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    A Bahraini court again denied bail to a leading Bahraini human rights activist on Tuesday and delayed his trial on charges of spreading false news, a pro-opposition rights group reported.

    The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy said Nabeel Rajab's trial was postponed to June 12, extending his period of pre-trial detention - much of which was spent in solitary confinement - to roughly a year.

    Authorities at Bahrain's information affairs office could not immediately be reached for comment on the case.

    Continue reading here.

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    Today the trial of Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been pushed back yet again, this time until 12 June 2017. His next trial date will take place just one day shy of a year since he was detained.

    The fifty-four-year-old Rajab is currently detained in Kalaa Hospital following surgical complications from a procedure on 5 April. He has spent most of the past year in solitary confinement, resulting in a deterioration of his health.

    Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of advocacy Bahrain InstUntitled-2itute for Rights and Democracy, said: “Today’s mock trial, in which Nabeel is punished for speaking the truth, shows how desperate Bahrain’s rulers are to silence and punish those who dare to expose the truth. The authorities have treated him in a degrading way for the past year and for what. This would not happen without the green-light from its allies Washington and London. This disastrous policy must be overturned.”

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    A court has ordered the dissolution of Bahrain's main secular opposition group, as the Gulf state continues a crackdown on dissent.

    The National Democratic Action Society (Waad) was accused of "advocating violence, supporting terrorism and incitement to encourage crimes".

    Amnesty International said the allegations were "baseless and absurd".

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    Bahrain’s dissolution of a major political opposition society is the latest troubling move in its blatant campaign to end all criticism of the government, Amnesty International said.

    The secular National Democratic Action Society (Wa’ad) was dissolved today after having issued a statement in February, saying that Bahrain was suffering from a “constitutional political crisis” amid continuous human rights violations. The group was subsequently charged with “advocating violence, supporting terrorism and incitement to encourage crimes and lawlessness”.

    Read more here.

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    Amnesty International has today called on the Bahraini authorities to immediately end the torture and other ill-treatment of human rights defenders and other critics of the government, and to investigate all allegations of torture and other ill-treatment with the intention to bring those responsible to justice through fair trials. The state must end all forms of reprisals it is currently using against human rights defenders and government critics, targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of their freedom of expression.

    This call comes after woman human rights defender Ebtisam al-Saegh described to Amnesty International the torture she was subjected to for around seven hours on 26 May at the National Security Agency (NSA) building in Muharraq.

    Find report to download here.

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    On Tuesday, one of two trials against the Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, who has been imprisoned for almost a year, was postponed for the eighth time. The case against him for “spreading false news” is now due to be heard on 12 June.

    The other trial against him, which has been postponed 13 times, is related to his anti-war messages and for exposing torture in Bahraini prisons. This case is due to be heard on 14 June.

    Rajab’s son, Adam Rajab, told Index on Censorship: “My father is sacrificing himself to see a country which respects human rights, and he is happy to do that. I’m not exaggerating when I say he is unbreakable.”

    Read the full articlehere.

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    On 26 May 2017, human rights defender Ebtisam Al-Saegh was summoned by the National Security Agency (NSA) to Muharraq police station, in the North of the country. She was sexually assaulted by the interrogators. She was also subjected to verbal abuse, and interrogators threatened to rape her if she did not put an end to her human rights activities. Ebtisam Al-Saegh was released at approximately 11.00pm and was immediately taken to a hospital.

    Continue reading here.

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    Authorities in Bahrain have clamped down on dissent in the wake of US President Donald Trump's visit to the Gulf last month -- a move that experts say is no coincidence.

    "The human rights situation was already bad, but the timing of the latest crackdown is striking and it's unlikely to be coincidental," said Jane Kinninmont, senior research fellow at Chatham House.

    Read the full article here.

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    Bahrain should investigate claims by a human rights activist who says she was tortured and sexually assaulted while in detention last week, Amnesty International said on Thursday.

    Bahraini authorities did not immediately comment on the case of Ebtisam al-Saegh who told Amnesty she was held for seven hours at the National Security Agency (NSA) in Muharraq, northeast of the capital, Manama.

    Read more here.

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    Horrifying details are emerging from those detained in Bahrain over the last 10 days. President Trump met the king of Bahrain on May 21 and assured him of an improved relationship with the United States. Two days later a police raid in the village of Duraz left five people dead. Over the last week hundreds of people have been arrested, and dissidents targeted.

    On the afternoon of Friday May 26 human rights defender Ebtisam Al Sayegh texted me, saying she had been summoned for an interrogation that was to start an hour later, at 4pm. It was the third time this year she had been called for questioning, but the atmosphere is dramatically different since Trump met the king. “I know that the situation has changed a lot from previous times,” she said.

    [...]

    She describes how, during those hours, she was severely beaten and punched, and subjected to sectarian abuse. In strong echoes of what happened to many political prisoners in 2011 after thousands of people were arrested following widespread protests for democracy, she reports how she was forced to chant the Bahraini royal anthem and to describe those killed by the police as terrorists. She says she was severely beaten and punched on the head and different parts of the body when she used human rights terms to describe to her work, and that they threatened to harm her children.

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    On 31 May, Bahrain’s High Civil Court ordered the dissolution of the National Democratic Action Society (Wa’ad). The Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs (MOJ) accused Wa’ad of breaching the Law on Political Association. The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) condemns in the strongest possible terms the government of Bahrain’s decision to dissolve the last major political opposition group in its efforts to systematically dismantle the country’s independent political space.

    In March 2017, the MOJ filed a lawsuit to dissolve Wa’ad on allegations of “advocating violence, supporting terrorism and incitement to encourage crimes.” There was no evidence to substantiate the allegations. This came after the government’s decision in July 2016 to dissolve the political society Al-Wefaq, which was at that time the largest political opposition society in the country. Wa’ad and its leaders have continuously stated that they are committed to peaceful means, and oppose violence, whilst denying the charges against them. The Wa’ad party signed the National Declaration of Non-Violence Principles in 2012.

    Consequently, the government of Bahrain continues its crackdown on freedom of association and expression by banning and dissolving Wa’ad in the same way as Al-Wefaq.

    The decision to forcibly dissolve Wa’ad was, according to the Ministry of Justice, based on three cases in which Wa’ad has breached the Law on Political Association. After the dissolution of Al-Wefaq, Wa’ad had expressed solidarity with the group. They had also used the term "Martyrs of the Nations" whilst describing the execution of three men in January 2017. On the anniversary of the 14 February protests, Wa’ad issued a statement saying that Bahrain was in a “constitutional political crisis.”

    Lyn Maalouf, Director of Research at Amnesty International’s Beirut Regional Office, has said that“by banning major political opposition groups, Bahrain is now heading towards total suppression of human rights.” The forcible dissolution of Wa’ad demonstrates that Bahrain is continuing to flagrantly attack freedom of expression and association in spite of recent recommendations made at the United Nations Universal Periodic Review.

    The Bahraini government has also targeted individuals who are members, and leaders of, political opposition parties. On 20 March, the leader of Wa’ad, Ebrahim Sharif, was charged with "inciting hatred against the regime" under article 165 of Bahrain's penal code for messages he wrote on social media. Sharif was previously imprisoned from 2011 to 2015, and then again from 2015 to 2016 on similar charges stemming from his involvement in the pro-democracy movement and speeches he delivered. Sharif now faces up to three more years in prison if convicted of the charges against him. The seven tweets presented as evidence by the public prosecution covered a variety of topics. The posts on social media included a response to a statement by Tunisia’s Minister of Interior and a tweet of Amnesty International campaign materials on Bahraini prisoners of conscience. Sharif was questioned over messages relating to Abdulla Al-Ajooz, a Bahraini teenager who died in February 2017 during arrest. Sharif had questioned the official narrative of Al-Ajooz’s death, and referred to the deceased as a martyr. Sharif’s posts on social media were also critical of the MOJ decision to dissolve political opposition societies in Bahrain.

    BCHR calls for all charges against Ebrahim Sharif to be dropped, and that the government lift restrictions on independent political and civil society space in Bahrain, with a view towards resuming a legitimate process of dialogue. BCHR further recommends that Wa’ad is reactivated, and that there is an open space for political parties and civil society to operate without fear of reprisals.



     

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    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Friday called on the Government of Bahrain to promptly launch an independent, effective investigation into the deaths of five protestors during a security operation last week.

    On 23 May 2017, Bahraini security forces conducted a security operation in Al-Diraz Area, where supporters of Sheikh Isa Qassem, the highest Shia authority in Bahrain, had been holding a sit-in since June 2016. At least five protesters were killed and some 286 individuals were arrested. Official accounts suggest that 19 security personnel were injured. This was the third security operation in the area since December 2016 and the deadliest since March 2011. The operation came two days after a Bahraini Court had handed down a one-year-suspended sentence to Sheikh Isa Qassem on charges related to illegal funding and money laundering.

    - See more at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21684&LangID=E#sthash.83bXZd63.dpuf

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    Today, Sunday4 June, Bahrain’s Ministry of Information Affairs issued an order to suspend the only independent news publication in the country, Alwasat, “until further notice.” The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is extremely concerned about the suspension of Alwasat and the increasingly harsh crackdown on press freedom, and those peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.

    According to the paper’s editor, Mansoor Al-Jamri, on 4 June Bahrain’s Ministry of Information Affairs (MIA) initially issued the order for the closure of Alwasat verbally, and then later in a statement issued by the state-run Bahrain News Agency. The statement referred to a column published in its daily edition on 4 June that the state alleged would stir divisions in the country, would negatively affect the relations of the kingdom of Bahrain with other countries, and demonstrated Alwasat’s “recurrent violation of the law”.

    Al-Jamri identified the story as a column on page 19 of its Sunday edition which focused on protests that have taken place recently in northern Morocco, in the town of El Hoceima. An area which has been subject to unrest since October.

    Alwasat, established in 2002, is the only independent newspaper in Bahrain, and has been subjected to repeated acts of harassment. In 2010 it was banned from broadcasting audio reports, and interviews on its website. Alwasat has been closed suddenly on three occasions. In April 2011 during the crackdown on civil society that followed the February 14 protests,  the MIA suspended the newspaper from publishing for a day, and only allowed its activities to resume after the resignation of senior staff. In 2015 the publication was suspended a second time for a total of two days, allegedly because the paper had used the term “martyrs” in a report on Bahraini military casualties in Yemen. The following year, in January 2016, the MIA banned all newspapers from using the online media tool, Youtube, for video reports, and Alwasat was forced to close its video section until  August 2016.  Most recently, in January, the newspaper was briefly banned from publishing content online, effectively suspending its online presence, allegedly for “inciting spirit of division and harming national unity.” The print edition was not suspended from publication. The suspension was linked to its decision to lead its 16 January print edition with frontpage headlines of the 15 January execution. The article featured photos of the executed victims, reported on popular reactions on the streets and featured the views of independent local and international NGOs.

    Press freedom in Bahrain is severely restricted, foreign journalists have been denied entry to the country, whilst local international media correspondents have been prevented from working with foreign news agency’s. Nazeeha Saeed, a correspondent for France 24 and Radio Monte Carlo Doualiya was recently charged with practicing journalism without a license, after her request for a permit renewal was rejected, Saeed was fined in absentia.

    BCHR urge the Government of Bahrain to:

    • Immediately revoke the closure of Al-Wasat newspaper and allow it to use all means of information transfer and sharing

    • Stop the continued crackdown on newspapers and journalists to guarantee a safe environment for them to exercise their duty to the fullest, free from pressure or intimidation

     

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    Overshadowed by the influence of its wealthier Gulf neighbours and the drama of the massive conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, the tiny island kingdom of Bahrain has nonetheless been plagued by unrest since the Arab Spring protests of 2011. 

    Dozens of pro-democracy protesters were killed in the initial uprising against the Sunni minority government; perfunctory attempts by the regime to start a dialogue with activists failed after government infighting about how best to deal with the problem.  

    While the new political opposition became less vocal in the wake of successive crackdowns, it has never really gone away, instead morphing into increasingly sectarian movements.

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    Bahrain shut down a prominent independent newspaper Sunday “until further notice” over an article about unrest in Morocco, the latest move tightening expression in the Gulf nation as authorities wage a crackdown on dissent.

    The sudden closure of the daily Al-Wasat marks the third time authorities have ordered it to stop publishing a print edition since the island’s 2011 Arab Spring protests and comes just after officials briefly banned it in January from publishing online.

    Bahrain’s Information Affairs Authority issued the order first verbally Sunday and later through a statement published by the state-run Bahrain News Agency, said Mansoor al-Jamri, the paper’s editor-in-chief. The statement said the closure came over a story “affecting the relations of the kingdom of Bahrain with other countries.”

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    Bahraini authorities should revoke an order barring the independent news outlet Al-Wasat from publishing and stop harassing the newspaper and its journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The Ministry of Information Affairs yesterday ordered Al-Wasat to cease publishing in print and online indefinitely, the outlet's editor-in-chief Mansoor al-Jamri, told CPJ.

    Al-Jamri said that an official from the ministry called an Al-Wasat employee to notify the outlet of the ban and did not offer any reason for the closure. An article about the ban by the official Bahrain News Agency refers to an editorial published in Al-Wasat yesterday that "included the defamation of a sisterly Arab country." Al-Jamri told CPJ that the Bahrain News Agency article may be referring to an op-ed about protests in Morocco's Rif region.

    "Al-Wasat has long been the scapegoat for a government fearful of allowing a free press," said CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney. "This ban should be lifted immediately."

    Read more here.

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is among fifteen campaigners who today raised alarm over the suspension of Bahrain's only independent newspaper, Al Wasat, which has been barred from publishing for four days now. The fifteen rights groups which today wrote letters addressed to ten countries including the UK, state Bahrain is "effectively silencing the media in Bahrain and violating the right to freedom of expression."
     
    The letters, signed by Reporters Without Borders, Committee to Protect Journalists, Article 19, Index on Censorship, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy and ten others wrote to states urging them to "publicly call on the Government of Bahrain to allow Al Wasat to resume publication immediately." 
     
    The letter is addressed to the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Italy and France - who all have embassies in Bahrain - as well as Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the European Union.

    The Ministry of Information Affairs suspended Al Wasat, the only independent newspaper in Bahrain, on 4 June 2017, effectively silencing the media in Bahrain and violating the right to freedom of expression. Al Wasat’s suspension is the latest in a recent spate of reprisals against independent media and civil society actors, including journalists, writers, and human rights defenders.  The state-run Bahrain News Agency claims that the paper is "spreading what would stir divisions within the community and undermine the Kingdom of Bahrain's relations with other countries." Al Wasat was suspended due to the publication of an opinion article regarding widespread protests in Morocco, a source in the newspaper told BIRD. 
     
    Politics in the region has developed quickly since the suspension of the newspaper. On Monday, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates closed diplomatic relations with neighbour Qatar and barred all air, sea and land travel. Yesterday, two Bahrainis were sentenced to death, bring the total up to 15 on death row.
     
    Prior to the suspension of Al Wasat, Bahrain was already counted among the 20 most restrictive countries for press globally, with Reporters Without Borders ranking Bahrain as 164 out of 180 countries in its World Press Freedom Index.
     
    This is the latest in an escalated crackdown on independent civil society. On 23 May, Bahraini security forces raided the village of Duraz, killing five protesters and arrested 286. It is the deadliest incident since protests began in 2011. On 31 May, the last major opposition society, Wa'ad, was dissolved and their assets confiscated. Wa'ad is appealing the decision. The letter continues, "In this context, journalists in Bahrain have expressed to NGOs serious concerns that the newspaper will not be allowed to resume publication." 
     
    Al Wasat, established 2002, is the only independent newspaper in Bahrain. Its editor Mansoor Al-Jamri is winner of the CPJ International Press Freedom Award in 2011 and winner of the Peace Through Media Award 2012. It has been suspended in previous years, in April 2011 and August 2015. In January 2017, the newspaper's website and social media were suspended for two days. it In 2011, Abdulkarim Al-Fakhrawi, one of the paper's founders, was tortured to death in police custody. 
     
    Cat Lucas, Writers at Risk Programme Manager, English PEN: "By silencing the only independent newspaper in the country, the Bahraini authorities are sending a clear message that dissenting voices will not be tolerated. Our governments must send an equally clear message that the suspension of Al Wasat is unacceptable and that a plurality of voices in the media is an essential part of any democracy." 
     
    Melody Patry, Head of Advocacy, Index on Censorship: "The silencing of Al Wasat – the only independent voice in Bahrain's media – underscores the dismal state of human rights in the country. The Bahraini government must allow free and unfettered access to information."
     
    "Bahrain is experiencing a severe crackdown on freedom of expression. Now is the time for the international community to speak up to defend fundamental human rights, in particular the right to freedom of expression, which is crucial for promoting stable, pluralistic democratic societies," said Saloua Ghazouni, Director of ARTICLE 19's Middle East and North Africa regional office.
     
    The Letter can be found in full below: 
     
    We are writing to urge your government to call on Bahrain to end the arbitrary suspension of Al Wasat newspaper. The Ministry of Information Affairs suspended Al Wasat, the only independent newspaper in Bahrain, on 4 June 2017, effectively silencing the media in Bahrain and violating the right to freedom of expression. The newspaper’s suspension comes after an escalation of reprisals against civil society, and the killing of five protesters by Bahraini police in May.
     
    Al Wasat’s suspension is the latest in a recent spate of reprisals against independent media and civil society actors, including journalists, writers, and human rights defenders. In this context, journalists in Bahrain have expressed serious concerns that the newspaper will not be allowed to resume publication.
     
    The suspension comes days after the decision to dissolve Wa'ad, the last major opposition party on 31 May and the raid on Duraz village on 23 May, when five protesters were killed by Bahraini police and 286 arrested in the deadliest policing incident in King Hamad’s reign. Human rights defenders have also been subjected to harassment, torture and sexual abuse in the past weeks.
     
    The Bahrain News Agency reported "The Ministry of Information Affairs suspended Al Wasat newspaper until further notice following its recurrent violation of the law and spreading what would stir divisions within the community and undermine the Kingdom of Bahrain's relations with other countries." This accusation relates to an editorial about ongoing protests in Al-Hoceima, Morocco. Prior to the suspension of Al Wasat, Bahrain was already counted among the 20 most restrictive countries for press globally, with Reporters Without Borders ranking Bahrain 164th out of 180 countries in its 2017 World Press Freedom Index. In April, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and five press freedom groups and media outlets expressed concern over the “seeming attempt to silence independent reporting within the country” by refusing to grant accreditation to Bahraini citizens who report to foreign and independent media, including the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, France 24 and Monte Carlo Doualiya.
     
    Bahrain’s print media consists of five major Arabic-language daily newspapers. Of these, four are strongly pro-government and are owned by figures associated with the government. Al Wasat is the sole exception. Established in 2002 during a period of reforms, Al Wasat takes a critical editorial line and is financially independent of the state. Its editor Mansoor Al-Jamri won the CPJ International Press Freedom Award in 2011 and the Peace Through Media Award in 2012.
     
    It is not the first time that Al Wasat has been suspended. In January 2017, the newspaper was barred for two days from publishing online, though the print version was allowed, following a front-page story on the executions of three individuals. All three individuals were torture victims who had been sentenced to death following unfair trials. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said it was “appalled” by the executions. In August 2015, the newspaper was shut down for two days, allegedly because they did not refer to Bahraini casualties in Yemen as "martyrs". In April 2011, in the middle of the March-June 2011 State of Emergency, the government suspended Al Wasat for one day. Karim Al-Fakhrawi, a co-founder of Al Wasat, was arrested on 2 April 2011 and tortured to death in police custody.
     
    The suspension of Al Wasat muzzles the media, unduly restricting the right to freedom of expression and opinion. As the only independent newspaper in Bahrain, its suspension removes a key voice for public discourse and denies the public the right to access information and diverse views. In the context of current, severe human rights violations occurring in Bahrain, calls for the resumption of the only independent newspaper and the respect for freedom of expression and opinion urgently need to be heard and acted on.
     
    We, the undersigned, urge your government to publicly call on the Government of Bahrain to allow Al Wasat to resume publication immediately.
     
    Yours Sincerely,
     
    Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain
    ARTICLE 19
    Bahrain Center for Human Rights
    Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy
    Committee to Protect Journalists
    English PEN
    European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights
    French PEN Club
    Gulf Center for Human Rights
    Index on Censorship
    Norwegian PEN
    PEN International
    Project on Middle East Democracy
    Reporters Without Borders
     
    Individuals
    Dr. David Andrew Weinberg, Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
    *Organizational affiliation for identification purposes only.

     
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    8 June 2016 – Bahraini courts sentenced two victims of torture to death on Tuesday amid serious concerns that the judiciary failed to uphold basic fair trial and due process guarantees, despite international outcry over recent executions carried out by the Kingdom. We, the undersigned, condemn the authorities’ use of torture and capital punishment and call on the Government of Bahrain to commute these death sentences and investigate all allegations of abuse.

    On 6 June 2017, the 4th Circuit Superior Criminal Court of Bahrain, presided over by Judge Ali Khalifa al-Dhahrani, issued a death sentence against Sayed Ahmed al-Abbar, 21, and Husain Ali Mohamed, 20. Both men were tortured into signing prepared confessions which were then relied on to issue the death sentences against them.

    The two were detained on 24 April 2016 without a warrant by state security forces, most likely agents of the National Security Agency. They are charged with involvement in an incident on 16 April 2016 in the village of Karbabad, in which a military patrol vehicle was torched and a security officer reportedly killed. Important details of this incident remain unverified. Al-Abbar and Mohamed were tried alongside 11 other defendants; they were the only two to receive the death sentence.

    Following their arrest, both men were tortured by the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) at its headquarters in the Manama neighborhood of Adliya. CID interrogators tortured al-Abbar for five days. They punched and cuffed him, kicked him in the head, face, and groin, and applied electrodes to his genitals. One blow to the side of his head caused severe long-term pain in his ear canal, presumably a result of damage to the eardrum. After nearly a week of torture, al-Abbar signed a prepared confession. He was held in solitary confinement for approximately 16 days both before and after the torture sessions. UN human rights bodies have recognized that unjustified solitary confinement is a form of abuse, which can in some circumstances rise to the level of torture. Mohamed was also beaten until he made a confession, and his nose broken in the process.

    Both men have been denied timely and effective medical treatment in the aftermath of their torture. When al-Abbar was briefly seen by a government doctor around early May 2016, the doctor refused to run X-rays and told al-Abbar that he was fine after a cursory physical examination. Before his second doctor’s appointment, which was not granted until a complaint had been filed with the Ministry of Interior Ombudsman, al-Abbar was told by his guards not to mention the beating that had caused the inflammation in his ear canal. He is still waiting for the prison administration to schedule him an appointment to be X-rayed. Mohamed has been in need of surgery to repair his broken nose since his torture in April 2016. On 8 May of this year he had been scheduled for transfer to a hospital, but the prison administration cancelled the appointment without explanation. Following complaints to the Ombudsman and the Special Investigation Unit of the public prosecution office, Mohamed was rescheduled for surgery on 4 June, but the prison administration again failed to carry out the medical transfer on that date.

    The authorities did not present al-Abbar to the Office of Public Prosecution until five days after his arrest on 29 April, violating Bahrain’s own laws, which require that anyone apprehended be brought before a prosecutor within 48 hours (Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 57, ¶ 1). When he was presented to the state prosecutor’s office, al-Abbar was questioned without a lawyer present, contrary to the principle enshrined in Article 20(e) of the Bahraini Constitution that “Everyone accused of a felony shall have an attorney to defend him.”

    Bahraini authorities systematically violate domestic law with impunity from, or the complicity of, the kingdom’s courts. On the same day that Judge al-Dhahrani sentenced these two young men to death, he also barred a defense attorney from asking CID officer Abdulla Mohamed Ramadan why his agency had held another group of defendants for four days without bringing them before a prosecutor. Judge al-Dhahrani, like many other Bahraini judges, has thereby directly abetted the violation of Bahrain’s own legal safeguards of due process.

    There are serious concerns that Judge al-Dhahrani has exhibited bias in several similar cases which have resulted in the death penalty. Judge al-Dhahrani presided over the hearings on Mohammad Ramadan and Hussain Moosa, two Bahraini men facing imminent execution whose trial has been condemned by international bodies for failing to meet the most basic standards of fairness. Both men are victims of torture, used to extract confessions that were relied upon at trial as evidence, in violation of international and domestic law. To date, the Bahraini authorities have failed to investigate in line with their international obligations arising out of the Convention Against Torture.

    The court, the Office of Public Prosecution, and the administrators of Bahrain’s penitentiary and detention system have all prevented al-Abbar from meeting or communicating with his attorney, in violation of the Bahraini Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Art. 14.3, ¶¶ b, d), to which Bahrain has acceded. In addition to violations of due process, there are serious concerns that the prosecution did not investigate the charges against both men impartially, in line with international standards. Al-Abbar was brought, along with several other suspects, to the site where the security forces’ vehicle was torched and ordered to re-enact the prosecution’s version of events on that date while prosecution staff took photographs.

    The judiciary continues to hand down sentences targeting peaceful protesters. In addition to the charges relating to the Karbabad incident, al-Abbar has been sentenced to five years in prison for “rioting,” a charge the Bahraini government routinely issues for participation in peaceful protests. In that trial as well the justice system prevented him from communicating with his attorney. Mohamed has also been sentenced in a second case to one year in prison for “unlawful assembly,” another charge typically related to peaceful demonstrations. Article 178 of the Bahraini Penal Code criminalizes any public “gathering of five or more people” whom the courts determine intended to “infringe public security.”

    The latest death sentences are indicative of a pattern of abuses carried out by the state against persons on death row. On 15 January 2017, the Government of Bahrain executed Ali al-Singace, Abbas al-Samea, and Sami Mushaima by firing squad, ending the Kingdom’s de facto moratorium on capital punishment. All three men were tortured into providing false confessions to a bomb attack that had killed three security officers and their trials were marked by severe due process violations, leading a UN expert to describe the executions as “extrajudicial killings.” There are currently 15 individuals on death row in Bahrain.

    “Once again, the Bahraini judiciary is deeply complicit in grave human rights violations,” comments Husain Abdulla, executive director of Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain. “The court system has made itself an arm of Bahrain’s monarchy and cannot be relied upon to provide even minimal safeguards for detainees in the hands of security agencies. More often, as now, it exploits a veneer of judicial legitimacy to further punish victims of abuse, presuming guilt. It is imperative that international actors demand a moratorium on the death penalty in Bahrain before this latest mockery of justice results in new executions.”

    Signed by:

    Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain

    Bahrain Center for Human Rights 

    Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy 

    European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights 

    Reprieve 

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    Next week the Bahraini human rights activist and Index on Censorship award winner Nabeel Rajab will have spent one year in prison on charges for which he has yet to be sentenced. Almost six months of his imprisonment, which began on 13 June 2016, has been spent in solitary confinement.

    Rajab faces four separate legal charges, the trials for two of which – related to tweets criticising the war in Yemen and torture in Jau Prison, and “spreading false information and malicious rumours” over television interviews he gave in 2015 – have been postponed collectively over 20 times.

    Read in full here.

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    Next week the Bahraini human rights activist and Index on Censorship award winner Nabeel Rajab will have spent one year in prison on charges for which he has yet to be sentenced. Almost six months of his imprisonment, which began on 13 June 2016, has been spent in solitary confinement.

    Rajab faces four separate legal charges, the trials for two of which – related to tweets criticising the war in Yemen and torture in Jau Prison, and “spreading false information and malicious rumours” over television interviews he gave in 2015 – have been postponed collectively over 20 times.

     

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