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Front Line Defenders: Bahrain – Interrogation of human rights defender Mr Youssef Ahmed Abdel Rasool amidst ongoing harassment of BYSHR members

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On 10 June 2014, Mr Youssef Ahmed Abdel Rasool was summoned by criminal prosecution authorities and interrogated for several hours about his role in the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR).

The human rights defender is the Vice-President of BYSHR, an organisation that monitors and documents human rights violations, organises training workshops, and supports regional networking for human rights defenders.

Youssef Ahmed Abdel Rasool reports that during the interrogation he was intimidated, and told that his involvement was illegal and would result in legal actions being brought against him. Youssef Ahmed Abdel Rasool's summons is part of an ongoing campaign against BYSHR and its members by the Bahraini authorities. In 2011, the human rights defender was detained at the airport after returning from a training in Cairo on the UN human rights mechanisms, and questioned about the contents of the training programme.

On 29 May 2014, the Appeals Court of Bahrain upheld a 15-year sentence against human rights defender Mr Naji Fateel, a prominent blogger and board member of BYSHR, despite wide condemnation of the unfairness of the judicial proceedings, and photographic evidence supporting reports of cruel and inhuman treatment and torture committed against him while in custody. Yet no investigations have been made into the claims.

Seven months earlier, on 22 October 2013, founder and former President of BYSHR, Mr Mohammed Al-Maskati, was summoned for interrogation by the police. The Ministry of Interior had accused the human rights defender of “inciting hatred against the regime.” Mohammed Al-Maskati was released after he signed a declaration stating that he would present himself before the public prosecutor at any time. Previously, on 16 October 2012, a few weeks after participating in the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) session on Bahrain in Geneva, the human rights defender was summoned for interrogation and detained overnight. Mohammed Al-Maskati was brought before the Public Prosecution office on charges of “rioting and participating in an illegal gathering,” and released with charges pending the next day. At that time, he also received death threats for supposedly tarnishing “the image of Bahrain in Geneva,” and was the target of a media smear campaign.

On 6 September 2013, the Bahraini authorities arrested Mr Hussein Ali Abdul Nabi, a youth activist and member of BYSHR's documentation department. He was released on bail on 29 November 2013, but charges relating to “illegal gatherings and assaulting police officers” remain pending.

Front Line Defenders expresses its concern at the pattern of intimidation and judicial harassment against BYSHR and its members, as these acts are solely related to their legitimate and peaceful human rights activities. Further information on the cases of Mohammed Al-Maskati, Naji Fateel and Hussein Ali Abdul Nabi is available on the Front Line Defenders website.

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