Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel


Embed this content in your HTML

Search

Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels


Channel Catalog


older | 1 | .... | 7 | 8 | (Page 9) | 10 | 11 | .... | 79 | newer

    0 0

    Paris-Geneva, November 27, 2013. The detention of Mr. Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and Deputy Secretary General of FIDH, was characterised as arbitrary by the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) at its 66th session. This decision, published on July 25, 2013, was eventually passed on to the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT joint programme) on November 26, who welcomes this decision and calls upon the Bahraini government to immediately comply with this UN decision and release Mr. Rajab.

    In its Opinion A/HRC/WGAD/2013/12, the WGAD considered that the detention of Mr. Nabeel Rajab contravenes “articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and articles 9, paragraph 1, 14, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights”. The WGAD requested the “Kingdom of Bahrain to take necessary steps to remedy the situation of Mr. Rajab and emphasised that “the adequate remedy would be to immediately release Mr. Rajab and to accord him an enforceable right to compensation in accordance with article 9, paragraph 5, of the [ICCPR]”. This decision follows a communication which had been addressed by the Observatory to the WGAD on August 31, 2012 to challenge the legality of Mr. Rajab’s detention. 

    “ The decision of the WGAD is a landmark victory as it recognises that the detention of Nabeel Rajab is arbitrary under international law, as it results from his exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, as defined in universal and international human rights instruments ” said today Karim Lahidji, President of the International Federation for Human Rights. 

    In its decision, the WGAD highlighted that “from the Government’s response, it is clear that Mr. Rajab was detained and convicted under existing domestic laws of Bahrain, which seem to deny persons the basic right to freedom of opinion, expression and assembly, either individually or in association with others”. 

    “ The decision of the WGAD stands for a continuous pattern of arbitrary detentions of those who defend the rights of others or exercise their freedom of expression, including bloggers or twitter activists. The case of Naji Fateel, from the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, is but one of those ‘other’ cases ”, said Gerald Staberock, Secretary General of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), commenting on the decision. “ The message of today must be to end the silencing of dissent through detention and prosecution. It is time to stop repeating the same mistakes: arbitrary detention, unfair trials and impunity for ill-treatment can but exacerbate tensions, resentment and possible conflict ”. 

    The WGAD underlined that “the right to a fair trial includes access to counsel, production of evidence and defence witnesses. Since Mr. Rajab’s arrest on 5 May 2012, a number of court hearings have taken place where these rights have been partially respected”. Denial of timely facilitation for foreign witnesses to attend the hearing as well as showing video evidence in camera were cited as violations of such right. The Group added that the courts of Bahrain would have to “confront and rule on the matter of the legality of the law banning public demonstrations”, and that “denial of a universally accepted human right to freedom of opinion and expression cannot be condoned by a domestic court, as seen in the case of Mr. Rajab”. 

    The WGAD eventually found Mr. Rajab’s detention was arbitrary as it resulted from the exercise of his universally recognised human rights and as his right to a fair trial had not been guaranteed, his detention therefore being arbitrary under categories II and III as defined by the Group. 

    Please find the UN WGAD Opinion below: 
    Opinion Nabeel by FIDH_ngo 

     

    Document Type: 
    Feature: 

    0 0

    Bahrain’s authorities must immediately release Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights activist jailed for taking part in an anti-government protest last year, said Amnesty International.

    Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), has been detained in Jaw Prison since 9 July 2012. On Friday 29 November he will have served three quarters of his two year sentence and will become legally eligible for release.

    “A failure to release Nabeel Rajab on Friday would make it crystal clear that his imprisonment  is not about justice or the law but about silencing him,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    “Nabeel Rajab should never have been imprisoned in the first place. As a human rights defender he should be allowed to carry out his work free from intimidation or threat of reprisal. His arrest, detention and trial demonstrate the brazen disregard the Bahraini authorities have displayed for human rights and freedom of expression.”

    Amnesty International considers Nabeel Rajab a prisoner of conscience.

    Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to three years in prison in August 2012 for calling for and participating in “illegal gatherings” and “disturbing public order” between February and March last year. His sentence was reduced to two years in prison on appeal.

    An Amnesty International trial observer, who attended his hearing on 10 September, reported that Nabeel Rajab had told the court that he had been held in dire conditions and was subjected to ill-treatment. He described being placed in solitary confinement in a cell with a dead animal. He also said that he was held almost naked, with only a small piece of cloth covering his genitals.

    “Not only has Nabeel Rajab been unfairly detained for more than a year but he has also been held in inhumane and humiliating conditions,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

    “His detention for taking part in a peaceful protest shows the lengths to which Bahrain’s authorities will go to stamp out dissent. His case also shows how, despite repeated promises of reform, Bahrain continues to flout its international human rights obligations.”

    Baharain’s authorities have repeatedly used legislation to punish peaceful protesters taking part in unauthorized gatherings. Under the country’s penal code, gatherings of more than five people can be criminalized if those assembled were deemed to do so with the intention to commit a crime or any acts aimed at undermining public security.

    Nabeel Rajab was repeatedly detained and persecuted by the authorities even before his arrest. In February 2012 he was punched in the face several times by riot police as he led a demonstration.

    He was also arrested after returning from a human rights workshop in Lebanon in May 2012 and charged with “insulting a national institution” (the Ministry of Interior) in his tweets. Two months later he was sentenced to three months in prison for different comments he made on Twitter about Bahrain’s Prime Minister. His conviction on this charge was overturned, but only after he had already served his three month sentence.

    Background information
    Two years after the report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), which was charged with investigating human rights violations committed in connection with the 2011 protests in Bahrain, the government has not implemented the report’s key recommendations.

    Prisoners of conscience remain behind bars and the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly continue to be suppressed.

    In July 2013, Bahrain’s King, Shaikh Hamad Bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa issued several decrees toughening punishments laid out in the 2006 anti-terrorism law and further curtailing the right to freedom of assembly. These include banning all protests, sit-ins and public gatherings in Manama indefinitely and giving the security forces additional powers.

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/bahrain-end-prison-ordeal-nabeel-rajab-immediately-2013-11-27

    Document Type: 

    0 0

    UA: 318/13 Index: MDE 11/056/2013 Bahrain Date: 26 November 2013

    Bahraini human rights activist Hussain Jawad was arrested on 24 November at a police station south of the capital, Manama, while lodging a complaint. He has been accused of “inciting hatred against the regime” in a speech he gave on 12 or 13 November during a rally. Hussain Jawad, aged 25, is the chairman of the European-Bahraini Organization for Human Rights (EBOHR). He was arrested on 24 November 2013 while at the al-Wusta Police Station south of the capital, Manama, where he was filing a complaint against a Bahraini daily newspaper and a government-organized non-governmental organization (GONGO) for defamation and incitement. He was told that he was being arrested on a charge of “inciting hatred against the regime” for a speech he had given in Manama on 12 or 13 November at a rally during the Shi'a festival of ‘Ashura in which he called for the Bahraini people to demand their rights, peacefully and without fear, and he also harshly critisised the authorities. He was then transferred to al-Noaim Police Station from where he was able to contact his wife briefly before being taken for a medical check-up at the al-Qal’a Medical Centre and transferred to another police station in al-Houra. On 25 November Hussain Jawad appeared before the Public Prosecutor who ordered his detention for 15 days pending investigation and his transfer to Dry Dock Prison in Manama.

    Amnesty International has reviewed a video of the speech and does not believe it contained any incitement to violence.

    Hussain Jawad and other human rights activists have been subjected to a smear campaign by the daily Bahraini newspaper Akhbar al-Khaleej and three GONGOs. This follows the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)'s "End Impunity in Bahrain" campaign naming perpetrators of human rights abuses in Bahrain.

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

     Expressing concern that Hussain Jawad may have been detained solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression in which case he should be released immediately and unconditionally;

     Urging the authorities to protect him from torture and other ill-treatment and to ensure that he is granted family visits and access to a lawyer of his own choosing;

     Urging them to respect and protect the right to freedom of expression and assembly and ensure that all human rights organizations and human rights defenders are able to carry out their work without hindrance.

    PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 7 JANUARY 2013 TO: King Shaikh Hamad bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa Office of His Majesty the King P.O. Box 555 Rifa’a Palace, al-Manama, Bahrain Fax: +973 1766 4587 (keep trying) Salutation: Your Majesty

    Minister of Interior Shaikh Rashid bin ‘Abdullah Al Khalifa Ministry of Interior P.O. Box 13, al-Manama, Bahrain Fax: +973 1723 2661 Twitter: @moi_Bahrain Salutation: Your Excellency

    And copies to: Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs Shaikh Khalid bin Ali bin Abdullah Al Khalifa Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs P. O. Box 450, al-Manama, Bahrain Fax: +973 1753 1284 Email: minister@justice.gov.bh Twitter: @Khaled_Bin_Ali

    Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.

    Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.

     

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

    Hussain Jawad is the son of Mohammad Hassan Jawwad, who is serving a 15-year sentence in Jaw Prison as one of 13 jailed opposition activists.

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) ran its campaign “End Impunity in Bahrain” from 1 to 23 November 2013. During the campaign it published the names and accusations against people it deemed responsible for, or involved in, the ongoing human rights violations in the country, under the banner “Wanted for Justice in Bahrain”.

    On the second anniversary of the report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), the government has not implemented the report’s key recommendations. Prisoners of conscience, including some arrested during the protests, remain behind bars and the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly continue to be suppressed and more people have been jailed simply for daring to express their views, whether via Twitter or on peaceful marches. Bahraini courts have appeared more concerned with toeing the government’s line than offering effective remedy to Bahrainis and upholding the rule of law.

    BICI, appointed by Royal Order on 29 June 2011, was charged with investigating and reporting on human rights violations committed in connection with the 2011 protests. At the launch of the BICI report in November 2011, the government publicly committed itself to implementing the recommendations set out in the report. The report recounted the government’s response to the mass protests and documented wide-ranging human rights abuses. Among its key recommendations, the report called on the government to bring to account those responsible for human rights violations, including torture and excessive use of force, and carry out independent investigations into allegations of torture.

    However, many of the government’s pledges remain unfulfilled. The establishment of BICI and its report was considered to be a groundbreaking initiative, but the promise of meaningful reform has been betrayed by the government’s unwillingness to implement key recommendations around accountability; this includes its failure to carry out independent, effective and transparent investigations into allegations of torture and other ill-treatment and excessive use of force, and to prosecute all those who gave the orders to commit human rights abuses. For further information see the report Reform shelved, repression unleashed (Index: MDE 11/062/2012), November 2012, http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/062/2012/en. Bahrain’s parliament held an extraordinary session on 28 July 2013 and then submitted 22 recommendations to the King, Shaikh Hamad Bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa. The recommendations toughen punishments laid out in the 2006 anti-terrorism law. A few days later the King issued several decrees further curtailing the right to freedom of expression, including banning all protests, sit-ins and public gatherings in Manama indefinitely and giving the security forces additional sweeping powers.

    A joint statement signed by 47 countries at the UN Human Rights Council on 9 September 2013 expressed serious concern about the ongoing human rights violations in Bahrain.

    Name: Hussain Mohammad Jawad Gender m/f: m

    UA: 318/13 Index: MDE 11/056/2013 Issue Date: 26 November 2013

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE11/056/2013/en/ed05ae35-2414-47f4-8222-d91bc7659c6b/mde110562013en.html

    Document Type: 

    0 0

    Front Line Defenders joined other international and Bahraini human rights organisations in calling for the release of Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab in a new video released by the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights today.

    This follows a letter sent by Front Line Defenders on 8 November to the King of Bahrain to release Nabeel, in support of an appeal made by his lawyer.

    - See more at: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/24362#sthash.tFyJ7qEV.dpuf

    Document Type: 

    0 0

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights reiterates its calls to provide the imprisoned political leader Abdulwahab Hussain with adequate medical care urgently. One month after releasing the first BCHR appeal, Hussain is still not receiving the adequate medical care needed for his case, while his life is at great risk.

    According to medical records recently obtained by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, AbdulWahhab Hussain is suffering from the following:

    • AbdulWahhab Hussain suffers from retinal detachment and the operation that he underwent in this regard had failed. If this medical problem is not solved the chances of losing his vision permanently is 100%. 
    • AbdulWahhab Hussain was diagnosed back in 2005 with multiple peripheral polyradiculoneiropathy; the underlying cause of it was not known at that time despite thorough checks by different medical centres. It caused weakness in his facial nerves and muscles including the weakness of his extremities which recovered later on with treatment. Unfortunately, his symptoms have now returned and he is suffering from severe neuropathic pain that is not being managed by a neurologist. If his condition is left untreated the damage to his nerves might be permanent with a chance of losing all movement and sensation in the affected areas. 
    • AbdulWahhab Hussain also suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome due to his neurological problem. 
    • AbdulWahhab Hussain is a carrier of chronic hereditary blood disease called sickle cell disease which causes part his blood to be sickled and destroyed. As a result, he has chronic hemolysis and anemia. He was suffering from syncopal attacks which required immediate assessment by a cardiologist. We were informed that his chronic anemia led to the decrease in his cardiac muscles contractility as a result of the chronic lack of oxygen delivered to his heart. 

    BCHR’s medical consultant stated:

    'Mr A. Wahab needs to be assessed fully by a cardiologist and neurologist and a full detailed report to be submitted and explained to his first of kin. 

    Due to the failure of the neurologist center in Bahrain in reaching a diagnosis and treatment for his neurological problem in 2005 for which he was referred to specialized center in London. If his current situation is a recurrence of his old episode then we recommend that he must be referred to a specialized neurological center in London to reach a diagnosis and managed there.' 

    Abdulwahab Hussain, a prominent Bahraini political activist, was sentenced to life imprisonment, and this sentence was upheld on appeal earlier this year. 

    Abdulwahad Hussain and the other activist in the Bahrain 13 group of political prisoners have been subjected to going harassment and ill-treatment in addition to their politically motivated arbitrary arrest and long prison sentences following an unjust trial (read more: http://bahrainrights.org/en/node/6363). Many international organizations, as well as the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, called for their release and many reported the torture and ill-treatment they were subjected to and the baseless sham trial that led to their unjust sentences.

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights also notes other cases of detained prisoners who are in urgent need for medical care, but are currently being denied the required medical treatment, including:

    Last month, one detainee Yousif AlNashim (31 years old) lost his life due to being deprived the required medical attention in prison.

    The BCHR urges the international community, and in particular the States and the United Kingdom, to call upon the Bahraini authorities to: 

    ·         Immediately and unconditionally release Abdulwahab Hussain, the Bahrain13 activists, and all other political detainees and human rights defenders in Bahrain.

    ·         Provide Abdulwahab Hussain and other prisoners adequate medical treatment.

    ·         Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of detainees.

    ·         Put an end to acts of harassment and targeting against all human rights defenders and political dissidents in Bahrain.

    ·         Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Bahrain.

    ·         Hold accountable all those responsible for human rights violations, especially those in high positions in government.

     

     

    Document Type: 
    Feature: 

    0 0

    I am not going back to my country. 

    It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. But I made it to continue doing the work that matters most to me: documenting the human rights violations in Bahrain that have been ongoing since protests for change began in February 2011. I will stay abroad and work from exile for the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) after receiving numerous death threats for launching a campaign to hold officials accountable for torture.

    The BCHR launched a campaign called "Wanted for Justice" from Nov. 1 to Nov. 23, which has involved publishing the names and photos of people responsible for human rights violations in Bahrain. Many of these offenses have gone unpunished. What we want is simple: We want their crimes to be known internationally, and the perpetrators must be held accountable and given fair trials.

    We've listed 59 people in our report. The allegations range from torturing protesters to arbitrary arrests. The list covers lower level police officers, to Bahrain's King Hamad himself. 

    Despite promises of reform and the government-commissioned Bahrain Independent Commission for Inquiry (BICI) report, the situation on the ground is still grim. Human rights violations will only continue as long as those responsible for carrying out torture go unpunished. 

    Bahrain's Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa (who took office in 1971) is shown here with Lt. Colonel Mubarak Huwail after he was acquitted of charges related to torturing doctors who treated injured protesters in 2011.

     

    Read on http://www.policymic.com/articles/74665/i-ve-been-forced-into-exile-for-defending-human-rights-in-my-home-country-bahrain

    Feature: 

    0 0

    Paris-Geneva, December 4, 2013. Two days ago, the Bahraini Court of Appeals refused to grant Mr. Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and Deputy Secretary General of FIDH, an early release which would have been in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure. FIDH and OMCT, in the framework of their joint programme, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, deem this decision as arbitrary.

    On December 2, 2013, the Court of Appeals scheduled an urgent session to examine the request filed by Mr. Nabeel Rajab's lawyers for an early release of their client and decided not to grant such release without providing any grounds. According to the information received, the Court also failed to investigate duly on whether conditions for early release had been met. A representative from the US Embassy was preventing from observing this court hearing. Previously, on November 24, a penalty enforcement judge had issued the same decision. During the session, Mr. Rajab's lawyers presented their arguments that Mr. Nabeel Rajab was eligible for early release in pursuance to the conditions laid under Article 349 of the Criminal Procedural Code, which sets three conditions: that ¾ of the sentence has been served, good behaviour during detention and not being a threat to public security. The proceedings failed to comply with the right to a fair trial as the court failed to properly examine the request for early release; failed to provide grounds for its decision and did not guarantee the public nature of the hearing. Lawyers were told that the decision was final and could not be appealed. By this, all local remedies have been exhausted.

    “This decision confirms that the Bahraini judiciary not only does not care about conforming to international human rights standards but also about implementing domestic law in full independence”, said Karim Lahidji, President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).

    This court's decision blatantly contradicts the Opinion recently published by the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) session that the detention of Nabeel Rajab is arbitrary and that the Bahraini authorities should release him immediately. The UN WGAD argued that the “denial of a universally accepted human right to freedom of opinion and expression cannot be condoned by a domestic court, as seen in the case of Mr. Rajab”.

    “The ongoing detention of Nabeel Rajab blatantly violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) ratified by Bahrain as well as basic internationally recognised human rights such as the right to fair trial. It is time for the Bahraini authorities to face up to their international obligations and abide by the WGAD decision and release at last Mr. Rajab”, said Gerald Staberock, Secretary General of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).

    The Observatory recalls that the Bahraini authorities detained and convicted Mr. Rajab under existing domestic laws in violation of the basic right to freedom of opinion, expression and assembly. He was prosecuted for exercising his universally recognised human rights. The entire procedure was fraught with serious human rights violations from the time of arrest, through detention, trial and conviction.

    The Observatory deeply regrets the court's refusal to grant Mr. Rajab an early release, and deplores the judge's decision that did not provide any grounds. It considers the decision an attempt to curtail Mr. Rajab's activities as a human rights defender and calls on the Bahraini authorities to adhere to its international human rights obligations and apply them to the case of Mr. Nabeel Rajab. 

    For more information, please contact:

    ·       FIDH: Audrey Couprie/Arthur Manet: 0033 1 43 55 25 18

    ·       OMCT: Delphine Reculeau: 0041 22 809 49 39

    Document Type: 

    0 0

    BBC-

    A Bahraini court has rejected a request for early release from the jailed human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab.

    A judicial source told the AFP news agency Mr Rajab's lawyers had argued he was eligible because he had served three-quarters of a two-year sentence.

    The prominent activist was convicted in August 2012 of taking part in illegal gatherings and disturbing public order.

    Last week, Amnesty International said Mr Rajab had been detained in "inhumane and humiliating conditions".

    "His detention for taking part in a peaceful protest shows the lengths to which Bahrain's authorities will go to stamp out dissent," said the group's Middle East and North Africa deputy director, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

    "His case also shows how, despite repeated promises of reform, Bahrain continues to flout its international human rights obligations."

    Failing to release him "would make it crystal clear that his imprisonment is not about justice or the law but about silencing him", she added.

    'Brutal violations'

    Mr Rajab is the president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and deputy secretary general of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).

    Before his imprisonment in July 2012, Mr Rajab was repeatedly detained in connection with the pro-democracy protests that erupted in the Gulf kingdom the previous year.

    Amnesty said that he was punched in the face several times by riot police as he led a demonstration in February 2012, and in May 2012 was charged with "insulting a national institution" in comments about the interior ministry he posted on Twitter.

    In June 2012, Mr Rajab was sentenced to three months in jail over different tweets he wrote about the prime minister. The conviction was eventually overturned on appeal, but only after he had begun his two-year sentence for taking part in unauthorised protests.

    At his trial, Mr Rajab told the court that he had been held in dire conditions and subjected to ill-treatment, including being placed in solitary confinement with a dead animal and kept almost naked, with only a small piece of cloth covering his genitals.

    In a letter published after the BCHR was awarded the Rafto Prizefor human rights defenders in September 2013, Mr Rajab wrote: "Brutal violations are still continuing today against peaceful Bahrainis while the whole world continues to stay silent, especially Bahrain's Western allies.

    "Our nation is a victim of being in an oil-rich region and a victim of hypocrisies and double standards. Unfortunately, dictators of the Gulf region succeeded in silencing governments of the free world in return for short-sighted economic and financial gains."

    The BCHR's founder, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, is serving a life sentence for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government. He was convicted on evidence that was widely accepted as having been secured under torture.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25188172

    Document Type: 

    0 0

    Reporters Without Borders wrote to US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on December 2 to share its concerns about freedom of information in Bahrain ahead of his visit to the kingdom for the December 6-7 Manama Dialogue on security in the Persian Gulf.

    The letter asks him to raise the issue of freedom of information in his talks with Bahraini officials.

    Read the letter: 

    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel 
    US Department of Defense 
    1400 Defense Pentagon 
    Washington, DC 20301-1400

     

    Paris, December 2 2013

    Dear Secretary Hagel,

    Reporters Without Borders, an international organization that defends freedom of information, would like to share with you its concerns about the situation of freedom of information in Bahrain ahead of your participation in the Manama Dialogue’s ninth session on December 6-7.

    In the two years since the start of a popular uprising in Bahrain, the kingdom’s authorities have crushed demonstrations calling for political reforms and have not hesitated to target journalists and other news providers covering this protest movement and the methods used by the security forces to suppress it.

    The Bahraini authorities continue to obstruct the work of journalists and to arrest, imprison and prosecute news providers in violation of the international undertakings it gave to the UN Human Rights Council in 2012.

    Seven news and information providers are currently detained in Bahrain:

    • Arrested in 2011, Hassan Ma’atooq received a three-year jail sentence from a national security court for posting photos of people who were injured during major protests in February 2011.
    • A blogger and head of the human rights bureau of the Al-Haq Movement for Civil Liberties and Democracy, Abduljalil Al-Singace has been held since March 2011 and is now serving a sentence of life imprisonment that a high court of appeal upheld on September 4, 2012. He is one of 13 opposition leaders and activists convicted of “creating and running a terrorist group aimed at changing the constitution and system of monarchy (…) by force,” “being in contact with a foreign terrorist group that acts in the interests of a foreign country and carries out hostile actions against Bahrain,” and “raising funds for this group.”
    • The well-known photographer Ahmed Humaidan was arrested on December 29, 2012 on a charge of attacking a police station in Sitra on April 8, 2012, although he was there just to take photos of police violence. His trial began on February 12, 2013 but the prosecution keeps on postponing hearings because it has difficulty producing witnesses. The next hearing is set for December 19. His lawyer has repeatedly but unsuccessfully requested an independent investigation into his client’s allegations of torture. His requests to the prison authorities to let his client be examined by a doctor have also been unsuccessful.
    • Arrested in July 2013, the photographer Hussain Hubail was charged on August 21 with “managing (electronic) accounts calling for the government’s overthrow,” “promoting and inciting hatred against the government,” “inciting others to disobey the law,” and calling for illegal demonstrations. He is also accused of “contributing to the Twitter account of the February 14 media network.” According to witness accounts, he has been mistreated and even tortured. A hearing in his case was scheduled for November 28 but was postponed until December 22.
    • Arrested at his home by masked plainclothesmen on July 31, 2013, the blogger Jassim Al-Nuaimi is accused of using social media to incite anti-government hatred and to call for illegal demonstrations. He was particularly active during the uprising, posting on the 14Feb media website. He also made the video “No blood for Formula One”] for last April’s Formula One Grand Prix in Manama. After being held for several days at the General Directorate of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), he was transferred to Dry Dock prison on August 3, only to be transferred back to the CID and then forced to sign a confession before a prosecutor. Witnesses say he has been tortured or mistreated. A hearing scheduled for November 28 was postponed until December 22.
    • Freelance cameraman Qassim Zain Al-Deen was arrested at his home on August 2, 2013, in the run-up to the “Tamarod” demonstrations in mid-August, and has been held at the Dry Dock detention centre ever since. On November 26, a judge postponed his hearing until January 20, 2014. The charges against him include vandalism inside the detention centre.
    • The photographer Abdullah Salman Al-Jerdabi was arrested on September 13, 2013 while covering a demonstration in the village of Mussal. He is charged with participating in “illegal gatherings.”

    The blogger Mohamed Hassan was released a few weeks after being arrested on July 31 but is still facing charges of “managing (electronic) accounts calling for the government’s overthrow,”promoting and inciting hatred against the government, inciting others to disobey the law, and calling for illegal demonstrations.

    Many news providers have reported being mistreated during detention. These claims should be independently investigated. The investigations so far carried out have been at the very least partial and have resulted in the withdrawal of all charges or acquittals or derisory prison sentences. The journalists who have been victims of such denial of justice include Nazeeha Saeed, a reporter for France 24 and Monte-Carlo Doualiya. The policewoman accused of torturing her during detention in 2011 was acquitted on appeal on June 23, 2013.

    Impunity reigns. No independent investigation has been conducted into 22-year-old cameramanAhmed Ismail Hussain’s death on March 31, 2012. Hussain was fatally shot while covering a peaceful demonstration in Salmabad, a village southwest of the capital. After Karim Fakhrawi, co-founder of the only opposition newspaper, Al-Wasat, died in detention in April 2011, two policemen were initially sentenced to seven years in prison for torturing him to death, but their jail terms were reduced to three years on appeal on October 27, 2013.

    The netizen Zakariya Rashid Hassan, administrator of a now-closed online forum that provided information about the village of Al-Dair, where he was born, died in detention on April 9, 2011, seven days after his arrest on charges of inciting hatred, disseminating false news, promoting sectarianism and calling for the regime’s overthrow in online forums. The interior ministry claimed that he died as a result of sickle cell anemia complications, but his family has ruled this out. The authorities’ tolerance of such abuses violates Bahrain’s international obligations.

    The authorities furthermore mean to control the media. This is a country where six of the seven daily newspapers are controlled by associates of the royal family or government. The independence and impartiality of the media (and therefore freedom of information) is, at the very least, compromised.

    The Information Affairs Agency, created by a 2002 media law, was used to restrict media freedom during the 2011 unrest. It was responsible, for example, for the newspaper Al-Wasat’s closure for several months and the prosecution of its editor and co-founder, Mansoor Al-Jamri. It has many powers, including the power to censor or prevent the distribution of Bahraini publications, to close newspapers by means of judicial proceedings, and to block websites. Giving a government agency so much power is a serious threat to freedom of information.

    The government has been promising a new media law since 2012 that will supposedly be more progressive. Its architect is the current information minister, Sameera Rajab. But this new law has yet to be adopted and Bahrainis still do not know what provisions it will contain.

    We therefore think that it is important that you should raise the issue of freedom of information in Bahrain during your talks with Bahraini officials.

    I thank you in advance for the attention you give to this letter.

    Sincerely, 


    Christophe Deloire
    General Secretary, Reporters Without Borders 

    http://en.rsf.org/bahrain-letter-to-us-defence-secretary-05-12-2013,45547.html

     

    Document Type: 
    Feature: 

    0 0

    Despite the Authories’ claim of respecting freedom of expression, Hubail and Al-Noaimi before court on the charge of ‘inciting hatred against the regime through social media’

     

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concern for the Bahrain Authorities continuous incrimination of freedom of expression on the Internet, and neglecting the deteriorating health condition of the detained photographer Hussein Hubail, and continuing to detain him amid his family’s fear and worry. The BCHR received definite information regarding the Dry Dock prison administration’s neglect of Hubail’s health requirements which puts his life at risk.

    Information indicates that Hubail experienced a high rise in blood pressure on Wednesday 13 November 2013; his blood pressure reached 200. However, the prison administration merely gave him an IV injection in the clinic without taking him to a specialized doctor. Information states that the detainee was not taken to his cardiology clinic appointments since he was cut off from visiting his doctor on 19 October 2013, and neither did they bring his heart medication, although the Special Investigation Unit confirmed that they were missing when they visited him on 6 November 2013.

    The photographer Hubail and internet user Jassim Radhi Al-Noaimi (detained since 31 July 2013), are currently being tried on charges of “inciting hatred against the regime through social media, and calling for illegal protests” which refutes the authorities’ claim of respecting freedom of opinion and expression. At the first hearing of their trial, which was held on 28 November 2013, both individuals denied the charges against them. Hussain Hubail told the court that he is not receiving adequate medical care for his heart illness, not being taken to the hospital until his condition worsens to the point of his collapse, and he is not provided with the medication until after his symptoms begin to include sever pain and suffering. He also added in his testimony to the court that he has been subjected to torture and he called for the authorities to provide him with the necessary medical care.

    During the hearing, detained internet user Jassim AlNoaimi also stated that he was tortured at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and for four days, he was not allowed to sleep. He added that he is suffering from severe pain in his back and he was not allowed to appoint himself a lawyer.

    The lawyers for Hubail and Al-Noaimi requested that the defendants be release on bail during the trial. However, the court didn’t respond to their request. Both detainees are being held at the Dry Dock detention center[1]. Their next hearing will be on 22 December 2013.

    The Authority in Bahrain is neglecting the deteriorating health condition of Hubail despite the multiple appeals by his family[i], his lawyer, and local and international human rights organizations[ii]. Hubail – the international award winning photographer – had been arrested on 31 July 2013 from Bahrain’s International airport on his way to Dubai, UAE. He was subjected to enforced disappearance for four days. During that time his family went to ask about him at the Criminal Investigation Department, yet they denied he was in detention. On 5 August 2013, Hubail was transferred to the Dry Dock prison, and he was allowed to contact his family for the first time. However, he was only allowed to contact his lawyer on 7 August 2013 and was brought to court on the same day. The BCHR received confirmed information[iii] that Hussein was subjected to torture, beating and kicking in the stomach and face, and was kept in an extremely cold room, and was forced to stand up for long periods of time, as well as being deprived from sleep throughout the entire time of his stay at the Criminal Investigation Department.

    Noteworthy, 6 social media network users have received one year imprisonment sentences in May and June 2013 on the charge of ‘insulting the King on Twitter’. Overall, 118 months is the total period of sentences given since June 2012 for 13 Internet users on charges related to freedom of expression on social media networks[iv]. Freedom House had ranked Bahrain as ‘not free’ in relation to freedom of Internet in its report that was released in October 2013[v].

    The continuous assaults against journalists and electronic space users, and the use of the judicial system to limit freedom of expression is a direct violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers’.

    Based on the above, the BCHR calls upon the United States, the United Kingdom and the United Nations and all other close allies and related international associations to exert actual pressure on the government of Bahrain in order to:

    1. Immediate and unconditional release of the media workers Hussein Hubail and Jassim Al-Noaimi and all the detained prisoners of consciousness.
    2. Stop the systematic targeting of photographers and media workers.
    3. Stop the systematic torture as a means for extracting confessions.
    4. Hold accountable all those involved in violations and torture whether through supervisions and/or orders and subject them to questioning, especially the higher ranking ones.
    5. Drop all charges related freedom of expression in the ongoing trials.

     

    Document Type: 
    Feature: 

    0 0

    by: Brian Dooley, Director, Human Rights First's Human Rights Defenders Program

    Published on: huffingtonpost.com

     

    As the eulogies for Nelson Mandela begin to appear it's the perfect moment to reflect on how the U.S. responded to his calls to end apartheid.

    In the early 1980s I was living illegally in the "Blacks Only" South African township of Madadeni. People in the townships were well aware that the U.S. government supported the racist regime and was unwilling to invoke consequences against the dictatorship. It fueled an anti-Americanism from people who felt the U.S. was not only not on their side but was colluding in their repression.

    Several years later bipartisan leadership in Congress changed American policy toward South Africa, condemned apartheid for the evil it was, and began to repair the reputation of the United States in the country and across the continent.

    Today, just as during the bleak days of apartheid, oppressive regimes imprison and harass human rights activists, Mandela's spiritual heirs. And just as they did half a century ago, American policymakers today have a choice: will the United States stand with oppressors or with those claiming their human rights?

    President Carter broke with traditional U.S. policy and confronted Pretoria, publicly criticizing apartheid and backing a U.N. arms embargo. But when he took office President Reagan reinstituted a deferential policy and gave it a name: constructive engagement. The idea was that the United States would work behind the scenes with reputed moderates in the apartheid government and that economic ties would spur political reform. But in practice, constructive engagement gave the apartheid regime license to do whatever it wanted to do as long as it supported U.S. strategic interests.

    By the mid-1980s, when I working on anti-apartheid legislation for Sen. Ted Kennedy, I often heard depressing excuses from administration officials about why public criticism of South Africa was a bad idea. Yes, they said, South Africa was sometimes an embarrassing ally, but it offered stability, protected U.S. interests, and real elections might bring something worse. Reform needed to happen, they said, but at a sensibly slow pace.

    President Reagan continued to back the apartheid regime even as domestic and international pressure mounted, even as South African President Pieter W. Botha gave his infamous "Rubicon speech" saying his government would never accept one man, one vote. In 1986, Reagan vetoed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act, which would have imposed economic sanctions on South Africa unless it met five conditions. Releasing Mandela was one of them.

    But then something extraordinary happened. Republicans, led by Sen. Nancy Kassebaum of Kansas, joined with Democratic senators to override the veto, putting U.S. policy on the side of human rights. This was the first time in the 20th century that Congress had overridden a veto on a foreign policy issue.

    The anti-apartheid act put the United States government on the right side of history and undid some of the damage done by its alliance with South Africa's racist government. Desperately needed today are actions that will both support courageous human rights activists and improve Washington's reputation in the Middle East where citizens have too long watched it prop up tyrants.

    Sadly, I hear the same arguments -- even the same phrases -- from some Obama administration officials when I talk to them about Bahrain or Saudi Arabia. They argue that pressure is best brought to bear "behind closed doors" because public criticism can be counterproductive, that those governments "don't respond to threats." I've even heard some use the term constructive engagement to describe their approach to dealing with today's autocrats. And among some U.S. officials, the demonstrably dubious notion that strong economic ties will produce political reform remains an article of faith.

    Economic boycotts of autocracies might not always be the best approach, but cozying up to dictators is always the worst. U.S. officials should reflect on Mandela's career and think of today's political prisoners. Like Mandela, today's activists are often smeared by authorities as terrorists. Like Mandela, they may someday become leaders of their governments.

    Pro-democracy, pro-dignity movements are often derided for failing to have a Mandela in their ranks. I met Mandela and agree that with his grace and palpable moral authority, he is one of kind. There are no replicas. But across the world there are thousands of courageous, persecuted activists who deserve the support of the United States.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-dooley/mandela-the-united-states_b_4394414.html

     

    Also Watch WorldBrief with Brian Dooley, Maryam AlKhawaja and @ASE on:

     

     

    Document Type: 

    0 0

    The Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) express their grave concern over the health status of imprisoned Bahraini human rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja and the harassment and ill-treatment to which she has been subjected in detention.

    The GCHR and BCHR have received information about the deteriorating health conditions of Al-Khawaja, who is serving a year in Isa Town women's prison since her detention in February this year. During a family visit on 9 December 2013, her family reports that she looked pale and tired. During the first week of December she said she was feeling dizzy and weak. She had difficulty standing and was unable to read. She asked the prison administration to see a doctor but her request was not granted until after two days.

    While she was ill, she was treated poorly. She was handcuffed and taken by car to the prison clinic at the headquarters of the Ministry of Interior, where she was videotaped by a cameraman throughout the whole period until she was returned to prison, including during her examination and treatment. In addition to two policewomen accompanying her, there were two policemen sitting beside the bed in the treatment room and a camera on a stand was focused on the bed. The doctor prescribed IV with an injection and some pills but did not tell Al-Khawaja what they were. Given the presence of men in the treatment room, Al-Khawaja wouldn’t agree to lie on the bed and instead she received the IV while sitting on a chair. The five people and the two cameras were focused on her throughout this time. She was later taken back to prison in handcuffs again.

    Compared to the procedure used when transferring inmates to receive medical care, Al-Khawaja has been exceptionally ill-treated with provocative, disrespectful and unnecessary measures, particularly the videotaping and the presence of men and cameras in the treatment room, violating her right to privacy at the time of treatment, and in violation of the article 53.3 of Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners in Bahrain which states: “Women prisoners shall be attended and supervised only by women officers.”

    What adds to the concern of the GCHR and BCHR are the earlier reports that Al-Khawaja has been incarcerated with prisoners who have Hepatitis A and B despite informing the prison administration that she has not been vaccinated. The prison administration continues to ignore her complaints, which puts her at great risk of infection.

    Background:
    Human rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja has been detained since 27 February 2013. She is currently serving a total of 12 months on multiple charges and due to remain in prison until February 2014. On 25 November 2013, her lawyer said that a new case had been brought against her and a new trial will commence on 22 December 2013 on charges of “insulting a police officer” in relation to Al-Khawaja's defense of another prisoner against a prison’s guard insults and humiliation. (More details at http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/6625.)

    The GCHR and BCHR believe that the harassment of human rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja and the new threats of extended imprisonment is a result of the absence of strong international pressure to stop the ongoing attacks and targeting of human rights defenders in Bahrain which have left them shattered between prisons and exile.

    The GCHR and BCHR urge the international community and in particular the States that are close allies of the Government of Bahrain, to call upon the Bahraini authorities to: 

    • Immediately and unconditionally release Zainab Al-Khawaja and all human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience unjustly detained in Bahrain;
    • Immediately provide Zainab Al-Khawaja with proper medical care;
    • Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Zainab Al-Khawaja and all political prisoners in Bahrain;
    • Put an end to acts of harassment against all human rights defenders in Bahrain;
    • Ensure that international health standards are upheld for all prisoners in Bahrain to prevent the spreading of illness and disease;
    • Ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Bahrain.

     

     

     

    Document Type: 
    Feature: 

    0 0

    In December 2013, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre launched its first briefing on Business & Human Rights in the Middle East and North Africa.  

    Download full briefing in English [PDF]

    Press release: "Businesses across the Middle East must put human rights above the bottom line"

    New report lifts the lid on the business practices of dozens of companies operating across the Middle East

    London, 10 Dec 2013 - Companies operating across the Middle East must uphold human rights according to a new report by an international human rights organisation.

    The new report, released today by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre to mark Human Rights Day, looks at how Middle Eastern companies and international firms operating in the region across a range of sectors are meeting – and failing to meet – their responsibility to respect the human rights of workers and communities.

    The report highlights positive steps taken by some companies, such as an initiative by the founder of delivery company Aramex and involving telecommunications firm Zain, in Jordan, to generate youth employment.  Efforts by recruitment agency Glowork to empower women in the workplace in Saudi Arabia and beyond, and strong policies and practices for migrant workers in Qatar implemented by construction firm OHL and aluminium smelting firm Qatalum were also singled out to be strong examples of good practice.

    But the new report also flags a string of abuses, including the alleged involvement in torture by private security firms in Iraq; the creation of pollution that harms the right to health; and the denial of workers’ freedom of association.  Cases in the briefing include a protest against Orange in Jordan, alleging it helped the government temporarily shut down 300 online news websites; allegations that Saudi Aramco dismissed workers for participating in political protests; and concerns that companies involved in the Bahrain Grand Prix were turning a blind eye to human rights abuses by the Bahrain government.

    Executive Director of the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre Phil Bloomer said: “For too long, human rights have been ignored by too many businesses operating In the Middle East and North Africa.  Sacking female employees for being pregnant or failing to pay migrant workers for months of labour are things that we still see too frequently.

    “But there is hope that the tide is turning, and scrutiny of business conduct is on the rise in many countries.  There are now international guidelines on human rights that apply to the private sector.  Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were on the UN Human Rights Council when it unanimously endorsed the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in 2011; and Jordan and Turkey co-sponsored the resolution endorsing them.  Urgent action by companies and governments is necessary.”

    Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has been tracking reports on companies’ human rights impacts since 2003.  If a company has not yet responded to allegations from civil society, it first invites the company for a response before disseminating the concerns.  To date, it has approached companies operating in the Middle East and North Africa 147 times and the response rate is nearly 70 per cent overall. (see notes for editors below for further details).

    Bloomer says this indicates an encouraging level of engagement by many companies on human rights issues – but too many are still choosing to remain silent.

    Allegations related to a broad range of issues such as restrictions on the freedom of speech; the sale of arms used for human rights abuses; the selling of surveillance software – and attacks on privacy; migrant labourers’ working conditions and abuses by private security companies.

    Rania Fazah, Middle East Researcher for Business & Human Rights Resource Centre and a co-author of the report, says: “While the international spotlight is, understandably, on the situation of migrant workers in Qatar, we are keen to show that human rights issues connected with business in the Middle East affect many other sectors too. 

    “With increased scrutiny coming from all angles, companies can no longer say that they are unaware of their human rights responsibilities.  Prudent companies will realize that it makes business sense to avoid being directly or indirectly involved in abuses.”

    The report ends with specific recommendations to companies and to governments in the region.  The Resource Centre says there are several basic, practical first steps that could be taken by companies wanting to prioritise avoiding abuses.

    These include implementing ethical recruitment procedures and adhering to international labour rights standards.  The organization is also calling on companies operating in the  technology and media sectors – key for enabling freedom of information in the region – to act in accordance with principles of access and freedom of expression; respect for privacy; and non-repression. 

    The report also highlights how governments have an important role to play in ensuring companies – both private and state-owned – uphold human rights.  Its recommendations to governments include enacting and enforcing laws to ensure that companies in their territory do not abuse human rights; encouraging their firms overseas to respect human rights; enhancing freedoms of expression and association; and strengthening protections for workers.

    Excerpts from the Report on Bahrain

    Political clashes and government repression of opponents in Bahrain

    The Bahraini government continues to clamp down on its opponents representing the country’s Shia majority. Human rights groups spoke out prior to the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix, saying that the event risked legitimising serious human rights abuses in the country. The Resource Centre invited teams, sponsors and partners involved in the race to respond to these concerns and disappointingly only 29% of the 52 firms approached responded. As the Resource Centre’s Director at the time, Chris Avery, stated in its press release: “Seldom have we seen a response rate this low from a group of companies anywhere in the world. And of the responses that were received, seldom if ever have we seen such a high proportion that completely fail to comment on the human rights concerns that they were asked to address.” (Note: As explained in the introduction to Annex 2, these 52 approaches to companies regarding Formula 1 in Bahrain for responses are not included in our overall figures for company responses / non-responses to allegations given that it would produce skewed findings given the proportionally large number of companies contacted regarding one issue in one country).

    The Centre has also obtained responses from public relations companies to Bahrain Watch’ concerns about their work to help raise the profile of the government of Bahrain in the western media, and from BAE Systems regarding the UK’s plans to sell the company’s Typhoon jets to Bahrain despite is human rights record.

    http://business-humanrights.org/Documents/Middle-East-briefing-2013#130988

    Document Type: 

    0 0

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses grave concern over escalating attacks on human rights defenders as yet another defender is arrested.

    At dawn on 15 December 2013, the home of environmental activist Mohamed Jawad was raided by masked security men, and he was arrested without a warrant. Jawad is known for his activism in defending the environment against pollution and exposing the consequences of pollution in his area of residence; Maameer, which is close to an industrial area. For years, he has participated locally and internationally in events to raise awareness about the deteriorating health conditions of the people living in and around Maameer, and to call for better environment conditions (for more information on this subject, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RunfnIeRdjU). Jawad has also expressed support for the Bahraini people’s struggle for freedom and democracy.

     

    The authorities did not provide any information on his whereabouts or wellbeing, despite inquiries made by his family at the police station.

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights believes that Mohamed Jawad has been targeted solely for his peaceful activism in defending the environment.

    The BCHR therefore calls on the US administration and other allies of Bahrain including the UK government, the EU and the leading human rights organizations to:

    • Call for the immediate release of activist Mohamed Jawad as well as all other detained human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience in Bahrain.
    • End the practice of intimidation, slander and harassment of activists and human rights defenders.
    • Increase the pressure on the Government of Bahrain to end the on-going daily human rights violations and the escalating attacks against human rights defenders and activists.
    • To put pressure on the Government of Bahrain to guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders and activists in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

     

    Document Type: 
    Feature: 

    0 0

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses grave concern in regards to the continued targeting of freedom of expression and religious freedom by authorities in Bahrain. Maytham AlSalman, the Head of Religious Freedom section at the Bahrain Human Rights Observatory, was summoned following a press conference about religious freedom violations during Ashoura. AlSalman was accused of inciting hatred against the regime and calling for an unlawful gathering.

    On 18 November 2013, a press conference was held at the Bahrain Transparency Society that highlighted violations against religious freedom committed by the authorities during the month of Muharram; a religious month when Shia muslims commemorate the killing of the Prophet's grandson.

    Following the conference, Maytham AlSalman, Head of the Religious Freedom Section in BHRO, was summoned by the Ministry of Interior for interrogation. The interrogation was focused on three charges brought against AlSalman: inciting hatred against the regime, insulting a governmental body and calling for an unauthorized assembly. AlSalman was released pending trial.

    AlSalman has been active in reporting locally and internationally on the attacks on religious freedoms. Last June he communicated a full report on these attacks to the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

    The authorities in Bahrain continued to use sectarianism as a tool by attacking Shia religious rituals, processions and matams (Shia religious centers). Many pictures and videos were disseminated through social media of religious processions and Shia religious centers getting attacked and tear gased resulting in injuries and suffocation of children and elderly commemorating the "killing of Imam Hussain" (More details: http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/6565). Following these events the BCHR documented at least 30 summons of religious clerics, religious singers and organizers of matams who were called for interrogation on issues related to freedom of expression (Read more:http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/6613).

    The BCHR believes that the summoning of AlSalman is part of the authorities attack on freedom of expression and religious freedom which has escalated in the month of Muharram in an attempt by authorities to provoke sectarian tensions.

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and other allies and international institutions to pressure the Bahraini authorities to:

    • Immediately release all persons who are detained for practicing their right to freedom of speech and expression in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and drop all charges against them.
    • Repeal the laws that criminalize the peaceful exercise to the right to freedom of expression, in line with Bahrain’s obligations under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
    • Guarantee the right to religious freedom and practice for all in Bahrain, immediately end targeting based on sect. 

     

    Document Type: 
    Feature: 

    0 0

    URGENT ACTION

    The detention of Bahraini human rights activist Hussain Jawad was extended by 30 days by the Public Prosecutor on 10 December following investigation of new charges against him including “insulting the king” and “criticizing a national institution”.

    Hussain Jawad, aged 26, who is the chairman of the European-Bahraini Organization for Human Rights (EBOHR), was taken to al-Noaim Police Station, north-west of the capital Manama, for questioning on 8 December where he was denied access to his lawyer. He was then informed that he would be investigated on new charges including “insulting the king” and “criticizing a national institution”. The charges relate to a speech he gave at a sit-in that took place on 13 November during the Shi’a festival of ‘Ashura. Hussain Jawad’s lawyer has not received any documents regarding these new charges, which saw the Public Prosectuor extend his detention by 30 days on 10 December.

    On 2 December, Hussain Jawad’s wife was denied a family visit to the Dry Dock Prison in Manama for wearing a t-shirt with his picture on it and calling for his release. In protest, he began a hunger strike which he ended on 11 December. Since his arrest, Hussain Jawad has been documenting cases of other prisoners detained with him and the conditions in which they are held. He has written several letters to the prison authorities to complain about the poor prison conditions, such as a broken toilet in his cell resulting in raw sewage and insects coming into it.

    Hussain Jawad was arrested on 24 November on the charge of “inciting hatred against the regime” in relation to another speech he gave at a rally in Manama on 13 November. During this speech he called for the Bahraini people to demand their rights, peacefully and without fear, and he also harshly criticized the authorities. Amnesty International has reviewed a video of the speech and does not believe it contained any incitement to violence. The organization considers Hussain Jawad a prisoner of conscience, held solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.

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

    • Expressing concern that Hussain Jawad is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression, and urging the Bahraini authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally;
    • Expressing concern about his prison conditions;
    • Urging the authorities to protect him from torture and other ill-treatment and to ensure that he is granted family visits and access to a lawyer of his own choosing.

     

    PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 24 JANUARY 2014 TO:

    King

    Shaikh Hamad bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa

    Office of His Majesty the King

    P.O. Box 555

    Rifa’a Palace, al-Manama, Bahrain

    Fax: +973 1766 4587 (keep trying)

    Salutation: Your Majesty

     

    Minister of Interior

    Shaikh Rashid bin ‘Abdullah Al Khalifa

    Ministry of Interior

    P.O. Box 13, al-Manama, Bahrain

    Fax: +973 1723 2661

    Twitter: @moi_Bahrain

    Salutation: Your Excellency

     

    And copies to:

    Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs

    Shaikh Khalid bin Ali bin Abdullah Al Khalifa

    Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs

    P. O. Box 450, al-Manama, Bahrain

    Fax: +973 1753 1284

    Email: minister@justice.gov.bh

    Twitter: @Khaled_Bin_Ali

     

    Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.

     

    Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the first update of UA 318/13. Further information: www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/056/2013/en.

     

    URGENT ACTION

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

    Hussain Jawad is the son of Mohammad Hassan Jawwad, who is serving a 15-year sentence in Jaw Prison as one of 13 jailed opposition activists. Hussain was arrested on 24 November while at the al-Wusta Police Station south of the capital, Manama, where he was filing a complaint against a Bahraini daily newspaper and an organization with close links to the authorities for defamation. They had published the photos and the names of 18 Bahraini human rights defenders and political activists and alleged among other things that they were responsible for “human rights violations” and “terrorist attacks” in the country and called for their punishment. Their actions came in apparent response to a campaign organized by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and called “End Impunity in Bahrain”, which ran from 1 to 23 November. During the campaign the BCHR published the names of people it deemed were responsible for, or involved in, ongoing human rights violations in the country.

    The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), appointed by Royal Order on 29 June 2011, was charged with investigating and reporting on human rights violations committed in connection with the 2011 protests. At the launch of the BICI report in November 2011, the government publicly committed itself to implementing its recommendations. The report recounted the government’s response to the mass protests and documented wide-ranging human rights abuses. Among its key recommendations, the report called on the government to bring to account those responsible for human rights violations, including torture and excessive use of force, and carry out independent investigations into allegations of torture.

    On the second anniversary of the BICI report, the government has failed to implement the report’s key recommendations. Prisoners of conscience, including some arrested during the protests, remain behind bars and the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly continue to be suppressed and more people have been jailed simply for daring to express their views, whether via Twitter or on peaceful marches. Bahraini courts have appeared more concerned with toeing the government’s line than offering effective remedy to Bahrainis and upholding the rule of law.

    The establishment of BICI and its report was considered to be a groundbreaking initiative, but the promise of meaningful reform has been betrayed by the government’s unwillingness to implement key recommendations around accountability; this includes its failure to carry out independent, effective and transparent investigations into allegations of torture and other ill-treatment and excessive use of force, and to prosecute all those who gave the orders to commit human rights abuses. For further information see the report Reform shelved, repression unleashed (Index: MDE 11/062/2012), November 2012, http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/062/2012/en.

    Bahrain’s parliament held an extraordinary session on 28 July 2013 and then submitted 22 recommendations to the King, Shaikh Hamad Bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa. The recommendations toughen punishments laid out in the 2006 anti-terrorism law. A few days later the King issued several decrees further curtailing the right to freedom of expression, including banning all protests, sit-ins and public gatherings in Manama indefinitely and giving the security forces additional sweeping powers.

    A joint statement signed by 47 countries at the UN Human Rights Council on 9 September expressed serious concern about the ongoing human rights violations in Bahrain.

    Name: Hussain Jawad

    Gender m/f: m

     

    Further information on UA: 318/13 Index: MDE 11/058/2013 Issue Date: 13 December 2013

    Document Type: 

    0 0

    Children are being routinely detained, ill-treated and tortured in Bahrain, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today. 

    Scores of children arrested on suspicion of participating in anti-government protests – including some as young as 13 – were blindfolded, beaten and tortured in detention over the past two years the organization said. Others were threatened with rape in order to extract forced confessions.

    “By rounding up suspected under-age offenders and locking them up, Bahrain’s authorities are displaying an appalling disregard for its international human rights obligations,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.  

    “Nearly three years after Bahrain’s security forces used excessive force to crush anti-government protests, they now appear to be targeting children in an intensified crackdown. All children under the age of 18 who have not committed any recognizable offence must be released immediately. Any allegations of torture and ill-treatment must be thoroughly investigated.” 

    According to reports received by Amnesty International there are at least 110 children aged between 16 and 18 held at the Dry Dock Prison, an adult facility in al Muharraq Island, pending investigation or trial. 

    Most children have been arrested on suspicion of participating in “illegal gatherings”, rioting, burning tyres or throwing Molotov cocktails at police.  Many were seized during raids while they were playing at home and even at a local swimming pool. Several were denied access to their families for extended periods and interrogated without their lawyers.

    Children under the age of 15 who have been sentenced are held at a Juvenile Centre in Manama under Ministry of Interior control. During the day they are attended by social workers but at night, when most abuses tend to take place, Bahraini police take over.  At the age of 15 those held in the Juvenile Centre are transferred to adult prisons such as Jaw Prison in southeast Bahrain to serve the remaining prison sentences.

    Bahrain is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which defines a child as anyone below the age of 18. The convention also explicitly prohibits the torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. 

    The organization is also urging the government of Bahrain to review legislation including the Juvenile law and the Penal code to ensure that they are fully compatible with international standards. 

    In August, Bahrain’s juvenile law was amended to indicate that the parents of anyone under the age of 15 who takes part in a demonstration, public gathering or sit-in would receive a written warning from the Ministry of Interior. If a second offence is recorded within six months the child’s father could face jail, a fine or both. 

    “Bahrain’s government purports to respect human rights yet it is brazenly flouting international obligations on a routine basis by resorting to extreme measures such as imposing harsh prison sentences on children,” said Said Boumedouha. 

    Amnesty International is calling on Bahrain to consider alternative penalties for children who have committed internationally recognizable criminal offences such as probation and community service. 

    Background

    Since Bahrain’s popular uprising began on 14 February 2011, gross human rights violations have been committed by security forces who used excessive force against protesters killing dozens. At least 2,000 people are languishing in jail. Many trials fell short of fair trial standards. Amnesty International has adopted 20 of those jailed as prisoners of conscience. Widespread impunity for abuses carried out by the security forces continues to be a problem.

    Bahrain: Children in a maze of injustice

     

    Download:
    Document Type: 
    Feature: 
    Issue: 

    0 0

    WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

    Against all odds, young Maryam al-Khawaja is taking her fight for democracy and human rights in Bahrain to the international stage. Meet hope personified.

    It’s hard not to watch the political unraveling in the Middle East these days and worry that the Arab Spring has turned into the Arab Winter. But Maryam al-Khawaja, a leading human rights activist from Bahrain at just 26 years old, begs to differ.

    “I can understand why a lot of people when looking at the region could be very, very pessimistic,” al-Khawaja says over coffee during a visit to Washington, D.C., this week. “I disagree. I think that when we see this kind of change, when it’s this big of a change, it’s something that’s a process, it’s something that takes a long time.”

    In other words, al-Khawaja is taking the long view, both for the pro-democracy movement in her tiny Persian Gulf country and across the Middle East and North Africa. It’s a dose of realism that policy makers in Western capitals might do well to heed.

    I wasn’t planning on becoming a human rights defender. I was forced into it.

    Maryam looking into camera with eyepatch on in middle of street in color

    “As long as we continue against all odds, that’s what’s going to guarantee that, whether it’s in 20 or 50 or 70 years, things will change to the better. But it’s going to take time,” she says. “And in Bahrain it’s going to take much longer than other countries.”

    It’s a startling mature perspective for someone her age. But it’s just one of many surprises about this “accidental” activist.

    “I wasn’t planning on becoming a human rights defender. I was forced into it,” says al-Khawaja, chattering away in flawless English and sounding very much like any Western 20-something woman, her discourse on Middle East politics and identity interspersed with you know’s and like’s and self-deprecating asides.

    “I actually was completely apolitical when I was in university. I hated politics,” she says. In particular, she was turned off by the indifferent response to years of protests led by her father, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, one of Bahrain’s most prominent human rights activists. In 2002, he co-founded the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, an organization that has been alternately tolerated and banned in this oil-rich island nation of about 1.3 million in the Gulf. He is now in prison, serving a life sentence after being arrested and sentenced in 2011 for his leadership in Bahrain’s Arab Spring uprising. 

    SOURCE: AHMED JADALLAH/REUTERS/CORBIS- A picture of Bahraini human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja held up in front of riot police during a rally demanding his release, in Manama, April 18, 2012

    “I got to a point after seeing my dad being beaten up on the streets, and getting arrested and nobody caring, I thought that it wasn’t worth it and I didn’t understand why my dad continued to do what he did,” al-Khawaja recalls. “Now I see the reflection of his work, I see how that’s impacted the Bahraini society as a whole.”

    They don’t understand that history has taught us that … they don’t stay in power no matter what.

    One of al-Khawaja’s sisters, Zainab, was also jailed in 2013 for her activism. The Centre’s president, Nabeel Rajab, is serving a two-year prison sentence and was denied early release just this week. That has thrust al-Khawaja into the role of acting president at the Centre, which is now being operated out of Copenhagen, where she has gone into exile. In August, she was on her way back to Bahrain in advance of protests there, but was removed from a British Airways flight at the request of the Bahraini government.

    If her exile, her family’s incarceration or the mounting expectations in her role as the new face of the movement are weighing on al-Khawaja, it doesn’t show. One-on-one, she’s upbeat, forthright and remarkably relaxed. 

    “She has to be enormously disciplined because a lot of this stuff is enormously personal for her,” says Brian Dooley, director of the Human Rights Defenders program at the American NGO Human Rights First. “She is juggling an awful lot of responsibilities,” he says, and “it’s not like she’s had a lifetime of experience.”

    “I’ve been doing this for, like, 25 years; I’ve never met anybody who is as good an advocate for their cause,” says Dooley, who has visited a long list of foreign capitals with al-Khawaja to lobby other governments to pressure Bahrain’s ruling al-Khalifa family. 

    The hand-wringing in the West over the ramifications of the Arab Spring has grown markedly in recent months, as the heady early days of the revolutions in 2011 have given way to power vacuums and sectarian violence.

    Just this week, a New York Times report confirmed the growing concerns about a surge of jihadism in the region, with extremists taking advantage of the lawlessness in much of Libya, Egypt’s Sinai peninsula and across Syria.

    While not condoning the growing violence, al-Khawaja says it is a predictable response to the social divisions autocratic regimes have sowed in an attempt to defend their regimes. 

    “They don’t understand that history has taught us that … they don’t stay in power no matter what,” she says. “Yes, they might be successful in getting the people to kill each other, but even if they do, they’re still going to be removed and those people are going to continue to kill each other until something better can come.”

    For her part, al-Khawaja remains optimistic that the region is moving in the right direction, even while she acknowledges that real democracy and respect for human rights and civil liberties in the Arab world may not happen in her lifetime.

    She acknowledges that real democracy and respect for human rights and civil liberties in the Arab world may not happen in her lifetime.

    Zainab is sitting on the ground being screamed at by female police officer

    Zainab al-Khawaja, 28, mother of a 3-year-old girl, becomes the fourth member of her family to get arrested, after her father, her brother-in-law and her husband.

    Dooley credits al-Khawaja — who travels constantly and is an active presence on Twitter and other social media — with helping keep Bahrain and its political crisis on the West’s radar despite the ghastly violence in Syria and political upheaval in much bigger Egypt. He doesn’t think the issue “would have anything like the international media profile” without her.

    With the Bahraini government’s intimate ties to its much larger neighbor, Saudi Arabia, its strategic location in the Gulf and its agreement to provide a base for major U.S. naval operations, that’s proved to be an uphill climb.

    The United States’ response to the crackdown on dissidents in Bahrain has been far more tepid than elsewhere. In a State Department report on the status of the Bahraini government’s reforms after the original 2011 uprising, a copy of which was obtained by OZY, the United States acknowledges that there is no indication of any high-ranking officials being held accountable for the deaths of protesters at the time, as promised. But it continues to maintain that the government “has taken some important steps.”

    On Tuesday, a senior U.S. Navy official said it plans to expand its Fifth Fleet, despite growing pressure to consider relocating it out of Bahrain.

    Al-Khawaja says she is realistic about the challenges. A piece of advice from her father has helped her maintain her resolve. “He told me, ‘Maryam, when you become a human rights defender, you do the work not because you’re waiting for an outcome,’” she says. “‘If you wait for an outcome, you’re going to get depressed, you’re going to get pessimistic and you won’t be able to continue. When you know that it doesn’t matter if the outcome is today or after we’re dead, you’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do,’ that’s what helps me continue.”



    Read more: Maryam al-Khawaja, the Accidental Activist | Rising Stars | Ozymandias 
     

    Document Type: 

    0 0

    Children are being routinely detained, ill-treated and tortured in Bahrain, said Amnesty International in a new briefingpublished today. 

    Scores of children arrested on suspicion of participating in anti-government protests – including some as young as 13 – were blindfolded, beaten and tortured in detention over the past two years the organization said. Others were threatened with rape in order to extract forced confessions.

    “By rounding up suspected under-age offenders and locking them up, Bahrain’s authorities are displaying an appalling disregard for its international human rights obligations,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.  

    “Nearly three years after Bahrain’s security forces used excessive force to crush anti-government protests, they now appear to be targeting children in an intensified crackdown. All children under the age of 18 who have not committed any recognizable offence must be released immediately. Any allegations of torture and ill-treatment must be thoroughly investigated.” 

    According to reports received by Amnesty International there are at least 110 children aged between 16 and 18 held at the Dry Dock Prison, an adult facility in al Muharraq Island, pending investigation or trial. 

    Most children have been arrested on suspicion of participating in “illegal gatherings”, rioting, burning tyres or throwing Molotov cocktails at police.  Many were seized during raids while they were playing at home and even at a local swimming pool. Several were denied access to their families for extended periods and interrogated without their lawyers.

    Children under the age of 15 who have been sentenced are held at a Juvenile Centre in Manama under Ministry of Interior control. During the day they are attended by social workers but at night, when most abuses tend to take place, Bahraini police take over.  At the age of 15 those held in the Juvenile Centre are transferred to adult prisons such as Jaw Prison in southeast Bahrain to serve the remaining prison sentences.

    Bahrain is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which defines a child as anyone below the age of 18. The convention also explicitly prohibits the torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. 

    The organization is also urging the government of Bahrain to review legislation including the Juvenile law and the Penal code to ensure that they are fully compatible with international standards. 

    In August, Bahrain’s juvenile law was amended to indicate that the parents of anyone under the age of 15 who takes part in a demonstration, public gathering or sit-in would receive a written warning from the Ministry of Interior. If a second offence is recorded within six months the child’s father could face jail, a fine or both. 

    “Bahrain’s government purports to respect human rights yet it is brazenly flouting international obligations on a routine basis by resorting to extreme measures such as imposing harsh prison sentences on children,” said Said Boumedouha. 

    Amnesty International is calling on Bahrain to consider alternative penalties for children who have committed internationally recognizable criminal offences such as probation and community service. 

    Background

    Since Bahrain’s popular uprising began on 14 February 2011, gross human rights violations have been committed by security forces who used excessive force against protesters killing dozens. At least 2,000 people are languishing in jail. Many trials fell short of fair trial standards. Amnesty International has adopted 20 of those jailed as prisoners of conscience. Widespread impunity for abuses carried out by the security forces continues to be a problem.

    Document Type: 
    Feature: 
    Issue: 

    0 0

     

    Mr Frank La Rue

    Special Rapporteur On The Promotion And Protection Of The Right To Freedom Of Opinion And Expression

     

    Mr Juan Méndez

    Special Rapporteur On Torture And Other Cruel, Inhuman Or Degrading Treatment Or Punishment

     

     

    15 December 2013

     

    Letter of Allegation concerning the detention of journalist Mohammed Hassan, photographer Hussain Hubail and cameraman Qassim Zain Aldeen (Bahrain)

     

    Dear Mr La Rue and Mr Méndez

     

    The Media Legal Defence Initiative, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, FIDH - International Federation for Human Rights, Gulf Centre for Human Rights and Reporters Without Borders (“the signatory organisations”) respectfully request that you consider investigating the claims set out in this letter of allegation in relation to the arrest, detention and torture of Mr Hassan, Mr Hubail, and Mr Zain Aldeen. The arrest and detention of all three men was also the subject of an urgent appeal made by the Media Legal Defence Initiative, English PEN and Article 19 to the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression dated 6 August 2013, which was copied to the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

    All three men face trial on charges relating to their activities reporting on recent protests against the government of Bahrain and were arrested within a few days of each other. All three have reported that they were subject to torture while detained in the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID), which has been the subject of numerous other allegations of torture and illtreatment.

    Mr Hubail and Mr Zain Aldeen remain in detention. Mr Hassan was released on bail at the beginning of October 2013.

     

    I. Background and Circumstances Surrounding the Arrests and Detention

     

    a. Mr Hassan

     

    Mohammed Hassan is a 28-year old well-known independent blogger who has been writing about human rights and the political situation in Bahrain since 2007. Mr Hassan has also worked as a media fixer for foreign journalists and appeared in Dan Rather’s report on Bahrain in March 2012, speaking about the dangers he faces and also about the authorities’ use of tear gas to injure protestors.

     

    In April 2012, Mr Hassan was arrested while accompanying journalists to a demonstration.2 He was reportedly severely beaten prior to being detained and denied access to his lawyer for the duration of his detention.3 He was released only to be arrested again on 22 April, along with Colin Freeman of the London based Sunday Telegraph, on suspicion of attending an illegal demonstration. All those detained were released after several hours. Mr Hassan was summoned for interrogation in June 2012 on accusations of blogging and writing without a license and attending illegal gatherings. Mr Hassan stopped blogging and tweeting on 29 April 2013.

     

    Early on the morning of 31 July 2013 masked security agents entered Mr Hassan’s home in Sitra and arrested him. No arrest warrant was presented and no reason was given for his arrest, and Mr Hassan’s phone and computer were seized. He was taken to the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID), where he was interrogated for four days. Following his interrogation at the CID, he was transferred to the Dry Dock Detention Centre on 3 August 2013.

     

    When Mr Hassan’s family visited him in the Detention Centre he told them that he had been subject to torture and other ill-treatment while at the CID. He was beaten with fists and a plastic hose, kicked, threatened with electric shocks, forced to strip naked and had his clothes taken away.10 Threats were made to rape his sisters. He reported that he was tortured over the four days that he was detained at the CID, particularly in room 99 of the CID, and that officer Mohammed Khalid Al-Saeedi tortured him while questioning him. Mr Hassan was not permitted to sit down or to sleep and was not given anything to eat while detained at the CID. He confessed to the accusations put to him while being tortured and signed papers without being able to read their content. No medical examination occurred subsequent to his torture.

    On 7 August 2013, Mr Hassan was taken before the Public Prosecutor and allowed to see his lawyer, Abdul Aziz Moussa, for the first time. No private meeting was allowed between Mr Hassan and Mr Moussa.11 Mr Hassan was ordered to be detained for 45 days pending investigation. Mr Moussa was himself detained the following day after tweeting that he had seen signs of torture on Mr Hassan’s arms. Mr Hassan appointed another lawyer who he was only allowed to speak to over the phone. After he had been brought before the Public Prosecutor on 7 August, Mr Hassan’s family was allowed to visit him once a week. Mr Hassan was released on bail from detention on the night of 03 October 2013. He is accused of calling for illegal gatherings, inciting hatred against the regime, inciting people to ignore the law and misuse of social media. It is not known when his trial will begin.

     

    b. Mr Hubail

     

    Hussain Hubail is a freelance photographer. His work includes photographs of opposition protests in Bahrain and has been published by Agence France-Presse, Voice of America16 and various other news outlets. In May 2013, independent newspaper Al-Wasat awarded him a prize for his photograph of protestors running through a cloud of tear gas. Mr Hubail turned 22 at the end of October 2013.

    Mr Hubail was arrested on 31 July 2013 at Bahrain International Airport where he was due to board a flight to Dubai. He was taken to the CID for interrogation, however, the authorities told his family that he was not in their custody when they went to the CID looking for him.19 On 03 August 2013, he was transferred to the Dry Dock Detention Centre. His family visited him for the first time on 7 August 2013 and he told them that while he was at the CID he had been beaten, including with plastic hosing, kicked, had been brought to hear Mr Hassan being tortured and was threatened by officer Bassam Mohammed Al-Muraaaj that he could do anything and everything to him. He also reported being tortured in room 99 of the CID over the course of his four day detention there, being prevented from sitting down or sleeping, and not receiving food. He confessed to the accusations made against him and signed papers which he was not able to read after being tortured and threatened. Mr Hubail was questioned by the Public Prosecutor on 7 August 2013 and reported to the Prosecutor that he had been tortured. He saw his lawyer for the first time on this day but was not allowed to meet with him in private and has not been permitted to meet with him since. Mr Hussain suffers from a heart condition, which has become worse since his detention. He requested that prison authorities send him to hospital as he was experiencing a rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath. This request was not complied with for over two weeks. The hospital asked that he be returned for follow up but this has not happened. The prison clinic provides Mr Hubail with medication but he reports that he does not know what medication he is being given and that it is being given to him on a random basis.

    On 28 November 2013, Mr Hubail appeared in court for the first time to face the same charges as Mr Hassan: calling for illegal gatherings, inciting hatred against the regime, inciting people to ignore the law and misuse of social media.22 At the hearing, he told the judge that he had been tortured and denied medical treatment. The judge ordered that he be provided with proper health care. Mr Hubail’s case was postponed until 22 December 2013. He remains detained in an over crowded cell at the Dry Dock Detention Centre and is only permitted weekly visits from his family.

     

    c. Mr Zain Aldeen

     

    Qassim Zain Aldeen is a 25 year-old freelance cameraman whose work covers opposition protests in Bahrain. On the morning of 2 August 2013, Mr Zain Aldeen was arrested from his home in Duraz and his phone and computer were confiscated.23 He was taken to the CID where he was tortured for two days including being beaten, insulted while blindfolded and handcuffed, and forced to remain standing. He was kept in a cold room without food or water. Mr Zain Aldeen signed papers while blindfolded.

    On 16 August 2013, police raided the cell where Mr Zain Aldeen was detained and severely beat several detainees including Mr Zain Aldeen, who spent three days in hospital recovering from his injuries. He was then taken before the Public Prosecutor and detained for an additional 45 days. On 26 November 2013, he appeared in court for the first time, charged with participating in an illegal gathering and vandalism in prison. His case was postponed until 20 January 2014 to hear from police witnesses. Mr Zain Aldeen has not been permitted to meet with his lawyer and continues to be detained at Dry Dock Detention Centre. In protest of family visits at the Centre occurring behind a glass barrier, Mr Zain Aldeen is refusing family visits. As a consequence, he has only seen his family once since he was detained.

     

    II. Violations of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression

     

    Bahrain is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”) and the Arab Charter on Human Rights (“ACHR”).25 Article 19 of the ICCPR and Article 32 of the ACHR protect the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Article 19 provides that everyone has the “…freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.” Similarly, Article 32 of the ACHR provides that everyone has “ …the right to information and to freedom of opinion and expression, as well as the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any medium… ”.

    The United Nations Human Rights Committee (“Human Rights Committee”) has recognised the important role of the media in a democratic society, noting that a “free, uncensored and unhindered press or other media is essential in any society to ensure freedom of opinion and expression … [i]t constitutes one of the cornerstones of a democratic society.” The right to freedom of expression encompasses a free press that is able “… to comment on public issues without censorship or restraint and to inform public opinion.” Mr Hassan, Mr Hubail and Mr

    Zain Aldeen were all reporting on pro-democracy protests or commenting on the political situation in Bahrain. Their reporting and commentary is protected by Article 19 of the ICCPR and Article 32 of the ACHR and their arrest and detention violates their right to freedom of expression.

    The right to freedom of expression can only be restricted when the restriction pursues a legitimate aim, is provided for by law, and is necessary. The Human Rights Committee has noted that restrictions which aim to protect national security or public order must meet these strict requirements, stating that “[e]xtreme care must be taken by States parties to ensure that treason laws and similar provisions relating to national security...are crafted and applied in a manner that conforms to the strict requirements of paragraph 3.” In addition,

    “[w]hen a State party invokes a legitimate ground for restriction of freedom of expression, it must demonstrate in specific and individualized fashion the precise nature of the threat, and the necessity and proportionality of the specific action taken, in particular by establishing a direct and  immediate connection between the expression and the threat.”

    The restrictions on the men’s freedom of expression through arrest, detention, and torture and other ill-treatment do not pursue a legitimate aim and are not necessary. All of the men were exercising their right to freedom of expression in a peaceful and legitimate matter. None were calling for violence and there is no evidence that any of their reports or photos created any threat to national security or public order.

    Bahrain guarantees freedom of expression through its own Constitution. Article 23 provides that “…[e]veryone has the right to express his opinion and publish it by word of mouth, in writing or otherwise under the rules and conditions laid down by law, provided that the fundamental beliefs of Islamic doctrine are not infringed, the unity of the people is not prejudiced, and discord or sectarianism is not aroused.” Article 24 then goes on to state that that “[w]ith due regard for the provisions of the preceding Article, the freedom of the press, printing and publishing is guaranteed under the rules and conditions laid down by law.” As noted above, restrictions on reporting and political commentary that do not cause violence are a violation of the right to freedom of expression.

    The arrest and detention of Mr Hassan, Mr Hubail and Mr Zain Aldeen is part of a broader campaign of repression of journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders carried out by the  authorities in Bahrain. Arrest, torture and ill-treatment of journalists and media workers has been ongoing since the 2011 pro-democracy protests,36 when several journalists reported that they were arrested for reporting on protests and two journalists died in the custody of Bahraini authorities.37 The European Parliament recently called on Bahrain to unconditionally release detained journalists.38

     

    III. Violations of the Prohibition on Torture and other Ill-Treatment

     

    Torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment is prohibited by numerous international and regional treaties, including Article 7 of the ICCPR, Article 8 of the ACHR and Article 2 of the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”),39 which Bahrain acceded to in 1998. International law does not allow any exception to this prohibition under any circumstances.41 The Human Rights Committee has stated that “… no justification or extenuating circumstances may be invoked to excuse a violation of Article 7 [ICCPR] for any reasons …”.

    All of the men report being subjected to torture by State officials while detained at the CID.

    Torture and other ill-treatment encompasses both physical and mental suffering.43 As stated above, all of the men were beaten and had threats made against them or their family. In addition, they were deprived of food and forced to remain standing. In each case, confessions were made during or following torture. Their mistreatment also violates Articles 19(d) and 20(d) of the Bahraini Constitution. Article 19(d) states that “[n]o person shall be subjected to physical or mental torture, or inducement, or undignified treatment...”44 Likewise, Article 20(d) states that it “is forbidden to harm an accused person physically or mentally.”

    The treatment of these men is illustrative of the ongoing use of torture and ill-treatment by Bahraini authorities. There are numerous reports of torture and other ill-treatment of those detained at the CID.46 The Dry Dock Detention Centre has also been the subject of numerous reports of ill-treatment and torture including to the point of death. International human rights law requires that acts of torture and ill-treatment should be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice. Article 2(3) of the ICCPR requires Bahrain to ensure that any person whose human rights are violated including under Article 7 has an effective remedy. Regardless of whether an allegation of torture has been made, Article 12 of the CAT also requires authorities to conduct a prompt and impartial investigation when there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has occurred. Moreover, Article 13 of the CAT requires authorities to promptly and impartially examine any allegation by an individual that he or she has been subjected to torture. The Committee against Torture has stated that a delay of around three weeks before commencing investigating allegations of torture is a violation of Article 12. Further, no formal complaint need be made before an examination must occur under Article 13. The ACHR, CAT and Article 208 of Part II of the Bahraini Criminal Code all require torture to be punished as a crime by law. All three men have reported their treatment to either the Public Prosecutor or a judge, yet no apparent investigation has been undertaken.

     

    Mr Hubail and Mr Hassan identified the perpetrators of their torture as persons against whom previous allegations of torture have been made. These previous allegations have not been investigated. The failure to investigate these allegations highlights the repeated failure of the Bahraini government to conduct prompt and impartial investigations into allegations of torture and ill-treatment. In 2011, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry concluded “...that the lack of accountability of officials within the security system has led to a culture of impunity...” More recently, forty-seven States issued a joint statement at the 24th session of the Human Rights Council noting their concerns about the failure of Bahrain to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations.

     

    IV. Invocation of the Mandate of the Special Rapporteurs

     

    The treatment of all three journalists falls within the mandate of both Special Rapporteurs. The Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression is mandated:

     

    (a) To gather all relevant information, wherever it may occur, relating to violations of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, discrimination against, threats or use of violence, harassment, persecution or intimidation directed at persons seeking to exercise or to promote the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including, as a matter of high priority, against journalists or other professionals in the field of information;

     

    (b) To seek, receive and respond to credible and reliable information from Governments, non-governmental organizations and any other parties who have knowledge of these cases ….

    The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment includes:

     

    (a) To seek, receive, examine and act on information from Governments, intergovernmental and civil society organizations, individuals and groups of individuals regarding issues and alleged cases concerning torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment…

    Both of the mandates allow their respective Special Rapporteurs to transmit letters of allegation to the government concerned.

     

    As set out above, Mr Hassan, Mr Hubail and Mr Zain Aldeen were arrested and detained for their commentary and reporting on political matters which reflect unfavourably on the government of Bahrain. This is in violation of their right to freedom of expression. In addition, they report that they have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment and that no investigation has occurred into their treatment despite all three informing either the Public Prosecutor, a judge or both.

     

    In light of the above, we request that the Special Rapporteurs:

     

    a) call upon the government of Bahrain to release Mr Hubail and Mr Zain Aldeen and insist that they are not subjected to further torture or ill-treatment;

    b) raise with the government of Bahrain the mistreatment of Mr Hassan, Mr Hubail and Mr Zain Aldeen and request the government of Bahrain to conduct a complete and impartial investigation of their allegations of torture and ill-treatment; and

    c) declare that the charges against all three men are in violation of their right to freedom of expression. We would welcome the opportunity to provide you with further information in relation to this matter.

     

    Yours sincerely,

    Nani Jansen

    Senior Legal Counsel

    Media Legal Defence Initiative

    Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain

    Arabic Network for Human Rights Information

    Bahrain Center for Human Rights

    Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights

    FIDH - International Federation for Human Rights.

    Gulf Centre for Human Rights

    Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada

    PEN International

    Reporters Without Borders

     

    Information on the Authors of This Letter of Allegation

     

    This letter of allegation has been prepared on behalf of the signatory organisations by the Media Legal Defence Initiative (“MLDI”). MLDI is a non-governmental organisation based in London that helps journalists and independent media outlets around the world defend their rights. MLDI provides direct legal assistance to journalists and works with national organisations that provide legal aid to journalists, so as to ensure that journalists have access to affordable and high quality legal representation in the countries where they work.

    Document Type: 
    Feature: 
    Issue: 

older | 1 | .... | 7 | 8 | (Page 9) | 10 | 11 | .... | 79 | newer