariate of Northern Arabia from Kuwait to Bahrain, and donated land for its complex.

    There were some reports of societal abuse or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice, including incidents of sectarian violence, especially between the Sunni and Shia communities. Some pro-government press outlets and social media posters employed anti-Shia rhetoric and epithets. When the Roman Catholic Vicariate of Northern Arabia moved to the country, some clerics protested, saying that it was forbidden to build churches in the Arabian Peninsula region.

    Senior U.S. government officials, including U.S. embassy representatives, raised with the government, political societies, civil society organizations, and the broader public U.S. concerns about government restrictions on and abuses of religious freedom. Embassy officials monitored the implementation of the BICI recommendations, including the reconstruction of places of worship. Embassy officials and visitors from the United States also engaged the public on issues of religious tolerance.

    Download the full section on Bahrain here.

    For the entire report see: US State Department 2016 Human Rights Report

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    Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) together with Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) and Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) are publishing today the report "Bahrain’s Third Cycle UPR - A Record of Repression" during the event "Third Cycle - Bahrain - Universal Periodic Review", marking the 34th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. See a summary of the assessment below, and click here for the full report.

    Assessment

    Just over a year after government forces violently suppressed the country’s mass pro-democracy protests in 2011, Bahrain entered its second four-year cycle of the Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights (UPR). On 6 July 2012, member and observer states of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC) submitted 176 recommendations to the Bahraini government, addressing a wide range of issues from criminal justice reform to women’s rights. That October, the government partially or fully accepted 158 of these recommendations, pledging to take the requisite steps to bring the country’s practices in line with international human rights standards.

    Four years later, at the end of Bahrain’s second cycle, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) is forced to confirm its 2014 midterm assessment:[1] the government’s second chance has become yet another missed opportunity.

    Since 2012 – and since the 2011 pro-democracy movement, more broadly – the Bahraini government has intensified its campaign against civil society and peaceful political opposition, imposing increasingly draconian restrictions on basic freedoms that have stifled progress across the spectrum of human rights. ADHRB, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) have assessed both the Bahraini government’s technical implementation of its second-cycle UPR recommendations as well as its larger efforts to resolve the country’s major political and human rights challenges.

    We find that the Bahraini government has failed to fully implement any of its 176 second-cycle UPR recommendations. Of the 158 recommendations accepted by the government, only two have seen any significant progress toward implementation. ADHRB, BCHR, and BIRD have not perceived any substantive progress for 133 recommendations and assess that 23 others have been merely technically implemented with little to no substantive impact.

     

    Key Figures and Findings

    76% of the second-cycle recommendations are wholly unimplemented

    These include issue areas such as:

    • Criminal Justice; Freedom of Expression, Media, and Press; Treaties and International Human Rights Mechanisms; National Dialogue; Implementation of BICI; Religious and Cultural Rights

    13% of the second-cycle recommendations have seen only technical progress

    These include issue areas such as:

    • Compensation for Victims; Women’s Empowerment; Children’s Rights; Welfare

    1% of the second-cycle recommendations have been partially implemented

    These comprise two recommendations to:

    • Establish an Arab Court of Human Rights; and Rebuild Shia Religious Sites

    10% of the second-cycle recommendations were rejected outright

    These include recommendations to:

    • Abolish the Death Penalty; End Violence and Impunity; Release Political Prisoners (specifically Abdulhadi al-Khawaja); and Ratify Specific Treaties including the Rome Statute, Strengthen Cooperation with UN Human Rights Mechanisms, and Facilitate Country Visits by the UN Special Procedures

    Implementation Status

    2014 Midterm Assessment

    2016 Final Assessment

    Not Accepted

    18

    18

    Not Implemented

    117

    133

    Technically Implemented

    39

    23

    Perceived Progress

    2

    2

    Fully Implemented

    0

    0

     

    At the end of its second UPR cycle, the Government of Bahrain has proven either unable or unwilling to implement almost any recommendations, including those to reform its criminal justice system, curb the use of torture, or institute sufficient protections for fundamental human rights like free expression, assembly, association, and belief. Rather, Bahraini authorities continue to arbitrarily arrest, disappear, torture, and imprison individuals for exercising these rights. Since 2012, the government has significantly expanded its penal code, counterterror legislation, and cybercrime law to broadly restrict civil society and effectively criminalize all forms of dissent. The government has additionally taken steps to harass, dissolve, and constrain most of Bahrain’s civil, political, and religious organizations.

    Notably, some important issue areas had seen limited improvement at the halfway point of Bahrain’s second UPR cycle, such as women’s rights and gender equality. Yet today, the government has significantly regressed even here, targeting women human rights defenders for reprisal and issuing problematic new policies such as a male guardianship system for female religious pilgrims. For these reasons we have downgraded the ratings of several recommendations since ADHRB’s 2014 midterm assessment, resulting in a lower final evaluation.

    Ultimately, the poor implementation status of Bahrain’s second-cycle UPR recommendations underscores a disturbing backward trend in the overall human rights situation. ADHRB, BCHR, and BIRD therefore call on the international community to not only hold the Bahraini government accountable for this complete failure to fulfill its second-cycle UPR obligations, but to also issue an even more thorough, pointed set of recommendations for the upcoming third cycle. We additionally urge the international community to take all possible measures to ensure the Government of Bahrain responsibly and transparently commits to a path of true reform as laid out by the UPR process for the next four years.

    Read the full report here.

    [1] A Follow-Up Report on A Bahrain’s UPR Second Cycle: The Deteriorating Human Rights Situation in Bahrain, ADHRB, 23 April 2014, http://www.adhrb.org/2014/04/a-follow-up-report-on-bahrains-upr-second-cycle-the-deteriorating-human-rights-situation-in-bahrain/

     

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is deeply concerned about the recent alarming increase in the use of incommunicado detention by the Bahraini authorities.

    In the month of February 2017 alone, BCHR was able to document at least 10 cases of people arrested and detained without access to their lawyers, nor being granted free access to communicate with or receive visits from their families. It’s under such conditions that the risk of being subjected to torture increases. BCHR strongly condemns the practice of incommunicado detention and expresses great concern over the safety of the victims and their wellbeing.

    Hamed Jassim Al-Aabed (28) was arrested on 9 February 2017. In a statement, the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) said that it conducted an operation on 9 February “at dawn in Bahrain’s surrounding waters, which was undertaken following an attempt by escapees from Jau prison to flee to Iranian waters.” The MOI added that the operation resulted in the death of three individuals, and the ultimate arrest of seven others. Al-Aabed’s name was mentioned as being one of those arrested, for involvement in “the terrorist attack on Jau Prison and/or aiding and abetting fugitives.” The MOI statement confirmed that Hamed was injured during arrest, but his family received no official communication about the condition of their son. Up until 8 March his family was completely unaware of Al-Aabed´s whereabouts or wellbeing. They went to ask about Al-Aabed at the military hospital on 16 February 2017, after they heard news he was there; however they were turned away and no info was provided to them.

    Mohamed Jassim Al-Aabed (28), Hamed Jassim Al-Aabed’s twin brother, was arrested in the same conditions. His family told BCHR that Mohamed Jassim Al-Aabed suffered injuries in his hand and back during the arrest. He was treated at the military hospital, where he heard news that Hamed was there as well and he informed his family on 16 February 2017. He called his family from detention at the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) several times, but no visits were allowed, nor access to a lawyer.

    Ahmed Mohamed Saleh Al-Arab (26), according to a statement released by the MOI, was among the escapees that on 1 January 2017 broke out from Jau Prison and allegedly killed a policeman. Al-Arab´s family first heard news about him on 9 February, when the police announced they had recaptured him. The family was not able to get any details of the arrest other than what was announced by the MOI. According to Al-Arab’s brother, he called very briefly on the morning of 11 February. He sounded very weak and his father couldn’t recognize his voice. He said he was at the CID and asked to bring him clothes. “My father took the clothes later that day and the police took them from him. We remain extremely worried for Ahmed. On top of that, Ahmed was subjected to severe torture at CID when he was arrested in 2014, which is why we fear his life is at risk while there now.” Ahmed Al-Arab has not been granted access to his family or lawyer since arrest.

    Ali Mohamed Ali Al-Arab (23) was arrested along with Ahmed Al-Arab. His family has no idea he was arrested and they know only what was on the MOI statement on 9 February 2017. His two brothers were arrested on 2 February 2017 to force him to submit himself for arrest, and they were released immediately after his arrest on 9 February. He was not wanted before, but became a wanted man after the prison escape. He first called on 11 February, sounding very weak, and said he was detained at CID. He later called several times, always sounding very tired and weak. During a call on 28 February he said he was held in solitary confinement and was unable to speak about his wellbeing when asked. He said he doesn’t know for how long he will be in solitary and said he can’t hear any voices there. Al-Arab has not been granted access to his family or lawyer since arrest.

    Sadeq Ahmed Mansoor (27) was arrested on 10 February 2017, through a house raid on his friend’s house in Saddad. No arrest or search warrant were presented and the house owner was brutally beaten. Mansoor suffers pain in his back as a result of a police attack prior to his arrest. The only time his family found out about his charges was when the MOI published a statement on 21 February 2017 along with photos of the defendants accusing him of “executing the jailbreak and sheltering fugitives.” Mansoor was able to make a call for the first time on 12 February, from CID, but was not allowed visits from his family or a lawyer up until 7 March 2017.

    Amira Mohamed Saleh Al-Qashami (35), mother of two children, her father Mohamed Saleh al-Qashami (65), and brother Abul Alfadhel Mohamed Saleh Al-Qashami (24), were arrested on 9 February 2017. Their house was raided at 9 AM by riot police and security men in civilian clothes, plus commandos in black who are believed to belong to the national security apparatus, who stormed the house after breaking doors; no arrest warrant or search warrant was presented. They covered the head of Abul Alfadhel Mohammed Saleh Al-Qashami with a black plastic bag while taking him out. His sister was outside the house and was not allowed to enter. The house was damaged during the raid. Their family was provided no information about the charges, until the MOi published a statement along with photos of the defendants accusing them of “executing the jailbreak and sheltering fugitives.” They made frequent calls to their families, but neither visits nor access to lawyer were allowed up until 7 March 2017.

    Yousif Hasan Mohamed (21) was arrested through a house raid on 11 February 2017, at 3AM, by security men in civilian clothes, plus others in black clothes who are believed to belong to the national security apparatus. They broke the door and immediately took Mohamed out, before his family could recognize what was going on in the house. He called several times from detention but could not talk freely. On 21 February his photo appeared with the MOI statement in which he was accused of being allegedly involved “in various terrorist crimes.” During a call on 22 February he sounded very weak and tired. He has not been allowed visits from his family, and is believed to be held at CID (as per the phone calls).

    Jaffar Naji Humaidan (21) was similarly arrested through a house raid on 9 February by security men in black clothes, who are believed to belong to the national security apparatus. No arrest or search warrant was presented, and the security men used pepper spray against Jaffar’s sisters when they refused to hand over their phones. On 21 February his photo appeared with the MOI statement in which he was accused of allegedly being involved “in various terrorist crimes.” As per the other cases, no visits from family and lawyer were allowed.

    The practice is not new though. Two cases of people held in incommunicado, are still ongoing since 2016.

    Sayed Fadhel Abbas Radhi (24) was arrested from his house on the night of 29 September 2016 by security forces in civilian clothes who did not have any warrants permitting a search of the property nor his arrest. His family has since been unable to visit him, despite having been granted permission from the public prosecution. The CID, which is detaining Radhi, has refused them access. Although he was allowed to make a few calls, he was not allowed to talk freely and his family reported that he sounded very weak. On 1 March 2017 his family received a call from him, after 87 days of silence. He is still not permitted to meet his family or to access his lawyer.

    Sayed Alawi Hussain Alawi (43), has spent more than four months in detention without access to his lawyer, and has also been denied visitation with his family. Charges against him remain unknown. Arrested on October 24 without a warrant, his family filed a complaint with the Ombudsman for illegal and arbitrary arrest and called upon the National Human Rights Institute (NHRI), a governmental body whose members are appointed by the king, to act on the case. Accordingly, the government, via the head of the Human Rights Committee at the Bahraini Parliament, stated that Alawi is “detained pending investigation” and that “all the formal procedures have been taken properly and correctly according to the rules applicable in the Kingdom of Bahrain.” On 29 February 2017, he was allowed a brief phone call to his family, in which he asked them to pray for him.

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

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

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

    We therefore call on the government of Bahrain to:

    • Abide by international norms and regulations, and grant detainees access to legal procedures, as well as visits from family members; and
    • End the practice of arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance and incommunicado detention in Bahrain.
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    In Bahrain, the Government has imposed increasing restrictions on civil society and politics since June 2016, including intimidation, arrests and interrogations, travel bans and closure orders. I repeat that this repression will not eliminate people’s grievances; it will increase them. I am deeply concerned over the increasing levels of human rights violations in the Kingdom. I call on the Government of Bahrain to undertake concrete confidence building measures, including allowing my Office and Special Procedures mandate holders to swiftly conduct visits

    Check the full report here.

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    In recognition of International Women’s Day, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights has produced a report highlighting the legal status of Bahraini women. It is our belief that women in Bahrain should be accorded equal status in accordance with international human rights law.

    Read the full report here.

    Women in Bahrain are among the most liberally educated in the Gulf/MENA region, yet they are still underrepresented professionally. Women in Bahrain remain underrepresented politically and in the workforce. In the 2014 elections  a small number of women were elected to both houses, only 21 members of the judiciary in the country are female. In spite of high graduation rates for women, 60% of those graduating in 2013-2014 were women, females are still underrepresented professionally, representing 33% of the private sector workforce. Women face unofficial discrimination in the workforce in regards to the provision of benefits such as bonuses and pay.

    Bahrain ratified CEDAW in 2002, however the country failed to ratify the optional protocol of preventing violence against women, and acceded to the regulations with five reservations. Reservations were made in relation to articles 2, 9, 15, and 16. All reservations that were made directly contravened existing Bahraini legislation. The reluctance of the Bahraini government to wholly implement CEDAW has a significant impact on gender equality in the region.

    The first article that Bahrain made a reservation against was Article 2, Paragraph B, which states that a country should condemn all types of discrimination against women. Bahrain has no legislation protecting the freedoms of women in the region, and specific reference to protecting women’s rights is made only when referring to their honour. The failure to condemn discrimination against women means that is difficult to prosecute individuals who discriminate on grounds of gender. The Bahraini government has also failed to recognise violence against women (VAW), there is no direct reference to VAW in the legislative framework. Pressure from the Supreme Council for Women, has however, resulted in training on gender issues being offered to the police force, and the judiciary. Spousal rape has yet to be criminalised by the Bahraini authorities, whilst Article 353 of the Penal Code, allows rapists to marry their victim, meaning that they avoid persecution. Services for victims of domestic violence, and sexual assault remain limited.

    The second reservation made by Bahrain was in relation to the ability of Bahraini women to transmit their Bahraini citizenship to their offspring.  In Bahrain nationality is transmitted through the male line. Women married to foreign born spouses, are unable to secure citizenship for their children, except in extremely limited circumstances by exceptional royal decrees. It is only through exceptional, royal decrees, that women have been allowed to transmit their citizenship to their children. The inability of women to transmit their citizenship to their children has resulted in children being refused identity documents, such as passports, and in some cases, birth certificates.

    Read the full report here.

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    8 March 2017 – In his report to the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council today, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, raised the “increasing levels of human rights violations” in Bahrain, and called on the government to address these violations. He reiterated his position that, “this repression will not eliminate people’s grievances; it will increase them.” We in the Bahrain human rights community welcome the High Commissioner’s commitment to addressing violations in Bahrain, and dedicated efforts to countering the rising crisis in the kingdom.

    In his comments, HC Zeid called attention to Bahrain’s deeply troubling executions earlier this year. The High Commissioner stated his deep regret at retrograde trends by Bahrain, among others, to “retreat from formal or informal commitments to moratoria on the death penalty.” In January 2017, Bahrain unlawfully executedSami Mushaima, Ali Al-Singace, and Abbas Al-Samea. All three men alleged that Bahraini authorities tortured them into providing the confessions that then served as evidence against them in court. The Government, the courts, and Bahrain’s national human rights mechanisms, utterly failed to consider and investigate these allegations.

    The High Commissioner devoted specific attention to recent acts by the government to impose ”increasing restrictions on civil society and politics since June 2016, including intimidation, arrest, interrogations, travel bans and closure orders.”

    Earlier this week, the Government of Bahrain began efforts to dissolve the country’s leading secular opposition society, Wa’ad. Targeting Wa’ad is only the government’s latest move to smother the already shrinking political space inside the country. In June 2016, Bahraini authorities also shut down al-Wefaq, the largest opposition political society in the kingdom.

    In addition to closing political space, Bahraini authorities continue to target human rights defenders and civil society for reprisals. Such reprisals have been conducted through the use of travel bans, which the government places on Bahraini activists to prevent them from engaging in legitimate human rights work with international bodies like the UN Human Rights Council. Leading civil society members, like human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, are among those targeted in the recent targeted restriction highlighted by the High Commissioner. Bahraini authorities have detained Rajab since June 2016. He faces up to 18 years in prison on charges related to tweets about Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Yemen and exposing torture in Bahrain’s Jau Prison, and for giving interviews to journalists.

    HC Zeid expressed his deep concern over the rising human rights violations in the kingdom, and condemned the government’s repression. Just this year, the government expanded the arrest powers of the National Security Agency (NSA) and approved a measure allowing civilians to be tried in military courts. The NSA was involved in the torture of peaceful protesters during 2011 and the death of at least one detainee, and the withdrawal of its arrest powers was one of the few BICI recommendations that the Government of Bahrain fully implemented. Reinstating these powers is therefore an extremely disappointing reversal on a shamefully weak effort at genuine reform. In another move that recalls the 2011 protests and subsequent government crackdown, Bahrain’s legislature this week approved a constitutional amendment that would allow military courts to try civilians.

    Finally, the High Commissioner called on the government to undertake confidence building measures to address these troubling trends, stating, “I call on the Government of Bahrain to undertake concrete confidence building measures, including allowing my Office and Special Procedures mandate holders to swiftly conduct visits.” Bahrain has continually denied access to special procedure requests for country visits. While no special procedures have visited the kingdom since 2006, the mandate holders have continuously been engaged on cases of human rights in Bahrain. Most recently, the special procedures released reports regarding reprisals against human rights activists, dissolving al-Wefaq, the persecution of Bahrain’s Shias, and the arbitrary detention of Nabeel Rajab.

    This strong criticism of Bahrain’s human rights record offered by the UN High Commissioner follows up on similarly strong comments he has made at previous sessions of the UN Human Rights Council. We, the undersigned, welcome and support the High Commissioner’s public criticism of Bahrain’s actively deteriorating human rights record.

    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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    The family of a UK resident who campaigns against the death penalty in Bahrain is coming under sustained attack, human rights group Reprieve has warned the Foreign Secretary.

    Sayed al-Wadaei, director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), says that Bahrani detectives have detained and tortured his relatives.

    Read more here.

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    Family members of a London-based Bahraini activist have reportedly been arrested on the Gulf island in "retaliation" for his human rights work, campaigners have said.

    The mother-in-law and brother-in-law of Sayed al-Wadaei were both recently detained by Bahraini authorities, his wife told Human Rights Watch, following what she said were continued threats against the activist's family.

    Read full article here. 

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    Bahraini authorities are apparently targeting the family members of a prominent Bahraini activist in retribution for his human rights work, Human Rights Watch said today.

    Since March 2, 2017, authorities have detained the brother-in-law and mother-in-law of Sayed al-Wadaei, a United Kingdom-based Bahraini human rights activist who has accused the Bahraini authorities, including senior members of the ruling Al Khalifa family, of serious human rights abuses. Sayed al-Wadaei’s wife, Duaa, told Human Rights Watch in October that a senior official had referred to her husband as “an animal” and asked, menacingly during an interrogation at Bahrain airport, “Where shall I go first, shall I go to his family or your family?”

    Continue reading here

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    Written Answers Nos. 353-368
    Human Rights Cases

    353. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the case of a person (details supplied); his views on the fact this person is facing two separate trials in March 2017 related to their right to free speech; and if he will urgently raise his concerns regarding the case of this person with his Bahraini counterpart. [11443/17]

    Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I am familiar with the case of the person in question, and of his repeated imprisonment and release over the last number of years for his work as a human rights defender.

    Read full answer here.

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