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    NGOs are concerned that, with Nabeel Rajab's appeal hearing scheduled on 31 December, authorities may be planning to increase his sentence under cover of the world's celebrations of the new year.

    We the undersigned call on Bahraini authorities to release Nabeel Rajab immediately, to repeal his convictions and sentences, and drop all charges against him. On 31 December 2018 the Court of Cassation in Bahrain may issue its verdict in the appeal of the five-year prison sentence handed to him for peaceful comments posted and retweeted on his Twitter account about the killing of civilians in the Yemen conflict by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, and allegations of torture in Jau prison. 

    We are concerned that the authorities intend to increase Rajab's prison sentence unopposed, by setting 31 December as the date for a hearing and possible issuing of a verdict, while most Bahrainis and people around the globe will be focused on year-end celebrations. This is not an idle concern, as, opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman was arrested on 28 December 2014 and subsequently convicted and sentenced to four years in jail following an unfair trial. And last month, in yet another case brought against him on spying charges, the Court of Appeal overturned his initial acquittal and sentenced him instead to life in prison

    Rajab has been a tireless champion of human rights for many years, helping to found and run the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, both members of the IFEX network. 

    He has been detained since his arrest on 13 June 2016. He was held largely in solitary confinement during the first nine months of his detention, violating UN rules on pre-trial imprisonment, and has been subjected to humiliating treatment. His books, toiletries, and clothes have been confiscated and his cell frequently raided at night. 

    Rajab was sentenced to two years in jail in 2017 on charges of “publishing and broadcasting false news that undermines the prestige of the state” during TV interviews he gave in 2015 and 2016 in which he stated that Bahraini authorities bar reporters and human rights workers from entering the country. He was sentenced in 2018 to five years in prison on charges of “disseminating false rumors in times of war” for tweets about torture in Jau Prison and the war in Yemen. 

    At its eighty-first session, 17-26 April 2018, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Rajab's “deprivation of liberty constitutes a violation of articles 2 and 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 2 (1) and 26 of the Covenant – on the grounds of discrimination based on political or other opinion, as well as on his status as a human rights defender”. 

    We therefore urge Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Nabeel Rajab, quash his convictions and sentences, and drop all charges against him; and undertake a prompt, impartial, independent and effective investigation into his allegations of ill-treatment. The findings of the investigation must be made public and anyone suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice in fair proceedings. 

    As this case is part of a pattern of abuse and harassment against human rights defenders and journalists in Bahrain, we also urge the authorities to cease all such actions and ensure that the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press is respected. 

    Signed,

    Bahrain Center for Human Rights
    ActiveWatch – Media Monitoring Agency
    Adil Soz - International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
    Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC)
    Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
    Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
    Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE)
    Association of Caribbean Media Workers
    Bytes for All (B4A)
    Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
    Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
    Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
    Foro de Periodismo Argentino
    Freedom Forum
    Free Media Movement
    Globe International Center
    Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
    Human Rights Watch (HRW)
    I'lam Arab Center for Media Freedom Development and Research
    Independent Journalism Center (IJC)
    Index on Censorship
    Initiative for Freedom of Expression - Turkey
    International Press Centre (IPC)
    Maharat Foundation
    Mediacentar Sarajevo 
    Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
    Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
    Media Rights Agenda (MRA)
    Media Watch
    Norwegian PEN
    OpenMedia
    Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF)
    Pacific Islands News Association (PINA)
    Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA)
    PEN America
    Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
    Social Media Exchange (SMEX)
    Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)
    South East European Network for Professionalization of Media (SEENPM)
    South East Europe Media Organisation 
    Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM)
    World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC)
    World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

    Amnesty International 
    Bahrain Institute for Human Rights 
    Bahrain Interfaith 
    Campaign Against Arms Trade 
    CIVICUS 
    FIDH under the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders 
    Frontline Defenders 
    Gulf Institute for Human Rights 
    ISHR 
    Martin Annals 
    MENA Monitoring Group 
    OMCT under the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders 
    RAFTO 
    Salam for Democracy and Human Rights

     

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    by Joe Stork 

    It’s been a grim 2018 for partisans of free expression in the Gulf. The gruesome murder of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi by henchmen of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman rightly commanded headlines. More bad news looms, though. In these last days of 2018, Nabeel Rajab and Ahmed Mansoor, the leading human rights figures in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates respectively, expect final appeals court rulings on the long prison terms they are serving for speaking out against their highly abusive authoritarian regimes.

    Ahmed Mansoor was literally the last activist standing (“the last man talking,” he liked to say) in the UAE when security forces raided his home in March 2017 and held him in an unknown location for more than a year with no access to a lawyer. (The handful of UAE defense lawyers who formerly took the cases of political dissidents are now all in jail or exile.) Mansoor had previously faced physical assaults, death threats, and a sophisticated spyware attack as a consequence of his outspoken promotion of democracy and human rights.

    The UAE has engaged rafts of U.S. and UK public relations firms to promote an image of enlightened autocracy. In November, the country sponsored a two-day World Tolerance Summit of government officials, diplomats and academics to “celebrate diversity amongst people from all walks of life, regardless of varying political views . . . .” So long, it seems, as those views contain no reference to the country’s fierce intolerance of peaceful political dissent. In May 2018, the Federal Supreme Court’s State Security Chamber sentenced Mansoor to 10 years in prison for insulting “the status and prestige of the UAE and its symbols” and publishing “false information” on social media “that harm national unity and social harmony and damage the country’s reputation.” On December 30, the Federal Supreme Court will announce its decision in Ahmed Mansoor’s appeal.

    Nabeel Rajab’s hearing is one day after Mansoor’s, on December 31. Rajab’s lawyers are expecting that the Cassation Court—the country’s court of final appeal—will rule on his appeal of his February 2018 High Criminal Court conviction for criticizing Bahrain’s participation in the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen (“insulting a neighboring country”) and allegations of torture in Bahrain’s main prison (“offending a statutory body”). In June, the High Criminal Court of Appeal confirmed his five-year sentence in that case.

    Rajab, a founder and head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights who has been in jail since mid-June 2016, is currently in the last days of a two-year sentence in a similar but separate case, on charges of “publishing and broadcasting fake news that undermines the prestige of the state.” The offending “news,” conveyed in a TV interview, comprised well-documented facts: that the government bars journalists and rights researchers from visiting Bahrain, that the government recruits foreigners (“mercenaries”) into its security forces, that security forces subject detainees to torture, and that the judiciary lacks independence. As if to confirm the last item, the Court of Cassation in January 2018 upheld this conviction and two-year sentence.

    Rajab’s supporters note that the December 31 hearing comes as the two-year sentence expires at the end of December, and fear that the government is determined to keep him behind bars despite its expiry. Over the last year-plus the government has shuttered the country’s one independent newspaper (Al Wasat) and the two leading opposition political groups, Al Wefaq (Shi`a Islamist) and Wa`ad (secular leftist). There is some fear that the court might even increase Rajab’s pending five-year sentence. This is what happened after Al Wefaq leader Sheikh Ali Salman was acquitted on bogus charges of spying for Qatar: the state appealed and the Court of Appeal overturned the acquittal and sentenced Salman to life in prison.

    One can find news stories and editorials in the U.S. media about the persecution of rights defenders when the country is China or Venezuela, Iran or Syria, but rarely when the jailer is Bahrain and never when it’s the UAE. Full disclosure: I know both Ahmed and Nabeel, and worked closely with them both when I worked for Human Rights Watch and they were not in jail. What a simple accounting of their convictions and prison sentences fails to convey is the trauma and suffering—of these two individuals, much of the time in solitary confinement and sometimes deteriorating health, but also of their spouses and young children. What we see with Ahmed Mansoor and Nabeel Rajab is not justice or rule of law, but purely punitive state behavior directed at individuals who refuse to be silenced in the face of the abusive ruling families of Bahrain and the UAE.

    Joe Stork was until recently the Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division. He serves on the Advisory Board of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights.

    Link to article

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    - Stop targeting Human Rights Defenders (HRDs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Location: Geneva 
    Date: 4 January 2019
    Subject: Bahrain

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

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

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

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

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

    <p>&nbsp;</p>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    <p>&nbsp;</p>

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

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

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

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

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

    <p>&nbsp;</p>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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