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    Following an Arab League meeting in Cairo on September 1, it was announced that Bahrain would be host of the Arab Court of Human Rights when the court gets established. There is no word on what jurisdiction the court will have or when it might open, only that it will be based in Bahrain. The news was initially greeted with some surprise and skepticism by those who have followed the Kingdom's recent dismal performance on human rights. On reflection, though, there are several factors that make it an appropriate choice.

    Below are the top six reasons it makes sense for Bahrain to host the Arab Court of Human Rights:

    1. Many defendants will be in easy reach. So far, Bahrain has failed to convict any senior government official for the deaths, torture and other human rights violations that have taken place since 2011. Having the court based right where perpetrators live and work will save on transport costs to the court.
    2. The Bahrain government has a stack of unused arrest warrants. Many of those who have been taken in dawn raids by Bahrain security forces have not been shown arrest warrants, meaning there must be a pile of unused ones in police stations across the country for the court to use.
    3. Bahrain courts have shown themselves to be fast. There's often no messing about with lengthy legal proceedings -- some court cases only take a few minutes for the judge to realize the person is guilty of all charges. No need to waste time on a defense or to investigate the torture marks on prisoners.

    Find the full article on http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-dooley/top-6-reasons-for-bahrain_b_3862317.html  

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses its grave concern in regards to the authorities’ continued use of arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances and torture as tools against civilians. Recently, the BCHR documented the arbitrary arrest of several people in Nuwaidrat village at dawn without warrants on the 26th of August 2013. The BCHR expresses serious concern that these individuals might be subjected to torture and ill treatment in order to extract enforced confessions.

    Ebrahim Ali Ahmed Ismaeel, 27 years old, was arrested on the 26th of August 2013 at approximately 4 am when masked men in civilian clothing backed by security forces raided his home by kicking the front door repeatedly until the father opened the door. They asked about his sons, and he showed them their rooms. One masked man in civilian clothing went to the eldest son’s room, Abbas, and asked him to give his ID card, then asking him to about his brother’s location. When he pointed to Jassim's apartment which is located inside the house, they replied "leave Jassim for another time, we want Ebrahim". They then went to Ebrahim's apartment that is also located inside the house, his brother knocked the door, but there was no response. Abbas was escorted by two masked men in civilian clothing as he attempted to call his brother Ebrahim, but they broke down Ebrahim’s apartment door before he could reach him. Ebrahim’s wife added that during his arrest, they searched the apartment and confiscated his mobile phone.  Two days later, Ebrahim called from the Criminal Investigations Department, informing his brother that he is fine and that he will let him know if he is allowed visits. The family received news later that Ebrahim was admitted to the hospital for four days reportedly because of the torture he was subjected to during his stay at the CID.

    Ahmed Hassan Yousif (18 years old), Hussain Hassan Yousif (18 years old) were arrested on the 27th of August 2013 after masked men in civilian clothing backed by security forces raided their home at 3:40 am. After they spread inside the house, the brother, Yousif, asked them to not enter any room as there were women inside. Yousif took them to the rooms, and they Inspected Ahmed and Hussain's room. They then blindfolded both of them and took them to the security bus. They tried to go into other rooms, but the family refused to allow them, as there were women inside. The family added that everyone was frightened and the women were screaming during the house raid.

    The family later inquired about their sons at the Sitra Police Station then Isa Town Police Station and the Criminal Investigation Department. They all denied having them in custody.

    The first call from Ahmed and Hussain was on Thursday, 29th of August 2013, during which they said that they were fine, and the line was cut. The family added that Ahmed got arrested the same day he completed his registration at the University as he got a scholarship from the ministry because he achieved high grades at school.

    Ali Hassan Ahmad, 20 years old, was arrested on Monday 26th of August 2013 at approximately 4:30 am after masked men in civilian clothing backed by security forces started beating on the door and air conditioner of the house forcing the father to open the door. They entered the home and headed to Ali's room where they arrested him after they asked for his ID card and confiscated his mobile phone.  When the father inquired about the reason of his arrest and if he is wanted, one replied, "yes he is".

    The father attempted to stop the bus from leaving with his son, and he was pepper sprayed in the face and he and his wife were threatened that they would be shot with the pellet shotgun.

    Three days later, on the 29th of August 2013, the family received a call from Ali who informed them that he is fine. The father informed the BCHR that Ali sounded fatigued and he fears that his son was subjected to torture. His father went to Sitra police station to ask about Ali, but they denied having him.

     

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

    • Immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in Bahrain.
    • Put an end to the use of torture to extract false confessions from detainees
    • Put an end to illegal house raids, arbitrary arrests and detention without a court issued warrant
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    September 5: Fourth Criminal Court decided to postpone the hearing in the case of the “coalition of the February 14″ to 29 September, 2013 for sentencing.

    All the defendants did not attend the hearing after they decided to boycott because of the lack of neutrality and judicial independence.The defense lawyers also boycotted.

    Mr.Naji Fateel, said: ” I boycotted the court, I have been subjected to torture in criminal investigations building, but the public prosecutor and the court did not carry out a neutral and independent investigations regarding allegations of torture”.

    Naji Fateel has been subjected to severe torture during interrogation in the notorious Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID). Among the allegations are that he has received electrical shocks to his genitals, left foot, and back, and been subjected to simulated drowning, severe beatings, threats to publish photographs of his wife (taken from her camera which was confiscated when security forces raided the family home), verbal abuse using uncivilized words, hanging by his hands from the ceiling, sexual harassment and threats to rape him, standing for long hours, and sleep deprivation. ( For more information see our appeal:http://byshr.org/?p=1381)

    Mr.Naji Fateel: is a board member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) and blogger who has been active in reporting human rights violations in Bahrain.He used his account on Twitter for dissemination of human rights information. He was previously detained between Dec 2007 and April 2009, and has been reportedly tortured.His house was stormed in search for him several times last year following the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

    http://byshr.org/?p=1493

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    URGENT ACTION

    Child tortured in detention in Bahrain

    Bahraini boy aged 14, Ali Hatem Ali Salman, was arrested on 26 August 2013 and reportedly tortured and otherwise ill-treated during interrogation to “confess” to rioting. On 3 September the Juvenile Prosecution extended his detention for another week.

    Ali Hatem Ali Salman was arrested in a coffee shop in the neighbourhood of Sanad, south of Bahrain’s capital, Manama. Prior to the arrest a police patrol vehicle in the area was set alight with a Molotov cocktail. Ali Hatem Ali Salman was playing a board game with friends when police officers arrested him and five others. He was taken to a police station blindfolded. He reported to his family and lawyer that during his interrogation he was beaten and electrocuted in order to make him “confess” to rioting. He was brought before the Juvenile Prosecutor on 27 August where Ali Hatem Ali Salman denied the accusations and told of his torture and ill-treatment. The Juvenile Prosecutor ordered his detention for seven days pending an investigation. He was transferred to a Juvenile detention facility at 4am on 28 August.

    On 3 September, in the presence of Ali Hatem Ali Salman’s father and lawyer, the Juvenile Prosecutor extended his detention order for a further seven days. Ali Hatem Ali Salman is facing charges of “illegal gathering” and “rioting”.

    Ali Hatem Ali Salman’s family was allowed to visit him on 5 September for the first time.

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

    Urging the Bahraini authorities to protect him from torture and other ill-treatment;

    Urging them to ensure that Ali Hatem Ali Salman is treated in accordance with the international standards of juvenile justice;

    Calling for an impartial and independent investigation into the reported torture and other ill-treatment of Ali Hatem Ali Salman and bring those found responsible to account.

     

    PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 18 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.

     

    URGENT ACTION

    Child tortured in detention in Bahrain

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

    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.

    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 Tamarrud (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 it was cancelled due to the heavy security forces presence in Manama.

    Name: Ali Hatem Ali Salman

    Gender m/f: m

     

    UA: 239/13 Index: MDE 11/036/2013 Issue Date: 06 September 2013

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE11/036/2013/en/8b8dd46b-8325-488b-9a9b-1520b4669c5d/mde110362013en.html

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    Leading Bahrain human rights organisations have supported a call by Ceartas – Irish Lawyers for Human Rights urging the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) to expel Dr. Ali bin Fadhel Al-Buainain from its executive committee. In April 2013 a complaint was lodged by Ceartas detailing how Al-Buainain has overseen a systematic pattern of human rights abuses and breaches of basic judicial principles at a public prosecution level.

    Bahrain’s state media recently announced that Bahrain’s Attorney General Dr. Al-Buainain was re-elected by his peers to the Executive Committee of the IAP. However, Ceartas has learned that Dr. Al-Buainain had yet to secure his position and was seeking re-election at the IAP’s 18th Annual General Meeting in Moscow, 11th September 2013. Civil society groups from Bahrain have published an open letter, published below, urging all IAP delegates not to support Dr Al-Buainain’s re-election bid given the findings in the Ceartas complaint and the continuing human right infringements Bahraini citizens are facing through the judicial system.

    Ceartas maintains that his position in the IAP is untenable given that the IAP objectives are to protect human rights, due process, fair procedures and pubic prosecution standards at an international level. Dr Al-Buainain’s election is proceeding despite the fact that IAP President and former director of public prosecutions in Ireland, Mr James Hamilton acknowledged receipt of the complaint and saying that it was “on the agenda”. 

    The Ceartas report on  Dr. Al-Buainain received backing from numerous groups including the  Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Frontline DefendersEuropean Center for Constitutional and Human Rights,  Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, the Freedom of Expression Institute, the Gulf Center for Human Rights,  Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.

     

    Open Letter to IAP

    To: Mr John Hamilton, President of the International Association of Prosecutors.

    In April of this year a complaint was lodged to your organisation based on a report by Ceartas – Irish Lawyers for Human Rights concerning the Bahraini representative on the Executive Committee of the IAP, Dr. Ali bin Fadhel Al- Buainain. The report details how Dr Al-Buainain as head of the Office of Public Prosecution in Bahrain has overseen a systematic pattern of human rights abuses and breaches of basic judicial principles at a public prosecution level. It maintains that his position in the IAP is untenable given that the IAP objectives are to protect human rights, due process, fair procedures and pubic prosecution standards at an international level.

    While the complaint has been acknowledged by your offices Dr. Al-Buainain has nonetheless sought to be re-elected to the Executive Committee at your 18th Annual General Meeting in Moscow on the 11th September. We would therefore urge you and all other delegates not to support Dr A-Buainain’s re-election bid given the bona fide and widely backed findings in the Ceartas report and the continuing human right infringements Bahraini citizens are facing through the judicial system.

    We hope that you will take our views into consideration and act accordingly. 

    Bahrain Center for Human Rights

    Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights.

    Bahrain Watch

    Gulf Center for Human Rights

    Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain

     

    http://www.ceartaslaw.org/blog/entry/bahrain-rights-groups-back-ceartas-call-not-to-re-elect-bahrain-s-attorney-general.html

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights welcomes the idea of establishing an Arab court to prosecute human right violators; however, the BCHR received the news of the Arab League Council's approval for Bahrain to host the permanent headquarters of the Arab Court with dismay regarding the seriousness of the objectives of establishing the court given the notorious record that the government of Bahrain and the members of the ruling family, including the top of the hierarchy the country’s King, have in the field of human rights and public liberties. These violations have been documented by leading human rights organizations. On the 8th of February 2010, Human Rights Watch issued its well-known report on Bahrain: ‘Torture Redux’. The report is based on interviews with former detainees and on forensic reports and courts. The report concluded that since the end of 2007 officials resorted to repeating the practice of torture in what seems like an attempt to extract confessions from suspects in security cases. In March 2011, the regime put civilians on trial in military courts; which is another addition to the violations of the judiciary in Bahrain that is incompatible with the international standards of fair trials. International condemnations were issued against the severe sentences handed down by the military court, among them the statement of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

    • The High Commissioner for Human Rights says Bahrain trials bear marks of political persecution.
    • The UN Secretary-General expresses his deep concern for the long prison sentences against the political and human rights activists in Bahrain.
    • International human rights organizations condemn the severe sentences against the activists following unjust trials.
    • Washington is ‘concerned’ about the life-imprisonment sentences against opposition in Bahrain.
    • The British Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East is concerned about the verdicts in Bahrain.

    On the 17th of August, 2011, the BCHR released a report about citizens who were reportedly subjected to torture at the hands of members of the ruling family in Bahrain who beat and tortured political prisoners.

    Top, right to left: Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa and Khalid bin Hamad Al-Khalifa (King’s sons)

    Bottom, right to left: Noora bint Ebrahim Al-Khalifa (Drug Enforcement Administration), Khalifa bin Abdulla Al-Khalifa (Head of the National Security Apparatus), Khalifa bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa (The Director General of Police in the Southern Governorate)

    On the 4th of May 2011, the BCHR released a report about the death of four citizens under torture in detention centers in Bahrain, among them a journalist and blogger.

    The graveness of the brutal and systematic torture practiced by the authorities in Bahrain against political detainees and human rights activists in detention centers was evident in the documentation of four cases of death under torture that took place within nine days, amongst them one of the founders of Alwasat newspaper and an Internet activist.

    From right to left: Kareem Fakhrawi, Zakariya Al-Asheeri, Hassan Jassim and Ali Saqer.

    The BCHR also released a number of reports that state that the authorities in Bahrain have adopted a policy of impunity. A video clip was recently spread on the internet showing Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, the longest standing unelected prime minister in the world of 43 years, visiting an officer who has been repeatedly pointed out as being involved in torture by victims but was acquitted in court, to thank him and to reassure that impunity exists.

    On the 7th of July, 2013, a pro-government account uploaded a video of the Prime Minister on Youtube during his visit to Officer Mubarak bin Huwail following his acquittal on 1 July 2013 from charges related to torturing medics in the detention center in 2011.

    (For more information: http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/6205)

    A screenshot from the video (Mubarak bin Huwail to the left, Prime Minister in the center)

    On the 26th of July, 2013, Amnesty International released a report: ‘Still no justice for torture cases, the torture of Nazeeha Saeed’.

    And on the 27th of July, 2013, Frontline Defenders released: ‘Bahrain: Trial of Human Rights Defender Mr Naji Fateel Falls Short of International Standards’.

    Naji Fateel is a member of the Board of Directors in the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR), and an active human rights defender who documents and reports on human rights violations in Bahrain.

    This is in addition to the violations of the government of Bahrain against freedom of press. Although Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa pledged to support freedom of the press and reform, however, the situation last year did not improve. Throughout the past year, several journalists and bloggers in Bahrain were subjected to harassments, assaults, arrests and torture due to their work. Journalists working near pro-democracy demonstrations were targeted in a systematic manner by the security forces.

    Arrest and torture of journalists

    Arrests and Trials of Internet Users

    On the 9th of July 2012, the President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the former Director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to three months in prison and was arrested on the charge of ‘insulting the citizens of Muharraq through Twitter’ for information he published on Twitter demanding the Prime Minister to step down, and discussing his visit to the Island of Muharraq. Although he was acquitted of this charge in the Court of Appeal, he remains in prison serving another 2 year sentence on the charge of participating in demonstrations and calling for gatherings through social networks. On the 17th of December 2012, Acting Vice-President and Head of Monitoring & Follow Up at BCHR Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafdah was arrested while monitoring a demonstration in the Manama and posting tweets on Twitter about the suppression of demonstrators and documenting the violations. He was accused of ‘spreading false news through Twitter’; he spent a month in detention. Despite being acquitted from the charges by the Court on the 11th of March 2013, the Public Prosecution appealed against the acquittal sentence.

    The prominent Bahraini blogger Ali Abdulemam was sentenced to 15 years in absentia by a military court on the 22nd of June 2011 on the charge of ‘being part of a terrorist organization and the attempt of overthrowing the government’. Ali Abdulemam is the founder of Bahrain Online, a Bahraini electronic forum bahrainonline.org, where critical opinions of the government are published regularly, and where the first call for protests on 14 February 2011 appeared. He was also arrested from September 2010 to February 2011, and was subjected to torture during that period.

    Denial of Access to the country

    On the 14th of July, 2012, Bahrain deported the American film director Jane Marlow, after she was arrested for a short while and questioned before being deported to Jordan. The authorities accused her of forging the visa application and filming a documentary without obtaining permission. Nick Kristof, who writes for the New York Times, was denied from entering the countries border’s on 20 December 2012 when he was informed that he was in the ‘black list’. The journalist, who is a two time Pulitzer Prize winner, strongly criticizes the Bahraini authorities in his reports. During his last visit to Bahrain in December 2011 he was subjected to an attack by the use of teargas and was arrested for a short while along with the cameraman accompanying him. Habiba Hamed stated that she was interrogated for 5 hours in Bahrain airport on the 11th of February 2013, and then she was denied access, although she had not come to submit a report about the political situation. The authorities checked her Twitter account and found that it contained comments about Bahrain. They wanted her to apply for a visa through the Ministry of Information first, before coming to Bahrain. On the 19th of April, 2013, the ITV News crew were held while they were filming in Bahrain and were then taken to the police station where they were asked to leave the country, although their visa was approved by the relevant ministry. The decision to deport them followed a report released the night before by the Channel in which it criticized the Bahrain government.

    On the 9th of August 2013, the BCHR released a report regarding the preventing of traveling for the Acting President of the BCHR and the Co-Director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights Ms Maryam Al-Khawaja to Bahrain on British Airways. Al-Khawaja was denied boarding by British Airways at the order of the government of Bahrain. Al-Khawaja had decided to visit Bahrain to monitor the situation before planned protests on the 14th of August.

    The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies also released a report on the 14th of March 2013 regarding the attack carried out by the GCC governments against human rights defenders because they deal with the UN, the report was titled, “Cut off from the World: Systematic Reprisals against Human Rights Defenders in the Gulf Region for Engaging with the United Nations”. The report addresses the governmental attacks, acts of threats and defamation carried out by the governments of some of the GCC countries such as Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Sultanate of Oman and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against human rights defenders; as a result of their cooperation with the mechanisms of human rights affiliated with the UN during the last two years, and especially in the context of its 21st session of the Human Rights Council that was held in September 2012.

    The report presents an overview of the suppressive existing laws in these countries, which criminate work in the field of human rights, including working with international mechanisms of human rights.

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights asserts that the government of Bahrain is ineligible to host and establish an Arab court that attends to defending and reprising human rights violators and criminals. These type of courts require international standards and the involvement of the opinion of human rights organizations. The host country of such a court should be chosen on the basis of whether this country holds a respectable human rights record which Bahrain lacks; causing dozens of negative reactions from international organizations as well as media. Bahrain also lacks the presence of effective assurances to meet the aspirations of neutrality and justice.

    The BCHR is concerned that due to the track record of human rights violations in Bahrain, that such a court will be used as a tool against civil society and independent human rights organizations; just as the local judiciary system has become a tool to target and imprison activists.

     

     

     

     

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    The European Parliament passed a resolution today condemning the ongoing human rights violations in Bahrain. The European Parliament found that "the human rights situation in Bahrain remains a matter of concern in the wake of the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in 2011" and that "many recent actions of the Bahraini government continue to violate and restrict the rights and freedoms of segments of the Bahraini people, in particular the right of individuals to protest, freedom of expression and digital freedom. The resolution also finds that "the Bahraini authorities are continuing their crackdown on peaceful political protesters, including the disproportionate use of violence and torture by security and police forces."

    The resolution can be found on the EU Parliament's website via the link here; the full text is below.

     

     

     European Parliament resolution on the human rights situation in Bahrain (2013/2830(RSP)    

    The European Parliament,

    –   having regard to its previous resolutions on Bahrain of 27 October 2011, of 15 March 2012 and of 17 January 2013,

    –   having regard to the visit of a delegation of its Subcommittee on Human Rights to Bahrain on 19 and 20 December 2012 and to the press statement issued by that delegation, and having regard to the Arab Peninsula delegation visit from 27 to 30 April 2013 and its press statement,

    –   having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on Bahrain, in particular her statements of 7 January, 11 February and 1 July 2013,

    –   having regard to the statements by the UN Secretary-General, in particular that of 8 January 2013, and to the statement of the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of 6 August 2013,

    –   having regard to the 23rd EU-GCC Joint Council and Ministerial Meeting, held in Manama, Bahrain, on 30 June 2013,

    –   having regard to the extraordinary meeting of Bahrain’s National Assembly, held on 28 July 2013, resulting in the emergency decrees issued by the King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah,

    –   having regard to the 2006 Bahraini ‘Protecting Society from Terrorist Acts’ legislation,

    –   having regard to the decision of the Arab League’s Ministerial Council, meeting in Cairo on 1 September 2013, to set up a pan-Arab court of human rights in Bahrain’s capital Manama,

    –   having regard to the report released in November 2011 by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) and to its follow-up report of 21 November 2012,

    –   having regard to the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Rights of Child and the Arab Charter on Human Rights, to all of which Bahrain is a party,

    –   having regard to the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders of 2004, as updated in 2008,

    –   having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

    –   having regard to Rules 122(5) and 110(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

    A. whereas the human rights situation in Bahrain remains a matter of concern in the wake of the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in 2011; whereas many recent actions of the Bahraini Government continue to violate and restrict the rights and freedoms of segments of the Bahraini people, in particular the right of individuals to peaceful protest, freedom of expression and digital freedom; whereas the Bahraini authorities are continuing their crackdown on peaceful political protesters, including the disproportionate use of violence and torture by security and police forces;

    B.  whereas human rights activists are facing ongoing systematic targeting, harassment and detention in Bahrain, some of them being condemned to life imprisonment;

    C. whereas on 1 August 2013, ahead of the peaceful protest planned in Manama on 14 August 2013, the King of Bahrain ordered the implementation of recommendations passed by the Parliament, which include the banning of all sit-ins, assemblies and protests in the capital Manama, further limitations on social media activities, an increase in the detention period and withdrawal of the citizenship of anyone found guilty of committing or inciting an act of terrorism;

    D. whereas the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has stated that, although it welcomes the National Assembly’s recommendation that ‘basic liberties, particularly freedom of opinion, should not be affected to maintain a balance between law enforcement and human rights protection’, it reiterates its concern about the restrictions on public demonstrations and other public gatherings;

    E.  whereas, following the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report, the Bahraini authorities committed themselves to undergoing reforms; whereas progress has been made in overhauling the legal and law enforcement systems, reinstating employees who were unfairly dismissed, and setting up a special prosecution unit to investigate abuse claims, as well as in carrying out reforms of the police; whereas, overall, the implementation of the BICI recommendations remains slow;

    F.  whereas an official delegation led by the Minister of Human Rights Affairs, Dr Salah bin Ali Abdulrahman, will attend the 24th session of the UN Human Rights Council from 7 to 27 September 2013, and will review, during its meetings, the implementation of the recommendations of the Human Rights Council and the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, as well as the recommendations of the National Assembly, which the Government of Bahrain has pledged to implement in accordance with a timetable and programme of action.

    G. whereas in Bahrain even children have been arrested and kept in adult detention unsuitable for minors, where they have reportedly been tortured and improperly treated;

    H. whereas on 24 April the government postponed for the second time – this time indefinitely – the visit of Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment;

    I.   whereas on 2 September 2013 Bahrain announced that it would host the permanent headquarters of the Arab Human Rights Court following its approval at an Arab League meeting in Cairo;

    J.   whereas the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis, visited Bahrain in the scope of the EU-Gulf Cooperation Council Ministerial meeting in June 2013;

    1.  Calls on the Bahraini authorities to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, both online and offline, and freedom of assembly; deeply regrets the recent restrictive orders by the Parliament and the King of Bahrain, and calls for a lifting of the ban on the right to peaceful demonstrations and free assembly in the capital, Manama, and a repeal of the orders of the Minister of Justice of 3 September 2013, which are irreconcilable with the government’s commitment to launching reforms and will not help progress on national reconciliation or build trust among all parties;

    2.  Urges that the legitimate right of Bahraini citizens to express their opinions freely, organise gatherings and demonstrate peacefully be respected; underlines the importance of free and pluralistic media; calls for full access to the country for international NGOs and journalists;

    3.  Welcomes the steps taken by the Bahraini authorities to implement the recommendations by the Bahraini Independent Commission of Inquiry; recognises that some efforts have been undertaken in this respect, but stresses nevertheless that more must be done to improve the human rights situation in the country; calls on the Government of Bahrain to implement fully and swiftly the BICI and Universal Periodic Review recommendations; recommends that the UN Human Rights Council’s 24th Session set up a monitoring mechanism mandated to follow the implementation of the BICI recommendations and the overall resolution of the human rights situation in Bahrain;

    4.  Calls on the Bahraini Government to implement the necessary democratic reforms and to encourage an inclusive and constructive national dialogue and reconciliation, including the release of dissidents;

    5.  Calls on the Bahraini authorities to put an immediate end to all acts of repression, including judicial harassment, and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience, political activists, journalists, bloggers, doctors and paramedics, human rights defenders and peaceful protesters, including Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Nabeel Rajab, Ibrahim Sharif, Naji Fateel, Zainab Al-Khawaja, Mohammed Al-Maskati, Mahdi’Issa Mahdi Abu Deeb and Jalila Al-Salman;

    6.  Welcomes the fact that King Hamad Bin Isa al-Khalifa has set up an independent commission for the rights of prisoners and detainees, and calls on this commission to effectively monitor and improve the conditions and treatment of prisoners and detainees;

    7.  Welcomes King Hamad Bin Isa al-Khalifa’s setting up of a Ministry for Human Rights and Social Development in Bahrain, and calls on that ministry to act in accordance with international human rights standards and obligations; notes in particular the progressive stance of Bahrain towards women in society;

    8.  Notes the formal establishment of a Police Ombudsman by the Bahraini Interior Ministry in July 2013, and expresses the hope that this move will mean that the complaints and grievances of Bahraini citizens can be effectively looked into;

    9.  Notes the Bahraini Government’s ongoing efforts to reform the penal code and legal procedures, and encourages this process to continue; calls on the Government of Bahrain to take all necessary steps to guarantee due process, and the independence and impartiality of the judiciary in Bahrain, and to ensure that it acts in full accordance with international human rights standards;

    10. Urges that independent investigations be conducted into all allegations of torture and other ill- treatment, and that the results be made public; takes the view that accountability for past violations is a key element on the path towards justice and genuine reconciliation, which are necessary for social stability;

    11. Urges the Bahraini authorities to respect the rights of juveniles, to refrain from detaining them in adult facilities, and to treat juveniles in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Bahrain is a party;

    12. Believes that arbitrary deprivation of nationality could lead to statelessness, with serious consequences for the protection of the human rights of the individuals concerned; notes that withdrawal of the citizenship of political opponents by the Bahraini authorities is contrary to international law;

    13. Regrets the weak EU response to the ongoing situation in Bahrain and calls on the HR/VP to condemn the ongoing violations of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to impose targeted restrictive measures (visa bans and asset freezes) against those individuals responsible for, and involved in, the human rights abuses (as documented by the BICI report);

    14. Calls on the VP/HR and the Member States to work together to develop a clear strategy as to how the EU will, both publicly and privately, actively push for the release of prisoners of conscience, and calls on the VP/HR to work with the Member States to ensure the adoption of Foreign Affairs Council conclusions on the human rights situation in Bahrain, which should include a specific call for the immediate and unconditional release of those prisoners;

    15. Expresses regret that the visit of the Special Rapporteur on torture was again postponed, and calls upon the Bahraini authorities to facilitate visits of the Special Rapporteurs on freedom of association and assembly and on the situation of human rights defenders;

    16. Welcomes the decision by the Arab League to set up a Arab Human Rights Court in Manama and expresses its hope that it may act as a catalyst for human rights across the region; urges the Government of Bahrain, as well as its partners in the Arab League, to ensure the integrity, impartiality, efficiency and credibility of this Court;

    17. Instructs its president to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice‑President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the government and parliaments of the Member States, and the Government and Parliament of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

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    We, as Arab rights organizations, express our full solidarity with the struggle of the Syrian people for freedom and human rights, including the right to self-determination through free and fair democratic processes.  The Syrian people have undergone deep suffering in pursuit of their rights and freedoms, and we recognize the profound sacrifices that they have made.

    In this context, the undersigned Arab organizations state their severe concern over all military plans currently being discussed to launch a military strike against Syria in violation of the Charter of the United Nations. We warn that any such acts of aggression will only serve to exacerbate the armed conflict while


    The situation in Syria is dominated by ongoing acts of killing and violence.  The country now ranks among the worst places in the world in terms of violations to the rights to life, to physical integrity, and to protection from enforced disappearance, as these and other crimes amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity are carried out on a daily basis by the Syrian regime and affiliated militias.  It is increasingly feared that some factions affiliated with the armed opposition are also continuing to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Syrian people.  Meanwhile, the international community – particularly Russia and China – continues to reject all proposals by Arab and international civil society to resolve to the crisis in Syria.doing nothing to resolve the humanitarian crises which have resulted from the crimes committed by the Assad regime against the people of Syria.  Indeed, those who bear the brunt of the violence and fighting in Syria are the Syrian people themselves. All Syrians – regardless of their ethnic, religious, ideological, cultural, and political affiliations and allegiances – deserve to live in a state that respects their rights and freedoms, yet they have been denied these rights and freedoms for the last 42 years under the regimes of Hafez and Bashar al-Assad, which has been responsible for the killings of over 100,000 civilians, among them 11,000 Syrian children, by Syrian security forces in the past two years, according to data provided by Syrian organizations.

    Any resolution to the Syrian crisis must be based on an immediate cessation of all military and paramilitary operations both by forces loyal to the Bashar al-Assad regime and by the armed opposition.  A peaceful transition of power agreed to by all parties must be begun immediately under the auspices of the United Nations.  The situation in Syria must simultaneously be referred to the International Criminal Court to investigate allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by all parties to the Syrian conflict over the past three years, including criminal investigations into allegations of the use of chemical weapons by the government in Syria.

    The repercussions of conducting acts of aggression against Syria – even if carried out on the most limited of scales as proposed by American President Barack Obama – will be catastrophic, as such acts will perpetuate the suffering of the region from political decisions made on the regional and international levels to prioritize military solutions over any political or legal solutions.  Even as discussions are held between the United States, Russia, and their respective allies regarding possibilities for national reconciliation in Syria in the frameworks of the first and second Geneva Conferences, all of these parties continue to provide unconditioned military support to the warring parties on the ground inside Syria.  Such an approach will result in the spread of armed violence over which it will be exceedingly difficult to regain control in the near future.

    The undersigned organizations affirm that any unilateral military intervention without the approval of the United Nations constitutes a crime of aggression punishable under international criminal law.  We further assert that all states which are considering taking military action against Syria must realize that war crimes and crimes against humanity cannot be prevented or ended through the commission of additional international crimes.

    This applies also to the intervention of other foreign parties in the Syrian conflict.  The involvement of members of Hezbollah and other external groups suspected of being affiliated with Al-Qaeda does not help either of the two sides to the armed conflict.  Rather, it may exacerbate the suffering of the Syrian people and place them at the mercy of brutal mercenaries who have no legal interest in the current conflict.  Indeed, the tolerance of the international community of this involvement of foreign mercenaries in the fighting between the two sides in Syria is pushing neighboring states towards a massive political crisis which will prove to be all but impossible to resolve.

    The undersigned Arab organizations affirm their full solidarity with and respect for the will of the Syrian people, who have endured a brutal war against the Syrian regime.  At the same time, we insist that the aspirations of the Syrian people to establish justice, equality, and freedom will not be achieved through direct military strikes.  We further express our severe concern at the disregard of basic considerations of international humanitarian law displayed by some armed groups opposed to the al-Assad regime and their lack of respect for the very principles and values which they charge the Assad regime of violating – all of which bodes poorly for the future of post-Assad Syria.

    Many states have referred to the use of chemical weapons in Syria as a “red line” and asserted that it is necessary to punish the Assad regime for such crimes.  In this context, the undersigned organizations emphasize that the use of chemical weapons by the forces of the Assad regime or by any other party constitutes an unpardonable crime which is not subject to a statute of limitations.  Yet in our view, the only “red line” is the lives of civilians, regardless of the type of weapons used to kill them or who is responsible for their deaths. The international community has failed to uphold this principle over the past three years, and no military strike such as the one announced by the United States will be able to ensure that it is upheld now.

    The lack of political will both within Syria and among the international community to resolve the Syrian crisis in a manner based on international law exacerbates the suffering of tens of thousands of political prisoners in Assad’s detention centers who have been subjected to the most inhumane forms of torture and the worst degradation of human dignity, just as it adds to the ranks of the millions of displaced people whose homes have been destroyed and who have been forced to flee to refugee camps, where their fates are decided by the political battles playing out in neighboring countries.  The human conscience will not forget the sight of children being bombed and the thousands of women who faced collective punishment through rape, nor how the international community stood by while such horrific atrocities were committed.

    Therefore, the undersigned Arab organizations stress the necessity of the following steps:

    1. The League of Arab States should immediately adopt a ceasefire initiative, and its implementation should be strictly overseen by the United Nations Security Council.
    2. All foreign militants must immediately leave Syrian territory and surrender their weapons to a UN-mandated  disarmament commission.
    3. The Security Council must refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court to investigate all crimes committed by all parties to the conflict since the beginning of the Syrian uprising, as recommended by the League of Arab States inResolution no. 7651.
    4. All political prisoners held in detention centers and prisons in Syria must be immediately released, and this process should be overseen by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
    5. The Security Council must adopt a resolution under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter imposing a ban on the sale, export, or provision of any form of weaponry or military supplies to any of the parties to the Syrian conflict.
    6. The Security Council must see to it that the talks at the second Geneva Conference arrive at a political solution to the Syrian conflict.

     

    Signatory organizations

    1.     Cairo institute for Human Rights Studies
    2.     Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies
    3.     Arab Network for Human Rights Information
    4.     Arab penal reform organization
    5.     Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
    6.     Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR(
    7.     Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance
    8.     Committee for the respect of liberties and human rights. 
    9.     Egyptian foundation for Advancement of the Childhood Conditions
    10. Egyptians Against Religious Discrimination 
    11. Group for Human Rights Legal Assistance, Egypt.
    12. Habi Center for Environmental Rights
    13. Human Rights First Society, Saudi Arabia
    14. Moroccan Instance of Human Rights
    15. Palestinian Human Rights Organization (PHRO)
    16. The Hesham Mobarak Law Center
    17. The Human Rights Association for the Assistance of the Prisoners
    18. Tunisian League for the Defense of Human Rights.
    19. Yemen Organizations. For Defending Rights & Democratic Freedoms.
    20. Yemeni Center for Transitional Justice

    21. Bahrain Center for Human Rights 

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    13 September 2013, Geneva

     

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights, the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, the European-Bahraini Organization for Human Rights, and the Bahrain Human Rights Society express their highest gratitude to Her Excellency, Ms. Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in regards to her remarks delivered on Bahrain during the opening statement at the Human Rights Council 24th Session.

     

    We would like to affirm our support for the High Commissioner’s calls for Bahrain to fully comply with its international human rights commitments. We agree that the cancellation of the scheduled visit by the Special Rapporteur on Torture is regrettable, and also wish to see full implementation of the reforms recommended by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry. We agree with the High Commissioner that cooperation between the Government of Bahrain and the OHCHR is disappointing, and call for an end to the delays preventing the OHCHR follow-up mission. 

     

    Our deepest thanks are also extended to Switzerland for their leadership in crafting a joint statement on the human rights situation in Bahrain, and the BCHR also sincerely thanks the countries of Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, the United States of America and Uruguay for supporting human rights in Bahrain.

     

    This joint statement is the third such issued from the international community, and it has never been clearer that the international community is aware and deeply concerned over the human rights situation in Bahrain. However, as the situation in Bahrain continues to deteriorate, it is equally clear that the authorities in Bahrain will not cease to commit human rights violations unless they are presented with consequences for their actions. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights therefore encourages the international community to continue to increase the pressure on the Government of Bahrain by bringing forth a resolution during the 25th session of the Human Rights Council. 

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    9 September 2013

    Mr. President,
    Distinguished Members of the Human Rights Council,
    Excellencies and Colleagues,
    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Thank you for this opportunity to address you.

    (..)

    I regret to report that the human rights situation in Bahrain remains an issue of serious concern: the deep polarization of society and the harsh clampdown on human rights defenders and peaceful protesters continue to make a durable solution more difficult to secure. I reiterate my call on Bahrain to fully comply with its international human rights commitments, including respect for the rights to freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association. The cancellation of the scheduled visit of the Special Rapporteur on Torture is regrettable, and important recommendations made by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry have still not been implemented. I also wish to express my disappointment that the cooperation with the Government of Bahrain, which started fruitfully with the deployment of an OHCHR team in December 2012, has not developed further and an OHCHR follow-up mission has been stalled since then.

    ..

    Read the full statement on http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13687&LangID=E

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    Switzerland read the following joint statement on the opening day of the 24th Session of the Human Rights Council on behalf of 47 co-sponsoring countries including the United States.

    24th Session of the Human Rights Council
    Item 2 – General Debate

    Joint Statement on the OHCHR and the human rights situation in Bahrain
    Geneva, 9 September 2013
    Mr. President, I have the honour to make this statement on the OHCHR and the human rights situation in Bahrain on behalf of Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, the United States of America and Uruguay.

    We take note of positive steps taken by the Government of Bahrain to implement the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry in order to improve the human rights situation in Bahrain. In particular, we note with appreciation the creation of the Office of the Police Ombudsman for the Ministry of Interior in August 2012 and its official launch in July 2013. We also note the creation of the Special Investigation Unit in the Public Prosecution Office in February 2012. We urge these institutions to proactively fulfil their mandate and encourage the Government of Bahrain to uphold its commitment to these institutions and their independence. We commend the continuation of the National Consensus Dialogue in August 2013 and encourage all sides to participate in a constructive and genuine way. We encourage the Government of Bahrain to continue to work with all participants in the Dialogue towards an open, democratic and inclusive society with equal opportunities for all.

    However, the human rights situation in Bahrain remains an issue of serious concern to us. In particular, we share the concerns expressed by the OHCHR regarding the 22 recommendations made by the National Assembly of Bahrain on 28 July 2013. Any new legislation to implement these recommendations must meet international standards and ensure human rights are protected. We are also particularly concerned by the ongoing violation of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the repression of demonstrations. We expect officials and protestors to refrain from any violence. Furthermore, we continue to be concerned about the continued harassment and imprisonment of persons exercising their rights to freedom of opinion and expression, including of human rights defenders. We are also concerned about the cases of revocation of nationality without due process, some of which might lead to statelessness. Lastly, we are concerned that those alleged to have committed human rights violations are often not held accountable.

    We call upon the Government of Bahrain to address these concerns and expedite the implementation of the recommendations received from the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry and the recommendations Bahrain agreed to accept through the Universal Periodic Review. We urge the Government of Bahrain to enhance its cooperation with the OHCHR and allow for a fully comprehensive collaboration, including accepting an OHCHR follow-up mission. We also urge the Government of Bahrain to cooperate with the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, in particular the Special Rapporteur on torture, the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, together with any other Special Procedures that request to visit Bahrain and reschedule previously planned visits. Lastly, we encourage the Government of Bahrain to fulfil its obligation to submit its outstanding reports to the treaty bodies of the human rights conventions it has ratified.

    We will continue to follow closely the human rights situation in Bahrain and invite the OHCHR, Special Procedures and the Human Rights Council to do so. We also invite the Government of Bahrain to further engage with the Human Rights Council. Thank you Mr. President.

    http://geneva.usmission.gov/2013/09/09/joint-statement-expresses-concern-about-human-rights-situation-in-bahrain/

     

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights, the European-Bahraini Center for Human Rights, the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, and the Bahrain Human Rights Society join together to welcome the EU Parliament resolution on the human rights situation in Bahrain (2013/2830(RSP)).

     

    The EU Parliament stated that the human rights situation in Bahrain ‘remains a matter of concern in the wake of the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in 2011’. The resolution goes on to note that ‘many recent actions of the Bahraini Government continue to violate and restrict the rights and freedoms of segments of the Bahraini people, in particular the right of individuals to peaceful protest, freedom of expression and digital freedom’.

     

    We support the EU Parliament’s call for the Bahraini authorities to put an immediate end to all acts of repression, including judicial harassment. We join the EU Parliament in calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience, political activists, journalists, bloggers, doctors and paramedics, human rights defenders and peaceful protesters, including Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Nabeel Rajab, Ibrahim Sharif, Naji Fateel, Zainab Al-Khawaja, Mohammed Al-Maskati, Mahdi’Issa Mahdi Abu Deeb and Jalila Al-Salman.

     

    The above mentioned NGOs reiterates the Parliament’s regret in regards to the weak EU response to the ongoing situation in Bahrain and join the EU Parliament in calling on the HR/VP to condemn the ongoing violations of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to impose targeted restrictive measures (visa bans and asset freezes) against those individuals responsible for, and involved in, the human rights abuses as documented by the BICI report.

     

    We also urge the Bahraini authorities to respect the rights of juveniles and to refrain from detaining them in adult facilities. The Bahraini authorities must treat juveniles in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Bahrain is a party. In the month of August alone, the BCHR documented the arrest of at least 15 children under the age of 18.

     

    Teargas is the leading cause of death amongst pro-democracy protesters, and we call on the EU to ban all sales of tear gas to the government of Bahrain. Such an action would clearly demonstrate that there are consequences for Bahrain’s failure to fulfill international obligations.

     

    The BCHR, BYSHR, EBOHR and the BHRS would like to extend our thanks in particular to the Members of Parliament who signed this resolution, including Marietje Schaake, Ana Gomes, Edward McMillan-Scott, Richard Howitt, Cristian Dan Preda, Bernd Posselt, Tunne Kelam, Roberta Angelilli, Eija-Riitta Korhola, Monica Luisa Macovei, Philippe Boulland, Jean Roatta, Mariya Gabriel, Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris, Giovanni La Via, Eduard Kukan, Sari Essayah, Petri Sarvamaa, Laima Liucija Andrikienė, Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa, Krzysztof Lisek, Zuzana Roithová, Bogusław Sonik, Véronique De Keyser, Pino Arlacchi, Mojca Kleva Kekuš, Antigoni Papadopoulou, Joanna Senyszyn, Mitro Repo, Liisa Jaakonsaari, Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, Marielle de Sarnez, Sarah Ludford, Graham Watson, Louis Michel, Hannu Takkula, Robert Rochefort, Ramon Tremosa i Balcells, Angelika Werthmann, Johannes Cornelis van Baalen, Margrete Auken, Barbara Lochbihler, Nicole Kiil-Nielsen, and Raül Romeva i Rueda.

     

     

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights condemns the continued attacks on the families of political dissidents, and the targeting of their relatives and children with arrests and trials as part of harassment campaign. The family of AlMoqdad has had eight of its members arrested so far, which started with the arrest of 2 prominent political leaders in 2011, and the last victims who are 15 and 16 year old boys arrested several days ago. A ninth member of the family is also on trial.

    Jaffar Abduljalil AlMoqdad (15 years old) and his cousin Mohamed Ebrahim AlMoqdad(16 years old) along with seven other children and six adults were abducted by security men in civilian clothing accompanied by police vehicles at around 4am on the 5th of September 2013 from a swimming pool in Adari village.  A worker at the swimming pool witnessed the beating of the detainees at time of arrest, as they were taken away in their swimwear.

    Despite inquiring about them in several police stations in the morning, their families were not able to get any information about the children’s whereabouts or wellbeing. It took over 48 hours to get to know that the two children from the AlMoqdad were moved to the Dry Docks detention center (adult’s prison).

    The lawyer of Jaffar said that the public prosecution interrogated him in absence of his lawyer despite being informed of the lawyers contact. The prosecutor ordered the detention under interrogation of all the detainees, including Jaffar and the other children, for 60 days under the terrorism law.

    On the 9th of September, Jaffar called his family to inform them that he is at the Dry Docks detention center (adult’s prison) and he has a visit the next day. He briefly informed them that he was subjected to torture and he said he would give the details during the visit. He also informed them that he was forced to confess and to sign papers at the public prosecution without being able to read it. However, when the family went to visit him on the 10th of September, they were denied the visit without any explanation.

    Other young children have been tried under the terrorism law, the youngest child being Hussain AlDallal, 14 years old.

    Murtadha AbdulJalil AlMoqdad, who is currently pending a verdict that could include imprisonment for “illegal gathering” said that the authorities are refusing to return the passport documents of the family, which were taken by the security forces at time of arresting his father in March 2011. Without passports the family members cannot travel or apply for jobs.

     

    Sheikh Mohamed Habib AlMoqdad (50 years old)

    Bahraini-Swedish citizen Sheikh Mohammed Habib Al-Moqdad, 50 years old, is an outspoken cleric and independent opposition activist who has been in detention since the 1st  of April 2011. He was tried in a military court and he is currently serving 68 years prison sentence in 12 cases[1] ranging between the charges of "inciting and seeking to overthrow the regime" and "incitement to the formation of gangs to attack foreigners or to kidnap security officers." He is also accused in the same case of the 13 human rights and political leaders known as the Bahrain13 serving sentences for “plotting to overthrow the regime[2]”.  He was subjected to psychological, sexual and physical torture following his arrest. During his testimony to the court of appeal on the 19th of June 2012, he told the court the names of six officials responsible for torturing him in custody, including the King’s son, Nasser Bin Hamad Alkhalifa.[3]

     

    Sheikh Abdul Jalil Al Moqdad 

    Sheikh Abdul Jalil Al Moqdad , an outspoken cleric and a political leader in the Alwafa opposition movement,  has been in detention since the 27th of March 2011. He was tried in a military court and is currently serving a 30 year prison sentences in multiple cases including a life sentence in the case of the 13 human rights and political leaders known as the Bahrain13 charged with “plotting to overthrow the regime[4]”.  He has been subjected to severe torture in detention and was beaten to force him to apologize on tape.[5] He is currently denied treatment for the pain in his back which he suffered from a slipped disc due to torture.

     

    Mustafa Abdul Jalil Al Moqdad (17 years old):

    Mustafa Al Moqdad, 17 years old, is the son of the political leader Sheikh Abdul Jalil Al Moqdad.  He was arrested on the 19th of May 2011 after a house raid at dawn. He was reportedly tortured for two weeks after his arrest. According to the testimony, he was beaten with a plastic cable, deprived from sleep for three days and was forced to stand for days. Mustafa was not allowed access to his family or legal representation until his first court hearing on the 21st of June 2011 at the military court. In October 2011, he was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment at the National Safety court (vis-à-vis the Military court) which was later reduced to three years (Read: www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/4845). On the 14th of May 2013, Mustafa was subjected to additional torture at the hands of prison guards at Jaw prison (adult prison)[6]. Mustafa was an academically excellent student who has now been deprived from his studies because of his imprisonment on trumped up charges and due to bad prison conditions. Mustafa is currently suffering from difficulties in breathing and is denied the medical treatment he needs.

     

    Ebrahim Ahmed Radhi Al-Moqdad (17 years old)

    Ebrahim Ahmed Al-Moqdad, was arrested when he was 16 on the 23rd of July 2012 during an anti-government protest in Bilad al-Qadeem. For nearly 48 hours after his arrest, he was not allowed to speak to his family and there was no lawyer present during his interrogation. Ebrahim told his family that he was beaten after his arrest, and that the policemen tried to get his clothes off to sexually assault him but he resisted. A gun was pointed at him and to further intimidate him, police put a gun parallel to his ear and pulled the trigger. He said that he was then taken to a burnt armoured vehicle where he was given a script and videotaped confessing to burning it. He was interrogated by infamous torturer, Isa Al Majali, who verbally abused him. He was blindfolded at all times, handcuffed and was made to lay on the ground and not allowed to move, sit or sleep[7].  On the 4th of April 2013 he was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being tried under the internationally criticized terrorism law on the charge of “burning an armored vehicle”. He is currently serving the sentence at Jaw prison (adults prison) where the prison authority had to make special uniforms to fit him because there were none available in his size.[8]

     

    Yousif Radhi Mansoor AlMoqdad (35 years old)

    Brother of political leader Sheikh Abdul Jalil Al Moqdad, has been in detention since the 27th of March 2011. He has been on trial at a military court along with his cousin the political leader Mohamed Habib AlMoqdad and the child Mustafa AlMoqdad for allegedly kidnapping and detaining a policeman in March 2011. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was reportedly subjected to torture including electrical shocks and beatings with a plastic hose.

     

    Hussain Ebrahim AlMoqdad (18 years old)

    Hussain AlMoqdad has been in detention since the 6th of July 2012. He was reportedly subjected to torture to obtain confessions. He is currently serving a prison sentence of 10 years for allegedly blowing up a gas cylinder.

     


    Murtadha AlMoqdad

    Murtadha AlMoqdad, the other son of the political leader Abdul Jalil AlMoqdad has been arrested several times between 2011 to date and has been detained for several months. He is currently out of prison on bail while still on trial for multiple “illegal gathering” charges. He is expecting a verdict on the 18th of November 2013 and he may face a prison sentence. He is actively speaking up about the attacks on his family members and using social media outlets[9] to spread the word about the violations to their rights. AlMoqdad believes his trial is a form of retribution for his peaceful activism for rights and democracy.

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights believes the family of AlMoqdad has been targeted in revenge for the political activism of the two leaders who were detained in 2011, Sheikh Abdul Jalil Al Moqdad and Sheikh Mohamed Habib AlMoqdad, as well as for the continued peaceful activities of the family members to demand freedom and justice for their detained relatives.

     

    Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the close allies, namely the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as relevant international institutions like the United Nations to pressure the Bahrain Government to:

    - End all forms of targeting and prosecution of relatives of political and human rights activists in Bahrain

    - Compensated all those subjected to harassment and/or torture.

    - To cease all harassment and targeting of all political and human rights activists and their families.

    - To release all political prisoners unconditionally, and provide full access to rights of free speech and peaceful assembly as guaranteed by international conventions.

     

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    In a Side Event at the United Nations Human Rights Council:

    Repression and Impunity in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen

     

    Yesterday, 12 September 2013, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) organized an event at the 24th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council to highlight the ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders and lack of accountability for human rights violations within the Gulf region.

    The speakers of the event included Ms. Maryam Al-Khawaja, acting director of BCHR and co-director of GCHR, Mr. Khalid Ibrahim, co-director of the GCHR, Melanie Gingell, a board member of the GCHR.  Mr. Jeremie Smith, director of the Geneva office of CIHRS, chaired the event.  The event was attended by state delegations, United Nations officials and civil society groups from around the world.

    Mr. Ibrahim highlighted ongoing widespread attacks against human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Yemen.  He then moved on to discuss the findings of the GCHR’s recent report on the role of human rights defenders within the transitional process in Yemen and ongoing attacks against these defenders. Mr. Ibrahim also pointed out the continued lack of accountability for human rights violations in Yemen, including the failure of the Yemeni government to appoint any members to the National Commission of Inquiry, created by the new president of Yemen more than a year ago, and called on the government ensure that these individuals are appointed and the commission is allowed to progress.  The UN Human Rights Council is due to adopt a resolution on Yemen this month concerning accountability and human rights within the country.

    Ms. Gingell then discussed the UAE 94, a group of human rights defenders and reformists in the UAE that have been jailed and tortured for creating and signing a petition asking for democratic reforms.  Ms. Gingell spoke of her attempt to monitor the trial of the UAE 94.  These individuals have been imprisoned and tortured and their families threatened for their human rights and pro-democracy activities.  Despite the charges against them, the government has failed to provide any evidence to prove that they planned to overthrow the government or commit an act of treason.   Ms. Gingell highlighted that over the last two years there has been a crackdown in the country on all forms of expression advocating for democratic reform within the country.

    Ms. Al-Khawaja discussed the ongoing repression of human rights defenders in Bahrain and use of excessive force against those participating in protests and demonstrations.  In particular, the BCHR has documented more than 1000 arrests of political activists since the beginning of 2013.   Political prisoners in the country continue to be subjected to ill-treatment and torture.  The government has failed to implement the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, which submitted its findings to the government almost two years ago.  Forty-seven states from around the world signed onto a joint declaration at the UN Human Rights Council on 10 September to call for a halt to human rights violations in Bahrain and for the government to implement the BICI recommendations.  This is the third such declaration by UN member states within the last year and half.  Ms. Al-Khawaja expressed her hope that if Bahrain continues to repress dissent and refuse to implement reform, stronger action will be taken by UN member states.

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses dissatisfaction over the Bahraini authorities continued avoidance to comply with the recommendations which aim to limit human rights violations. Many official institutions were established which propose to value the protection of human rights, while in reality they follow the government’s official policy of impunity and discrimination. The BCHR has monitored the performance of the Special Investigations Unit at the Public Prosecution over the course of a year and a half, and concluded that this unit is only one of the many attempts of the Bahraini regime to present the image of reforms, while acting as a tool to punish political prisoners and prisoners of conscience for their peaceful activism.

    The Special Investigations Unit was established on February 28, 2012 after an order from Attorney-General Ali AlBuainain to establish a specialized unit at the Public Prosecution for the investigation of torture crimes, abuse and ill-treatment that may have been committed by government officials. Specifically, this unit is designed to investigate into the facts arising from the events in 2011 during the three month state of emergency declared by the government, and which are included in the report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), as well as any facts or other issues decided by the Attorney-General to be referred to the Special Investigations Unit.

    The establishment of this Unit came as an implementation to recommendation No. 1716 of the BICI report, which stated "To establish a national independent and impartial mechanism to determine the accountability of those in government who have committed unlawful or negligent acts resulting in the deaths, torture and mistreatment of civilians with a view to bringing legal and disciplinary action against such individuals, including those in the chain of command, military and civilian, who are found to be responsible under international standards of “superior responsibility”.

    However, what is witnessed on the ground in Bahrain is quite different from the recommendation. The unit is headed by the Chief Prosecutor, and there is no mechanism in which the use of the independent experts to conduct investigations is compulsory, which stands in violation to the very essence of the recommendation, particularly as the involvement of the Public Prosecution itself in the abuse of detainees during the investigation period has been documented. In the investigation cases referred to the unit, some of the cases were documented while others were suspended, and many resulted in the acquittal of those involved in torture as occured in the case of doctors lawsuit against Mubarak bin Huwail and Noora AlKhalifa. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) believes that the formation of this Unit was primarily intended to stop international human rights pressure on the government, while the reality shows a deliberate avoidance of real reforms that are at the heart of the recommendation.

    The torture allegations has always been one of the most important and concerning issues regarding human rights in Bahrain. These allegations have been documented by well-respected human rights organizations in their statements and reports, including Human Rights Watch, which issued in February 2010, a detailed report entitled "Torture Redux: the Revival of Physical Coercion during Interrogations in Bahrain," The report was based on interviews with former detainees in addition to forensic reports and the courts which proved that the officials has practiced torture in an attempt to extract confessions from suspects in security cases. This report, considered along with the recommendations made in the report of the BICI constitutes clear evidence on the existence of practices of ill-treatment and torture. There is also evidence that responsibility lies throughout the chain of command, those individuals must be held accountable while victims are provided with compensation; these points are a test of the will of the authorities in working towards true reconciliation, but the government of Bahrain continues to ignore the claims of torture while torturers are set free to continue practicing violations against citizens voicing their opposition to the government. The King of Bahrain is therefore responsible for the outbreak of the policy of impunity and the protection of violators.

    The BCHR believes the lack of accountability of the torturers whom were mentioned by name in the report from Human Rights Watch, is what prompted the continuation of the practice of torture as a means to extract confessions in the absence of an accounting policy and legal accountability. The number of victims that have suffered from this policy has doubled since February 2011. The former head of the National Security Khalifa bin Abdullah Al Khalifa and the current Minister of the Interior Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, amongst others, are senior officials who have not been held accountable for the serious allegations against them, and in some cases senior officials have been promoted within the government instead of facing trial.

    Mubarak bin Huwail was facing a lawsuit regarding the torture of medical staff and others. He was visited in his home by Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, and was informed that the law cannot be applied to him similarly to how it can not be applied to the royal family. Such statements make the presence of institutions such as the Special Investigations Unit at the Public Prosecution a clearly powerless institution, which functions to serve the system by which it was established.

    The Complicity of the Public Prosecutors in Covering up the Torture Crimes

    Detainees and activists have filed complaints over the years against the collusion between the Prosecutors and the Criminal Investigations Unit in concealing crimes committed by the authorities, and in particular of the torture practices. The interrogation of the detainees in the majority of cases are conducted at dawn and without the presence of their lawyers, leaving the detainees under great pressure to confess to charges they did not commit. In some cases, the Public Prosecutor has ignored allegations documented the testimonies of the detainees about torture or documentation that shows clear marks of torture on the bodies of the detainees. Many of those whom were detained and tortured refrained from filing a complaint against their torturers either in fear of being subjected to torture again or due to the lack of confidence in the fairness and impartiality of the judiciary in Bahrain, particularly in light of widespread policy of impunity and the acquittal of the torturers.

    The BCHR has received information that approximately 150 detainees were subjected to torture and did not file a complaint. Instead, they only spoke in front of a judge about the torture they suffered, but the judges did not open an investigation into the claims. The BCHR has also received information which states that nearly 200 detainees over the course of the last two months have complained to the Public Prosecutors about being subjected to torture at the hands of the investigators and their assistants at the building of the Criminal Investigations. The prosecutors did not seek to investigate these allegations despite the fact that in many cases there were clear marks of torture on the bodies of some of the detainees. Any mention of the allegations by the prosecutors used the term "ill-treatment" instead of torture while documenting the record of the investigation with the detainee.

    Ahmed Bucherry (pictured) is one of the Prosecutors whom the detainees have complained about their violations and complicity with the Criminal Investigations to force the detainees to confess on malicious and fabricated charges. Among these victims is the detained human rights defender Naji Fateel, who stated that Bucheery returned him to prison receive further torture when he refused to confess to the charges against him and requested to be interrogated in the presence of his lawyer. As well, the detainee Taleb Ali stated that was threatened by Bucheery, which makes the prosecutor a clear partner in the crime of torture.

     

     

    Complaints of Torture

    The BCHR notes that the prosecutors deliberately look for reasons that the police officers accused of abuse to register the case as a matter of self-defense without referral to the court. The BCHR reviewed several complaints of torture that have been submitted to the Special Investigations Unit where the investigation did not reach any result. The complaints filed have not limited the continued violations against the rights of the detainee in the period of detention and trial.

    First Case: Jalila AlSalman

    Jalila AlSalman (Vice President of the Bahrain Teachers' Association) was arrested on March 29, 2011 and her detention lasted for more than five months during which time she subjected to torture and ill-treatment, and underwent a military trial on charges relating to calling for a teacher’s strike in 2011. She was sentenced to three years imprisonment based on coerced confessions. AlSalman filed a complaint of ill-treatment to the Public Prosecutor of the Central Region in July 2011, and has documented her torture case at the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI). She also filed a complaint again in 2012 when she learned that the first complaint was not registered. Jalila AlSalman has stated the names of the government officials involved in the ill-treatment or torture she was subjected to, which includes:

    Issa AlMajali (Officer at the Criminal Investigations): Responsible for taking AlSalman to a solitary confinement for ten days at the Criminal Investigations Building, and for forcing her to confess under duress through beatings and threats of rape, and blowing cigarette smoke at her face to the point where she fainted, for not providing her with medical treatment when she lost consciousness, and for preventing her from taking her medicine.

    First Lieutenant AlManaai: Responsible for the beatings, threats and coercing AlSalman to sign confession papers during the investigation in the Military Prosecution in the Military Justice at the Defense Force.

    ● A number of the policewomen who ill-treated AlSalman in detention deliberately  insulted and cursed her religion, prevented her from performing prayers, using the bathroom, and continuously forced her to stand for a long period of time, beat her, and deprived her of both food and water.

    ● A doctor at the Fort Clinic (clinic dedicated to the prisoners), was involved in removing the tooth of AlSalman without anesthesia.

     

    AlSalman has stated the names of personalities who are close to the authorities or working in a governmental non-military institutions whom were involved in abusing her, including:

    • Faisal Folath (human rights activist in a ‘government organized NGO’): Followed up with the videotaping of AlSalman confessions and assisted in covering up the violations he witnessed, such the beating and threats to force AlSalman to confess in front of the camera.

     

    • Director Ahmad AlMiqlah (Ministry of Information Officer): was responsible for filming confessions, and the review confessions to make sure they conform to the government’s allegations.

    Despite repeated requests from AlSalman’s lawyer before the court to consider the complaint of torture, the Court of Cassation in July 1, 2013 supported the ruling of the Supreme Court of Appeal against AlSalman, and she was sentenced to six months  in prison. All of this proceeded without consideration of her complaints of torture or prosecuting any of the individuals involved in her mistreatment; to date, no one has been held accountable.

     

    Second Case: Adnan AlMansy

    Adnan AlMansi was arrested on May 30, 2012, and was transferred to the Criminal Investigations Unit.  AlMansi informed the Public Prosecutor about the torture he underwent during his detention, and explained how he was forced to confess to crimes he did not commit. His testimony was ignored by the court and was not even documented. AlMansi's lawyer filed a complaint at the Special Investigations Unit in July 2012 in regards to his ill-treatment, torture, and forced confession. AlMansi stated in the complaint the names of the government officials whom were involved in his torture, including Issa AlMajali and Farid Ismail.

    AlMansi added that he was forced to stand under the sun for an hour, and was deprived of water. His lawyer submitted a report about her client that included the fact that he was "subjected to rape by the officials of the Ministry of the Interior causing him bleeding in the anal area". In addition, AlMansi was severely beaten on the head, causing temporary paralysis and a lasting headache. In addition to all of this, AlMansi was denied access to adequate medical treatment for the injuries caused by his torture.

    Instead of investigating the complaint, the lawyer who spoke to the media about what happened to her client, was interrogated. In spite of the filed investigation complaint, the court continued to proceed with the case against Adnan AlMansi; the proceedings are still ongoing.

     

     

    Third Case: Imad Yassin Abdulhussain

    Imad Yassin was arrested in November 2011 from the State of Qatar, and was handed over to the Bahraini authorities. In September 2012 Imad's lawyer filed a complaint to the Special Investigations Unit stating that his client was subjected to physical and psychological torture at the Criminal Investigations Building by the interrogators Issa AlMajali and Fawaz AlAmadi. The complaint included information that Yassin was severely beaten all over his body and was held in a small cell in solitary confinement where prison guards threw dozens of cockroaches inside the cell. Throughout this period, his hands were tied behind his back, he was denied sleep, and was blindfolded by a piece of cloth even though there was no source of light in the room where he was held. In addition, Yassin was deprived of access to the bathroom, and was threatened to be tortured with a power drill if he did not confess to the charges against him which relate to forming and joining a terrorist cell.

    Imad Yassin was sentenced in May 2012 to 15 years in prison. Despite the complaint of torture in September 2012, the Supreme Court of Appeal continued the proceedings of the case without the investigating the torture allegations, and continued to ignore the lawyer’s request to halt the proceedings. He was sentenced to prison without any reference during the trial to those who were involved in his torture.

    The BCHR also notes the recurrence of the name of the officer Issa AlMajali in complaints of torture, and the BCHR still receives complaints about cases of torture against detainees at the hands of the same officer. The Special Investigations Unit has still not taken any serious actions to investigate these complaints.

    These cases represent only a small sample of the torture complaints submitted to the Investigations Unit that have not resulted in any action. A longer list of cases can be found at the end of this report.

    In regards to the conditions of the prison of the convicted, the Special Investigation Unit announced in June 2013 that it ordered the political leader who was sentenced to life imprisonment, Hassan Mushaima, to visit doctors to follow-up on his health and conduct all medical examinations required in accordance with the regulations and procedures of the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation. However, at the time of writing this report, Mushaima is still being prevented from receiving the medical treatment he needs outside of the prison. The authorities claim that they are allowed to prevent his medical treatment because Mushaima refuses to wear the prison uniform. There are serious concerns that a cancerous tumor has returned to his body as he has not received the recommended treatment since his arrest in March 2011.

    Cases of Extrajudicial Killings

    Nawaf Hamza, Head of the Special Investigations Unit, announced in April 2012 that the Unit will investigate 15 cases related deaths that occurred in 2011. However justice was not realized in any of these cases. It is notable that the Public Prosecution deliberately discredited the evidence and testimony provided by lawyers, or stated by the detainees, in cases against the security forces, as occurred in the case of two victims whom were murdered at the hands of security forces in the wake of demonstrations in February 2011: Ali AlMoumen and Essa Abdulhassan.

    At other times, the Public Prosecutor transferred cases of deliberate killings by the security forces against citizens whom are exercising their legitimate right to peaceful protest, as happened in the case of the victim Hani Abdulaziz. The Supreme Court of Appeal reduced the penalty of Abdulaziz's killer, Lieutenant Mohammed AlKharsham, from seven years' imprisonment to six months after he was charged with beating the victim to death. In the same context, the same court has acquitted staff of the Ministry of the Interior (MoI) from the case of the murdered victim Fadel AlMatrook after they shot him "inadvertently" as they alleged. Other sources confirmed that the witness to the killing, Mohammed AlMushasnah, was arrested as an act of revenge for his testimony and sentenced to life imprisonment after he presented to the court a video which proves the involvement of the security forces. AlMushasnah also identified the killer in the courtroom and pointed him out without fear or hesitation. It is worth mentioning that the judge Ebrahim AlZayed, who sentenced AlMushasnah to life imprisonment, is the same judge who who sentenced Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, to three years imprisonment in retaliation for his human rights work. He is also the judge who acquitted the two policemen who killed Ali AlMoumen and Essa Abdulhassan.   

    In a clear indication of how the government of Bahrain has sought to hide the hum,an rights violations and the lack of accountability for torturers, Bahrain canceled in April 2013 the visit from the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Mr. Juan Mendez which was scheduled to take place from 8 to 15 May 2013. In an official statement, Mr. Méndez stated: “This is the second time that my visit has been postponed, at very short notice. It is effectively a cancellation as no alternative dates were proposed nor is there a future road map to discuss.”

    In a comment on the performance of the Special Investigations Unit of the Public Prosecution, the head of the Monitoring and Documenting Unit at the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Said Yousif AlMouhafdah, has stated “The establishment of the Unit was for nothing more than a tool to stop the international pressure to implement the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report” and he considered its establishment an effort to avoid accountability for the human rights violators, especially those at high positions in the country.

     

     

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

    • Serious and impartial investigation into claims of torture made ​​by detainees, especially in political cases and the cases of conscience.
    • To allow the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture to visit Bahrain and document the torture testimonies.
    • Accountability for those responsible for the violations over the past years no matter how high their positions in government may be.
    • Compensation for the victims of violations, which befits the extent of their suffering.

    The following list details the names of a selection of the individuals whom were interrogated regarding torture claims in the Special Investigations Unit at the Public Prosecution; justice has not been achieved for any one on this list: 

     

    Number

    Name

    Other Details

    1

    Mohammed Mirza Rabea

    Was subjected to torture at the Criminal Investigations Building and at the Samaheej Police Station (2012)

    2

    Raihana Abdulla AlMousawi

    Was subjected to torture at the Criminal Investigations Building (2013)

    3

    Abduali AlSinkais

    Was subjected to torture at the Criminal Investigations Building (2013)

    4

    Adnan AlMansi

    2012

    5

    Mohammed Ismail Mahdi

    Was subjected to torture at Roundabout 17 Police Station  (2013)

    6

    Mubarak Abbas

    Was subjected to torture at the Central Police Station  (2013)

    7

    Mohammed Salman Matrook

    2013

    8

    Imad Yassin

    2012

    9

    Aqeel Abdulmihsin AlJamri

    2013

    10

    Mahdi Abu Deeb

    2013

    11

    AbdulAziz AbdulRedha AlSaqay

    2012

    12

    Hassan AlMkharaq

    2012

    13

    Salman AlMkharaq

    2012

    14

    Ali AlSinkais

    2012

    15

    Jaffer Sahwan

    2012

    16

    Fatima Khudhair

    2012

    17

    Murtadha AbdulAli Khatam

    2013

    18

    Aamir Abdulnabi Badaw

    2013

    19

    Salah Abari

    2012

    20

    Ghusoon AlSayed Hamza Khalaf

    2012

    21

    Qassim Hassan Mattar

    2012

    22

    Khulood AlDirazi

    2012

    23

    Muhammed Aqeel Mahdi

    2012

    24

    Hassan AlAjooz

    2012

    25

    Dr. Najah Khalil

    2012

    26

    Dr. Nairah Sarhan

    2012

    27

    Mahmood Saleh

    2012

    28

    Jalila Salman

    2012

    29

    Said Yousif AlMuhafdah

    2012

    30

    Mohammed Aatiyah

    2012

    31

    Mahmood Ali Slaman Naseef

    2012

    32

    Jaffar AJamri

    2013

    33

    Sayed Hashim Ahmed Hashim

    He filed a complaint in June 2012, and was released, then he was targeted for another case and got tortured as well and he filed another complaint in June 2013.

    34

    Miqdad Saeed AlJazeeri

    2013

    35

    Muhammed Shamlooh

    2012

    36

    Ahmed Alwidaqee

    2012

    37

    Khulood AlSayad

    2012

    38

    Dr. Sadiq Jaffer

    2012

    39

    Dr. AbdulShaheed

    2012

    40

    Fadheela Khudhair

    2012

    41

    Dr. Nada Dhaif

    2012

    42

    Sanaa Zain AlDeen

    2012

    43

    Dr. AArif Rajab

     

    44

    Mohammed Abdulameer Mushaimaa

    2012

    45

    Sayer Jaffer Abdulla Salan

    2012

    46

    Ali Khalil Hubail

    2012

    47

    Ali Jaffer AlShaikh

    2012

    48

    Sayed Hussain Ali Nasser AlMousawi

    2012

    49

    Mohammed Hassan Salman Aashoor

    2012

    50

    Fadhil Abbas Mohammed Aashoor

    2012

    51

    Zakariya Aatiyah Saleh

    2012

    52

    Abduallah Abdulnabi Abdullah

    2012

    53

    Mohammed Ebrahim Ramadhan Hantoosh

    2012

    54

    Husssain Ali Mosa Hassan

    2012

    55

    Murtadha Hassan Ali AlMotwa

    2012

    56

    Mahmood Ali Moosa Hassan

    2012

    57

    Hassan Ali Mahdi Ramadhan

    2012

    58

    Hassan Ahmed Abdullah AlHanan

    2012

    59

    Hussain Ahmed Abdullah AlHanan

    2012

    60

    Hassan Ali Hasssan

    2012

    61

    Ali Radhi Rabea

    2012

    62

    Ali Ismail Ebrahim AlHayki

     

    63

    Sayed Hussain Hashim Abdulllah

     

    64

    Hussain Ali Hassan AlSaeed

     

    65

    Sadiq Aashoor Hasssan

     

    66

    Mohammed Altajir

    2013

     

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights Acting Vice President and Head of Documentation, Said Yousif Al-Muhafdah, spoke at a side event at the UN Human Rights Council hosted by Human Rights Watch yesterday. Al-Muhafdah addressed human rights issues in Bahrain, and focused on the lack of implementation of the Universal Periodic Review recommendations, and specifically the right to freedom of expression and the right to assembly in Bahrain.

     

    Nicholas McGeehan from Human Rights Watch also spoke at the event, and the BCHR's Acting President Maryam Al-Khawaja, who was present in the audience, wrote about his presentation:

     

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    The full text of Said Yousif Al-Muhafdah's speech, delivered in Geneva on 16 September 2013, is as follows:

     

     

     

    Last year I delivered a speech here at the Human Rights Council in Geneva during a side event, and before going back to my country, our photos were already published in the newspapers and we were threatened. A few weeks after our arrival back in Bahrain, I got arrested… Let's see what happens this year…

    My speech today is about the lack of implementation of the Universal Periodic Review recommendations, specifically the right to freedom of expression and the right to assembly in Bahrain.

    Recommendation number 98 from the United States of America was about dropping all charges related to freedom of expression. Recommendation number 91 from Slovakia and recommendation 100 from the Czech Republic was about the immediate release of detainees who have participated in peaceful protests. Recommendation 159 from Switzerland called for the release of those held on charges related to freedom of expression.

    . The government claimed that it dropped all charges related to freedom of expression against political detainees, but in reality, continues to arrest people for participating in peaceful protests or for expressing their views. Others who were already in prison on charges related to freedom of expression and assembly, have not been released. An example is the case known as the Bahrain 13, which is the case of the political and human rights leaders Human Rights Watch released a detailed report about how the entire case was based on charges related to freedom of expression, and no evidence had been provided of any criminal charges other than confessions under torture.

    Dr. Ali AlEkry and Male Nurse Ebrahim AlDimistany are still behind bars for treating injured protesters and participating in the medics protest at the Pearl Roundabout.

    The President of the Bahrain Teachers Association, Mahdi Abu Deeb, is still behind bars because he called for a strike after attacks on students and schools.

    The president of our organization, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab, is still behind bars on charges of calling for peaceful protests. 

    There are many other examples which I cannot mention due to the time limit.

     

    The following are examples of people who were arrested after the UPR recommendations because of their opinions or for exercising their right to assembly:

    Five citizens were sentenced between six months and a year for criticizing the king of the country on Twitter, noting that the king of Bahrain is a key player in the executive authority, and criticizing the performance of the executive authorities is a guaranteed right, especially that he is the one who appoints the government, the ministers, the senior positions in the ministries.  He is also the one who appoints the judges and the prosecutors, and the one who appoints forty members of the Shura Council. but most importantly, he changed the constitution in 2002 to the current one that does not comply with international standards regarding civil and Political Rights,

    Recommendation number 158 from Spain called for putting an end to the targeting of human rights defenders. Unfortunately attacks on human rights defenders have escalated since then. I personally got arrested for a month because of tweeting and other Human Rights Defenders were targeted as well like Mohammed AlMaskati who is being tried for exercising his right to protest in the capital, and the of arrest human rights defender Naji Fateel who was severely tortured and imprisoned under the law of terrorism, and the arrest of blogger Nader Abdulimam, and blogger Mohamed Hassan and photographer Hussain Hubail and the arrest of lawyer Moosa Abdulaziz because of tweeting that he saw marks of torture on blogger Mohammed Hassan. Hundreds were arrested this year for exercising their right to expression, including women and children.

    Recommendation 14 from France called for the ratification of the Convention relating to the protection of citizens from Enforced Disappearances, and recommendation 33 from Morocco is to add articles on enforced disappearances in the domestic law. The BCHR recently released a report on enforced disappearances documenting how it is a systematic policy to subject those arrested to enforced disappearance during which they are usually ill-treated and or torture.

    Recommendation number 148 relates to the freedom expression  is about allowing foreign media access to Bahrain, yet dozens were not allowed to access Bahrain, especially the day before the protests on August 14.

    Recommendation number 60, 61 and 160 are all related to the right of peaceful assembly, but the king issued a blanket ban on all protests in the capital Manama in August.

    The Government of Bahrain continues to use excessive force against most protests, then subjects areas that witnessed protests to collective punishment. By collective punishment I mean the practice of shooting teargas inside homes, cars, and the beating of villagers and the kidnapping of young people and torturing them in unofficial torture centers only because they exercised their right to assembly. To add to that, authorities have resorted to locking down entire villages using barbed wire and cement blocks to prevent protesters from reaching the main roads and to make arrests easier.

     Recommendation number 102 was to reform the police and not to use force, but as an individual who documents the violations on the ground in Bahrain, there isn’t any reform. There is a widespread culture of impunity and high orders to practice violations as there are dozens of videos and pictures showing how the police torture, steal, and attack public and private properties.

     The Prime Minister of Bahrain even went to the extent of visiting an officer Mubarak Bin Huwail who was acquitted of torture charges against medics despite sufficient evidence, thanking him for his job and reminding him that the laws are not applied to him.

    Recommendation number 66 called for cooperating with the United Nations mechanisms. The High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay mentioned  in her opening speech of this session about the lack of cooperation and the effective cancellation of the visit of the Special Rapporteur of torture as recommendation number 59 had urged for allowing the Special Rapporteur on torture to visit Bahrain in 2012.

    In the month of July the national assembly which is supposed to represent the people, issued recommendations for amendments to the law that further restricts basic human rights. The king, crown prince and prime minister called for the hesty implementation of these recommendations.

    Recommendations:

    We thank the 47 countries who signed on to the joint statement on Bahrain, but as this is the third joint statement, we appeal to you to support a resolution on Bahrain in the next session.

    Follow up on the implementation of the BICI and UPR recommendations here at the Human Rights Council to show Bahrain that their claims of implementation are not enough.

     

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Right's Acting President, Maryam Al-Khawaja, delivered an intervention at the Human Rights Council's 24th Session today under Item 4. The full text of her statement is below:

    24th  session of the

    Human Rights Council

    Item4        

     

    Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention: Bahrain

    17 September 2013

    Delivered by Mariam Al-Khawaja

     

    Thank you Mr. President,

     

    My name is Maryam Alkhawaja, acting president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, speaking on behalf of our partners CIVICUS and CIHRS.

     

    The human rights situation in Bahrain unfortunately continues to deteriorate. In July law amendments were made that further infringe on people’s basic rights to free assembly and free expression. The Ministry of Justice announced a new decision that any meetings between political societies and foreign embassies must be announced to the ministry and they have the right to sit in on these meetings.

     

    Since mid-February until now we have documented at least 1200 arbitrary arrests, including women and children, some being tried under the terrorism law. In August alone, we documented at least 400 house raids. The visit of the spevial rapportear has been effectively cancelled and torture is rampant and systematic. Most of those arrested are subjected to enforced disappearance that last from several hours and sometimes up to a week, during which people are ill-treated at times amounting to torture.

     

    In this context CIVICUS and CIHRS stand in solidarity with imprisoned human rights defenders in Bahrain: Nabeel Rajab, Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja, Zainab Al-Khawaja and Naji Fateel who was severely tortured following his arrest in May this year.

     

    Reprisals are still ongoing, just yesterday activists here at the council were photographed repeatedly despite requests to the person to stop. We thank the 47 countries that signed the joint statement on Bahrain, but it is time to take it a step further, we urge that there be a resolution on Bahrain next session.

     

    Thank you Mr. President

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    The Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) and Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) express their grave concern over the continued attacks and harassment, including arrests and ongoing detention, of human rights defenders in Bahrain.

    On 6 September 2013, Hussain Ali Abdul Nabi (20 years old) – a member of the Documentation Team of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) - was arrested from his friend's house. He was subject to enforced disappearance for several days. On 10 September, the public prosecution ordered the detention of Abdul Nabi for 45 days pending investigation on charges of "illegal gathering" and targeting policemen.

    Abdul Nabi is not the only human rights defender facing criminal charges as part of a campaign that targets human rights defenders in Bahrain with defamation and fabricated charges in order to hinder their work. Naji Fateel, a board member BYHRS, remains detained since 2 May 2013 on charges of “establishing a terrorist group for the purpose of disturbing public security, disabling constitution and law, preventing public institution and authorities from performing their duties, attacking public and personal rights, and harming national unity,” under the internationally condemned Terrorism Law. On 23 May 2013, Fateel was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for “illegal assembly”, while he is expecting a verdict on the other charges on 29 September 2013. In his first court hearing, which was held on 11 July 2013, Fateel talked publicly about the torture he was subjected to and took his shirt off to show the torture marks on his back. However, instead of  taking action to carry out an immediate, impartial and thorough investigation into the allegations of torture, the judge did not allow the defendants to complete their testimonies and refused to take note of their allegations. (For more information please see:  http://bahrainrights.org/en/node/6227).

    In addition, the GCHR and BCHR are concerned about the health of human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja who is still being kept with criminal prisoners who have Hepatitis A and B. Her family visited her recently and they reported that she has lost a lot of weight and her face looked yellow. Hepatitis A and B are contagious diseases and authorities at the prison rejected many requests made by Al-Khawaja to get the vaccine which puts her at great risk of infection. Al-Khawaja is serving multiple prison sentences at Isa women’s prison, and expected to remain imprisoned until February 2014 on different charges including entering a restricted area (the Pearl Roundabout) and “illegal gathering”. It is important to note that all prisoners eat together from the same food, which puts them at higher risk of contagion. To add to that, Al-Khawaja has been prevented from going outdoors since March 2012, which increases risks of infection and puts her health at risk.

    The GCHR and the BCHR call on the US administration, as well as other governments that have influence in Bahrain including the UK government, the EU and leading human rights organizations, to put pressure on the government of Bahrain to:

    1- Immediately release detained human rights defenders  Hussain Ali Abdul Nabi, Naji Fateel and Zainab Al-Khawaja, as well as all other detained human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience in Bahrain;

    2- Immediately remove Zainab Al-Khawaja from her cell and provide her with vaccination;

    3- Guarantee the legal rights and due process of the prisoners of conscious and victims of torture;

    4- Stop the ongoing daily human rights violations as well as the escalated attacks against human rights defenders;

    5- Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment;

     

    The GCHR and BCHR remind the Bahraini government that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognizes the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 5 (b) “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels  (b)To form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups” and Article 12 (2) “The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is highly concerned regarding the wellbeing of the political detainee, Nadia Ali, who is detained under claims of insulting a member of the security forces. Multiple indications have shown that torture and mistreatment have occurred towards Nadia while in custody.

    Nadia Ali was in her fourth month of pregnancy, in the company of her husband when she was stopped at a checkpoint in Bani Jamra on 29 May 2013. Her husband was arrested, and when she asked about the reason for his arrest, one of the policemen reportedly insulted her and took her identification card. Nadia went to Budaiya police station the following day to collect her card where she was handcuffed, insulted and reportedly beaten by police officers, Sheikha and Hessa.

    A statement was later released by the Ministry of Interior, which stated that Nadia Ali had assaulted a policewoman. Nadia was taken to the office of the public prosecution the following week (6 June), where she was ordered into detention for ten days pending further investigation. She was then transferred to Isa Town women’s prison, where she currently is detained. Her detention has been renewed three times by the public prosecution since she was arrested.

    Her current state of health, according to her family, is weak since she currently is in her last month of pregnancy and suffers from psychological problems. Ali received treatment for these issues prior to her arrest but has not been provided with treatment since being arrested. Nadia has also been losing consciousness and suffering from dizziness. She was taken to Salmaniya Medical Complex on the 15th September 2013 and was admitted under security watch.

    The BCHR calls for Nadia Ali to be immediately released, and that all allegations of ill treatment are investigated and those who are found responsible to be held accountable.

    Urgent Action: Bahrain: Pregnant woman held without charge: Nadia ‘Ali Yousef Saleh

    Bahrain: Number of Women Detained Growing as Crackdown Worsens

     

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    The arrest of the prominent opposition leader Khalil al-Marzouq in Bahrain last night is the authorities’ latest move to tighten the noose on political opposition in the country and silence anyone seen to be critical of the authorities, Amnesty International said.

    “Khalil al-Marzouq is a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned only for of his vehement criticism of the government. He must be immediately and unconditionally released,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    “His arrest is yet another blow to the National Dialogue which the Bahraini authorities have been flaunting as a reason to cancel the visit of the UN expert on torture to the country. However harsh his speech towards the authorities, he should not have been arrested for expressing his views.”

    Khalil al-Marzouq, the Assistant Secretary General of al-Wefaq, the registered political association representing the majority Shi’a population in Bahrain, and former Head of the Legislative and Legal Committee in parliament, was arrested on 17 September.

    He was interrogated by the Public Prosecutor in the presence of a lawyer for seven hours.

    Khalil al-Marzouq has been charged with incitement to violence after he gave speech critical of the government on 6 September at a political rally attended by nearly 6,000 people near the village of Saar. During the speech a masked man passed near the podium and gave him a white flag which Khalil put aside. The flag allegedly symbolises the “14 February Movement”, a loose network of youth groups established in 2011 which has called for the end of the monarchy. Some of the movement’s members are on trial, accused of using violence.

    Amnesty International has reviewed the video of the 6 September speech by Khalil al-Marzooq and the flag incident, but does not believe there is any incitement to violence in them.

    The Public Prosecution ordered Khalil al-Marzouq’s detention for 30 days pending an investigation. If convicted he faces a lengthy jail sentence and the possibility of his nationality being revoked.

    Khalil and al-Wefaq have repeatedly stated that they are against the use of violence and are committed to achieving change through peaceful means.

    “Over recent months, the Bahraini government has increased its threats and attacks against political associations which are critical of the government, in particular al-Wefaq. This must stop and Bahrain’s allies can no longer hide behind the National Dialogue to mute their criticisms under the pretext that it could derail the process,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

    This latest arrest comes only days after a joint statement by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in Bahrain, signed by 47 countries, expressed concerns about the ongoing human rights violations in Bahrain.

    As a response to Khalil al-Marzooq’s detention and other serious ongoing human rights violations the political opposition associations have today announced their decision to suspend their participation in the National Dialogue which had just resumed after two months of summer break.

    In July the King issued several decrees which, among other things, banned demonstrations, sit-ins and public gatherings in Manama indefinitely and toughened punishments laid out in the 2006 anti-terrorism legislation. In early September the Minister of Justice issued a decree adding new restrictions on political associations. Political associations must now notify the Ministry of Justice three days before any meeting with a foreign diplomat and must take place in the presence of an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

     

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/bahrain-khalil-al-marzouq-arrested-2013-09-18 

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