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- 08/28/18--07:24: _Parliamentary Assem...
- 08/29/18--05:27: _JOINT STATEMENT: 12...
- 08/29/18--05:56: _The Round Table: Th...
- 08/30/18--01:04: _Bahrain Center for ...
- 10/09/18--05:00: _A report by the Bah...
- 10/11/18--00:40: _Bahrain Center for ...
- 10/11/18--01:13: _"No to death penalt...
- 10/18/18--07:14: _Joint Letter by NGO...
- 10/19/18--06:46: _Bahraini education ...
- 11/08/18--06:27: _Bahraini NGOS Conde...
- 11/08/18--06:27: _Bahraini NGOS Conde...
- 11/21/18--02:23: _Report of Bahrain C...
- 11/23/18--12:55: _Speech of Sheikh Ma...
- 11/29/18--02:37: _Bahrain Center for ...
- 12/07/18--02:13: _Bahrain: Concern ab...
- 12/11/18--01:50: _Bahrain Center for ...
- 12/12/18--02:10: _Sheikh Maytham Al-S...
- 12/18/18--01:14: _Bahrain: Domestic W...
- 12/18/18--02:28: _Open letter to Bahr...
- 12/30/18--02:56: _New Year Not Likely...
- 08/29/18--05:56: The Round Table: The Crime of Enforced Disappearance
- 10/18/18--07:14: Joint Letter by NGOs to Condemn Reprisals facing WHRDs
- 11/21/18--02:23: Report of Bahrain Center revealIng violations against journalists
- Forming an independent committee with the participation of civil society institutions to manage the electoral process.
- . Re-distribution of the constituencies in a fair manner, consistent with international standards and achieving balance and equality in the electoral vote among citizens, according to the principle of the voice of every citizen, or make Bahrain a single circle.
- Achieving the principle of separation of powers, enabling the legislative authority to play its role away from the hegemony of the executive branch.
- To seek political consensus, through direct dialogue with all factions of the people, to ensure their participation in the elections, within the framework of the national reconciliation project to achieve comprehensive political reform, and then to provide the United Nations with assistance through its supervision of the elections.
- Abolish the project of political isolation, enable all citizens to participate freely and effectively in the electoral process, cancel the decisions of dissolving political societies and give them real space, the freedom of political action, and the release of political leaders.
- Release all prisoners of conscience, stop violations, put an end to the policy of impunity, and hold accountable those responsible for violations.
- Immediate implementation of the recommendations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry and the Universal Periodic Review in 2012 and 2017.
- Achieve the highest levels of international control over the electoral process.
- To legislate a law guaranteeing the competence of the electoral process, administered by an independent body and allowing international organizations to monitor the elections.
- Abolish all legislation and decisions that restrict public freedoms, violate the rights of citizenship, or undermine freedom of assembly and association.
- Abolish legislation and laws that confiscate the right to vote and run for office.
- Cancellation of public electoral centers.
- Allow the formation of political opposition parties and their work without hindrance.
- Transparent handling of the publication of the list of voters and electoral blocs.
- Suspending the media coverage in the official media and implementing recommendation 1724 in the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry.
- 11/29/18--02:37: Bahrain Center for Human Rights: 2018 Is the Year of Death Penalty
- 12/12/18--02:10: Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman honored in the United Nations
- 12/18/18--01:14: Bahrain: Domestic Workers Freedom of Religion and Worship Rights
- 12/30/18--02:56: New Year Not Likely Happy for Leading Gulf Rights Defenders
The Parliamentary Assembly published a report "Three candidates shortlisted for the 2018 Václav Havel Prize" that talked about the 3 candidates "Rosa María Payá, Nabeel Rajab and Oyub Titiev" who were shortlisted for the election of 2018 Václav Havel Prize. The Václav Havel Human Rights Prize is mailnly an amount of money, diploma and a trophy and is rewarded annually to a human rights activist as a reward for their outstanding actions in defending human rights in Europe and beyond. The prize winner will be announced on October 8, 2018 by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the Václav Havel Library.
Paris-Geneva-Manama, 29 August 2018– For the second time since 2013, the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has issued an Opinion regarding the legality of the detention of Mr. Nabeel Rajab under international human rights law. In its second opinion, the WGAD held that the detention was not only arbitrary but also discriminatory. The 127 signatory human rights groups welcome this landmark opinion, made public on 13 August 2018, recognising the role played by human rights defenders in society and the need to protect them. We call upon the Bahraini Government to immediately release Nabeel Rajab in accordance with this latest request.
In its Opinion(A/HRC/WGAD/2018/13), the WGAD considered that the detention of Mr. Nabeel Rajabcontravenes Articles 2, 3, 7, 9, 10, 11, 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and Articles 2, 9, 10, 14, 18, 19 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Bahrain in 2006. The WGAD requested the Government of Bahrain to “release Mr. Rajab immediately and accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.”
This constitutes a landmark opinion as it recognises that the detention of Mr. Nabeel Rajab – President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Founding Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), Deputy Secretary General of FIDH and a member of the Human Rights Watch Middle East and North Africa Advisory Committee – is arbitrary and in violation of international law, as it results from his exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression as well as freedom of thought and conscience, and furthermore constitutes “discrimination based on political or other opinion, as well as on his status as a human rights defender.” Mr. Nabeel Rajab’s detention has therefore been found arbitrary under both categories II and V as defined by the WGAD.
Mr. Nabeel Rajab was arrested on 13 June 2016 and has been detained since then by the Bahraini authorities on several freedom of expression-related charges that inherently violate his basic human rights. On 15 January 2018, the Court of Cassation upheld his two-year prison sentence, convicting him of “spreading false news and rumors about the internal situation in the Kingdom, which undermines state prestige and status” – in reference to television interviews he gave in 2015 and 2016. Most recently on 5 June 2018, the Manama Appeals Court upheld his five years’ imprisonment sentence for “disseminating false rumors in time of war”; “offending a foreign country” – in this case Saudi Arabia; and for “insulting a statutory body”, in reference to comments made on Twitter in March 2015 regarding alleged torture in Jaw prison and criticising the killing of civilians in the Yemen conflict by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition. The Twitter case will next be heard by the Court of Cassation, the final opportunity for the authorities to acquit him.
The WGAD underlined that “the penalisation of a media outlet, publishers or journalists solely for being critical of the government or the political social system espoused by the government can never be considered to be a necessary restriction of freedom of expression,” and emphasised that “no such trial of Mr. Rajab should have taken place or take place in the future.” It added that the WGAD “cannot help but notice that Mr. Rajab’s political views and convictions are clearly at the centre of the present case and that the authorities have displayed an attitude towards him that can only be characterised as discriminatory.” The WGAD added that several cases concerning Bahrain had already been brought before it in the past five years, in which WGAD “has found the Government to be in violation of its human rights obligations.” WGAD added that “under certain circumstances, widespread or systematic imprisonment or other severe deprivation of liberty in violation of the rules of international law may constitute crimes against humanity.”
Indeed, the list of those detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression and opinion in Bahrain is long and includes several prominent human rights defenders, notably Mr. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja,Dr.Abduljalil Al-Singaceand Mr. Naji Fateel– whom the WGAD previously mentioned in communications to the Bahraini authorities.
Our organisations recall that this is the second time the WGAD has issued an Opinion regarding Mr. Nabeel Rajab. In its Opinion A/HRC/WGAD/2013/12adopted in December 2013, the WGAD already classified Mr. Nabeel Rajab’s detention as arbitrary as it resulted from his exercise of his universally recognised human rights and because his right to a fair trial had not been guaranteed (arbitrary detention under categories II and III as defined by the WGAD).The fact that over four years have passed since that opinion was issued, with no remedial action and while Bahrain has continued to open new prosecutions against him and others, punishing expression of critical views, demonstrates the government’s pattern of disdain for international human rights bodies.
To conclude, our organisations urge the Bahrain authorities to follow up on the WGAD’s request to conduct a country visit to Bahrain and to respect the WGAD’s opinion, by immediately and unconditionally releasing Mr. Nabeel Rajab, and dropping all charges against him. In addition, we urge the authorities to release all other human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in Bahrain and to guarantee in all circumstances their physical and psychological health.
This statement is endorsed by the following organisations:
1- ACAT Germany – Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture
2- ACAT Luxembourg
3- Access Now
4- Acción Ecológica (Ecuador)
5- Americans for Human Rights and Democracy in Bahrain – ADHRB
6- Amman Center for Human Rights Studies – ACHRS (Jordania)
7- Amnesty International
8- Anti-Discrimination Center « Memorial » (Russia)
9- Arabic Network for Human Rights Information – ANHRI (Egypt)
10- Arab Penal Reform Organisation (Egypt)
11- Armanshahr / OPEN Asia (Afghanistan)
12- ARTICLE 19
13- Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos - APRODEH (Peru)
14- Association for Defense of Human Rights – ADHR
15- Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression – AFTE (Egypt)
16- Association marocaine des droits humains - AMDH
17- Bahrain Center for Human Rights
18- Bahrain Forum for Human Rights
19- Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy – BIRD
20- Bahrain Interfaith
21- Cairo Institute for Human Rights – CIHRS
22- CARAM Asia (Malaysia)
23- Center for Civil Liberties (Ukraine)
24- Center for Constitutional Rights (USA)
25- Center for Prisoners’ Rights (Japan)
26- Centre libanais pour les droits humains - CLDH
27- Centro de Capacitación Social de Panama
28- Centro de Derechos y Desarrollo – CEDAL (Peru)
29- Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales – CELS (Argentina)
30- Centro de Políticas Públicas y Derechos Humanos – Perú EQUIDAD
31- Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos – CENIDH (Nicaragua)
32- Centro para la Acción Legal en Derechos Humanos – CALDH (Guatemala)
33- Citizen Watch (Russia)
34- CIVICUS : World Alliance for Citizen Participation
35- Civil Society Institute – CSI (Armenia)
36- Colectivo de Abogados « José Alvear Restrepo » (Colombia)
37- Collectif des familles de disparu(e)s en Algérie - CFDA
38- Comisión de Derechos Humanos de El Salvador – CDHES
39- Comisión Ecuménica de Derechos Humanos – CEDHU (Ecuador)
40- Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (Costa Rica)
41- Comité de Acción Jurídica – CAJ (Argentina)
42- Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos – CPDH (Colombia)
43- Committee for the Respect of Liberties and Human Rights in Tunisia - CRLDHT
44- Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative – CHRI (India)
45- Corporación de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos del Pueblo – CODEPU (Chile)
46- Dutch League for Human Rights - LvRM
47- European Center for Democracy and Human Rights – ECDHR (Bahrain)
48- FEMED – Fédération euro-méditerranéenne contre les disparitions forcées
49- FIDH, in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
50- Finnish League for Human Rights
51- Foundation for Human Rights Initiative – FHRI (Uganda)
52- Front Line Defenders
53- Fundación Regional de Asesoría en Derechos Humanos – INREDH (Ecuador)
54- Groupe LOTUS (DRC)
55- Gulf Center for Human Rights
56- Human Rights Association – IHD (Turkey)
57- Human Rights Association for the Assistance of Prisoners (Egypt)
58- Human Rights Center – HRIDC (Georgia)
59- Human Rights Center « Memorial » (Russia)
60- Human Rights Center « Viasna » (Belarus)
61- Human Rights Commission of Pakistan
62- Human Rights Foundation of Turkey
63- Human Rights in China
64- Human Rights Mouvement « Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan »
65- Human Rights Sentinel (Ireland)
66- Human Rights Watch
67- I’lam – Arab Center for Media Freedom, Development and Research
69- IFoX Turkey – Initiative for Freedom of Expression
70- Index on Censorship
71- International Human Rights Organisation « Club des coeurs ardents » (Uzbekistan)
72- International Legal Initiative – ILI (Kazakhstan)
73- Internet Law Reform Dialogue – iLaw (Thaïland)
74- Institut Alternatives et Initiatives Citoyennes pour la Gouvernance Démocratique – I-AICGD (RDC)
75- Instituto Latinoamericano para una Sociedad y Derecho Alternativos – ILSA (Colombia)
76- Internationale Liga für Menschenrechte (Allemagne)
77- International Service for Human Rights – ISHR
78- Iraqi Al-Amal Association
79- Jousor Yemen Foundation for Development and Humanitarian Response
80- Justice for Iran
81- Justiça Global (Brasil)
82- Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law
83- Latvian Human Rights Committee
84- Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada
85- League for the Defense of Human Rights in Iran
86- League for the Defense of Human Rights – LADO Romania
87- Legal Clinic « Adilet » (Kyrgyzstan)
88- Liga lidských práv (Czech Republic)
89- Ligue burundaise des droits de l’Homme - ITEKA (Burundi)
90- Ligue des droits de l’Homme (Belgique)
91- Ligue ivoirienne des droits de l’Homme
92- Ligue sénégalaise des droits humains – LSDH
93- Ligue tchadienne des droits de l’Homme – LTDH
94- Ligue tunisienne des droits de l’Homme – LTDH
95- MADA – Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedom
96- Maharat Foundation (Lebanon)
97- Maison des droits de l’Homme du Cameroun - MDHC
98- Maldivian Democracy Network
99- MARCH Lebanon
100- Media Association for Peace – MAP (Lebanon)
101- MENA Monitoring Group
102- Metro Center for Defending Journalists’ Rights (Iraqi Kurdistan)
103- Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers - International Association of People’s Lawyers
104- Movimento Nacional de Direitos Humanos - MNDH (Brasil)
105- Mwatana Organisation for Human Rights (Yemen)
106- Norwegian PEN
107- Odhikar (Bangladesh)
108- Pakistan Press Foundation
109- PEN America
110- PEN Canada
111- PEN International
112- Promo-LEX (Moldova)
113- Public Foundation – Human Rights Center « Kylym Shamy » (Kyrgyzstan)
114- RAFTO Foundation for Human Rights
115- Réseau Doustourna (Tunisia)
116- SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights
117- Scholars at Risk
118- Sisters’ Arab Forum for Human Rights – SAF (Yemen)
119- Suara Rakyat Malaysia - SUARAM
120- Taïwan Association for Human Rights – TAHR
121- Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights – FTDES
122- Vietnam Committee for Human Rights
123- Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State
124- World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers – WAN-IFRA
125- World Organisation Against Torture - OMCT, in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
126- Yemen Organisation for Defending Rights and Democratic Freedoms
127- Zambia Council for Social Development – ZCSD
For more information, please contact:
· FIDH: Maryna Chebat, firstname.lastname@example.org, +33 6 48 05 91 57, Twitter: @MS_Chebat
· OMCT: Delphine Reculeau, email@example.com, +41 228 09 49 39
· GCHR: Khalid Ibrahim, firstname.lastname@example.org, +961 70 15 95 52
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) organized in cooperation with SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights the “Round Table” in Beirut entitled “The Crime of Enforced Disappearance” on the occasion of the the International Day Of The Victims Of Enforced Disappearances which happens to be tomorrow. A number of international human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International, MAP and MAHARAT, in addition to lawyers, participated in the round table.
The round table consisted of five axes; the first was the defining of enforced disappearance and the conditions for its realization. The second talked about the importance of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. The third axis discussed the role of civil society in combating the crime of enforced disappearance. The fourth axis presented Bahraini laws and legislation that contributed to the crime of enforced disappearance. Finally, The Round Table ended with the fifth axis, which highlighted the state's responsibility for the crime of enforced disappearance.
Denying the crime of enforced disappearance will not solve it
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses deep concern over the continuous cases of enforced disappearances since 2017 and 2018. This came as a response to the silence of Bahrain's judicial authorities on the investigation of complaints of enforced disappearance monitored and documented by human rights organizations in Bahrain, including the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, as well as the lack of compensation to the victims for the suffering and torture they have been through.
It is noteworthy that four of the recommendations that were stated in the UPR in May 2017, insisted on the need to urge Bahrain to sign, ratify and join the International Convention for the Protection of Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and harmonize its domestic legislations with this convention.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights believes that the absence of effective laws may be a major cause of the widespread practice of enforced disappearance, especially after the issuance of Decree No. 68 of 2014 amending Article 27 of Law No. 58 of 2006 which allowed the security authorities to detain individuals for 28 days without the need for a court order.
On the occasion of the International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearance, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights called on the Government of Bahrain to:
- Implementation of the recommendations stated in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), including signature, ratification and accession to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance
- Repeal of decree 68 of 2014, which allowed the security authorities to detain persons for 28 days without the guarantee of the accused to meet with his lawyer
- The trial of officials and perpetrators of the crime of enforced disappearance within the security system
- Appropriate Compensation for victims of enforced disappearance and their families for the suffering that was caused by this arbitrary measure.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights issued a new report entitled "Death Courts". The report was issued in Arabic and English to highlight violations of military justice and to try civilians before and after the amendment of the Military Justice Act.
In its report, which coincides with the International Day against the Death Penalty, the Center studies Bahrain's laws, which are a guarantee that the military judiciary does not have the jurisdiction to try civilians. And then explains the amendments to these laws in 2017, which gave these courts the powers to try civilians, after the King submitted a proposal for constitutional amendment to allow such trials under the pretext of combating terrorism. The report also documents the trial of civilians before military courts as well as monitoring and revealing facts about their sessions.
The report concluded with recommendations to the Government of Bahrain urging them to repeal the constitutional amendment and the Military Justice Act, and also calling them to accede to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the abolition of the death penalty. In addition, the center made recommendations to the international community to confront the death penalty and to review the situation of courts in Bahrain.
Full report here
<p>The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) issued a statement today, October 10, on the occasion of the World Day against the Death Penalty. On this occasion, BCHR reiterated its request to the Government of Bahrain to sign and accede to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the abolition of the death penalty.</p>
<p>The Center pointed out that "the death sentences have increased in recent years in the courts of Bahrain, especially in cases related to freedom of opinion and expression in the exercise of political rights. The number of sentenced 22 people, four of them are sentenced to a final verdict and four others were commuted to life sentences. Real fears of the implementation of these provisions, as happened in early 2017, as the government of Bahrain carried out the death penalty against three civilians did not have a fair trial.</p>
<p>"While 137 countries tend to abolish the death penalty, the government of Bahrain is expanding the scope of the legislation and issuing death sentences, and the Bahraini laws and legislation are full of articles that contain the death penalty either in the Penal Code or the Protection of Society from Acts of Terror Law, as the number of articles and items in these laws to more than 83 articles and a sentence of capital punishment.</p>
<p>The Bahrain Center for Human Rights concluded its call for the international community, including the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to urge the government of Bahrain to freeze the death trials, and to join the countries that have abolished them.</p>
<p>Bahrain Center for Human Rights</p>
<p>10 October 2018</p>
<p>The Bahrain Center for Human Rights organized a press conference on the occasion of the "International Day Against the Death Penalty" with the participation of Maharat Foundation. The conference, which was held on 10 October, focused on the death penalty in Bahraini laws and legislation and the judicial rulings in civil and military cases.</p>
<p>The speakers at the conference aimed to demonstrate Bahrain's violation of human rights through this punishment. Bahraini laws contain more than 83 articles. The legal adviser to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Ibrahim Serhan, said that "the number of people sentenced to death is 22, four of whom are sentenced to a final sentence, and four others have been commuted to life”. Serhan add that the treatment of prison guards is very poor and does not amount to international laws that respect human rights. After the amendment of Article 105 of the Constitution in 2017, the Military Justice Act was amended, which made the jurisdiction of the military courts to impose sanctions on civilians, which led to an increase in the death penalty in Bahrain," said Hussein al-Sharif, a representative of Maharat.</p>
<p>The speakers also urged the Government of Bahrain to refrain from implementing such punishment, even if stipulated by the laws, in the same manner as the States that follow this method.</p>
Ms. Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner
Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders;
Prof. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;
Dr. Dubravka Šimonović, Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, its causes and consequences;
Ms. Elizabeth BRODERICK, Ms. Alda FACIO, Ms. Ivana RADAčIć (Chair), Ms. Meskerem Geset TECHANE (Vice Chair), Ms. Melissa UPRETI, members of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice;
Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression;
Mr. José Guevara (chair), Ms. Leigh Toomey, Ms. Elina Steinerte, Mr. Sètondji Adjovi, and Mr. Seong-Phil Hong, members of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention;
18 October 2018
Dear High Commissioner and UN Experts,
The undersigned organisations are writing to urge you to publicly condemn the appalling reprisals facing women human rights defenders Hajer Mansoor, Najah Yusuf and Medina Ali in Bahrain’s Isa Town Prison for women, which we believe are in retaliation to the attention their cases received from the United Nations and British Parliament. Concurrently, our organisations raise grave concern for the total inefficacy of Bahrain’s human rights mechanisms and urge you to publicly call for the end of these punitive measures as well as the immediate and unconditional release of the three women.
On 16 September 2018, Mansoor, Yusuf and Ali were assaultedsoon after the publication of a report by the UN Secretary-Generaland a Westminster Debateraising their cases. The three women had been unjustifiably denied access to religious participation in previous weeks and, before the assault, they were attempting to join their fellow Bahraini inmates in the commemoration of Ashura.
In response, prison guards, led by the head of Isa Town Prison, Major Mariam Albardoli, harshly beat Mansoor, Yusuf and Ali, and then kept them in solitary confinement for two hours. Following the incident, Mansoor was unable to stand and was hospitalised, having suffered a dangerous drop in her blood sugar levels and bruises on her hands and back. In addition Ali says Major Albardoli also punched her on her back in an area without any CCTV monitoring en route to the isolation cell.
Following the assault, authorities have exacerbated their retaliation by applying restrictionson all inmates. Prison conditions have been made unbearable, prompting an inmate to attempt suicide. Family visits must now be conducted behind a glass barrier, which impedes any meaningful contact with family members. Furthermore, inmates are now locked in their cells for 23 hours a day, and their phone calls have been reduced to twice a week, when formerly it was three times a week. These changes significantly reduce the frequency with which families hear updates on the condition of inmates, especially since calls with legal representation are also deducted from allocated calls to family members. We are also concerned that 13 Russian inmates have deemed it necessary to launch a hunger strike to protest prison conditions. We fear that the protest may soon extend to a collective hunger strike of all Bahraini inmates if the situation does not improve.
This collective punishment has triggered international criticism, with members of the UK Parliamentraising concerns and international media outletsreporting on the events. However, we are deeply alarmed by Bahrain’s response. Oversight bodies have thus far failed to support Mansoor, Yusuf and Ali by ensuring they conduct independent investigations into their allegations. Furthermore, the claim of Bahrain’s Ministry of Interiorthat Mansoor “tried to hurt herself by hitting her body and lying on the floor”is implausible. We also condemn the National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR)’sstatementof 2 October which only whitewashedthe assault by Major Albardoli and the prison guards, as “within reasonable use of force”, even though it led to the hospitalisation of an inmate. Their investigation continues by claiming that there was “no case of intentional denial”of basic rights such as family visitations and phone calls, which is in stark contradiction with the testimonyprovided by the three women.
Last month, the UN Secretary-Generaldetailed the “ongoing trend of harassment and intimidation” against representatives of Bahrain’s civil society who cooperate with the UN, and noted the persecution of family members of Sayed Ahmed Al-Wadaei, the son-in-law of Mansoor, who is Director of Advocacy of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD). The timing of these recent reprisals against Mansoor, Yusuf and Ali suggests, once again, a coordinated effort by the Bahraini authorities to avert international criticism by intimidating and punishing prisoners of conscience and human rights defenders.
Bahrain is now a member of the UN Human Rights Council, and while its oversight bodies have completely failed to address the situation, it is vital that you make your position clear by publicly condemning these abusive restrictions, which violate the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.
On 3 October, Mansoor, Yusuf and Ali calledfor the urgent intervention of “UN Special Rapporteurs to stop the violations we are subjected to, and to expose the falsity of the human rights organisations and institutions that follow the regime in Bahrain.” In support of these demands, they began a hunger strike on 14 October, and are now being held at the prison clinic in critical conditions. It is imperative, now more than ever, to use the weight of your office to publicly defend them, by:
a.Issuing a public statement calling for an end to the reprisals against Hajer Mansoor, Najah Yusuf and Medina Ali, as well as the ongoing restrictions on phone calls, family visits and time outside the cell imposed on all inmates;
b.Calling on Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release those women who are imprisoned on politicised charges related to their human rights activities, and those of their relatives;
c.Publicly calling for an independent investigation into the allegation of torture and mistreatment against female prisoners, to ensure perpetrators, including Major Albardoli, are hold to account.
d.Urging the Government of Bahrain, in light of its recent appointment as Member of the Human Rights Council, to strictly abide by its international obligations, including by allowing the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to visit the country.
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)
Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)
European Centre For Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)
Front Line Defenders
Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
Index on Censorship
The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
Brian Dooley, Senior Advisor, Human Rights First (HRF)
Following democracy protests in Bahrain in February 2011, al Salman was unjustly imprisoned for six months. She was threatened, beaten and subject to acts of humiliation and torture by the authorities because of her trade union activities.
Unwavering commitment to democracy, equality and human and trade union rights despite public harassment by authorities
In defiance of the restrictions imposed on her, al Salman has fought, without hesitation, for the rights of teachers in Bahrain to organise free from political interference. She has challenged the authorities in Bahrain to fully respect the rights of teachers in accordance with International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions.
Following her release from prison, al Salman has continued to be a vocal champion for the rights of teachers and students, despite continued threats, intimidation and detentions.
An ardent campaigner for the rights of women and girls in Bahrain and the region, she has been an active representative and contributor to the Education International (EI) World Women’s Conference, UN Commission on the Status of Women and other meetings to advance the goal of equality for women and girls.
Under al Salman’s leadership, the Bahrain Teachers Association (BTA) is a recognised and vital member of the EI global trade union family. She continues to work to ensure a voice for Bahrain's teachers within EI. She has also contributed to efforts to build EI's regional structures for member organisations within the Arab countries in the Middle East.
Five Bahraini human rights organizations, signatories to this joint statement, express their deep concern at the information they received about the intention of the German authorities to deport Bahraini citizen Ahmed Nawar from their territories to Bahrain after examining his asylum application and protection. Nawar, who is a member of a Bahraini targeted political opposition group, has been applying for asylum in Germany since 2015. The signatory organizations fear that Nawar will be at risk if he will be deported to Bahrain, especially with increasing number of cases of activists or detainees who been tortured under interrogation or custody.
Nawar participated in many anti-arbitrary activities in Bahrain during his stay in Germany. He also participated in different media programs, expressed his views on social media, and delivered speeches opposing the Bahraini government's policy. He fears that all these acts will be used against him if he is deported to Bahrain. Nawar has been living with concern since Germany authorities decision to deport him from the court, the local police may implement the decision at any time.
This is not the first time that Bahraini nationals have been deported from countries where they have applied for asylum or taken refuge in order to escape the influence of the security agency in Bahrain. The Dutch authorities deported Bahraini citizen Ali Shuwaikh, who arrived at Bahrain airport late on Saturday 20th October where he was arrested on arrival and transferred to an unknown destination.
In January 2014, Omani authorities handed over Bahraini citizen Sadiq Jafar al-Shaabani, age 31, after being arrested by the Omani intelligence service. According to information obtained by human rights organizations in Bahrain, al-Shaabani was severely tortured in the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) building.
Bahrain National Security Agency responsible for the arrests is considered to be the deadliest body in the country. The results of the investigations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry concluded that this Agency practices torture and physical and psychological ill-treatment like what happens to Abdul Kareem Fakhrawi and Ali Issa Saqr. The fact-finding committee recommended freezing the authorities of this Agency in terms of criminal arrest and investigation and limiting its work to research and investigation. However, the government reintroduced the authority of investigation and re-arrest of this agency since January 2017.
Several international human rights organizations have issued reports confirming the torture and ill-treatment systemically practiced by the security authorities in Bahrain, including Amnesty International, which issued a report in 2017 entitled "No one can protect you", which contained details of claims and complaints of torture, including the case of woman human rights activist Ibtisam al-Sayegh where she been physical tortured and sexual assaulted during interrogation at National Security Agency headquarters in Muharraq in June 2017.
The signatories to this joint statement hold the German authorities responsible for the safety of Bahraini citizen Ahmed Nawar and invite them to reconsider their decision, especially when they tolerates Nawar's torture and inhuman treatment once he deport to Bahrain.
* Bahrain Center for Human Rights
* Bahrain Forum for Human Rights
* Bahrain German Organization for Human Rights and Democracy
* Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights
* Salam for Democracy and Human Rights
<p>The Bahrain Center for Human Rights issued a new report entitled "Press in Bahrain: The Usurpation of the Word". The report was published in Arabic and English to highlight the reality of the Bahraini press, documenting the violations committed against journalists and those working in this field. </p>
<p>In its report, the Center examines Bahrain's laws and legislation restricting the freedom of press work and shows the extent of its non-conformity with the international treaties, covenants and agreements. The report also documents violations of media workers since the popular protests beginning in 2011.</p>
<p>The report concluded with recommendations to the Government of Bahrain urging them to the immediate and unconditioned release to all journalists, detainees and conscience who have been detained for expressing their views or for their work in the field of journalism and information. The report has also recommended canceling laws that do not match the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in the Bahraini Penal Code and Decree-Law No. 47 of 2002, which limits freedom of expression and freedom of the press.</p>
<p>To read the full report click<a href="/sites/default/files/ctools/css/Bahrain%20The%20Usurpation%20of%20the%20Word%20%281%29.pdf"> here</a></p>
Held in Beirut - 23 November 2018.
Sheikh Maytham Al Salman, President of the Bahrain Interfaith Cultivating Harmony and Bahrain Center for Human Rights Advisor, participated in the press conference held at the Lancaster Hotel Beirut on Friday, 2018/11/23, to attend the parliamentary elections to be held in Bahrain on Saturday, 24/11/2018.
Salman said that the parliamentary elections, which will take place Saturday, in an atmosphere of non-democratic and repressive environment, can not achieve the aspirations of citizens in Bahrain, in the manufacture of desired sovial and political stability. He added that the insistence of the Authority in Bahrain to move forward with the parliamentary elections without human rights and political reforms, while refusing to adopt the principle of dialogue to reach national consensus, has serious damage to the economic, political and social environment.
Salman pointed out that the international attitudes that have been issued in the past months and weeks, from many parts of the European Union, and its Parliament, the United States and the United Kingdom, confirm Bahrain's need for the logic of dialogue and national reconciliation instead of the logic of repression and the violation of human rights violations. Almost forty deputies in the European Parliament said: they hoped that the upcoming elections would have an opportunity to ease tensions and allow for open dialogue rather than enacting increasingly repressive measures.
He also pointed out that international positions are in line with the popular conviction in Bahrain of all components that the holding of elections in this oppressive and undemocratic environment can not contribute to addressing the human rights and political deterioration in the country. On the contrary, he affirmed that the elections in These bad conditions leave Bahrain far from dialogue and national reconciliation. I fear that the elections will be a gateway to further human rights violations and illegal restrictions on public freedoms.
He added that elections can not succeed, in light of the severe human rights deterioration and the suffocating political environment, and the blocking of the horizon of civil liberties.
At a time when more than 14,000 detainees, including children and women, have been subjected to arbitrary arrests since 2011, the security authorities continue to carry out arbitrary arrests, such as former MP Ali al-Ashiri, He was arrested for disturbing the elections on Tuesday (November 13, 2018) after a tweet at the social networking site Twitter, in which he exercised his legitimate right to freedom of expression and criticized political isolation.
He added that no country in the world can succeed in elections unless it creates political stability. But in the presence of more than 4000 detainees, against the background of the political crisis, hundreds of projected their nationalities, and the prevalence of human rights violations in all joints of the state. Denying the opposition to participate in parliamentary elections makes the entire election a play that can not convince the international community and observers of the claims of democracy.
We have seen this week that some parties have been forced to intimidate the electoral districts. This contravenes legal and constitutional rules. The option of participation or boycott is a right that does not have an obligation in return, and freedom of the individual is free either by participation or boycotts. If the freedom of the citizen is confiscated and forced to participate in the elections, the elections have lost their integrity and have become unreliable.
Salman pointed out that one of the most important problems facing the electoral process is the existence of an unfair electoral system. The current electoral system does not include fair electoral districts that achieve equality between citizens and the universal principle of elections.
The Riffa area, for example, controls 6 parliamentary seats. This means that Riffa (Southern Governorate) controls 15% of the House of Representatives, while in the Northern Governorate there are 40 districts. Hamad City, which secures only 12 deputies, and the capital province consists of 47 districts and produce only 10 deputies.
It is also evident from the comparison between some of the districts in the following governorates: The tenth district in the southern governorate has 1608 voters, while the seventh constituency of Muharraq Governorate is 15363, which means that one circle represents 10% of another constituency, an electoral equation unparalleled in the world. These elections do not promote the spirit of equal citizenship, and the votes are not equal according to the principle of the voice of every citizen, and this confirms the government's failure to build a fair electoral system.
Al-Salman also pointed out the importance of currency monitoring to highlight the locations of imbalances and legal violations in order to reduce the size of the area, be it legal or human practice of those involved in the electoral administration, and therefore should be independent organizations and institutions, This is not available in the electoral process in Bahrain. It is not permissible to monitor the performance of the party concerned with the organization of the elections, and that the monitoring shall be on the candidate and the voter only.
The Authority also attended international or international media, covering the process of the process and monitoring the elections. Why is the Bahraini government afraid of international observers and the international media?
Salman made the following recommendations:
Sheikh Maytham Salman
President of Bahrain Interfaith Cultivating Harmony and Bahrain Center for Human Rights Adviso
<p>Bahrain Center for Human Rights condemns the two death sentences issued today against Zuhair Ibrahim and Mohamed Mahdi. BCHR also deplores the Bahraini judiciary's insistence on issuing death sentences which reached to 35 death sentence sentences from 2011 until today. The judiciary has executed three cases in 2017. BCHR calls upon the Government of Bahrain to withdraw and repeal these provisions and to sign and accede to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the abolition of the death penalty.</p>
BCHR believes that Bahrain's criminal laws and legislations are full of the death penalty, especially in issues related to freedom of opinion and expression and the exercise of political rights that are considered by the Government of Bahrain as crimes leading the victims to malicious accusations against many of the accused victims. The death sentence in this year (2018) was 19. All of these judgments came from unfair trials and did not comply with fair trial guarantees. BCHR documented many of these cases of torture of those sentenced to death.</p>
BCHR finds that Bahrain's legislations and laws contain 81 articles that stipulate the death penalty, and that the Bahraini legislator does not take into account the International laws and principles regarding the reduction of the use of the death penalty.<br />
BCHR recommends on the Government of Bahrain to refrain from implementing the death penalty and calls upon it to accede to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. All measures to abolish the death penalty should be considered as progress in the enjoyment of the right to life.</p>
<p>The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is gravely concerned about the Bahraini government continuing to issue death penalty sentences in light of the deteriorating political and human rights situation since February 2011. Since then, Bahrain courts have issued 32 death penalty sentences against 32 detainees arrested on political grounds. Most of them reported that they were exposed to physical and psychological torture to force them to confess. Three of the convicts were executed in January 2017 by firing squad after the murder of a policeman.</p>
<p>Zuhair Ibrahim Jassem, 38, will attend trial on Thursday, November 29, 2018. His family and human rights activists in Bahrain fear that he will be sentenced to death penalty, the most extreme sentence given in similar cases. Zuhair faces charges of joining a terrorist cell operating in Bahrain against police officers, training in the use of weapons, operations against police officers and killing of a policeman.</p>
<p>In details, Zuhair’s family informed the Bahrain Center for Human Rights that civilian forces had stormed their house in the Sutra area on November 2, 2017. They arrested Zuhair after searching the house and confiscated Zuhair's personal belongings without giving the family any information or explanation about the reasons for the arrest or search. Mrs. Hanin Ali, 35, Zuhair’s wife, said that she was beaten by a member of the authorities who broke into their house after her husband was arrested. Moreover, she was threatened with rape. He pointed the gun at her head while interrogating her in an isolated room to give information about her husband Zuhair before his family will be summoned to the criminal investigation unit.</p>
<p>Zuhair was in the Criminal Investigation Building for about 55 days before being transferred to the Dry Dock Prison. Zuhair was brought to his family after severe torture caused by the interrogators who investigated him by stripping him of all his clothes and severely electrocuting and beating him. The interrogators also threatened to kill his family, if he did not confess about the charges against him. Therefore, Zuhair signed the papers of confession about the above-mentioned charges after his arrest on 13 November, as announced by the Bahraini Ministry of Interior, which defamed him and other defendants on Bahrain TV Al-Wasi, on 15 November 2017.</p>
<p>On February 20, 2018, the Public Prosecution ordered that the case was referred to the Grand Criminal Court. Zuhair’s family says that he spoke to the judge about the torture he was subjected to, but the judge did not care. His family also filed a complaint about his torture at the Special Investigation Unit of the Public Prosecutor's Office.</p>
<p>The legal advisor of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Ibrahim Sarhan, said that death sentences are issued in trials that do not have fair trial guarantees. Although there are allegations of victims being tortured and brought before judges, but their legal rights weren’t observed. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) believes that the continued use of this aborted penalty in Bahrain is a violation of international conventions and treaties, especially Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: “Everyone has the right of living, freedom and self-safety”.</p>
<p>Based on this, the BCHR calls upon the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, the European Union, and other allies and international institutions to pressure the Government of Bahrain to:</p>
<li>The release Zuhair Jassem, the suspension of his trial and the dropping of all confessions extracted from him under torture.</li>
<li>Stop using the death penalty.</li>
<li>Abolish previously issued death sentences and investigate allegations of torture of defendants.</li>
<li>Accountability of elements of the security services who prove their involvement in the commission of acts of torture no matter how high their positions are.</li>
<p>The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is gravely concerned about the case of Mr. Hakeem Ali Mohamed Ali AlAraibi, a Bahrain-born individual who has since fled Bahrain and now lives as a refugee in Australia. During recent travel, he was detained in Bangkok, Thailand, upon his arrival there on Tuesday 27 November 2018. He had previously been sentenced to ten years in prison in an unfair trial in Bahrain back in 2014 before he fled to Australia, where he has since been recognized as a refugee in 2017. He was informed upon his arrival in Bangkok on Tuesday that he would be handed down to Bahrain, where he almost certainly faces imprisonment and torture. </p>
<p>Mr. AlAraibi used to be a football player on Bahrain’s national team before he was arrested and tortured in November 2012. He has since publicly spoken about the harsh torture he was subjected to; he was particularly outspoken to the New York Times about Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa’s role in targeting out and torturing football players who participated in demonstrations. Mr. AlAraibi believed that he was partially targeted because of his Shia faith and the fact that his brother was politically active in Bahrain.</p>
<p>On 05 January 2014, Mr. AlAraibi was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in absentia, while he was in Qatar on the charge of vandalizing a police station. Mr. AlAraibi claims that he was playing a match that was shown live on TV when the alleged crime occurred, but when his family reached out to the Bahraini soccer association to confirm his alibi, these requests went unanswered.</p>
<p>On 05 May 2014, Mr. AlAraibi fled to Australia, where he applied for asylum on 02 June 2014 and his request was granted on 30 November 2017. He received a protection visa that expired 30 November 2022. This visa allows Mr. AlAraibi to remain in Australia indefinitely and to travel to and from Australia, as long as he does not travel to the country (Bahrain), which he sought protection from.</p>
<p>On 27 November 2018, Mr. AlAraibi travelled from Melbourne to Bangkok. Upon his arrival to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), he was detained and was informed that the reason for his detention was in conformity with an INTERPOL Red Notice against him, issued upon request of Bahrain on the basis of the criminal conviction against him in 2014. He was also informed that he would be handed down to Bahrain as soon as the immigration authorities could provide assistance.</p>
<p>The Australian embassy in Bangkok advised AlAraibi on 30 November 2018 that his case is cleared with the Thai authorities and that he should book the first flight back to Australia. However, Thai immigration authorities refused to hand him his travel document and insisted for him to book a flight the following night. A few hours before his pre-booked flight to Melbourne, Thai immigration authorities transferred AlAraibi to Suan Plu Immigration Detention Centre in Bangkok, where he is now detained. Thai authorities advised AlAraibi that the case is now between the Australian and the Bahraini Governments, and that the decision is theirs.</p>
<p>INTERPOL had lifted the Red Notice against AlAraibi on 04 December 2018. However Thai authorities continued to detain him following a court order issued on 03 December 2018 to detain AlAraibi for 12 more days.</p>
<p>Head of Thailand’s immigration Police Lieutenant General Surachet Hakparn said, in an interview with BBC Thai on 05 December 2018: "The Bahraini Government knew that he (Hakeem AlAraibi) would be arriving in Thailand (on the 27th of November), so they coordinated with Thailand's permanent secretary of foreign affairs to detain him, pending documents sent from Bahrain."</p>
<p>On 08 December 2018, Bangkok Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against AlAraibi, and he was transferred to a prison in the same night. He said that he would start a hunger strike if he was transferred to the prison.</p>
<p>The Red Notice against Mr. AlAraibi may be inconsistent with the INTERPOL Executive Committee’s formal policy with respect to refugees of June 2014. Further, the maintenance of a Red Notice against Mr. AlAraibi is also likely in violation of INTERPOL’s own regulations. INTERPOL states, in its Constitution, that the organization will operate “in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” The UDHR provides for the right to life, liberty and security of person, the prohibition of torture, the prohibition of arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile, the right to a fair trial, the right to a presumption of innocence, and the right to freedom of movement, among others. The Bahraini government’s conviction of AlAraibi is in violation of these principles. As such, the Red Notice associated with his conviction is in violation of INTERPOL’s own regulations, and should be disregarded.</p>
<p>Further, under international law, it is prohibited to return (“refouler”) an individual to a state or territory when there is a reasonable fear that the individual will be subjected to torture. This is explicit in the Convention Against Torture, implicit in the general prohibition against torture in both the CAT and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is generally considered a non-derogable and mandatory human rights jus cogens norm. In this case, there are reasonable and substantial grounds to assume that Mr. AlAraibi would be subjected to torture if he was returned to Bahrain, considering that he was previously subjected to torture in 2012 and that he has publicly named a high-ranking official and member of the royal family as having knowledge of his torture.</p>
<p>In May 2017, the United Nations Committee Against Torture has addressed the issue of widespread torture in Bahrain. In the Observations, the Committee stated that it was “concerned that there continue to be numerous and consistent allegations of widespread torture and ill-treatment of persons who are deprived of their liberty in all places of detention . . . at the moment of arrest, during pretrial detention and in prisons, in order to extract confessions or as punishment.” The Committee also noted that a “climate of impunity” exists in Bahrain in regards to torture, considering the low number of convictions for torture.</p>
<p>Based on the well-documented pattern of torture in Bahrain, BCHR call on the international organizations to put pressure on the Thai government to:</p>
<li>Immediately Release Mr. AlAraibi’s;</li>
<li>Take immediate action to prevent his deportation to Bahrain</li>
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) congratulates Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman, the head of Bahrain Interfaith and member of the advisory panel for the BCHR, for being honored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights(UNHCHR) for playing a prominent role in defending and promoting human rights in the Middle East and North Africa. Among 30 other human rights activists, including Mr. Ghashir Boujomaa - Algerian lawyer and the former president of the National Association for Human Rights, Mrs. Nahla Haidar - prominent Lebanese human rights activist and a member in the committee resulting from the agreement of eliminating all discrimination forms against women, in addition to Mr. Isam Aroury - the Palestinian human rights activist and the Director-General of Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center, Al Salman has been selected by the commission to be honored. The Commission described the above mentionned human rights activits as “exceptions” in the Middle East and North Africa. They are at the forefront of the defenders of the Universal Declaration of Human rights through their work, dedication and sacrifices, characterized by their their courageous defense of the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
This was announced during a ceremony held by the United Nations Office in the Middle East at the occasion of the seventieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in Jamal Abdel Nasser Hall, Beirut. The ceremony began with a speech to help the Secretary-General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmore, on "Countering intimidation from cooperating with the United Nations in the field of human rights". The Regional Representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights - Ruwaida El Hajj, the President of Beirut Arab University - Prof. Amro Jalal El Adawi, Member of the Lebanese Parliament and Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights -MP Michel Moussa, delivered speeches on the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a fundamental turning point in the history of mankind.
The BCHR, headed by the prominent human rights prisoner Nabeel Rajab, seeks to spread the culture of human rights in society, especially in Bahrain. Sheikh Maytham Al Salman, a member of the advisory panel for the Center, has been imprisoned, tortured, denied from traveling during the past years because of his efforts in defending human rights issues.
<p>The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and Bahrain Interfaith condemn the government of Bahrain’s disregard for the growing abuse against female domestic workers in the Kingdom. We call on the governments of Bahrain and of labor-sending countries to ensure religious freedom rights are protected.</p>
<p>This report traces abuse and exploitation to which female domestic workers in Bahrain are subjected by employers, with regards to their rights of worship. The report outlines the rights and international legal standards that apply to workers.</p>
<p>Approximately 460,000 migrant workers, mostly from Asia, make up 77 percent of the country’s private workforce. Due to shortcomings in Bahrain’s legal and regulatory framework and the failure to implement and enforce existing laws, migrant workers, especially female domestic workers, endure serious abuses such as unpaid wages, passport confiscation, unsafe and unhealthy accommodation, excessive work hours, and physical and psychological abuse. They are also being subjected to deprivation of their rights to worship and the absence of religious freedoms. </p>
<p>Many human rights organizations have expressed concerns over the treatment of female domestic workers in Bahrain, confirming that housekeepers and domestic workers are systematically exposed to discriminatory, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. In a recent report on labor in the Gulf Countries, the number of female domestic workers in Bahrain was estimated to exceed 80,000. The increasing rate of their abuse has raised serious concerns over the absence of strict and well-established legislation and administrative measures that regulate the relationship between these women and their employers. </p>
<p>Reports stated that the majority of these maids are practically treated as private property, looking more like a modern day slavery system, wherein the maids are deprived of their basic human rights. Many of these workers are not able to nor allowed to communicate with friends, family and other people besides residents of the house they serve in. Although they are physically and legally not detained or arrested, some of them are forced to live in a state of incommunicado. Many of them do not leave the house and are not allowed to step anywhere near the door. </p>
<p>Additionally, there is no proper legal framework that preserves the female domestic workers’ religious freedom rights including the right of worship and practicing religious rituals in line with the Articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).</p>
<p>Female domestic workers are reportedly deprived not only of the freedom to worship their religion but also of portraying their religion or its symbols in any manner or way. Most maids are not allowed, and in reported cases severely punished, to even wear or put up religious symbols like a cross, even though there are no laws prohibiting employees from wearing or carrying religious symbols. BCHR and Bahrain Interfaith documented cases of female domestic workers being subjected to deprivation of their right to freedom of religion.</p>
<p>Despite fear of reprisals, domestic workers told stories of being prevented from practicing their religion. (Their full names are withheld in order to protect them from further abuse.)</p>
<p>Ruwaina (Philippines) told us: “We are three maids at the same house, and two of us are not allowed to wear the cross, because it is <em>haram</em>. We understand that, but the boss doesn’t allow us to go to church also. One time he saw me pray and punished me……but [another maid] is Muslim, she is also not allowed to go to Mosque.”</p>
<p>Additionally, there are reports that female domestic workers and housekeepers, particularly Hindu, have been victimized and abused severely at a physical and mental level.</p>
<p>Roopa (India) stated: “My boss will not let me go to the temple, because he said that I am a pagan and worship stone. I cannot live like this anymore!”</p>
<p>Moreover, female domestic workers are repeatedly deprived of taking holidays, even on special religious occasions like: Eid, Christmas, Diwaly, etc.</p>
<p>Julie (Philippines) said: “I told him, deduct from my salary if you want, but please send me to church, at least just for Christmas. He said, “You are <em>Kafir</em> (infidel), I will not help you commit wrong. Even if you go to the Labor Ministry, or to the embassy, no one can do anything for you.”</p>
<p>Jojah (Indonesian) reported: “Not even once did my employer allow me to attend the prayers or sermons at the mosque, not even during Eid. Even in the house, I am not given time to perform my daily prayers. Only at night when the family goes to sleep, I perform my prayers too late.”</p>
<p>"Depriving tens of thousands of maids and domestic workers in Bahrain from their right to attend churches, temples, mosques and religious centers should be loudly denounced by human rights organizations in Bahrain and abroad," Sheikh Maytham Al Salman, the head of Interfaith Organization stated. "The government of Bahrain has miserably failed to protect the religious freedom of domestic workers and maids from abuses committed by state and non-state actors."</p>
<p>Bahrain has claimed that it is committed to improving migrant labor laws and practices; however, the implementation of laws are inconsistent with international labor law standards and the international human rights commitments of the government of Bahrain.</p>
<p>Even though religious freedom rights are not directly denied by the government, it is the government's full responsibility to enforce legislative and administrative measures to protect religious freedom rights of domestic workers.</p>
<p>"These Asian migrants, due to not being able to find appropriate work in their country of residence, take up these jobs in Bahrain to ensure that they sustain their livelihood and that of their families. They left their countries, but they did not leave their religion and beliefs and Bahrain must ensure their protection and rights to worship," a local labor rights activists said.</p>
<p>Bahrain is a member of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and is a state party to relevant international treaties that protect freedom of religion or belief. It is also a signatory since 2006 to the ICCPR<strong>,</strong>which states in Article 18 that “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his [or her] choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his [or her] religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching. No one shall be subject to coercion, which would impair his [or her] freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his [or her] choice.” The ICCPR establishes an individual’s right to freedom of movement, and Article 7 of the ICESCR recognizes “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of just and favorable conditions of work.”</p>
<p><strong>Therefore, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and Bahrain Interfaith call on the government of Bahrain to:</strong></p>
<li>Protect the religious freedom and worship rights of all people in Bahrain;</li>
<li>Enforce the signing of employment contracts between all domestic workers and their employers, clearly stating in the contracts the number of working hours and their right to a weekend and yearly paid holiday; and</li>
<li>Immediately adopt corrective measures to ensure low paid domestic workers are not deprived from enjoying their basic human rights.</li>
NGOs are concerned that, with Nabeel Rajab's appeal hearing scheduled on 31 December, authorities may be planning to increase his sentence under cover of the world's celebrations of the new year.
We the undersigned call on Bahraini authorities to release Nabeel Rajab immediately, to repeal his convictions and sentences, and drop all charges against him. On 31 December 2018 the Court of Cassation in Bahrain may issue its verdict in the appeal of the five-year prison sentence handed to him for peaceful comments posted and retweeted on his Twitter account about the killing of civilians in the Yemen conflict by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, and allegations of torture in Jau prison.
We are concerned that the authorities intend to increase Rajab's prison sentence unopposed, by setting 31 December as the date for a hearing and possible issuing of a verdict, while most Bahrainis and people around the globe will be focused on year-end celebrations. This is not an idle concern, as, opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman was arrested on 28 December 2014 and subsequently convicted and sentenced to four years in jail following an unfair trial. And last month, in yet another case brought against him on spying charges, the Court of Appeal overturned his initial acquittal and sentenced him instead to life in prison.
Rajab has been a tireless champion of human rights for many years, helping to found and run the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, both members of the IFEX network.
He has been detained since his arrest on 13 June 2016. He was held largely in solitary confinement during the first nine months of his detention, violating UN rules on pre-trial imprisonment, and has been subjected to humiliating treatment. His books, toiletries, and clothes have been confiscated and his cell frequently raided at night.
Rajab was sentenced to two years in jail in 2017 on charges of “publishing and broadcasting false news that undermines the prestige of the state” during TV interviews he gave in 2015 and 2016 in which he stated that Bahraini authorities bar reporters and human rights workers from entering the country. He was sentenced in 2018 to five years in prison on charges of “disseminating false rumors in times of war” for tweets about torture in Jau Prison and the war in Yemen.
At its eighty-first session, 17-26 April 2018, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Rajab's “deprivation of liberty constitutes a violation of articles 2 and 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 2 (1) and 26 of the Covenant – on the grounds of discrimination based on political or other opinion, as well as on his status as a human rights defender”.
We therefore urge Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Nabeel Rajab, quash his convictions and sentences, and drop all charges against him; and undertake a prompt, impartial, independent and effective investigation into his allegations of ill-treatment. The findings of the investigation must be made public and anyone suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice in fair proceedings.
As this case is part of a pattern of abuse and harassment against human rights defenders and journalists in Bahrain, we also urge the authorities to cease all such actions and ensure that the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press is respected.
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
ActiveWatch – Media Monitoring Agency
Adil Soz - International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC)
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE)
Association of Caribbean Media Workers
Bytes for All (B4A)
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
Foro de Periodismo Argentino
Free Media Movement
Globe International Center
Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
Human Rights Watch (HRW)
I'lam Arab Center for Media Freedom Development and Research
Independent Journalism Center (IJC)
Index on Censorship
Initiative for Freedom of Expression - Turkey
International Press Centre (IPC)
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
Media Rights Agenda (MRA)
Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF)
Pacific Islands News Association (PINA)
Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA)
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
Social Media Exchange (SMEX)
Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)
South East European Network for Professionalization of Media (SEENPM)
South East Europe Media Organisation
Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM)
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC)
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers
Bahrain Institute for Human Rights
Campaign Against Arms Trade
FIDH under the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
Gulf Institute for Human Rights
MENA Monitoring Group
OMCT under the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
Salam for Democracy and Human Rights
by Joe Stork
It’s been a grim 2018 for partisans of free expression in the Gulf. The gruesome murder of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi by henchmen of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman rightly commanded headlines. More bad news looms, though. In these last days of 2018, Nabeel Rajab and Ahmed Mansoor, the leading human rights figures in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates respectively, expect final appeals court rulings on the long prison terms they are serving for speaking out against their highly abusive authoritarian regimes.
Ahmed Mansoor was literally the last activist standing (“the last man talking,” he liked to say) in the UAE when security forces raided his home in March 2017 and held him in an unknown location for more than a year with no access to a lawyer. (The handful of UAE defense lawyers who formerly took the cases of political dissidents are now all in jail or exile.) Mansoor had previously faced physical assaults, death threats, and a sophisticated spyware attack as a consequence of his outspoken promotion of democracy and human rights.
The UAE has engaged rafts of U.S. and UK public relations firms to promote an image of enlightened autocracy. In November, the country sponsored a two-day World Tolerance Summit of government officials, diplomats and academics to “celebrate diversity amongst people from all walks of life, regardless of varying political views . . . .” So long, it seems, as those views contain no reference to the country’s fierce intolerance of peaceful political dissent. In May 2018, the Federal Supreme Court’s State Security Chamber sentenced Mansoor to 10 years in prison for insulting “the status and prestige of the UAE and its symbols” and publishing “false information” on social media “that harm national unity and social harmony and damage the country’s reputation.” On December 30, the Federal Supreme Court will announce its decision in Ahmed Mansoor’s appeal.
Nabeel Rajab’s hearing is one day after Mansoor’s, on December 31. Rajab’s lawyers are expecting that the Cassation Court—the country’s court of final appeal—will rule on his appeal of his February 2018 High Criminal Court conviction for criticizing Bahrain’s participation in the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen (“insulting a neighboring country”) and allegations of torture in Bahrain’s main prison (“offending a statutory body”). In June, the High Criminal Court of Appeal confirmed his five-year sentence in that case.
Rajab, a founder and head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights who has been in jail since mid-June 2016, is currently in the last days of a two-year sentence in a similar but separate case, on charges of “publishing and broadcasting fake news that undermines the prestige of the state.” The offending “news,” conveyed in a TV interview, comprised well-documented facts: that the government bars journalists and rights researchers from visiting Bahrain, that the government recruits foreigners (“mercenaries”) into its security forces, that security forces subject detainees to torture, and that the judiciary lacks independence. As if to confirm the last item, the Court of Cassation in January 2018 upheld this conviction and two-year sentence.
Rajab’s supporters note that the December 31 hearing comes as the two-year sentence expires at the end of December, and fear that the government is determined to keep him behind bars despite its expiry. Over the last year-plus the government has shuttered the country’s one independent newspaper (Al Wasat) and the two leading opposition political groups, Al Wefaq (Shi`a Islamist) and Wa`ad (secular leftist). There is some fear that the court might even increase Rajab’s pending five-year sentence. This is what happened after Al Wefaq leader Sheikh Ali Salman was acquitted on bogus charges of spying for Qatar: the state appealed and the Court of Appeal overturned the acquittal and sentenced Salman to life in prison.
One can find news stories and editorials in the U.S. media about the persecution of rights defenders when the country is China or Venezuela, Iran or Syria, but rarely when the jailer is Bahrain and never when it’s the UAE. Full disclosure: I know both Ahmed and Nabeel, and worked closely with them both when I worked for Human Rights Watch and they were not in jail. What a simple accounting of their convictions and prison sentences fails to convey is the trauma and suffering—of these two individuals, much of the time in solitary confinement and sometimes deteriorating health, but also of their spouses and young children. What we see with Ahmed Mansoor and Nabeel Rajab is not justice or rule of law, but purely punitive state behavior directed at individuals who refuse to be silenced in the face of the abusive ruling families of Bahrain and the UAE.
Joe Stork was until recently the Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division. He serves on the Advisory Board of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights.