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    The four Bahraini human rights organisations, Salam Organization for Democracy and Human Rights (SALAM), Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), Bahrain Forum for Human Rights (BFHR) and Gulf In itute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR), call for an urgent inve igation on the recent raid on the peaceful sit-in in Duraz village, we of Manama the capital city, in solidarity with Sheikh Isa Qassim, whose nationality has been arbitrary revoked in June 2016. 

    Read full report here: /sites/default/files/A%20Crime%20Outside%20Coverage.pdf

     

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses great concerns over the increasing complaints of political detainees over depriving them of medical care in Bahrain’s prisons and refusing to take them to hospitals.

    BCHE has documented many cases in which the prisons’ authorities neglected the health-related complaints of the detainees.

    Elias Faisal Al-Mulla, 26 years old, was arrested on the 11th of May 2012, after raiding his house without presenting an arrest warrant. Elias was taken to the General Directorate of Criminal Investigation where he was subjected to psychological and physical torture that included, kicking, deprivation of sleep and food, preventing him from praying, forcing him to stand for long hours and pressing him to sign false confessions. 

    On the 5th of May 2013, Elias was sentenced to 15 years in prison for allegedly killing a member of the security forces and setting fire to a security patrol.

    In May 2015, he started to have a severe stomach ache but he was not taken to the Military hospital until the 1st of August 2015.

    Despite the fact that Elias was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer, and as a result suffering from ongoing vomiting, he was taken back to Jaw Prison [as he told his mother in a phone call]. 

    On the 12th of August 2015, Elias’ doctor informed his mother that he suffers from cancer and that he needs to undergo chemotherapy treatments.

    More about Elias health condition on the following link:

     http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/8411

    Elias’ mother said that her son told her on the phone on the 16th of October 2017, that the administration of Jaw Prison refused to take [his] stool samples to Salmaniya hospital, the main public hospital in Bahrain. The hospital has already instructed to collect these samples on the 10th of September 2017 for examination in order to determine whether Elias  has been cured or not.

    Not collecting and analysing these samples can significantly impact on the type of medications he is supposed to take. Elias was also deprived of getting his medicines which were previously prescribed by the hospital.

    The postponement of collecting and transferring the samples for more than a month and at the same time depriving Elias of medical care have significantly affected his mother, causing her mental disorders.

    His mother said that he has started to suffer from the same symptoms he was suffering from before, such as abdominal swelling, pain on the right side of the upper abdomen and pain in the joints, back and stomach.  He has also been suffering from severe diarrhoea since the 9th of July 2017, which has forced him to refrain from eating. In addition, he is still unable to have rest or sleep because of nausea, constant dizziness, blood clots in ankles and shortness of vision.

    Despite all that both the administration of Jaw Prison and Salmaniya hospital refused to give Elias’ mother any updated medical report about the health status of her son. As a result, on the 17th of October 2017, she has lodged a complaint with the ombudsman and National Foundation for Human Rights over the deterioration of Elias’ health and the delay in allowing access to medical treatment.

    Elias Al-Mulla is not the only one who has been denied medical care as BCHR has documented many other cases in which political detainees complained about being deprived of medical treatment [despite the fact that some of them have chronical diseases such as Sickle Cell Anemia]. It should be mentioned that the detainees usually go on hunger strike in order to be allowed to seek treatment in hospitals or to have access to medical care.

    Ahmad Mirza, 33, who was born with Sickle Cell Anemia revealed to his family on the phone, on the 7th of May 2017 that the authorities in Jaw Prison do not provide the medications that he needs when he has severe pain.

    Ahmad, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison, said that he needs a gallbladder removal surgery. He was supposed to do the surgery in 2016. However, whenever Ahmad had an appointment, the Jaw administration did not allow transferring him to the hospital. The last missed appointment was in March 2017.

    His family said that the health status of their son is deteriorating as the level of the bilirubin reached 985 whereas the natural level should be at 21 only. This, according to doctors during an examination in January 2017, has affected his liver and spleen.

    Ahmed told his family that, although he has sent several letters to the prison’s authorities, demanding to take him to the hospital on time, they have not responded to his calls and letters. On the 3rd of December 2017, his family received a call from him saying that he had severe pain and that he was not taken to the hospital in spite of his insisting requests.

    Habib Yaqoub, 24, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and was born with Sickle Cell Disease, told his family that the authorities of Jaw Prison barely provide medical care although he usually suffers from severe attacks.  This has led to worsen his health condition. 

    Based on the statements and complaints of many political prisoners, BCHR states that this negligence is in violation of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, including article 22 which states, “Sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals. Where hospital facilities are provided in an institution, their equipment, furnishings and pharmaceutical supplies shall be proper for the medical care and treatment of sick prisoners, and there shall be a staff of suitable trained officers.”

    It is also in violation of article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which emphasises on the right to have access to medical care.

    Based on the above, BCHR calls on the government of Bahrain and Commission on the Rights of Prisoners to be adherent to the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners especially when it comes to providing medical care and treatment.  

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    CARAM Asia Bhd (541195‑T)

    5th Floor, Wisma Hamid Arshat, No. 12-5,

    Jalan Bangsar Utama 9, Bangsar Utama 59000,

    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    Tel:(603) 22827708, 22821669 Fax: (603) 22821155

    Email: caraminfo@caramasia.org

    URL: www.caramasia.org

    “Governments need to abide by international rights standards and guarantee migrants’ rights protections.”

    NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations 

    On December 18, 1990, the General Assembly adopted the international Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, and it is on this day we celebrate International Migrants Day. We are supposed to be reminded of the enormous contribution migrants make to the global economy, to societies and communities in both source and destination countries. Instead, we are being reminded of the hardships they face on a daily basis.      

    According to global estimates on migrant workers by the UN and the ILO, there are 244 million international migrants, of which 150 million migrants are in the global workforce and 75 million international migrants are living in Asia. South Asia and Southeast Asia are comprised of many heavily populous, low-income and developing countries, which aim to export manpower to ease unemployment at home and earn foreign exchange in the form of remittances. 

    Despite the enormous contribution of migrant workers to the economies of their host countries and the remittances they send home, which help to maintain their families and boost the economies of their countries of origin, this sizeable population continues to endure hardship in silence.  The obligation of protecting migrant workers’ rights rests equally upon both source and destination countries. Unfortunately, governments commonly treat migrant workers as commodities. As a result, many migrants and migrant domestic workers suffer rights violations at the hands of employers, recruiting agents and other involved actors. Violations range from exploitation in the form of unpaid wages and wrongful dismissal, non-existence of employment contract or contract substitution, withholding of passports by employers, violence in the form of verbal/physical abuses, threats, wrongful arrest and detention, denial of medical care /treatment, and even torture. 

    CARAM Asia, together with its 42 member organizations in 22 countries across Asia, urges all countries sending and receiving migrants to urgently provide protection mechanisms for migrant workers’ and to continue to work for wider ratification and practice of international conventions which provide migrants with rights protections including but not limited to: the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families; ILO Convention 143 (Convention concerning Migrations in Abusive Conditions and the Promotion of Equality of Opportunity and Treatment of Migrant Workers), and ILO Convention 189 for Decent Work for Domestic Workers.

    In the six years since the International Labour Organization adopted Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers in 2011, governments in nearly 50 countries have adopted labour reforms and policies and updated their legislation to provide better employment protection for domestic workers, and 24 countries have already ratified the Convention.  Within Asia Pacific, only the Philippines has ratified Convention 189, meaning that many source countries in the Asia Pacific do not provide their own citizens working as domestic workers proper protections as stipulated under Convention 189. 

    ITUC reports there are over 67 million domestic workers in the world, the vast majority of them women. More than 11 million are migrant workers. Outside the official figures, some 17 million children are believed to be trapped in domestic work, many in conditions of forced labour. As long as domestic work remains unrecognized as formal work and beyond commensurate protections, abuse, sub-par wages and excessive working hours will remain the standard. However, there are some good practices, such as allowing domestic workers to organize into associations or unions in some countries.  However, in some countries there are systems in place like the sponsorship system known as the Kafala system. A system whereby an individual’s right to work and legal presence is dependent on his or her employer.  With tight restrictions on changing employers, this dependency renders workers vulnerable to exploitation. Bad practices, such as travel bans and the Kafala style systems, need to be culled.

    According to the UN Treaty Collection Report, globally only 49 countries have ratified the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.  Again we need to emphasise that Asian countries which send their citizens out to various parts of the world to Asia and Middle East to work have not ratified these important conventions. These countries’ reluctance demonstrates a lack of commitment to securing protections for their citizens who go abroad to work.  It is clear that the objectives of the labour sending countries is to earn foreign remittances at any cost, and for the labour receiving countries it is to get work done with reduced wages regardless of violations of international labour standards.

    Governments are enforcing strict new laws and cracking down on undocumented migrants as a “national security” measure. This is problematic as it catches up those who may be victims of forced labour or trafficking in persons, and those who may be undocumented due to the negligence and/or exploitation by employers or agents and/or syndicates.

    Crackdowns have been implemented in these countries for many years, but this has not helped authorities to solve the problem of regularizing labour migration. It has further victimized this vulnerable group, and left many in detention or deported back home to crushing debts paid to agents in order to have migrated in the first place.  Rather than punish migrants, governments need to address the root causes of migration and resolve systematic issues in the recruitment process which allow agents and middlemen to take advantage of migrants.  

    On September 19, 2016 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a set of commitments during its summit on large movements of refugees and migrants to enhance the protection of refugees and migrants. These commitments are known as the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants (NY Declaration). The NY Declaration reaffirms the importance of the international protection regime and represents a commitment by Member States to strengthen and enhance mechanisms to protect people on the move. It paves the way for the adoption of two new global compacts in 2018: the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

    CARAM Asia feels strongly that the voices of migrant workers should be included in the Global Compact on Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration drafting process, that migrant organisations and communities must be allowed to speak out on their own behalf, and that the Global Compact should be a rights-based document.  Global leaders need to address the root causes of migration and provide decent work opportunities in home countries so that migration becomes an option rather than a necessity, and provide proper protections for those who do chose to migrate. 

    On this International Migrants’ Day, CARAM Asia and all member organizations in migrant sending and receiving countries reiterate our call to all governments to:

    • Ensure that basic human rights are respected for all migrants at all times as per international conventions and protocols;
    • Urgently take steps to ratify both ILO Convention 143 concerning Migrations in Abusive Conditions and the Promotion of Equality of Opportunity and Treatment of Migrant Workers, and ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers;
    • Develop effective systems of global governance on migration which are based on fundamental human rights and putting an end to modern slavery;
    • Reform the private recruiting industry and ensure that it is regulated using ethical practices which uphold the benefits and rights of migrant workers;
    • Incorporate a rights based framework in every bi-lateral or multi-lateral agreement on labour migration and make them legally binding;
    • Stop labour trafficking and bring all racketeers to justice across the migration continuum;
    • Take responsibility to ensure migrant workers access full redress through migrant friendly mechanisms which can bring them justice.

    CARAM Asia (Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility) is a regional network of 42 organizations in 22 countries across Asia and has Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.  

    This statement is issued by:  CARAM Asia Task Force on Migrant Workers’ Rights (MWR).

    18 December 2017

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    One of Bahrain’s most prominent human rights defenders, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who is serving a life sentence for his human rights work, has protested unfair prison regulations. We, the undersigned, call for his release from prison, and barring that, for improved standards in Jau prison.

    Al-Khawaja is the Founder and Former President of both the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), as well as the former MENA Protection Coordinator for Front Line Defenders. He has been held in Jau prison, since his sentencing in 2011, along with other human rights defenders and activists including blogger Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace who collectively make up the Bahrain 13. 

    In the past year, Al-Khawaja and other prisoners of conscience have protested repeatedly about the deteriorating conditions in prison, which mimic the general deterioration of conditions in Bahrain for human rights defenders and civil society. 

    Since 16 October, all of the prisoners’ belongings have been confiscated, reportedly for the purposes of being searched. When Al-Khawaja and others asked for the confiscated items to be returned, they were told “they are still under investigation." On 10 November, the prison authorities restricted all access to television, radio, books, and there are no independent newspapers available. Now, the only newspapers prisoners infrequently receive are government-backed. In addition, family visits have been further restricted so that prisoners are barely able to have a meaningful conversation. At the same time, all phone calls are closely monitored. Meanwhile, prisoners have also lost access to pens or paper, and all daily activities have been cancelled. 

    This complete restriction from all independent outside information, and increased restrictions on limited family contact leaves the prisoners feeling completely cut off from the world while facing further constraint in their daily lives. These steps have reportedly come at the direction of the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior.

    The undersigned are gravely concerned about Al-Khawaja’s claims that the main purpose of these restrictions is “primarily an act of retribution and secondarily for the of isolation - what the authorities are doing is tantamount to psychological warfare.”

    After he sent a letter to the Ministry of Interior in November about the conditions in prison, Al-Khawaja was also denied the right to make any phone calls until 17 December, which the undersigned groups believe appears to be a reprisal against him for raising his complaint. 

    In Al-Khawaja’s letter to the Ministry of Interior, he expressed that:

    1. Even in oppressive countries that arrest, torture and try people, the authorities do not come back after six or seven years to retaliate against the prisoners who are essentially being held hostage because of things happening outside the prison and even outside the country.

    2. What is happening is not a sign of strength and courage, but rather evidence of weakness and fear. It is proof that the person in power is feeling unstable, and because he cannot face the world he retaliates against people he's already holding hostage.

    3. If you think that your actions will affect our determination and spirit, then you are committing a big mistake. On the contrary, it only strengthens our will and makes us more intent on continuing down the path we've chosen because it reaffirms the righteousness of our cause.

    Al-Khawaja and the other high profile activists and human rights defenders have sent many letters of protest about these and previous prison restrictions, including the denial of medication and proper access to healthcare. We the undersigned are alarmed at reports that restrictions to proper medical care are ongoing despite numerous complaints by prisoners as well as international NGOs, the United Nations and other governments.

    Yet every letter the detainees send receives a response dismissing their complaints by contending that the prison authorities are acting "according to the regulations."

    According to Bahrain’s prison rules, male prisoners have the right to two hours of family visits a month (one hour bi-weekly) and a three-hour monthly visit for their spouses. In addition to violating their own prison rules, the government of Bahrain’s treatment of Al-Khawaja is in violation of a number of international legal principles. 

    In particular, the prison authorities have failed to meet the standards set forth by the United Nations in the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (known also as the Nelson Mandela Rules). Rule 43 states that collective punishment is prohibited as torture or cruel treatment, and that the restriction of family contact cannot be used as punishment and can only be limited as strictly necessary for maintenance and order of the prison. 

    The interference with family visits, the confiscation of paper and writing instruments, and the revocation of phone use is in violation of Rule 58, which provides that prisoners are entitled to contact with their family, in writing, telecommunications, and in-person visits. 

    The removal of the television, radio, and newspapers is in violation of Rule 63, which requires that prisoners be informed regularly of important news items. The confiscation of books is also in violation of Rule 64, which states that every prison should keep a library for the use of prisoners. Bahrain has failed to meet each of these minimum standards. 

    The current situation in Bahrain is dire. Human rights defenders are in jail, banned from travel, are in exile or are being intimidated to prevent them from working. Many human rights defenders have been called for interrogation and some have been abused and tortured, leading to some even announcing their intention to quit their human rights work. 

    We the undersigned call on the authorities in Bahrain to:

    1. Immediately and unconditionally free Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and other human rights defenders from prison; 
    2. Provide proper access to medical care and sanitary conditions in prison;
    3. Allow Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and all prisoners proper access to families; and
    4. Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

    Signed by:

    Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)

    Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)

    Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)

    Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)

    Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)

    CIVICUS, World Alliance for Citizen Participation

    FIDH, under the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

    Front Line Defenders

    Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)

    International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

    PEN International

    World Organisation Against Torture, under the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

    Please circulate a link to this appeal using the hashtag #FreeAbdulhadi

    Contacts:

    Minister of Interior

    Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa

    @moi_Bahrain

    Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs

    Shaikh Khalid bin Ali bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa

    @Khaled_Bin_Ali 

     

     

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    BCHR IS  very concerned by the fact that the Bahraini authorities are using the counter-terrorism law to try ordinary civilians before Military courts and is using it as tool to suppress the political opposition. It is important to note that Bahrain is not a country facing pressing security issues or massive terrorist attacks that could justify this amendment of the law. 

    Without posing any security threat, 7 Bahraini citizens are facing a military court this month and at least 2 of them under this new amendment may be sentenced to death penalty. According to BCHR findings most of these citizens were subjected to enforced disappearances, brutally tortured and denied their right to meet with their lawyers and families during the interrogation period.

    Their trials violated the basic principles of fair trials, and the recent amendment on military Court might be used to condemn them to very harsh sentences, including death penalty, as already said. 

    It’s also important to note that three of the accused were detained as children. 

    For us it is clear that Civilians, and children in particular, should not be tried before military courts under any circumstances. 

    We therefore call on the government of Bahrain should urgently transfer civilian cases to the regular courts and to place a moratorium on all death sentences; and ban all use of the death penalty;

    We also call on the EU to Publicly support measures to end the trial of civilians before military courts.

    Watch video here.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1epTyZIAlRHHu0yJH6LooWNL750Gvb1KO/view

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    The general principles of the Comparative International Law and the International Bill on the judiciary and trials warn of trying civilians in military courts or extending the application of special judicial laws in extraordinary cases.

    It is well known and recognized that military courts are those which handle offenses committed by military personnel and associated with their military functions, and this is how the military court was described in the 2002 Constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain, and particularly in section b of Article 105 thereof, which stipulates that,

    “The jurisdiction of military courts shall be confined to military offences committed by members of the Defense Force, the National Guard, and the Security Forces. It does not extend to other persons except when martial law is declared and within the bounds prescribed by law.”

    However, after the report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) was issued – especially paragraph 119, which led to consequent legal effects 5 nullifying the sentences of military courts during the period of the declaration of martial law that was accompanied by human rights violations, and then repeating the trials in civil courts – Bahrain resorted to surpassing this constitutional prohibition by amending Article 105 of the Constitution on March 30, 2017, lifting the constitutional impediment of trying civilians in military courts.

    This constitutional amendment resulted in an amendment to the Military Judiciary Law on April 18, 2017, i.e. after less than twenty days and on an expedited basis. This law expands to make the military judiciary specialized in prosecuting civilians accused in the political cases stated in the Bahraini Penal Code (general law). 

    Full report here

     

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    The signatory human rights organizations express their condemnation over the continued targeting and harassment of human rights defenders and their families. "Human rights defenders have been subjected to systematic and continuous violations, including arbitrary detention, travel bans and torture". Testimonies documented by reliable human rights organizations confirmed the continued target and harassment of also the families of human rights defenders.

    The signatory organizations confirmed that they have monitored and documented the abuse committed by members of the security services against Yunes Ahmed Sultan, a Bahraini citizen, who is also the brother of human rights defender Mohammed Sultan, member of Bahrain Center for Human Rights. This abuse had revealed the extent of the involvement of the security services in targeting and harassing the families of human rights activists, as well as the torture policy that has become systematic, rampant and frequent, accompanied by methods of sexual assault and harassment.

    The latest victim is Yunes, who was subjected to physical and psychological torture and degrading treatment, was indeed sexually assaulted by officer Taher Al Alawi on November 26, 2017 in the Southern Province Police Station (Hamad Town, Roundabout 17). Yunes was coerced to work and cooperate with the security agencies to monitor human rights activity and monitor the activities of human rights organizations cooperating with the United Nations' human rights mechanisms. (The victim's statement is attached with this statement).

    The undersigned organizations demand the Government of Bahrain to open a genuine investigation into this incident and stop the targeting and harassment of human rights activists and their families. The Government of Bahrain is bound by Article 2 of the United Nations' Declaration on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.  The signatories also call on Bahrain to invite the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Mr. Michel Forst, to visit Bahrain in order to stand upon the real situation of human rights defenders and their families.

    The signatories:

    1. SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights
    2. Bahrain Center for Human Rights
    3. Bahrain Forum for Human Rights
    4. The European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights
    5. Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights

    Testimony

    "Yunes Ahmed Sultan", is a Bahraini citizen who has been interrogated, tortured, and threatened by Bahraini police officers on two recent occasions in November 2017.

    On 19 November 2017, officers at the Southern Province Police Station (Hamad Town, Roundabout 17) called Yunes Sultan and ordered him to come to the station. He arrived 15 minutes later, and officers took him to the investigation officer's bureau.

    The investigation officer questioned him about the activities of his brother Mohamed Sultan, a Bahraini refugee currently residing in France and two other exiled Bahraini rights activists, Sayed Yousif AlMuhafda, vice president of SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights, currently based in Germany and Hussain Jawad, Chairman of the European Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights, based also in France.

    During the investigation, the officer accused Yunes Sultan of meeting with exiled human rights defenders in France and Germany, and of cooperating with others to overthrow the government in Bahrain. Sultan denied these charges, and the officer called two other policemen who threatened to beat him and sexually assault him.

    The officer also offered him financial rewards in order to provide him with intelligence on the activits' movements and work.

    On 26 November 2017, officers at the station called Sultan again and asked him to come and see officer Taher Al Alawi. Sultan arrived and was taken to officer Al Alawi's office. Officer Al Alawi offered him tea or water, Sultan first said "no, thanks" but the officer insisted, and Sultan chose water. Officer Al Alawi instead threw the water in Sultan's face and began to insult him and his religious beliefs.

    Officer Al Alawi stated that they had evidence against him, and brought a laptop with photos of him in public ceremonies with a number of public figures, including Nabeel Rajab and others. Again, Sultan denied any criminal activities, and stated that he could not recall details of any conversations he had with these public figures.

    Two officers pinned Sultan to the wall, and officer Al Alawi told them "Do what you wish." The three officers began beating Sultan and started stripping him off his clothes, and sexually assaulting him. They also began kicking him on different parts of his body.

    Officer Al Alawi ordered the other officers to leave the room and take all Sultan's clothes away. Officer Al Alawi resumed the investigations with Sultan while totally naked and again accused him of "terrorist activities", and pressured him to provide information on his brother Mohamed Sultan and Yousif AlMuhafdah and Hussain Jawad, or he would charge him with various crimes linked to terrorism and collusion.

    Later, the police guards returned Sultan's clothes and ordered him to dress. He later discovered that the underwear he was given was not even his own!

    Yunes said that the officers told him he has 15 days to think about their offer and to come back to the police station. The fifteenth day ended on Monday, 11 December. From then on, they have called him numerous times but out of fear he did not answer any of the calls. On the 13th of December, at 1:00 AM precisely, Sultan received a call from officer Al Alawi in which he directly threatened him and said: "are you afraid of me? A call at this time of the night would of course scare you, wouldn’t it? Your deadline has finished"!

    Yunes Sultan said he was intimidated and out of fear for his safety and wellbeing he is now in France where he began the process of filing an asylum claim after fleeing Bahrain on the same day of the 13th of December 2017.

     

     

     

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    Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses great concerns over continuously revoking the nationalities of human rights activists, political prisoners and whoever dares to declare critical opinions against the politics of the Bahraini government. This systematic policy does not only violate the international conventions that emphasise on citizens’ right to maintain their citizenships but it also neglects the humanitarian implications of such conduct.

    Bahraini courts have lately issued sentences, over different charges, stripping 26 Bahraini citizens of their nationality within three consecutive days only.  On 29 October 2017, the High Criminal Court issued a verdict stripping two Bahrainis of their nationality, Hasan Jaafar Al-Sadadi and Hasan Ali Al-Shamr.  They were sentenced to 7 and 10 years in prison [with a BD100 thousands fine] respectively on charges of receiving weapons training and funds from terrorist groups. 

    BCHR has learnt that Al-Shamr who had been arrested by forces in civilian clothing on 1 January 2017, was subjected to psychological and physical torture while being interrogated in the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) for 28 days. He told his family that he had to “confess” to “save his life and avoid the unbearable torture.” Al-Shamr said that he was intending to deny the confessions he made, later in the Public Prosecution Office (PPO). However, he was threatened [by a member of the CID] that he would be tortured again and taken back to the CID building if he denied the confessions/charges in the PPO.

    He found himself forced to sign false confessions that were extracted under torture. As a result, the prosecutor ordered a 6 month detention on the basis of the Terrorism Law which allows for a prolonged period of pre-charge detention. “He looks like he lost at least 20 kilos of his weight,” his family said after visiting him on 29 October 2017.

    On 30 October 2017, seven defendants were sentenced to life in prison and stripped of their nationality on charges related to what is called “Al-Basta group.” The online activist Ali Al-Mearaj, and journalist Mahmoud Al-Jazeeri were among the defendants. They were convicted on charges of forming a terror cell called Al-Basta which – according to Bahrain’s authorities- has links and “collaboration with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards” and Hezbollah. Some defendants claimed that they were forced to sign false confessions while being subjected to severe physical and psychological torture but the court has never investigated such allegations.

    Similarly, on 31 October 2017, the Fourth High Criminal Court sentenced 10 defendants to life in prison and stripped them of their nationality on charges of associating with terrorist groups and illegally possessing a sword.

    The PPO said that it has been informed that a terrorist group was captured. Their investigations conclude that a person, who already died in Iraq, had been recruiting Bahrainis to be militarily trained in Iraq and Iran.

    The PPO has grounded its inferences based on the oral evidence of the prosecution witnesses [police men working in the Ministry of Interior] and the confessions of the defendants [which are usually taken under duress] and technical evidence [such as the reports of the Forensic Evidence Directorate].

    Mohammed Abdul-Jalil, one of the defendants in this case, was arrested in July 2016 after illegally raiding and searching his house without presenting a valid arrest warrant. During 18 days of interrogation, Mohammed was not only tortured in the CID building in Adliya but he was also taken to the notorious Jaw Prison and tortured there in order to force him to confess that “he received military training in Iran and Iraq.” He was also threatened in the PPO not to deny these charges.

    “Tell me what kind of torture that I haven’t been subjected to?” He told his mother when asked him about interrogation.

    BCHR states clearly that the Bahraini courts have been neglecting the torture complaints of political prisoners and issuing cruel verdicts in blatant violations of the international standards of fair trials. The government of Bahrain has been using revocation of nationality as a mean of creating fear and intimidation.

    Based on the above, BCHR call on the Bahraini authorities to:

    • Comply with the international standards of fair trials
    • Investigate the torture allegations of defendants.
    • Drop defendants’ charges/confessions that were obtained under duress.
    • Hold human rights violators and abusers accountable and strove to eliminate impunity. 
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    Court Rejects his Appeal Despite ill-treatment in prison 
     
    On January 15, 2018, in an appeals hearing that lasted only about ten minutes, a Bahraini Court rejected Nabeel Rajab’s appeal of a 2-year prison sentence for “spreading fake news that undermine the prestige of the state”,  and postponed once again his case for tweeting against the Saudi-led coalition war in Yemen to February 21, 2018. 
     
    Bahrain routinely misuses the courts, which lack independence, to target members of the political opposition and civil society activists. Rajab's verdict comes a few weeks after Bahraini Courts also upheld life sentences for 6 people and strip 26 of their nationalities on three consecutive days. 
     
    “We are very worried about Nabeel's safety and well-being," said BCHR today "Authorities should release him immediately, drop the charges against him, and investigate thoroughly his possible ill-treatment in detention." 
     
    On arrival at the prison where he is currently detained, Nabeel Rajab’s hair was forcefully shaved, he was subjected to an invasive body search and his books and clothes were confiscated. He is still held in the same cell than convicted high-profile ISIS terrorists. 
     
    The ruling means that Nabeel Rajab will now have to serve the remaining 11 months of a two-year prison term, for interviews he gave in 2015 and 2016 and for exercizing his right to freedom of expression. 
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  • 01/25/18--01:43: THE OBSERVATORY
  • Bahrain: Fears for Nabeel Rajab’s life inside his prison

    Beirut - Paris - Geneva, January 25, 2018: According to a credible confidential source, Bahraini authorities have planned to interfere with prominent rights activist Nabeel Rajab’s medication in a clear attempt to threaten his security and integrity. The Bahraini authorities should immediately and unconditionally release him.

    “This attempted attack on Nabeel’s health is certainly not random” said today the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH - OMCT partnership), the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Gulf center for Human Rights (GCHR). It falls at a time when the government has tried to keep him under tight surveillance to prevent him from speaking out. The authorities couldn’t stop him from speaking out to defend human rights so they might be looking at other ways to silence him for good”. The situation is even more worrisome as Nabeel Rajab needs surgery and has no choice but to take the medication he is given.

    “Bahrain has been cracking down on our friend and Deputy Secretary General, Nabeel Rajab for years with abusive tactics,” said Dimitris Christopoulos, FIDH President. “Recently alarming signals have multiplied raising security concerns regarding his detention condition. The government should put a stop to these tactics, and immediately release him. We seriously fear for his life”, he added.

    “The Bahraini authorities should allow an international independent medical examination of Nabeel Rajab and the results of this examination to be duly recorded and accessible by his family. Nabeel Rajab’s life is at serious risk and he should receive urgently the medical treatment he needs by a trusted medical institution,” said Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General.

    In the last months, a number of prominent dissidents and activists have become seriously ill in detention in Bahrain, and have been denied independent, adequate and trusted care. Authorities have detained, imprisoned, tortured, intimidated, stripped of their nationality, or forced into exile many people who peacefully opposed or openly criticized the authorities’ actions and policies. The authorities have also shut down numerous independent media outlets.

    “Authorities should immediately release him and allow him to seek medical care freely from a doctor of his choice”, said Maytham Al Salman, BCHR Special Advisor. “There are fewer and fewer human rights defenders able to work in Bahrain, and they do so at great risks, even in detention, as demonstrated by this case” he added. “The harassment of Nabeel Rajab is intended to silencing the whole Bahraini society”.

    Press contacts:

    FIDH:  Audrey Couprie: +33 6 48 05 91 57

    OMCT: Delphine Reculeau: +41 22 809 49 39

    BCHR: Julie Gromellon: +961 81 784 437

    Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

    The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

    To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

    ·       E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

    ·       Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

    ·       Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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  • 01/25/18--01:46: THE OBSERVATORY
  •  

    Bahrain: Fears for Nabeel Rajab’s life inside his prison

    Beirut - Paris - Geneva, January 25, 2018: According to a credible confidential source, Bahraini authorities have planned to interfere with prominent rights activist Nabeel Rajab’s medication in a clear attempt to threaten his security and integrity. The Bahraini authorities should immediately and unconditionally release him.

    “This attempted attack on Nabeel’s health is certainly not random” said today the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH - OMCT partnership), the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Gulf center for Human Rights (GCHR). It falls at a time when the government has tried to keep him under tight surveillance to prevent him from speaking out. The authorities couldn’t stop him from speaking out to defend human rights so they might be looking at other ways to silence him for good”. The situation is even more worrisome as Nabeel Rajab needs surgery and has no choice but to take the medication he is given.

    “Bahrain has been cracking down on our friend and Deputy Secretary General, Nabeel Rajab for years with abusive tactics,” said Dimitris Christopoulos, FIDH President. “Recently alarming signals have multiplied raising security concerns regarding his detention condition. The government should put a stop to these tactics, and immediately release him. We seriously fear for his life”, he added.

    “The Bahraini authorities should allow an international independent medical examination of Nabeel Rajab and the results of this examination to be duly recorded and accessible by his family. Nabeel Rajab’s life is at serious risk and he should receive urgently the medical treatment he needs by a trusted medical institution,” said Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General.

    In the last months, a number of prominent dissidents and activists have become seriously ill in detention in Bahrain, and have been denied independent, adequate and trusted care. Authorities have detained, imprisoned, tortured, intimidated, stripped of their nationality, or forced into exile many people who peacefully opposed or openly criticized the authorities’ actions and policies. The authorities have also shut down numerous independent media outlets.

    “Authorities should immediately release him and allow him to seek medical care freely from a doctor of his choice”, said Maytham Al Salman, BCHR Special Advisor. “There are fewer and fewer human rights defenders able to work in Bahrain, and they do so at great risks, even in detention, as demonstrated by this case” he added. “The harassment of Nabeel Rajab is intended to silencing the whole Bahraini society”.

    Press contacts:

    FIDH:  Audrey Couprie: +33 6 48 05 91 57

    OMCT: Delphine Reculeau: +41 22 809 49 39

    BCHR: Julie Gromellon: +961 81 784 437

    Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

    The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

    To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

    ·       E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

    ·       Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

    ·       Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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    Manama, Paris, 1 February 2018 : Bahrain has witnessed a dramatic increase in the use of capital punishment since 2017, and recent executions mark a dangerous return to the death penalty after a halt on executions since 2010. Our organisation strongly condemn this tragic  trend and urge the authorities to abolish the death penalty immediately.

     

    (Picture above: Mohammed Al Mitgawi; a human rights activist on death role)

    Today a new death sentence confirmed the dramatic acceleration of death sentences in Bahrain.

    « Today Moosa Abdulla was sentenced to death after sentencing  Ali Al Arab, Ahmed Al Malaly and Maher Al Khabaz earlier this week. 22 Bahrainis remain currently on death row, which marks a record in the history of Bahrain », Stated Maytham Al Salman, Special Advisor at the BCHR.

    On 25 December 2017, a Bahraini military court sentenced six men to death on charges of forming a terrorist cell and plotting to assassinate a military official.

    The victims in this trial were subjected to torture, sleep deprivation, electric shocks, solitary confinement and enforced disappearance. Communications engineer Sayed Alawi Hussein Alawi, and Sayed Fadhel Abbas were forcibly disappeared for nearly a year, and Mohammed Al-Shehabi and Mohammed Al-Motaghawi were forcibly disappeared for several months. Some of the lawyers and  families of the defendants were threatened with reprisals if they revealed their treatment to the media or international human rights organizations. All the defendants were denied the right to meet their lawyers before the trials.

    « We strongly oppose  the death penalty in all circumstances and for all crimes », expressed Florence Bellivier, FIDH Deputy Secretary General on Death Penalty. « The increased application of the death penalty in Bahrain is of high concern, as it also reveals  a discriminatory and inhuman practice, in addition to the violation of the rights to a fair trial and the instrumentalization of death penalty as a political tool »

    The fact that the defendants were tried before military courts and not civil courts is significative. These courts were condemned by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) in 2011 for their acceptance of confessions extracted under torture and their failure to hold fair trials. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry recommended halting trying civilians in military courts in 2011, which was accepted by authorities. However, Bahrain amended the constitution to grant these courts the power to try civilians on 3 April 2017. This constitutional amendment was regarded by Bahraini human rights organizations as catastrophic.

     “The prosecution of peaceful dissidents in military courts is expected to flourish if the international community remains silent ”, declared Maytham Al Salman “ Mohammed Al Mitqawi,  a peaceful activist who has been working with human rights organizations and the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry in reporting violations, who is today on death row.”

    A year ago, on 15 January 2017, the Bahraini authorities executed Ali Al-Singace (21), Abbas Al-Samea (27) and Sami Mushaima (42) in such conditions that the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Dr Agnes Callamard, qualified the executions as “extrajudicial executions”

    FIDH and BCHR condemn the last wave of death sentences and executions in the strongest terms, and urge the government of Bahrain to immediately abolish the death penalty and accede to the Second Optional Protocol to the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights for the abolition of the death penalty.

    Furthermore, FIDH and BCHR call on the government of Bahrain to repeal the constitutional amendment of 3 April 2017 and restore Article 105 of the Bahraini Constitution to its previous state to ensure that civilians are not tried in military courts. They also urge authorities to open an independent investigation into all complaints of violations in all the cases , particularly those related to complaints of torture and ill-treatment, and adopt the Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary adopted by the United Nations in 1985.

    Press Contact ;
    BCHR
    Julie Gromelon
    +961 81 784 437 / julie@bahrainrights.org

    FIDH
    Audrey Couprie
    +33 6 48 05 91 57 / acouprie@fidh.org

     

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    Beirut, February 2, 2017: On January 31, Muna Habib, Hamida Alkhor, Amira AlQashaami and Faten Hussein were convicted and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment for allegedly covering up for male family members. 
     
    In Bahrain, women appear to be disproportionately targeted only for their relationships to male family members whom the government is investigating cases of alleged terrorism. Many of them are detained because of alleged terrorist activities by family members: “Targeting women as a way to attain male suspects punishes them for crimes they have not committed, and is violating their right to due process of law” said BCHR today. Suspects arrested under Bahrain's counterterrorism law routinely face serious human rights violations that compromise their right to a fair trial, many have been subjected to coercive interrogations and torture.
     
    On Wednesday (January 31, 2018), the fourth high criminal court, sentenced to death two defendants, 19 others to life in prison, 17 defendants to 15 years, 9 to 10 years and 11 to 5 years, while acquitting two others of the charges raised against them.
    Most of the charges hold against the defendants fall within the scope of the new anti-terrorism law used as legal ground by Bahraini authorities to curtail any form of dissidence. In total, 58 persons were convicted and sentenced on charges including membership to a terrorist cell, plotting to carry out a lethal attack, attempting to murder policemen and possessing unlicensed firearms and explosives. Among the group of convicted, four women have suffered particularly unfair sentences from the court on the charges of covering a wanted person.
     They have all endured a litany of abuses from the Bahraini authorities. They have been denied access to lawyers and relatives, as well as the opportunity to challenge the basis of their detention before a judge.
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    On the 7th anniversary of the peaceful popular movement of the Bahraini people which started on 14 February 2011, the undersigned NGOs call on the international community to help free human rights defenders in Bahrain, some of whom are jailed for life, and to stop the persecution of journalists simply for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

    Bahrain now has a reputation as one of the few countries in which all well-known human rights defenders (who are not already in jail or in exile) have been banned from working freely or travelling. This is designed to isolate the human rights movement and cut its links with the international mechanisms in particular the United Nations. A collective travel ban is essentially imposed on all human rights defenders, preventing them from participating in the activities of the three sessions held each year at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva. Likewise, international NGOs and journalists, along with UN experts, cannot freely visit Bahrain.

    Human Rights Defenders in Jail, Victims of Torture and Ill-Treatment

    Bahrain’s most prominent human rights defenders are in jail, facing ill-treatment. On 05 February 2018, Khadija Al-Mousawi tweeted that she visited her husband, prominent human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who has been targeted and abused in Jaw prison. He has been taken to hospital in shackles.

    "When I went to visit my husband he was talking about going to the hospital chained," she tweeted. "I expected him to say that he felt humiliated, but he said the opposite. He was walking very slowly because of the weight of chains and the chain distance between the feet, but he was raising his head having a nice feeling.”

    Al-Khawaja is the Founder and Former President of both the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), as well as the former MENA Protection Coordinator for Front Line Defenders. He has been held in Jaw prison since his sentencing to life in prison in 2011, along with other human rights defenders and activists, including blogger Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace, who collectively make up the Bahrain 13.

    In the past year, Al-Khawaja and other prisoners of conscience have protested repeatedly about the deteriorating conditions in Jaw Prison, which mimic the general deterioration of conditions in Bahrain for human rights defenders and civil society.

    After he sent a letter to the Ministry of Interior in November 2017 about the conditions in prison, Al-Khawaja was also denied the right to make any phone calls until 17 December, which appears to be a reprisal against him for raising his complaint.

    Another prominent human rights defender who has been ill-treated in detention (including being returned to unsanitary conditions following surgery, which resulted in an infection) is Nabeel Rajab, GCHR’s Founding Director, Co-Founder and President of BCHR, FIDH Deputy Secretary General and a member of the Human Rights Watch MENA Advisory Board. On 15 January 2018, the Court of Cassation upheld the two-year prison sentence against Rajab for talking with various media outlets about human rights issues. On this sentence alone, he will remain in prison until December 2018, even though he has now been incarcerated already for 20 months since his arrest on 13 June 2016.

    One of the things that Rajab is accused of falsely stating is that journalists and NGOs are banned from entering the country. However, it is hard to dispute that the country is not only closed in term of civic society space, but equally not accessible for the international human rights observers. Among those NGOs which have not received permission to enter the country are signatories to this letter including FIDH, Front Line Defenders and GCHR, which has been waiting for the green light to enter the country to do a human rights mission since 2012.

    In another case, Rajab is being prosecuted over two charges both related to tweets and retweets posted in 2015 about the war in Yemen and also about allegations of torture in Jaw prison after a prison riot in March 2015. The first charge is “insulting a statutory body” (Article 216 of the Bahraini Criminal Code) referring to the Ministry of Interior in relation to tweets he posted denouncing the torture of detainees at Jaw Prison. The second charge is “disseminating false rumours in time of war” (Article 133 of the Bahraini Criminal Code) in relation to tweets he published about the Saudi-Arabia led coalition air strikes in Yemen. A verdict is expected at the next hearing on 21 February 2018 and Rajab faces imprisonment of up to 15 years if convicted.

    Women human rights defenders are not spared torture and abuse in prison. On 22 October 2017, Ebtisam Al-Saegh, the monitoring and documentation officer of Salam for Democracy and Human Rights, was released from prison pending trial. Al-Saegh was held in solitary confinement in Isa Town Women’s Prison since her arrest on 03 July 2017 and subjected to harsh interrogation. The Public Prosecution ordered Al-Saegh to be incarcerated for six months pending investigation under the anti-terrorism law. In July 2017, a group of UN experts expressed “deep concern at the alleged arbitrary detention of Bahraini human rights defender Ebtisam Alsaegh amid reports she has been tortured and sexually abused and is now on hunger strike.”

    In a previous incident, on 27 May 2017, Al-Saegh was arrested and suffered torture and abuse at the hands of the National Security Agency (NSA). She was summoned to Muharraq police station for questioning about her human rights activities and then tortured and sexually abused by members of the NSA. The security officers also threatened to murder her and her children. She was released seven hours later but had to go directly to hospital suffering from a “severe nervous breakdown.”

    During the interrogation in May, she was asked about the work of activists inside and outside Bahrain, and about her human rights work in Geneva during the UN HRC sessions.

    In 2017, the security authorities arrested and tortured many human rights defenders and then released them after forcing them to pledge to stop their human rights activities. Other people who were interrogated at Muharraq police station subsequently renounced their activism on Twitter and stopped tweeting. Only Al-Saegh strongly condemned these illegal practices, describing them on Twitter as a "crime against humanity."

    All human rights defenders in Bahrain are either in prison or exile, or prevented from freely working or travelling, such as Zainab Al-Khamees, banned from travel since November 2016, and Nedal Al-Salman, BCHR’s Acting President, banned from travel regularly since May 2016, preventing her from attending UN HRC sessions. Al-Salman has been accused of illegal gathering and was interrogated four times, with charges remaining against her. The ban has been lifted twice and re-imposed, often for unknown reasons.

    On 25 January 2016, human rights defender and board member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) Naji Fateel was among 57 prisoners sentenced to additional 15-year terms for allegedly being involved in disturbances in Jaw prison in March 2015. The public prosecutor accused the men of having “unleashed acts of chaos, riots and rebellion inside (prison) buildings,” and they were charged with “damaging public property, attacking police, arson and resisting authorities,” among other offences. Fateel was already serving a 15-year prison sentence for “establishing a group for the purpose of disabling the constitution,” and has been in prison since May 2013. He was badly tortured in prison, and it is believed that his imprisonment stems from his human rights work, including his interactions with the UN.

    Journalists Tortured and Jailed, Media Shut Down

    Journalists in Bahrain are not able to work freely and have suffered terribly for covering human

    rights violations. Journalist Nazeeha Saeed, former correspondent for France 24 and Radio Monte Carlo Doualiya, reported being tortured in 2011. She is no longer able to work as a journalist in Bahrain and forced to leave the country. On 18 July 2017, an appeal court in Manama upheld the sentence imposed for “working without a license” against Saeed. She was fined 1,000 Bahraini dinars (approx. USD$2650). Saeed was charged with unlawfully working for the international media under Article 88 of Law 47/2002. Saeed had applied for renewal of her license but her application was rejected without any basis. It was the first time in 12 years that her accreditation was not renewed. She was also placed under a travel ban.

    Previously, Saeed was arrested and tortured in May 2011 after covering protests. She was repeatedly beaten and subject to electro-shocks 10 times while in police detention. One of the policewomen responsible was brought to trial but acquitted in October 2012. In November 2015, authorities decided against charging other identified officers because of “insufficient” evidences. 

    On 30 October 2017, human rights defender and “Al-Wasat” journalist Mahmoud Abdul-Ridha Al-Jazeeri was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment and his nationality was ordered to be revoked. On 28 December 2015, Al-Jazeeri was arrested during a raid on his home by security forces in plain clothes. His arrest came one day after he wrote an article reporting on the regular consultative (Shura) council’s session, during which an MP asked authorities to punish Bahrainis who had their citizenship revoked on political grounds by depriving them of government housing. He was charged with supporting terrorism, inciting hatred of the regime, having contacts with a foreign country, and seeking to overthrow the government by joining Al-Wafa and the February 14 Youth Movement. He was subjected to ill-treatment in detention including being blindfolded and not being allowed to sit or sleep for almost three days. He is appealing the sentence.

    On 24 June 2017, “Al-Wasat” newspaper notified its employees in an e-mail of the decision to lay off all 160 staff members. On 04 June 2017, Bahrain’s Information Affairs Authority (IAA) suspended “Al-Wasat” for allegedly violating the law and repeating the publication of and broadcasting news that stirs up the community and affects the relations of the Kingdom of Bahrain with other countries. The suspension relates to an article published about protests in Morocco on 04 June 2017, which was accused of “abuse of one of the Arab countries."

    Editor-in-Chief Mansoor Al-Jamri said, "After 15 years of journalism, we reaffirm that the success of “Al-Wasat”’s unique project would not have been achieved without the confidence of its constituents, which it considered a civilised means of reform, a bridge of understanding, cooperation, coexistence and acceptance of opinion and the opposite opinion, depending on the loyalty to the whole nation of all groups of society, while adhering that is internationally acclaimed to media professionalism." He added, "The most important of all: honesty in saying and acting."

    Recommendations to the International Community:

    We, the undersigned NGOs, appeal to the United Nations mechanisms, the European Union, in addition to all governments with influence - in particular the United States and the United Kingdom - to apply serious pressure on Bahrain to demand the immediate release of all detained human rights defenders as well as all prisoners of conscience; and to protect public freedom, in particular freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and freedom of association; and to stop the security forces from practicing any form of torture or ill-treatment on detainees, a practice which is well documented in recent years and regarded as systematic in Bahrain.

    We further call on the Bahrain authorities to allow the UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights defenders, freedom of expression and torture to visit Bahrain immediately in order to meet representatives of civil society, meet detainees, assess the human rights situation in the country as well as to convey their recommendations to solve the crisis facing human rights defenders and journalists.

    In addition, we call on the government of Bahrain to fulfill its promises made during Bahrain’s Universal Periodic Review to uphold international standards protecting the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, including by taking immediate steps to:

    • Overturn the convictions, following unfair trials, of demonstrators and human rights defenders and activists, including Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Nabeel Rajab, Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace and Naji Fateel, and immediately and unconditionally free them;
    • Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in Bahrain, bring an end to the practice of torture and ill-treatment in prison, police stations or secret locations and bring perpetrators to justice immediately;
    • Allow human rights defenders to work freely inside of Bahrain, and travel abroad, including by removing travel bans against Nedal Al-Salman, Zainab Al-Khamees, and Ebtisam Al-Saegh;
    • Allow foreign NGOs, journalists and UN representatives to freely visit Bahrain;
    • End the harassment of journalists and allow all journalists to carry out their work without fear of reprisals;
    • Respect the right to freedom of expression and opinion for all people in Bahrain, as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Bahrain Constitution.

    Signatories:

    Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)

    Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)

    Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)

    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

    English Pen

    FIDH, under the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

    Front Line Defenders
    Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)

    International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

    OMCT (World Organisation Against Torture), under the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

    Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

     

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    Yesterday, while Bahrainis were commemorating the uprising anniversary, security forces, once again resort to force to break up peaceful marches using tear gas and live ammunition and leaving several casualties among the protestors. As the international community looks away, the Kingdom has been aggressively pursuing his intimidation campaign and intensified the repression. This breakdown has reflected in the increase of Human Rights violations witnessed in the last months and the continued stifling of Human rights movements.

    The arsenal of abusive practices deployed by the Bahraini authorities includes arbitrary arrests, house raids, unfair trials, suppression of peaceful protests, restriction of freedom of expression and movement, ill-treatment and torture. Among those recurrent patterns of repressions, certain particularly alarming trends have been observed in the last year, with a systematic use of repressive laws and legal procedures to punish dissent.

    Resurgence of death penalty

    The year 2017 has witnessed an unprecedented proportion of resort to capital punishment by Bahraini criminal courts. This dramatic increase comes after eight uninterrupted years of absence of death penalty sentences. On 25 December 2017, a Bahraini military court sentenced six men to death on charges of forming a terrorist cell and plotting to assassinate a military official. Throughout the year, the instrumentalization of Terrorism Law has proven to be systematic and a large-scale technique used by Bahraini criminal courts to counter dissidents. To this day, three men have been executed on alleged terrorism charges and 22 remain on death row.

    Increase of travel bans

    The Bahraini authorities are targeting Human Rights defenders’ actions within and without the country. Other than the persecutions that the Human rights activists are facing in Bahrain, the authorities are increasingly resorting to travel ban. Among the persons confronted to such a ban is Nedal Al Salman, BCHR Head of international advocacy. On December 2017, Bahraini customs prevented her from travelling to Brussels where she was invited by European Union to participate to NGO Forum on Human Rights. Another illustration of the extraterritorial range of Human Rights disregard by the Bahraini authorities is the prosecution close relatives of activists that fled the country. 

    Unfair trial

    Numerous abysmal practices employed by the Bahraini courts fall within the frame of the violation of the rights to a fair trial. Besides the groundless allegations and abusive convictions, one other intimidation means used has been the repeated cancellation and postponements of hearings for trials. Thus, Nabeel Rajab, leading voice in the Human Rights movement and President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, has spent more than one year in pre-trial detention awaiting his trial. In a separate case, where he faces up to 15 years imprisonment for tweeting, he is still awaiting his final hearing as it has been postponed 20 times.

    Considering this alarming situation, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights is calling upon the Bahraini authorities to respect their international obligations and to honor the commitments they took following the uprisings. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights deplores the passivity of the international community towards this aggravating situation and calls upon international actors to use the full range of their influence to stop the crackdown.

     

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    The Christian Coalition for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT) makes an urgent appeal to stop the death sentences in Bahrain

    On the 21st of February 2018, the military’s high court of appeals of Bahrain will retry eight men that have been convicted after an unfair verdict, including confessions obtained under torture. Four of the men have been sentenced to death and are at risk of seeing their conviction confirmed.  

    On the 27th of December, after an unfair trial, the military’s high court of appeals sentenced 13 men on charges of forming a terrorist cell and attempting to assassinate a senior official of the Bahrain Defense Forces and revoked their citizenship. Five of the men are on exile and the remaining eight in custody have appealed the court’s decision.

    Among them, Sayed Alawi, Sayed Fadhel Abbas, Mubarak Adel Muhanna and Mohamed Abdulhassan Al Mutaghawi have been sentenced to death. Mohamed Shehabi, Hussain Shehab, Mohammed Al Najar and Mohammed Al Ajami have been sentenced to 7 years of prison.

    According to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), the defendants were subjected to torture after their arrest.

    Some of them, such as Mohammed Al-Shehabi et Mohamed Abdulhassan Al Mutaghawi, have been victims of incommunicado detention for several months while others, such as Sayed Alawi and Sayed Fadhel Abbashave, been held in incommunicado detention for nearly a year despite desperate attempts of their families to get in touch with them.  

    None of the defendants were allowed to communicate with a lawyer before the trial. Some of them have had to wait for the third hearing before being allowed to contact one. Their families were threatened of retaliation if they diffused the torture allegations of the defendants. This is the first sentence handed down by a military court against civilians since the constitutional reform of the 3rd of April 2017, allowing the military court to try civilians. The rise of death sentences and military trials is the result of the authoritarian governance in Bahrain, which continues to

    The upsurge in death sentences and military trials is symptomatic of authoritarian governance, which continues to lead a campaign of repression with impunity against the opposition.

    Context

    The resumption of executions

    22 Bahrainis are currently sentenced to death. After seven years of de facto moratorium, executions resumed a year ago. On the 15th of January 2017, Ali Al-Singace, Abbas Al-Samea and Sami Mushaima were executed after being sentenced after an unfair trial, to the point that the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions qualified their execution as extrajudicial.

    On the 29th of January 2018, the Supreme Court of Appeal confirmed a new death sentence. The Civil Court of Appeal sentenced Maher Abbas Ahmad on the 11th of May 2017 based on confessions he signed under treatment of torture. If the king ratifies his sentence, he can be executed at any moment.

    The standardization of the use of military justice

    In 2011, the year of the beginning of uprising in Bahrain, the National Security Court, an emergency court, founded by the Bahraini Ruler on March 15th, 2011, sentenced several human rights defenders and political opponents. Three months later, under international pressure, he ordered the creation of a Bahraini Independent Commission for Investigation (BICI) to investigate the events - namely, violent repression - that took place in Bahrain during February and March 2011. As a result, in November 2011, the BICI published a report in which it severely criticized the unfair trials led by National Security Court, demanding that a civil court retried the cases. At the time, the authorities had accepted that.

    In contradiction with the recommendations of the BICI and in violation of the international laws concerning the right to a fair trial that Bahrain has signed, on the 3rd of April 2017, the monarch amended the constitution in order to give the jurisdiction of the military courts the right to try civilians. The above-mentioned 13 convicts are the first victims of this decision.

    Source

    https://www.acatfrance.fr/actualite/risque-de-condamnation-a-mor

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    The BCHR has been working to protect and promote human rights in Bahrain for more than eleven years – we are the oldest and largest human rights organization in the country. In 2011, when the pro-democracy movement inspired by the Arab Spring evoked a brutal crackdown from the authorities, the BCHR’s former Acting-President Maryam Al-Khawaja established our international ‘office in exile’, located in the Christianshavn neighborhood of Copenhagen. The bulk of our work is still conducted by our documentation team in Bahrain, and the Copenhagen office is primarily focused coordinating our international advocacy program. Over the last three years, the BCHR has won six prestigious awards for our work in human rights, and we are active around the globe in our pursuit of accountability for human rights violators in Bahrain.

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights currently seeks individuals interested in an internship, full-time or part-time, for a period of 3-6 months, to work in the field of communications for spring 2018, starting mid March 2018 (exact date to be discussed). Office hours will be held from 10:00am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday. This is an unpaid position.

    The main duties involved include:

    • Communication with our international partner organizations, representatives of foreign governments, and the UN.
    • Writing reports on human rights abuses in Bahrain in cooperation with our documentation team in Bahrain.
    • Managing a contacts database and improving our communications with our targeted audience of policy makers.
    • Writing and publishing content for our website. Requirements:
    • A professional level of English. Danish and Arabic are a plus.
    • Ability to maintain strict confidentiality.
    • Technological proficiency – familiarity with the Adobe suite a plus
    • An interest in human rights and international relations. A relevant degree and field of studies is a plus.

    To apply, send a CV and cover letter before the 5th of March 2018 to: saloua@bahrainrights.org 


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    Beirut-Geneva-Paris, February 21, 2018 - Today in Bahrain, prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, BCHR President and FIDH Deputy Secretary General, was sentenced to 5 years in prison under trumped-up charges in relation to tweets denouncing the torture against detainees at Jaw prison and exposing the killing of civilians in Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition. This surrealistic verdict, after a trial that was by itself a mockery of justice, illustrates once again the current crackdown of any dissenting voice in Bahrain, where scores of critics are currently jailed. The Observatory (FIDH-OMCT) and BCHR reiterate their call to the Bahraini authorities to immediately release him as well as all detained human rights defenders.

    Nabeel Rajab was convicted today based on Article 133 of the Bahraini Criminal Code (“disseminating false rumours in time of war”), Article 215 (“offending a foreign country [Saudi Arabia]”) and Article 216 (“insulting a statutory body”). Rajab’s charges include a tweet from March 26, 2015, the day the Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes in Yemen, criticising wars that “bring hatred, destruction and horrors”. On December 4, 2017, in a public statement announcing the appointment of a group of experts to investigate the violations committed in Yemen, the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein used nearly the same words to describe the situation in Yemen: “For three years, the people of Yemen have been subjected to death, destruction and despair”. 

    “Nabeel Rajab is not a criminal, he is a prominent human rights defender and political prisoner. This new outrageous sentence contributes to further shut down space for civil society in the country”, FIDH President Dimitris Christopoulos highlighted.

    “This continuous harassment, which illustrates once more the Government’s relentless efforts to silence the whole Bahraini civil society, must stop. It is urgent for the international community to make sure Bahrain’s authorities cannot get away with their crackdown on human rights defenders any longer”, OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock added.

    Today Bahrain is under a blackout, preventing local human rights activists from expressing themselves or traveling, and forbidding foreign journalists and human rights defenders from investigating. In October 2017, a delegation of FIDH board and former board members seeking to show solidarity with Nabeel and other imprisoned human rights defenders was denied entry to the country.

    The ongoing case against Nabeel Rajab, which began in April 2015, has been postponed 20 times and on several occasions the Court violated criminal procedure law by announcing the holding of the trial with only a few days’ notice, and no explanation to Rajab’s lawyers. His lawyers reported they were therefore unable to prepare his defence or call their witnesses to testify in court. 

    Nabeel Rajab has been in arbitrary, solitary and pre-trial detention since June 13, 2016, despite his deteriorating health conditions. After being hospitalised, his return to prison has been marked by new persecutions and dangerous, humiliating and degrading detention conditions. Beaten on his arrival, and woken up and searched in the middle of the night, his belongings were confiscated and his head was shaved. Since November 20, 2017, he is being held in Jaw prison in a segregated wing with convicted ISIS terrorists, putting his safety at risk.

    Our organisations reiterate their fears for Nabeel’s health status and renew their call to the authorities to enable him to receive an adequate medical treatment, and to release him immediately and unconditionally.

    The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

    Press contacts:

    • FIDH: Audrey Couprie: +33 6 48 05 91 57
    • OMCT: Delphine Reculeau: +41 22 809 49 39
    • BCHR: Julie Gromellon: +961 81 784 437
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    Prominent Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to a further five years in prison on 21 February 2018, during a verdict that an observer called unusual, as the lawyer was not allowed to speak during the brief proceedings. Rajab was on trial at the High Criminal Court of Bahrain for tweeting about the war in Yemen and poor conditions in Jaw Prison. Rajab has already been sentenced to two years in prison in a separate case for media interviews, and has been imprisoned since his arrest on 13 June 2016.

    Rajab is one of the founders and currently President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), as well as a Founding Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), Deputy Secretary General of FIDH, and a member of the Human Rights Watch MENA Advisory Board.

    An international observer attended the court hearing on behalf of GCHR, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), Front Line Defenders, English PEN, and BCHR. The observer reported that the court proceedings were very short and Rajab’s lawyer Jalila Al-Sayed was not allowed to speak, which contravene international standards of due process. A full report on the hearing will be published in future.

    The verdict was also attended by representatives of the United States, British, and German Embassies, who have been regularly observing Rajab’s trials.

    Rajab, who was in court, looked at his lawyer when the verdict was announced and flashed the sign for perseverance (Sumood). Local sources had predicted that Rajab would be sentenced to five years in prison, but with elections coming up in October 2018 there were hopes that his sentence would be lower or the case would be dropped. He has the right to appeal but has indicated that he will not do so.

    Rajab was first arrested in this case almost three years ago. On 02 April 2015, security forces surrounded Rajab’s home and arrested him in relation a series of tweets and an opinion piece published in the Huffington Post. The first charge was for “offending national institutions” in connection to his documentation of mistreatment and torture in Bahrain's Jaw Prison in March 2015. (See the report: Inside Jau: Government Brutality in Bahrain’s Central Prison). The second charge of “spreading rumors during wartime” related to his reporting on civilian deaths in Yemen, in contravention of a government prohibition of any public mention that is critical of the conflict. He was also charged under the Bahrain penal code with “offending a foreign country” (Saudi Arabia).

    Rajab was facing up to 15 years in prison for this case (10 for the Yemen tweets and five for the Jaw prison tweets). Bahrain’s penal code provides for up to 10 years in prison for anyone who “deliberately announces in wartime false or malicious news, statements or rumours.”

    On 15 January 2018, the Court of Cassation upheld the two-year prison sentence against Rajab in the media case on charges of "disseminating false news, statements and rumours about the internal situation of the kingdom that would undermine its prestige and status." On this sentence alone, he will remain in jail until December 2018, even though he has now been in jail already since June 2016.

    Rajab has been poorly treated in prison and had surgery at the Bahrain Defence Forces (BDF) hospital. Following one surgery in April 2017, the wounds became infected and he was returned to hospital. He has a number of health conditions, including heart problems and high blood

    On 25 October 2017, Rajab was transferred from hospital to Jaw prison. He is being held in a segregated wing of Jaw Prison in the same cell as five convicted high-ranking Da’esh (ISIS) members, all of them from the Bin Ali clan. They are serving sentences from 15 years to life sentences. Three years ago, Rajab was charged over tweets criticising Bahrain for turning a blind eye on the rise of ISIS. In his tweets he referred indirectly to the same Bin Ali clan.

    The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT), GCHR, Front Line Defenders, English PEN and BCHR call on the authorities to:

    1. Immediately and unconditionally overturn the sentences against Nabeel Rajab and free him, as these sentences and his detention are arbitrary since they only aim at sanctioning his human rights activities;

    2. Provide all necessary medical care, and access to his family and lawyers;

    3. Ensure that judicial proceedings in Bahrain adhere to international standards of fair trial; and

    4. Guarantee that human rights defenders may work freely without persecution in Bahrain.

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    Documenting human rights violations in a country like Bahrain has become an extremely challenging and dangerous task. Since February 2011, Bahraini authorities have banned international human rights groups to enter the country. Bahraini Human Rights defenders have been increasingly targeted and prevented from documenting cases of arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and enforced disappearances. In addition, local NGO’s like BCHR face further obstacles in documenting abuses against detained Bahraini women as many victims or their families are also afraid of speaking up in fear of reprisals or social stigma.

    The role of women in preventing and countering terrorism and extremism has generally gained momentum at the UN and internationally. However, in some countries like Bahrain, women have become the invisible victims of counter-terrorism laws.

    The increased targeting of women in the context of the Counter-Terrorism Law

    On July 28, 2011, the Bahraini Parliament, with the endorsement of King Sheikh Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa, voted 22 new counter-terrorism laws. These newly-implemented measures are widening the scope of the law since, under these provisions, plethora of activities could qualify as terrorism offences. These laws are serving a manifest strategic purpose and Bahraini authorities are using them to hinder any form of dissidence to the regime. This reality doesn’t spare women.

    During the last month, 7 women have been prosecuted under these new laws. The Bahraini authorities have been adopting an overly broad definition of the crime of complicity and women have been unjustly targeted for their relationships to male family members whom the government is investigating cases of alleged terrorism.  On February 21, a Bahraini court sentenced three Bahraini women (Amal, Iman, Fatima Ali) to three years in prison for allegedly “covering up” for male family members. On January 31, Muna Habib, Hamida Alkhor, Amira AlQashaami and Faten Hussein were convicted as well and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment in relation to alleged terrorist activities by family members. 

    This blatant misuse of criminal law represents a typical pattern of repression from an authoritarian state and is intended to silence all opposition voices. This campaign of intimidation is contrasting with official statements, as Government’s representatives are denying that any prisoner is detained for political reasons.

    Unfair prosecution by military Courts

    The use of military courts and the Counter-terrorism law means that detainees are deprived of their basic right to a fair trial. The women convicted have been denied access to lawyers and relatives, as well as the opportunity to challenge the basis of their detention before a judge. BCHR or any independent monitoring body has never been allowed to attend these trials.

    The Counter-terrorism framework and military Courts are the main tool used by the Bahraini authorities to prosecute persons detained in relation with opposition or protest movement as is the case for the vast majority of the women recently convicted.

    On International Women’s day, BCHR request the Bahraini Government to put an end to arbitrary arrests of women and to review all cases of women detainees held for their relationship with male family members. The authorities should also revise the Counterterrorism law and replace it with rights-respecting counterterrorism legislation that meets international standards for due process and fair trial. 

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