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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) condemns the sentence issued by the Court of Cassation on December 31, 2018, against the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab, and his five-year imprisonment, after being convicted of criticizing Bahrain's participation in the Yemen war and his tweets on Twitter testifying about torture at Jaw's Central Prison.

    The Grand Criminal Court sentenced Rajab to five years in prison on February 21, 2018. The sentence is added to a previous one of two years in a case involving freedom of expression (FOE). The court convicted Rajab under Article 133 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes "broadcasting false rumors in wartime", article 215 on "insulting a foreign state in public" and article 216 on "insulting official bodies".

    Rajab is one of the most courageous defenders of human rights in Bahrain and suffers from constant harassment and ill-treatment in Jaw's Central Prison where he is currently imprisoned.

    Maytham Al Salman from the Bahrain Center for Human Rights stated after rejecting the appeal of Nabeel Rajab and the court’s decision to support the sentence against him in the case of criticizing the war on Yemen that : “Nabeel Rajab was sentenced for opposing war in Yemen and calling for a peaceful reconciliation for humanitarian reasons. Today, the United Nations and the international community are advocating Nabeel Rajab’s message and the War in Yemen can possibly end very soon after accepting the exchange of prisoners between parties involved in the conflict.”

    He added: “Nabeel Rajab should be rewarded rather than imprisoned for his call to end the war in Yemen for humanitarian reasons.”

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights believes that the continued detention of the activist Nabeel Rajab in prison is a continuation of the punishment imposed by the government against those who carry out their professional and humanitarian duty to advocate for human rights issues. The Government of Bahrain continues to punish human rights activists for their work in exposing human rights violations. The sentence against Nabeel Rajab reveals the persistence of the Government of Bahrain in violating human rights laws and its disregarding of international covenants and conventions ratified by Bahrain, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which states: "No one shall be punished for exercising his right to freedom of expression.

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls upon Bahrain's allies to pressure the government of Bahrain to:

    - Immediate release of Nabeel Rajab and drop the charges against him

    - Stop targeting Human Rights Defenders (HRDs)

    - Respect international covenants and conventions, especially those relating to the need to preserve the right to freedom of expression

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    <p>&ldquo;Bahrain Center for Human Rights&rdquo; with the cooperation of &ldquo;Bahrain Interfaith&rdquo;, &ldquo;Salam for Democracy and Human Rights&rdquo;, and &ldquo;Maharat Foundation&rdquo; organized a seminar entitled &ldquo;The Restrictions Imposed on the Freedom of Opinion and Expression-Bahrain&rdquo;. The seminar discussed the use of regional laws as a mean to limit the freedom of expression in Bahrain. It reviewed the violations and constraints imposed on the citizens, organizations, and civil society that are making use of their right to freedom of expression, through judicial and legislative restrictions.</p>

    <p>The legal advisor Ibrahim Sarhan, from SalamDHR, reviewed the legal articles that the government of Bahrain uses to restrict freedom of expression. In the second panel, Hussein Al-Sharif, from &ldquo;Maharat Foundation&rdquo; discussed Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that emphasizes the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Additionally, he listed the international legislations protecting this right. In this context, he noted the importance of human rights activists&#39; knowledge of the gaps in internal laws and how these gaps can be used to their advantage.</p>

    <p>Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman, from Bahrain Interfaith, commented on the provisions of incitement to hatred in Bahrain, and ways of guaranteeing the right to express one&rsquo;s opinion through the scrutiny of the Bahraini law, and provided a precise definition of hatred, as well as the adoption of the Rabat Plan of Action. Finally, human rights activist Enas Aoun, from the Bahrain Center for Human Rights participated in a recorded video on the situation of prisoners of opinion and expression in Bahrain.&nbsp;</p>

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    <p><strong>Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:</strong>&nbsp; Ravina Shamdasani<br />
    <strong>Location:</strong>&nbsp;Geneva&nbsp;<br />
    <strong>Date:&nbsp;</strong>4 January 2019<br />
    <strong>Subject: Bahrain</strong></p>

    <p>We call on the Government of Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and to ensure that all Bahrainis are able to exercise their rights to freedom of opinion and expression without fear of arbitrary detention.&nbsp;</p>

    <p>Rajab has been imprisoned since June 2016 for tweeting in 2015 about Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s airstrikes in Yemen and allegations of torture inside Bahrain&rsquo;s Jau Prison. One such tweet read as follows:&nbsp;<em>&ldquo;We have the right to say no to the war in #Yemen and should struggle for peace and security but not bloodshed #Sanaa.&rdquo;&nbsp;</em>On Monday this week, Bahrain&rsquo;s highest court &ndash; the Court of Cassation &ndash; upheld Rajab&rsquo;s conviction and five-year prison sentence on charges of &quot;spreading false news and rumours in time of war&quot;, &quot;insulting foreign countries&quot; and &quot;insulting publicly the interior ministry&quot;. The UN Working Group of Arbitrary Detention had last year declared Rajab&rsquo;s detention to be arbitrary.</p>

    <p>Monday&rsquo;s court decision brings into focus the continued suppression of Government critics in Bahrain through arbitrary arrest and detention, travel bans, harassment, threats, revocation of citizenship and other means. There have been numerous reports of human rights defenders, political activists, journalists and opposition figures being targeted for the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. The UN Secretary-General&rsquo;s report on reprisals in September 2018 highlighted several specific cases where civil society activists and their families in Bahrain suffered reprisals for seeking to engage with UN human rights mechanisms, including the Human Rights Council. In some of the cases, the activists were accused of terrorism-related offences.</p>

    <p>The arrest, detention and imprisonment of individuals for the exercise of their fundamental human rights is in violation of Bahrain&rsquo;s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which it has ratified. We urge the Government of Bahrain to stop criminalising dissenting voices.</p>

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    <p><strong>Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:</strong>&nbsp; Ravina Shamdasani<br />
    <strong>Location:</strong>&nbsp;Geneva&nbsp;<br />
    <strong>Date:&nbsp;</strong>4 January 2019<br />
    <strong>Subject: Bahrain</strong></p>

    <p>We call on the Government of Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and to ensure that all Bahrainis are able to exercise their rights to freedom of opinion and expression without fear of arbitrary detention.&nbsp;</p>

    <p>Rajab has been imprisoned since June 2016 for tweeting in 2015 about Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s airstrikes in Yemen and allegations of torture inside Bahrain&rsquo;s Jau Prison. One such tweet read as follows:&nbsp;<em>&ldquo;We have the right to say no to the war in #Yemen and should struggle for peace and security but not bloodshed #Sanaa.&rdquo;&nbsp;</em>On Monday this week, Bahrain&rsquo;s highest court &ndash; the Court of Cassation &ndash; upheld Rajab&rsquo;s conviction and five-year prison sentence on charges of &quot;spreading false news and rumours in time of war&quot;, &quot;insulting foreign countries&quot; and &quot;insulting publicly the interior ministry&quot;. The UN Working Group of Arbitrary Detention had last year declared Rajab&rsquo;s detention to be arbitrary.</p>

    <p>Monday&rsquo;s court decision brings into focus the continued suppression of Government critics in Bahrain through arbitrary arrest and detention, travel bans, harassment, threats, revocation of citizenship and other means. There have been numerous reports of human rights defenders, political activists, journalists and opposition figures being targeted for the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. The UN Secretary-General&rsquo;s report on reprisals in September 2018 highlighted several specific cases where civil society activists and their families in Bahrain suffered reprisals for seeking to engage with UN human rights mechanisms, including the Human Rights Council. In some of the cases, the activists were accused of terrorism-related offences.</p>

    <p>The arrest, detention and imprisonment of individuals for the exercise of their fundamental human rights is in violation of Bahrain&rsquo;s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which it has ratified. We urge the Government of Bahrain to stop criminalising dissenting voices.</p>

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    Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:  Ravina Shamdasani

    Location: Geneva 
    Date: 4 January 2019
    Subject: Bahrain

    We call on the Government of Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and to ensure that all Bahrainis are able to exercise their rights to freedom of opinion and expression without fear of arbitrary detention. 

    Rajab has been imprisoned since June 2016 for tweeting in 2015 about Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes in Yemen and allegations of torture inside Bahrain’s Jau Prison. One such tweet read as follows: “We have the right to say no to the war in #Yemen and should struggle for peace and security but not bloodshed #Sanaa.” On Monday this week, Bahrain’s highest court – the Court of Cassation – upheld Rajab’s conviction and five-year prison sentence on charges of "spreading false news and rumours in time of war", "insulting foreign countries" and "insulting publicly the interior ministry". The UN Working Group of Arbitrary Detention had last year declared Rajab’s detention to be arbitrary.

    Monday’s court decision brings into focus the continued suppression of Government critics in Bahrain through arbitrary arrest and detention, travel bans, harassment, threats, revocation of citizenship and other means. There have been numerous reports of human rights defenders, political activists, journalists and opposition figures being targeted for the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. The UN Secretary-General’s report on reprisals in September 2018 highlighted several specific cases where civil society activists and their families in Bahrain suffered reprisals for seeking to engage with UN human rights mechanisms, including the Human Rights Council. In some of the cases, the activists were accused of terrorism-related offences.

    The arrest, detention and imprisonment of individuals for the exercise of their fundamental human rights is in violation of Bahrain’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which it has ratified. We urge the Government of Bahrain to stop criminalising dissenting voices.

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    <p><strong>Beirut, January 16th, 2019</strong>_ <strong>Human Rights Organizations call for a Radical Change in International Policies Tackling Human Rights Violation in Bahrain </strong></p>

    <p>&nbsp;</p>

    <p>An international conference on the human rights situation in Bahrain was held in Beirut, on the 16th of January 2019 with the participation of international human rights organizations, experts, CSOs, activists and researchers. Members of prominent organizations such Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Human Rights First, IFEX, FIDH, Civicus and others have participated in the discussions of the topics of the conference.</p>

    <p>All participants have agreed on the emergency of implementing a new international strategy to deal with the ongoing deterioration of the human rights situation that has been happening under the silence of the international community, including the UK and the USA.</p>

    <p>Some of the topics discussed revolved around the harassment and prosecution of human rights defenders, the closure of civic and political space, the lack of democratic political pluralism, the ban on the entrance of UN special rapporteurs to Bahrain amongst others.</p>

    <p>Among the participants, some of the important statements were:</p>

    <p>Joe stork made a comment saying that &ldquo;the silence we are talking about is not international; it is enforced silence in Bahrain.&rdquo;</p>

    <p>Aya Majzoub, the researcher at Human Rights Watch, declared that &ldquo;We have 5 joint statements on Bahrain since 2012, last one was in 2015. Part of the reason that we haven&rsquo;t had another joint statement on Bahrain because no country is willing to take the lead.&rdquo;</p>

    <p>The senior Advisor in Human Rights First, Brian Dooley, said that &ldquo;for the time in generations, in Washington (US Congress), questions are being asked that haven&rsquo;t been asked before, this is an opportunity to be used.&rdquo;</p>

    <p>&nbsp;</p>

    <p><strong>Recommendations:</strong></p>

    <ul>
    <li>Call on international diplomatic missions Bahrain to:</li>
    </ul>

    <p>-observe trials of {political} activists, Human Rights Defenders, Freedom of Expression</p>

    <p>-Report on due-process violations</p>

    <ul>
    <li>Raise profile of prominent Rights Defenders publically in the US and UK.</li>
    <li>Special Rapporteurs on torture to visit Bahrain and linking it to CAT obligations.</li>
    <li>Scoping missions to assess which countries/businesses/organizations have most leverage on Bahrain.</li>
    <li>Campaigning ahead of F1 races</li>
    <li>Messaging: more focus on broader trends of repression in Bahrain, not just prominent Human Rights Defenders, especially in Arabic Media.</li>
    <li>Use Parliamentary procedures in the UK and the US (US Congress) to raise questions about Bahrain.</li>
    </ul>

    <p>&nbsp;</p>

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    Bahrain cracked down on peaceful dissent during 2018, virtually eliminating all opposition, Human Rights Watch said today in releasing its World Report 2019
    No independent media were allowed to operate in the country in 2018, and ahead of parliamentary elections in November, parliament banned members of dissolved opposition parties from being able to run. Peaceful dissidents were arrested, prosecuted, ill-treated, and stripped of citizenship. 

    “The Bahraini authorities have demonstrated a zero tolerance policy when it comes to free media, independent political thought, and peaceful dissent,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Despite the stream of arrests and convictions of dissidents, Bahrain’s allies have failed to use their influence to improve Bahrain’s rights record at home or abroad.” 

    In the 674-page World Report 2019, its 29th edition, Human Rights Watch reviewed human rights practices in more than 100 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth says that the populists spreading hatred and intolerance in many countries are spawning a resistance. New alliances of rights-respecting governments, often prompted and joined by civic groups and the public, are raising the cost of autocratic excess. Their successes illustrate the possibility of defending human rights – indeed, the responsibility to do so – even in darker times.

    In the days leading up to the November parliamentary elections, the government detained a former member of parliament, Ali Rashed al-Asheeri, after he tweeted about boycotting the elections. He was released on bail three days after the election. On November 4, the Bahrain High Court of Appeals overturned the previous acquittal of a prominent opposition member, Sheikh Ali Salman, sentencing him to life in prison on espionage charges. Salman is the leader of Bahrain’s largest political opposition group, al-Wifaq, which wasoutlawed in 2016.

    Nabeel Rajab, one of Bahrain’s preeminent human rights defenders, completed a two-year prison term for “spreading false news” in June. He then immediately began a five-year prison term for his tweets criticizing alleged torture in Bahrain’s Jaw Prison and the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen. Duaa al-Wadaei, wife of a prominent exiled activist, Sayed Ahmed al-Wadaei, was sentenced to prison in absentia on March 21 for allegedly insulting an officer at the Manama airport in 2016.

    In September, three female human rights defenders held in the Isa Town Prison, Hajer Mansoor Hasan, Najah Yusuf, and Medina Ali,said that prison officials assaulted them and restricted their family visits, phone calls, and time spent outside of their cells. The National Institution for Human Rights dismissed these allegations

    The oversight bodies that government set up in 2012 in response to a recommendation by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) once again in 2018 did not investigate credible allegations of prison abuse or hold officials who participated in and ordered widespread torture during interrogations since 2011 accountable.

    According to one human rights group, in 2018, the courts stripped 305 people of their citizenship, bringing the total since 2012 to 810. The majority of Bahraini nationals stripped of their citizenship were left effectively stateless. As of November, Bahraini prisons held 14 people on death row.

    Despite significant human rights concerns in Bahrain and its participation in the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, which is committing serious violations of international humanitarian law, the United States State Department approved five major weapons sales to Bahrain between January and November.

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    <p>After the eight-year anniversary of the start of mass democratic protests that took place on the 14th of February 2011, when tens and thousands of Bahrainis peacefully protested and called for reforms, &ldquo;Bahrain Center for Human Rights&rdquo;, with the cooperation of &ldquo;Bahrain Interfaith&rdquo;, organized an International Conference. Its goal was to discuss the necessary steps to put a stop to the deterioration of the human rights situation in Bahrain. The conference &ldquo;Bahrain: 8 years of Repression Under International Silence&rdquo; shed light on the repressive methods used by the Bahraini government since 2011, which focus on crushing civil society and dissent by arresting activists and human rights defenders, issuing death sentences and dissolving civil and political associations.</p>

    <p>Beirut hosted the International Conference on Wednesday, January 16th, as the Arab capital of international human rights organizations. Members of prominent organizations such Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Human Rights First, IFEX, FIDH, Civicus and others have participated in the discussions of the topics of the conference.</p>

    <p>Saloua Boukaouit moderated the first panel that discussed the situation of &ldquo;Human Rights Defenders in Bahrain&rdquo; and the panelists were Khalid Ibrahim (Director of the GCHR), Ahmed AlWedaei (Director of Advisory BIRD), Mohamad Najem (Co-founder of SMEX), and Kristina Stockwood (Advisory Board GCHR). Additionally, in the second panel, the moderator Annie Game (IFEX Director) discussed the &ldquo;International Perspectives towards Human Rights violations in Bahrain<strong>&rdquo; </strong>with Aya Majzoub<strong> (</strong><em>Researcher at HRW),</em> Brian Dooley<strong> (</strong><em>Senior Advisor Human Rights First), and </em>Devin Kenny<strong> (</strong><em>Researcher at Amnesty). </em>In the third panel which were entitled &ldquo;Civic and political space in Bahrain&rdquo;, the panelists were Fadi Al-Qadi<strong> (</strong><em>Independent)</em><strong>, </strong>Drewery Dyke<strong> (</strong><em>Salam Director), </em>and Joe Stork<strong> (</strong><em>Independent), </em>while Ariel Plotkin moderated the discussion.</p>

    <p>The conference issued recommendations after discussions in the form of round tables. There was a call on international diplomatic missions for observing the trials of political activists, human rights defenders and freedom of expression, as well as reporting on due-process violations; that was in addition to verify the status of the detainees of opinion and work to convince the king to end violations and activate the role of the parliaments of the European Union, the United States and Britain.</p>

    <p>Among the recommendations were to make use of influential international media and inviting special rapporteurs on torture to visit Bahrain and link it to the obligations of the Committee Against Torture (CAT). Scoping missions to assess which countries/businesses/organizations have most leverage on Bahrain was added to recommendations. The conference also recommended that attention must be paid in the Arab media to the issues of detainees, not just the prominent ones, and to launching a campaign ahead the Formula1 race.</p>

    <p>The conference included a video for Nabeel Rajab&rsquo;s daughter saying: &ldquo;Instead of honoring my father for his human rights activism in my country he has been subjected in inhumane conditions and ill-treatment in prison. I hope the entire world calls for Nabeel Rajab&rsquo;s immediate release and for the Bahraini authorities to drop the charges against him.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p>

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