• UNICEF: Unconscionable attack on children should be turning point in Yemen’s brutal war – enough is enough
    August 09,2018

     “The horrific attack on a bus in Sa’ada, Yemen, reportedly killing and maiming scores of children, marks a low point in the country’s brutal war. The question now is whether it will also be a turning point – the moment that must finally push the warring parties, UN Security Council and international community to do what’s right for children and bring an end to this conflict. 

    “UNICEF and others have repeatedly called for the protection of children and for respect of international humanitarian law. These calls have been met with utter disregard. Since 2015, nearly 2,400 children have been killed, more than 3,600 injured, and thousands of innocent lives have been damaged or destroyed. Attacks against hospitals, schools and essential infrastructure are commonplace.

    “The continuing conflict, repeated attacks, and access restrictions due to insecurity and violence are also hampering our ability to reach those most in need, including 11 million children who require humanitarian assistance.

    “How many more children will suffer or die before those who can act, do by putting a stop to this scourge? 

    “In just the past few weeks, a UNICEF-supported water station and sanitation centre in Hodeida – both of which are essential in providing families with access to clean water and preventing another outbreak of cholera – were attacked and seriously damaged, risking the health and wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of people.

    “It’s hard to believe we live in a world where children should live in fear of such attacks, yet here we are. This doesn’t have to be their reality though. Parties to the conflict and those who have influence over them, including Security Council members, can and should choose to end this catastrophe for the sake of Yemen’s children.”    

  • Amnesty: Bahrain: Cruel denial of medical treatment endangers lives of jailed activists
    August 06,2018
    The Bahraini authorities have for over a year deliberately denied proper medical care for four elderly jailed activists, Hassan Mshaima, Abdel-Jalil al-Singace, Abdel-Wahab Hussain and Abdel-Jalil al-Miqdad, subjecting them to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and putting their lives at risk, Amnesty International said today.

    All four prisoners of conscience are suffering from chronic illnesses and are denied treatment because they refuse to give into the authorities’ demands that they wear shackles to be taken to receive care and vital medication.
    “That anyone can bring themselves to treat people with such cruelty is unbelievable. These men are elderly, frail and suffering the severe debilitations that come with serious chronic illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes,” said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International.

    “Hassan Mshaima, Abdel-Jalil al-Singace, Abdel-Wahab Hussain and Abdel-Jalil al-Miqdad have been imprisoned solely for taking part in peaceful protests. They should not have been arrested, tried or imprisoned in the first place, let alone continue being subjected to this ill-treatment that is now endangering their lives. They must be released immediately and unconditionally.”

    The activists have refused to submit to shackles, saying they are prisoners of conscience, not criminals. The authorities have seized on this to deny them access to the prison doctor, external doctors, and even visits from their families.

    Before February 2017, Hassan Mshaima would receive visits from relatives and prison transfers to doctors’ appointments unshackled and wearing civilian clothes. Amnesty International has confirmed that this was the case for the other three political prisoners as well. 
    On 1 August 2018, Ali Mshaima, Hassan Mshaima’s son, began a hunger strike in front of Bahrain’s Embassy in London to protest the ill-treatment of his father by the Bahraini prison authorities.

    “The Bahraini authorities’ treatment of these wrongfully imprisoned peaceful activists violates international law and standards on prisoner treatment and constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. The authorities are duty bound to ensure that they are treated humanely and in particular in accordance with the minimum standards laid out in the Nelson Mandela Rules, including access to adequate medical care and contact with their relatives,” said Lynn Maalouf.

    “Given the frailty and age of these prisoners, there is no risk of escape or a threat to other prisoners’ or staff safety. This means that shackling these prisoners is purely a punitive measure by the authorities.”

    Hassan Mshaima needs about 10 different medications for erratic blood pressure, diabetes, urinary-tract irritation and gout. He is now completely out of his regular diabetes pills, and must receive insulin shots in his cell.

    The prison administration is not providing these on a sufficiently regular basis and is refusing to replenish supplies of his other medications.

    The four men were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2011 after an unfair trial for leading widespread peaceful anti-government protests. In the same case, nine other opposition activists received sentences ranging from five years to life imprisonment. Two of them have since been released.
  • Call for media coverage and live broadcast
    August 01,2018
  • HRW: Prominent Saudi Women Activists Arrested
    August 01,2018

    Saudi authorities have arrested the internationally recognized women’s rights activist Samar Badawi and an Eastern Province activist, Nassima al-Sadah, in the past two days, Human Rights Watch said today. Badawi and al-Sadah are the latest victims of an unprecedented government crackdown on the women’s rights movement that began on May 15, 2018 and has resulted in the arrest of more than a dozen activists.

    Badawi, a recipient of the United States’ 2012 International Women of Courage Award, is best known for challenging Saudi Arabia’s discriminatory male guardianship system. She was one of the first women to petition Saudi authorities to allow women the right to drive as well as the right to vote and run in municipal elections. Al-Sadah, from the coastal city of Qatif, has also long campaigned both for abolishing the guardianship system and lifting the driving ban. She was a candidate in the 2015 local elections, the first time women were allowed to run, but the authorities removed her name from the ballot, ultimately barring her from running.

    “The arrests of Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah signal that the Saudi authorities see any peaceful dissent, whether past or present, as a threat to their autocratic rule,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “After the recent arbitrary arrests of businesspeople, women’s rights activists, and reformist clerics, Saudi Arabia’s allies and partners should question what ‘reform’ really means in a country where the rule of law is disdainfully ignored.”

    Saudi authorities, under the ultimate direction of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, have stepped up arrests and prosecutions of dissidents and activists since early 2017. As the arrests escalated, Badawi and al-Sadah, like the other women’s rights activists recently arrested, had largely gone quiet in their social media and other public advocacy.

    Saudi authorities have targeted and harassed Badawi for years. In addition to her advocacy for women’s equality, she has campaigned energetically for both her former husband and her brother to be released from prison. Waleed Abu al-Khair, her former husband,  is serving a 15-year sentence for his human rights work, and Raif Badawi, her brother, is a blogger serving a 10-year sentence for expressing controversial opinions online. In December 2014, Saudi authorities barred her from travelling abroad and in January 2016, they briefly detained her over her peaceful human rights advocacy.

    On July 30, authorities also arrested Amal al-Harbi, wife of the leading Saudi activist Fowzan al-Harbi. He is serving a seven-year sentence for his work with the now-banned Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), one of the country’s first civic organizations. It is unclear why Saudi authorities have targeted Al-Harbi.

    The recent crackdown on women's rights activists began just weeks ahead of the much-anticipated lifting of the driving ban on women on June 24, a cause for which many of the detained activists had campaigned. While some have been released, others remain detained without charge. They include Loujain al-Hathloul, Aziza al-Yousef, Eman al-Nafjan, Nouf Abdelaziz, Mayaa al-Zahrani, and Hatoon al-Fassi, all women’s rights activists, as well as supporters of the movement, including Ibrahim al-Modaimeegh, a lawyer; Abdulaziz Meshaal, a philanthropist; and Mohammed Rabea, a social activist.

    Authorities accused several of those detained of serious crimes, including “suspicious contact with foreign parties” under thin legal pretenses. Government-aligned media outlets have carried out an alarming campaign against them, branding them “traitors.” The Saudi newspaper Okaz reported that nine of those detained will be referred for trial to the Specialized Criminal Court, originally established to try detainees held in connection with terrorism offenses. If convicted, they could face up to 20 years in prison.

    Dr. al-Fassi, a renowned scholar and associate professor of women’s history at King Saud University, was one of the first women to acquire a Saudi driver’s license. Saudi authorities arrested her just days before lifting the ban. Numerous other women’s rights activists have since been placed under travel bans.

    Saudi women’s rights activists have not only petitioned successive government authorities to reform discriminatory laws and policies, but also sought to change societal attitudes. While the government has recently introduced limited reforms, including allowing women to enter some professions previously closed to them as well as lifting the driving ban, the male guardianship system, the main impediment to the realization of women’s rights, remains largely intact.

    Under this system, women must obtain permission from a male guardian – a father, brother, husband, or even a son – to travel abroad, obtain a passport, enroll in higher education, get a life-saving abortion, be released from a prison or shelter, or marry.

    “Allies and partners considering opportunities for closer ties with Saudi Arabia during this period of ‘reform’ should speak out against Mohammad bin Salman’s ultimately self-defeating repression. Any economic vision that seeks to open up Saudi Arabia while throwing real reformers in jail may well end badly for everyone,” said Whitson.

  • HRW: Bahrain: Hundreds Stripped of Citizenship
    July 27,2018

    Bahraini authorities should restore citizenship to hundreds of nationals whose citizenship they revoked through executive orders or court decisions since 2012, rendering most of them stateless, Human Rights Watch said today.

    According to the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), authorities have, since 2012, revoked the citizenship of at least 738 nationals – 232 in 2018 alone – in a process that lacks adequate legal safeguards. This includes many human rights defenders, political activists, journalists, and religious scholars. The vast majority of Bahraini citizens stripped of citizenship are left effectively stateless, and some have been deported.

    “Bahrain seems intent on earning the dubious honor of leading the region in stripping citizenship,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “While authorities claim that these acts are linked to national security, they are in fact punishing many people merely for peacefully voicing dissent.”

    All known citizenship revocations since January 1, 2018, have been handed down by civil or military courts, BIRD said. Human Rights Watch has documented widespread fair trial violations in both court systems, in particular since the authorities’ crackdown on anti-government protests after 2011. The violations include a lack of access to lawyers, especially during interrogation, and allegedly coerced confessions.

    In 108 cases prior to 2018, authorities directly revoked a person’s citizenship through a royal decree or Interior Ministry order, according to BIRD.

    Criminal court decisions are subject to appeal. Royal decrees and ministerial orders are subject to two levels of court appeals. But courts have rarely – if ever – overturned a citizenship revocation ordered by the Interior Ministry or royal decree, a human rights activist who asked to remain anonymous told Human Rights Watch.

    Between May 15 and 25, 2018, courts ruling in various trials revoked the citizenship of a total of 128 defendants, according to BIRD. Among the recent court orders revoking citizenship, on May 15, a criminal court stripped 115 nationals of their citizenship after a single mass trial, also sentencing them to prison terms for allegedly forming a terrorist group. On May 21, a criminal court revoked the citizenship of nine nationals and sentenced them to various prison terms for terrorism-related charges. Authorities revoked the citizenship of four more nationals in two trials between May 22 and 25.

    The government has deported eight people to Iraq since the beginning of 2018, after courts stripped them of Bahraini citizenship.

    Bahrain made amendments to the Citizenship Law of 1963 in July 2014. Article 10 permits the Interior Ministry, with cabinet approval, to strip the citizenship of a person who “aids or is involved in the service of a hostile state” or who “causes harm to the interests of the Kingdom or acts in a way that contravenes his duty of loyalty to it.”

    In 2015, the Interior Ministry stripped the citizenship of Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, a prominent Bahraini human rights advocate. He was on a list of 72 persons whose citizenship the Interior Ministry revoked. The group included human rights defenders, political activists, and journalists, whom authorities accused of having “defamed the image of the regime, incited against the regime and spread false news to hinder the rules of the constitution,” and “defamed brotherly countries,” among other allegations. Alwadaei has since 2012 lived in the United Kingdom, where he is seeking asylum.

    In 2016, the government revoked  the citizenship of Sheikh Isa Qassim, a prominent Shia cleric regarded as the spiritual leader of the now-dissolved main opposition group to the government, Al Wifaq. Authorities kept him under house arrest until July 9, then granted him a temporary passport to travel to the UK for urgent medical procedures.

    Bahraini authorities have either jailed or exiled the country’s preeminent human rights defenders after trials that did not meet basic due process standards. The authorities have also resorted to harassment, intimidation, imprisonment, and prosecution of their family members.

    Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to a nationality and that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality, or of the right to enter his own country. In 1999, the Human Rights Committee, which interprets the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Bahrain has ratified, stated that, “'The scope of ‘his own country’ is broader than the concept ‘country of his nationality,’” and that it would apply to people who have been stripped of their nationality in violation of international law.

    A United Nations report from 2013 says that, “International law … obliges States to provide for an opportunity for the meaningful review of nationality decisions, including on substantive issues.” The report states that if the citizenship of a national is revoked, “lodging an appeal should suspend the effects of the decision, such that the individual continues to enjoy nationality – and related rights – until such time as the appeal has been settled.”

    Article 29 of the Arab Charter on Human Rights, which Bahrain has ratified, states that, “Every person has the right to a nationality, and no citizen shall be deprived of his nationality without a legally valid reason.”

    “What Bahraini authorities have done in stripping away hundreds of people’s citizenship clearly violates international norms,” Goldstein said. “Bahrain should promptly do the right thing and restore citizenship to those victims.”

  • Reuters: U.N. rights experts tell Bahrain to release jailed activists
    July 26,2018

    United Nations human rights experts called on Bahrain on Thursday to release detained activists, end restrictions on freedom of expression, and end discrimination against women.

    Bahrain, where a Sunni Muslim royal family rules over a Shi’ite-majority population, has cracked down on perceived threats since Arab Spring protests in 2011, led mainly by Shi’ites, were quashed with the help of Gulf Arab neighbours.

    Demonstrators have clashed frequently with security forces, who have been targeted in several bomb attacks.

    Bahrain’s delegation, led by deputy foreign minister Abdulla bin Faisal al-Doseri, told a U.N. panel that his country had adopted policies aimed at combating hate speech, strengthening national unity, and creating an environment for civil society or trade unions to participate. Empowerment of women was a priority.

    But U.N. panel expert Olivier de Frouville told a briefing: “Since last year there is a new regression, a fresh assault against freedom of expression, against civil society that is critical, and a marginalisation of political opposition parties.”

    ‘INCREASED VIOLENCE’

    The panel’s independent experts voiced concern at an increased use of violence by police during peaceful demonstrations “including reports indicating six fatal incidents during demonstrations and ten other extrajudicial killings in 2017”.

    The kingdom has used its anti-terrorism act extensively “outside the scope of terrorism, including against human rights defenders and political activists”, they said.

    Authorities “should also ensure that the rights to a fair trial and access to justice are respected in all criminal proceedings for terrorism”, the panel said.

    It cited cases including that of Nabeel Rajab, a leading figure in pro-democracy protests, who was sentenced to five years in prison in February for criticising Saudi Arabia’s air strikes in Yemen and accusing Bahrain’s prison authorities of torture. He was already serving a two-year sentence.

    “We called on (Bahrain) to change its laws, to stop reprisals, also to release immediately and unconditionally anyone held solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights,” de Frouville said, adding that they included Rajab.

    The panel also denounced the reported targeting of opposition-linked Al-Wasat newspaper, leading to its closure in 2017.

    Voicing concern at reports of arbitrary arrests by security forces, including incommunicado detention, it named Khalil al-Marzouq, a former member of parliament for the opposition group al-Wefaq, and Maryam al-Khawaja, a prominent activist.

    Bahrain should repeal all discriminatory provisions against women in its legislation, it said, and grant them equal rights with men in transmitting their nationality to their children and in divorce, including economic rights.

  • Amnesty: Disappearances and torture in southern Yemen detention facilities must be investigated as war crimes
    July 12,2018
    Justice remains elusive a year after a network of secret prisons was first exposed in southern Yemen, Amnesty International said in a new report today that documents egregious violations going unchecked, including systemic enforced disappearance and torture and other ill-treatment amounting to war crimes.

    “God only knows if he’s alive” details how scores of men have been subjected to enforced disappearance after being arbitrarily arrested and detained by United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Yemeni forces operating outside the command of their own government. Many have been tortured, with some feared to have died in custody.

    “The families of these detainees find themselves in an endless nightmare where their loved ones have been forcibly disappeared by UAE-backed forces. When they demand to know where their loved ones are held, or if they are even still alive, their requests are met with silence or intimidation,” said Tirana Hassan, Crisis Response Director at Amnesty International.
    “Scores of detainees have been released in recent weeks, including a few of the disappeared. But this comes after extended periods of being held without charges, in some cases up to two years, highlighting the need for holding perpetrators to account and ensuring remedy for the victims.

    Since joining the conflict in March 2015, the UAE has created, trained, equipped and financed various local security forces known as the Security Belt and Elite Forces. It has also built alliances with Yemeni security officials, bypassing their leadership in the Yemeni government.

    Amnesty International investigated the cases of 51 men detained by these forces between March 2016 and May 2018 in Aden, Lahj, Abyan, Hadramawt, and Shabwa governorates. Most of the cases involved enforced disappearance, and 19 of these men remain missing. The organization interviewed 75 people, including former detainees, relatives of those still missing, activists, and government officials.

    Families of the detained search in vain

    Families of the detainees told Amnesty International about their desperate search for information. Mothers, wives, and sisters of those forcibly disappeared have been holding protests for nearly two years now, making the rounds between government and prosecution offices, security departments, prisons, coalition bases, and various entities handling human rights complaints. 

    The sister of a 44-year-old man who was arrested in Aden in late 2016 told Amnesty International: 

    “We have no idea where he is, God only knows if he’s alive. Our father died of a broken heart a month ago. He died not knowing where his son is. 

    “We just want to know our brother’s fate. We just want to hear his voice and know where he is. If he’s done something, aren’t there courts to try them? At least put them on trial, let us visit them. What is the point of courts? Why disappear them like this?”

    Some families said they were approached by individuals who told them their relatives had died in custody, only for this to be denied when they checked with the leadership of the UAE-backed Yemeni forces.

    “If they would just confirm to us that my brother is alive, if they would just let us see him, that’s all we want. But we can’t get anyone to give us any confirmation. My mother dies a hundred times every day. They don’t know what that is like,” said the sister of a detainee who was forcibly disappeared after his arrest in September 2016 and who is widely rumoured to be among those who died in custody.

    Torture of detainees by UAE-backed forces

    Amnesty International’s report documents the widespread use of torture and other ill-treatment in Yemeni and Emirati facilities.

    Current and former detainees and families gave horrific accounts of abuse including beatings, use of electric shocks and sexual violence. One said he saw a fellow detainee being carried away in a body bag after being repeatedly tortured.

    “I saw things I do not want to see again. In that place, you do not even see the sun,” said a former detainee who was held at Waddah Hall, a notorious informal detention facility in Aden operated by a local counter-terrorism unit. “They were making all sorts of accusations [against me]. They started beating me… Then one day, they released me at night, they said they had me confused with someone else … ‘It was a mistaken identity, sorry.’ It was as if they had done nothing after all the suffering I endured from electric shocks.”

    Another former detainee said UAE soldiers at a coalition base in Aden repeatedly inserted an object into his anus until he bled. He said he was also kept in a hole in the ground with only his head above the surface and left to defecate and urinate on himself in that position.

    “We used to hear about torture and say, ‘There is no way this stuff happens,’ until I actually experienced it,” he said.

    Amnesty International also documented the case of a man who was arrested from his house by the UAE-backed Shabwani Elite Forces and then dumped next to his family’s house a few hours later, in a critical condition and with visible marks of torture. He died shortly after being taken to hospital.

    “The UAE, operating in shadowy conditions in southern Yemen, appears to have created a parallel security structure outside the law, where egregious violations continue to go unchecked,” said Tirana Hassan.

    “This vacuum of accountability makes it even harder for families to challenge the lawfulness of detentions. Even after Yemeni prosecutors have tried to assert their control over some prisons, UAE forces have ignored or severely delayed their release orders on several occasions.”

    Opponents targeted under pretext of fighting terrorism

    The UAE is a key member in the Saudi Arabia-led coalition that has been involved in Yemen’s armed conflict since March 2015. 

    Its involvement with the Security Belt and Elite Forces has the ostensible aim of combating ‘terrorism’, including by rounding up members of al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS).

    However, critics say many arrests are based on unfounded suspicions and personal vendettas. 

    Critics of the coalition and the practices of UAE-backed security forces have been among those rounded up, including community figures, activists and journalists, as well as sympathizers and members of the al-Islah Party, Yemen’s Muslim Brotherhood branch.

    Relatives of suspected AQAP and IS members, as well as men who initially helped the coalition fight the Huthis but are now seen as a threat, have also been targeted.

    Witnesses described how detainees were dragged from workplaces or the street, in some cases being beaten to the point of losing consciousness. Others were seized in terrifying late-night raids on their homes by balaclava-clad, gun-toting security forces referred to as “the masked ones”.

    The authorities intimidated and even attacked female relatives of detainees and the disappeared who have been holding protests in Aden and al-Mukalla for the past two years.

    The UAE has repeatedly denied it is involved in unlawful detention practices in Yemen, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Meanwhile the Yemeni government has stated to a UN panel of experts that it does not have control over the security forces trained and backed by the UAE.

    “Ultimately these violations, which are taking place in the context of Yemen’s armed conflict, should be investigated as war crimes. Both the Yemeni and UAE governments should take immediate steps to end them and provide answers to the families whose husbands, fathers, brothers and sons are missing,” said Tirana Hassan.

    “The UAE’s counter-terrorism partners, including the USA, must also take a stand against allegations of torture, including by investigating the role of US personnel in detention-related abuses in Yemen, and by refusing to use information that was likely obtained through torture or other ill-treatment.”

  • Reuters: Saudi Arabia arrests prominent cleric Safar al-Hawali: activists
    July 12,2018
    Saudi Arabia has detained influential religious scholar Safar al-Hawali and three of his sons, activists said on Thursday, widening an apparent crackdown against clerics, intellectuals and rights campaigners.

    London-based Saudi rights group ALQST said the arrests happened after Hawali published a book critical of the Saudi royal family. ALQST’s Yahya Assiri told Reuters the arrests took place on Wednesday.


    Another rights watchdog reported Hawali’s arrest, citing sources close to him.

    Authorities did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Riyadh says it does not have political prisoners, but senior officials have said monitoring of activists is needed to maintain social stability.

    Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has received praise for economic and social reforms hailed as proof of a new progressive trend, but there has been unease over the detention of women’s rights activists and a secretive anti-corruption purge last year.
    Critics say the powerful son of the king is not doing enough to liberalize politics in a country where the monarch enjoys absolute authority and that he has targeted dissidents.

    Hawali rose to prominence 25 years ago as a leader of the Sahwa movement, which agitated to bring democracy to Saudi Arabia and criticized the ruling family for corruption, social liberalization and working with the West.
    He was jailed in a clampdown on Islamists in the 1990s but was released after muting his criticism. Following the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, Hawali backed an anti-U.S. “jihad” but also denounced Islamist militants’ attacks on Westerners in Saudi Arabia.
    The Sahwa were weakened by a mixture of repression and co-optation, but remain active.

    The al-Saud family has always regarded Islamist groups as the biggest internal threat to its rule over a country in which appeals to religious sentiment cannot be lightly dismissed and an al Qaeda campaign a decade ago killed hundreds.
  • Reuters: Bahrain's top Shi'ite cleric allowed to seek treatment abroad
    July 09,2018
    Bahrain’s top Shi’ite Muslim cleric, who has been accused of inciting sectarian strife and has been living virtually confined to his home, has been allowed to travel to London for medical treatment, an opposition figure said on Monday.

    The Gulf island state, where a Sunni Muslim royal family rules over a Shi’ite-majority population, revoked Ayatollah Isa Qassim’s citizenship in 2016.

    Demonstrators have clashed frequently with security forces in Bahrain in recent years, and there have been several bomb attacks.

    Reports that Qassim’s health was deteriorating have stoked tension as the government pursues a crackdown on Shi’ite dissent in which two major political associations have been dissolved, hundreds of people have had their citizenship revoked, and activists have been put on trial.

    “Authorities have given Sheikh Qassim a one-year validity passport and he is now on his way to London,” Ali Alaswad, a former member of parliament for the dissolved al-Wefaq group, told Reuters.

    Foreign Minister Khalid Al Khalifa tweeted on Friday that King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa had ordered the government to facilitate Qassim’s travel and pay for his treatment.

    Bahraini officials did not immediately confirm Qassim’s departure.

    Doctors who visited Qassim at his home in the village of Duraz outside the capital Manama have said he is suffering from a groin hernia “requiring emergency operation”, according to the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD).

    Since Qassim’s citizenship was revoked, he has remained in his house as protesters camp outside with the intention of preventing any deportation attempt by the government.(The story corrects to remove reference in headline to cleric being detained; amends lead to say he has been virtually confined to his home, instead of ‘living under virtual house arrest’; adds final paragraph explaining nature of confinement.)
  • Reuters: Bahrain appeals acquittal of opposition leaders
    June 27,2018
    Reuters: Bahrain’s public prosecutor has appealed a court ruling that acquitted three senior leaders of the country’s main opposition group on charges of spying for Qatar, state news agency BNA reported on Wednesday.

    The ruling was a rare victory for the political opposition which has been targeted by an official crackdown since 2011 when “Arab Spring” protests rocked the kingdom, prompting a Gulf Arab bloc to send troops to put down the uprising.

    In November, the prosecutor accused Sheikh Ali Salman, secretary general of al-Wefaq group, and Sheikh Hassan Sultan, a former member of parliament for al-Wefaq, of conspiring with Qatari officials to carry out “hostile acts” in the kingdom.

    Last week, the High Criminal Court acquitted them along with a third senior al-Wefaq member, Ali Alaswad. The United States welcomed the verdict and called for the release of Salman, who is already serving a four-year sentence for other charges.

    Bahrain, where a Sunni Muslim royal family rules over a Shi’ite-majority population, has had a febrile political environment in recent years. Demonstrators have clashed frequently with security forces, which have been targeted by several bomb attacks.

    Along with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, Bahrain cut diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar last year, accusing it of supporting terrorism and cosying up to Iran. Doha denies the charges.

    Bahrain has also frequently accused regional Shi’ite power Iran of fomenting unrest. Manama says Qatar has supported protests and the sporadic attacks against security forces, which Doha likewise denies.

    BNA quoted a statement from the prosecutor’s office saying that the court ruling had many legal flaws.

    “The case had much evidence that cannot be denied or rejected, leaving no doubt that the defendants had committed hostile acts against the kingdom in order harm its national interests,” it said.

    The statement did not name Qatar, but it said Salman admitted to talking to an official of “that country”. The appeal hearing has been set for Sept. 5, it added.

    Alaswad, who has lived in London since 2011, told Reuters last week that the public prosecutor had used secret witnesses and a video from a Bahraini television channel which experts described as edited and incomplete.

    Both Bahrain and Qatar are close U.S. allies: Bahrain hosts the main U.S. naval base in the Gulf, while Qatar hosts the main U.S. air base.

  • Reuters:Prominent Saudi women's rights activist detained as driving ban lifted
    June 27,2018

    Reuters: Saudi Arabia has detained prominent women's rights advocate Hatoon al-Fassi, widening a crackdown that has ensnared more than a dozen activists even as the kingdom lifted a ban on women driving, sources said on Wednesday.

    London-based Saudi rights group ALQST and exiled activist Manal al-Sharif reported the arrest on Twitter, but provided few details. It was confirmed by sources in touch with people close to Fassi, who said they were scared of speaking out.

    An Interior Ministry spokesman and the government's communications office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

    Fassi was last active online on Thursday. She was planning to take journalists in her car on Sunday as other women did to celebrate the much-hyped end of the world's last ban on female drivers, long seen as an emblem of women's repression in the deeply conservative Muslim country.

    The ban's end, ordered last September by King Salman, is part of sweeping reforms pushed by his powerful son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in a bid to transform the economy of the world's top oil exporter and open up its cloistered society.

    But it has been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent against some of the very activists who previously campaigned against the ban, including Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan, and Aziza al-Yousef as well as the men Ibrahim al-Modaimeegh, Mohammad al-Rabea and Abdulaziz al-Meshaal.

    Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor said earlier this month that a total of 17 people had been arrested, eight of whom were later released. The authorities accused them of suspicious contacts with "foreign entities" and said more suspects were being sought. Local media labeled them traitors.

    At least nine people remain in detention "after sufficient evidence was made available and for their confessions of charges attributed to them".

    Fassi is an associate professor at King Saud University and a regular contributor to Saudi Arabia's al-Riyadh newspaper. She has long been a champion for women's rights, including the right to drive. Her husband is a prominent Gulf Cooperation Council official.

    Fassi tweeted on June 6 that she had received her Saudi driving license along with a small group of women who converted their permits obtained in foreign countries.

    "It is as if I have been recognized as an equal citizen,” she told English-language newspaper Arab News last week. "Celebrating will be the first aim, then I will see where I need to go on that day." 

  • Washington Urges Manama’s Prosecutors ‘Not To Pursue Appeal’ Against Sheikh Ali Salman’s Acquittal
    June 22,2018

    Washington is urging state prosecutors in Manama “not to pursue an appeal” against Thursday’s court ruling, which cleared Bahrain’s opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman of espionage charges.


    During a press briefing, the U.S. State Department’s Spokesperson Heather Nauert said that the “acquittal removes a potential barrier to political reconciliation in Bahrain.”


    “We welcome today’s verdict acquitting Ali Salman along with his codefendants,” Nauert added. “We repeat our call on the government of Bahrain to release Ali Salman from prison and grant relief from his previous conviction.”


    Sheikh Salman, who chaired Bahrain’s largest opposition group, was initially jailed in 2014 and is currently serving a 4-year prison sentence.


    Last November, he was charged with “spying for the state of Qatar” over a well-documented mediation attempt dating back to Bahrain’s popular uprising in 2011.


    According to Nauert, the U.S. is following Sheikh Salman’s case “closely”.


  • Reuters:France seeks to calm Bahrain after rights criticism
    June 22,2018

    France sought to assuage Bahrain on Friday after rare criticism by its ambassador to the kingdom over human rights and an honorary citizenship by Paris of a rights campaigner sparked anger in Manama, three sources said.

    France, one of the five veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council, has close ties with Gulf Arab states, in particular Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and rarely publicly criticizes internal political issues.

    However, French ambassador Cecile Longe tweeted on June 7 that Paris was deeply concerned by the “treatment of human rights defenders and political opponents in the country” and specifically criticized the confirmation of a five-year prison sentence for opposition member Nabeel Rajab.

    Rajab was sentenced to five years in prison in February for criticizing a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen and accusing Bahrain’s prison authorities of torture.

    Longe’s tweets were followed by a decision on Monday by Paris town hall to make the activist an honorary citizen of the French capital.

    “The Bahrainis went apoplectic after this because the symbolism of it was a step too far,” said one source aware of the matter.

    A Bahraini emissary was dispatched to Paris on Friday to underscore Manama’s disapproval over the issue, two diplomatic sources said.

    The sources said the decision had pushed the Bahrainis to look to call off the king’s official visit to Paris, which had been due at the end of June.

    One of the two diplomats said Manama had informed Paris that the visit, which had never been officially announced, could not go ahead due to a death in the royal family.

    The French presidency declined to comment. France’s foreign ministry said it stood by the ambassador’s tweets. Bahrain’s embassy in Paris did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


  • AP: Imprisoned Bahrain opposition leader acquitted in spy case
    June 21,2018

    A prominent Shiite cleric in Bahrain who led a now-shuttered opposition party was acquitted Thursday of spying charges with two colleagues, marking a rare victory for activists in the island kingdom amid a yearslong clampdown on dissent.


    Sheikh Ali Salman headed the Al-Wefaq political party, the largest Shiite opposition group in the kingdom, and served as a central figure in Bahrain’s 2011 Arab Spring protests.


    A lawyer previously involved with Salman’s case, Abdulla al-Shamlawi, said the cleric would be released in December after he finished serving some four years in prison in another case widely criticized internationally.


    “It is defusing unnecessary circumstances,” al-Shamlawi said. “It is very good.”


    Prosecutors later issued a statement saying they planned to appeal, alleging there was “strong evidence” against the three men.


    Activists praised the court decision, but said Salman should be immediately freed.


    “Sheikh Ali Salman had been used as a pawn in Bahrain’s game of power politics,” said Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, the director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy. “Despite his acquittal, Sheikh Salman will continue to languish in Jaw Prison for exercising his right to freedom of expression.”


    Salman, 52, long has been targeted by Bahrain’s government. In 1994, he was arrested, tortured and detained for months without trial before being deported and forced to live in exile for over 15 years, according to the United Nations.


    He was a prominent figure in Bahrain’s Arab Spring protests in 2011, in which the island’s Shiite majority and others demanded more freedoms from the Sunni monarchy.


    In December 2014, two days after being re-elected as Al-Wefaq’s secretary-general, Salman was again arrested by security forces. This time, prosecutors brought him to trial on charges he insulted the Interior Ministry, which oversees police, incited others to break the law and incited hatred against naturalized Sunni citizens, many of whom serve in the island’s security forces. While Bahrain’s constitution guarantees freedom of expression, authorities routinely arrest and charge activists over their comments.


    The U.N.’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions issued a report in November 2015 criticizing the arrest and calling for Salman’s release. The report also described its decision as “only one of several opinions that have found Bahrain to be in violation of its international human rights obligations.”


    In Thursday’s case, Salman and two other officials from Al-Wefaq, Sheikh Hassan Ali Juma Sultan and Ali Mahdi Ali al-Aswad, faced spying charges. The charges came after Bahrain state television in August aired recorded telephone calls between Salman and Qatar’s then-Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani during the 2011 protests. It remains unclear who gave state television the recordings, though activists suspect the island’s intelligence services leaked the call.


    Bahrain is one of four Arab countries that have been boycotting Qatar for over a year as part of a wider diplomatic dispute.


    The call between Salman and the Qatari official at the time were aimed at peacefully resolving the 2011 protests, which ended when Bahraini, Emirati and Saudi security forces violently put down the demonstrations. A government-sponsored report on the 2011 protests and unrest noted Bahrain’s opposition accepted that mediation while Bahrain’s government rejected it.


  • HRW: Saudi Arabia: Unrelenting Crackdown on Activists- 2 New Arrests of Women’s Rights Advocates; Others Banned from Travel
    June 20,2018
    Saudi authorities have arrested two more women’s rights activists in recent days in what appears to be an unrelenting crackdown on the women’s rights movement, Human Rights Watch said today. Saudi activists have reported that the authorities have placed travel bans on numerous others since May 15.

     

    On June 6, Saudi authorities arrested the writer and activist Nouf Abdelaziz, who had publicly expressed solidarity with three women’s rights activists arrested in May, along with at least 14 other activists and supporters. On June 10, the authorities arrested Mayaa al-Zahrani, an activist and friend of Abdelaziz, after she reportedly posted a letter Abdelaziz asked her to make public in case of her arrest. In the letter, addressed to her fellow Saudis, Abdelaziz explained who she was, stressing that she committed no crime: “I am not a provoker, not a vandalizer, not a terrorist, a criminal or a traitor… I have never been [anything] but a good citizen who loves her country and wishes for it nothing but the best.” Both women are being held incommunicado.

     

    “The Saudi government appears determined to leave its citizens without any space to show even rhetorical support for activists jailed in this unforgiving crackdown on dissent,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Nouf Abdelaziz and Mayaa al-Zahrani’s only ‘crime’ seems to be expressing solidarity with their fellow imprisoned activists.”

     

    On June 4, the local newspaper Okaz reported that nine detained activists, four women and five men, will soon be referred to the Specialized Criminal Court, which was originally established to try detainees held in connection with terrorism offenses, to be tried for committing three “serious” crimes: “cooperating with entities hostile to the kingdom,” “recruiting persons in a sensitive government agency to obtain confidential information to harm the interests of the kingdom,” and “providing financial and moral support to hostile elements abroad.”

     

    Okaz earlier reported that, 15 days into the activists’ detention, an investigating body had announced that all nine detainees had confessed to the latter two accusations. If convicted, they could face up to 20 years in prison.

     

    Among those arrested are the prominent women’s rights activists Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan, and Aziza al-Yousef; Ibrahim al-Modaimeegh, a lawyer; Mohammad al-Rabea, an activist; and Abdulaziz al-Meshaal, a philanthropist. They face charges similar to those against several imprisoned activists currently serving lengthy prison terms, including Waleed Abu al-Khair, Fadil al-Manasif, and Nadhir al-Majed. Immediately following their arrest, in a coordinated campaign, local media outlets publicly accused those detained of treason.

     

    The recent crackdown on women’s rights activists comes just weeks ahead of the much-anticipated lifting of the driving ban on women on June 24 – an occasion several of the currently detained activists had long campaigned to bring about. Saudi authorities arrested Abdelaziz and al-Zahrani just as Saudi Arabia’s Information Ministry began distributing video footage and photos of women proudly displaying their new drivers’ licenses.

     

    On May 29, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued a statement calling on Saudi Arabia to immediately release all recently detained activists “if, as it appears, their detention is related solely to their work as human rights defenders and activists on women’s issues.” In a strongly-worded resolution published on May 30, the European Parliament condemned the “ongoing repression of human rights defenders, including women’s rights defenders, in Saudi Arabia” and called on the Saudi government to “put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level,” against them.

     

    Human Rights Watch has documented Saudi Arabia’s use of its Specialized Criminal Court and counterterrorism law to unjustly prosecute human rights defenders, writers, and peaceful critics.

     

    Following a five-day visit to Saudi Arabia in 2017, the former UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, Ben Emmerson, concluded in his report published on June 6, 2018, that Saudi Arabia had misused its counter-terrorism measures to stifle political dissent, suppress opposition, and silence peaceful critics. Emmerson provided a detailed overview of the nature of the Specialized Criminal Court, where local media reports say that the currently detained activists will be tried. He included sections on the use of torture and coerced confessions, as well as on pre-trial detentions and flawed investigations.

     

    “It is imperative for Saudi Arabia’s Western allies to speak out in solidarity with the detained activists and to pressure the Saudi authorities to unconditionally release those detained for their work as human rights activists before they are referred for trial,” Whitson said. “There can be no real celebration on June 24 while the women who campaigned for the right to drive and their supporters remain behind bars.”

  • GIDHR addresses US President on the eve of Sheikh Ali Salman’s trial
    June 19,2018
    The Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) addressed U.S President Donald Trump, in a letter issued yesterday (Monday 18 June 2018), on the eve of Sheikh Ali Salman’s trial on 21st of June 2018. Sheikh Salman is a prominent Bahraini opposition figure detained since 28 December 2014.

    “Sheikh Salman is well-known for his peaceful and moderate political speech throughout all his political life. He has been described as a symbol for non-violence and peace,” the letter said.

    “There is a firm belief that Sheikh Ali Salman has been targeted for expressing his political views publicly, for defending the right to political participation, arguing against corruption and oppression, as well as demanding democracy, political reforms, social justice and equality among the people of Bahrain,” it continued.

    GIDHR considered Sheikh Salman’s right to a fair trial was violated since the very first day of his arrest, pointing out that Ms Navi Pillay described his trial as a “political persecution.”

    The American administration, which was the main party in the US-Gulf initiative, is aware that Sheikh Ali Salman’s call with the Qatari former prime minister, which Bahrain’s Public Prosecution based itself on, was part of the aforementioned initiative,” GIDHR added.

    GIDHR concluded its letter calling upon the American administration to exert pressure on the Government of Bahrain to release Sheikh Salman and all the political prisoners unconditionally; drop all the charges against him; halt all human rights violations, hold perpetrators accountable, and compensate the victims; and end all forms of discrimination; set a national dialogue with all the opposition parties.

    From his side, Yahya Alhadid, GIDHR President, said: “Sheikh Ali Salman’s trial is a political trial lacking all the international standards of fair trial and reveals Bahrain judicial system unfair.”
    “The international cover provided by U.S administration, along with other allies, to the Government of Bahrain encourages its continuous pursuit of targeting the opponents, oppressing freedoms, and violating the people of Bahrain’s rights,” he added.

    To read the whole letter press here
  • Bahraini Human Right Organizations Welcome the Speech of the High Commissioner for HR
    June 18,2018
  • GIDHR lodged a complaint to FIFA regarding its president’s visit to Bahrain
    June 16,2018
    Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) lodged today (16 June 2018) a complaint to the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) regarding its president’s visit to Bahrain.
    GIDHR explained in its complaint that Bahrain is trying to whitewash its profile in front of the international community using sports. "It seems pretty clear that the Bahraini authorities have stepped up efforts to associate the country with major sporting events as glitzy cover for an ever-worsening human rights crackdown,” Amnesty International UK's head of policy and government affairs, Allan Hogarth, says.
    GIDHR cited an interview with Bahrain’s national soccer star Alaa Hubail with ESPN as he explained how he was arrested. “They put me in the room for beatings. One of the people who hit me said: ‘I’m going to break your legs.’ They knew who we were. There was a special room for the torture.”
    Moreover, Brian Cookson, president of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), reminded about how Sheikh Nasser abused his position as the president of several sports institutions to quash athletes who attempted to participate in the popular uprising.
    GIDHR summed up by urging FIFA to press on the government of Bahrain to release all the detained sports people over political charges, investigate torture and ill-treatment allegations and hold the perpetrators accountable and halt all violations and inhumane practices.
    GIDHR President, Yahya Alhadid said: “we have lodged the complaint today through FIFA’s new mechanism to receive the complaints related to human rights issues.” “We hope FIFA’s President Gianni Infantino had addressed the human rights violations against soccer players in Bahrain, whilst some of them are still detained over expressing their political opinions and personal believes as Hussien Mahdi.” he continued.
  • Amnesty: Yemen: Attack on Hodeidah threatens civilian lives and lifesaving humanitarian aid
    June 13,2018

    Responding to the news that Yemeni forces backed by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition have launched an offensive on the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director Lynn Maalouf said:


    “The assault on Hodeidah could have a devastating impact for hundreds of thousands of civilians – not just in the city but throughout Yemen.


    “With an estimated 600,000 people living in and around Hodeidah, all sides to the conflict must take all feasible precautions to ensure that the civilian population is protected.  


    “Equally vital is that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition and Huthi forces ensure the flow of aid and essential goods isn’t impeded in any way, as millions of people remain at risk of famine across the country.


    “Hodeidah’s port is crucial to a country that is 80% dependent on imports to meet basic necessities. Cutting off this crucial supply line would further exacerbate what is already the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.


    “During the past three years of fighting in Yemen, all parties to the conflict have disregarded their obligations under international humanitarian law, consistently carrying out unlawful attacks that have killed or injured civilians. A repeat of such violations in Hodeidah would put thousands of lives at risk and must be avoided at all costs.”


  • SALAM DHR: Bahrain keeps Nabeel Rajab in prison while the international community continues to recognize his active role in advocacy for human rights
    June 08,2018
    The world’s largest human rights organizations condemned the Bahrain Court of Appeal ruling on June 5, 2018 against prominent human rights defender and President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights Nabeel Rajab for five years for charges related to tweets he posted on Twitter and his testimony about torture in Jau Central Prison as well as his criticism of Saudi-led military operations in Yemen.

    Nabeel Rajab also faces another sentence of up to two years in jail for the expression of opinion as a result of television interviews he made in 2015 and 2016. It is worth noting that the prison administration of Jau keeps Rajab in a narrow cell that does not meet the minimum standards of hygiene. Earlier, according to relatives, the prison administration itself prevented him from drinking water.

    Human Rights Watch said the charges against Rajab were a clear violation of his right to freedom of expression, guaranteed under Article 19of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Bahrain ratified in 2006.

    Amnesty International said in a statementissued on 5 June 2018: “The Bahraini Court of Appeal has missed a valuable opportunity to carry out the proper procedure and to release Nabeel Rajab. His continued detention is but another witness to the intention of the Bahraini authorities to continue non-stop to suppress the right to freedom of expression, and to silence every peaceful critic of its policies”.


    “The Upholding of a five-year prison sentence for minor tweets underscores the fact that the Bahraini authorities are trying to silence Nabeel Rajab, the political detainee who is subjected to humiliating treatment at all costs,” also said Dimitris Christopoulos, head of the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights.


    On the other hand, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders of the International Federation of Human Rights and the International Organization against Torture described the court decision as “shameful”.

    Reporters Without Borders also called for the release of Nabeel Rajab and wrote in a tweet on its Twitter account that it was “surprised by this distress” and that it was demanding the release of blogger Nabeel Rajab, who has been unjustly imprisoned since June 2016.


    The European Union called on the government of Bahrain to release rights activist Nabeel Rajab, one day after the Bahraini Court of Appeal upheld the five-year sentence. The EU saidin a statement that there were grounds to believe that Rajab’s right to a fair trial was not respected nor maintained, as in previous judgments issued against him in January and February 2018.


    In another international response to Bahrain’s decision, the Paris City Council unanimously decided to “grant honorary citizenship to Nabeel Rajab, Deputy Secretary-General of the International Federation of Human Rights, imprisoned for his struggle for human rights and also is calling for his immediate release”.


    “With this gesture, we demand the release of Nabeel Rajab. Paris will always be there to defend the freedom of opinion, the freedom of the media and the support of the oppressed in the world,” the mayor of Paris said in a tweet at her Twitter account.


    France’s ambassador to Bahrain also said on her Twitter account: “France is closely following the situation of Nabeel Rajab and has received with concern the assertion of the five-year prison term for Bahraini oppositionist and human rights defender Mr. Nabeel Rajab on the backdrop of his twittering. France expresses its deep concern about the treatment of human rights defenders and political opponents in the country”.


    Where Jawad Fairooz, president of SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights said: “The world is proud and appreciative of the human gestures of prominent rights activist Nabeel Rajab, while Bahrain is imprisoning, persecuting and abusing him while he is in prison”.


    In a similar vein, Mohammed Sultan, Advocacy Officer for SALAM DHR, said: “The authority in Bahrain should correct the mistake, release and rehabilitate and compensate for damages prominent rights figure Nabeel Rajab sustained, and stop retaliation against rights activists and politicians who simply express their views”.


    SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights calls on the Bahraini authorities to immediately release Nabeel Rajab and stop trying to silence him and his human rights activities. SALAM DHR also calls on the Bahraini authorities to listen to the voice of the international community, which monitored Rajab’s trial and reviewed the case file, and concluded that Rajab did not commit a crime. His humanitarian work is worthy of honor and must he be acquitted of all the malicious charges against him. The government must adopt judicial reform in Bahrain.


  • BCHR: No Right to Rights: A Report into Human Rights Violations Committed by BAHRAINI Authorities
    June 06,2018

    BCHR: The most recent constitution of Bahrainde nes it as a constitutional monarchy. The King is responsible for appointing thePrime Minister – the current incumbent has been in the position since 1971. Citizens of Bahrain have no power to change the PrimeMinister. The King also has power to appointgovernment ministers and 50% of theNational Council, as well as the country’s judiciary. This situation led the people of Bahrain to take direct action in 2011, organizing a large sit-in around the Pearl Roundabout, with the aim of strengthening their rights. However, authorities used excessive force to end the sit-in, leading to several deaths and signi cant numbers of injuries.Sincethattime,andupuntilthepoint of writing, authorities have continued to violate the human rights of Bahraini citizens.


    Over the course of 2017 (between January and December, to be precise), the number of politically-motivated detentions increased, as did reports of torture and ill treatment carried out in order to force confessions during interrogations. Moreover, political and social media activists continued to be targeted, both by the security forces and by the judiciary. Human rights defenders have also been targeted. Politically-motivated court cases were pursued in a manner falling far short of the minimum basic standards for fair trials as stipulated by international law. This is not to mention the fact that civilians have been tried in military courts.

    Authorities have also employed anti-terror laws against opposition activists and peaceful protesters. The UN1 and a host of other international organizations2 have called for these laws to be revised, since their broad-based and vague clauses violate standards of human rights and fair trial. There have been widespread restrictions on civil, religious and political freedoms, and violations on the right to privacy. What’s more, a number of opposition activists and Shia religious clerics have had their citizenship revoked, with several subsequently being deported.

    The report that follows is a summary of the human rights violations documented by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights over the course of 2017. A number of other violations were reported, but it has not been possible to verify them due to fear


    on the part of victims, who have been unwilling to share their testimonies. The volume of violations reported during 2017 also meant that it was beyond the capacity of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights to investigate all of them.


  • Amnesty: Bahrain: Nabeel Rajab unfair conviction for Twitter posts upheld
    June 05,2018

    Responding to the news that Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights activist in Bahrain, has had his appeal against his conviction for peacefully expressing his opinions online upheld, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said:


    “The Bahraini Court of Appeal has missed a vital opportunity to do the right thing and set Nabeel Rajab free.


    “His ongoing detention is further proof of the Bahraini authorities’ relentless determination to squash the right to freedom of expression and silence any peaceful criticism.


    “It is absolutely outrageous that he has to spend another single day behind bars solely for expressing his opinion online.


    “The authorities must immediately release Nabeel Rajab and drop all charges against him.”

    In February this year, Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to five years in prison. The sentence is related to posts and retweets shared on his Twitter account regarding alleged torture in Bahrain’s Jaw prison, and the killing of civilians in the Yemen conflict by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition.


    Nabeel Rajab is now expected to pursue a final appeal before Bahrain’s Court of Cassation.


    Background


    Nabeel Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, has been relentlessly harassed and intimidated for his peaceful human rights work and has been in and out of prison since 2012 on various charges related to his peaceful activism. He has been banned from leaving Bahrain since November 2014.


    In the most recent round of prosecutions, Rajab has been detained since June 2016, and earlier this year was handed an additional two-year prison sentence for TV interviews he gave in 2015 and 2016. The Court of Cassation in Manama, Bahrain’s capital, upheld his sentence on 15 January 2018, convicting him of “disseminating false news, statements and rumours about the internal situation of the kingdom that would undermine its prestige and status”.

  • HRW: Bahrain: Exonerate, Free Nabeel Rajab
    June 03,2018

    The Bahraini government should drop its charges against a prominent Bahraini human rights defender for peacefully expressing his views and order his immediate release, Human Rights Watch said today. The Manama Appeals Court is scheduled to issue its final ruling on June 5, 2018 on an appeal by the rights defender, Nabeel Rajab.


    The Bahrain High Criminal Court on February 21 sentenced Rajab to five years in prison for tweets criticizing alleged torture in Bahrain’s Jaw Prison and the Saudi-led military operations in Yemen. Rajab is serving a two-year prison sentence on other charges related to peaceful expression and has been detained since June 13, 2016. His relatives say he has medical ailments that prison authorities are not treating adequately.


    “Nothing that Nabeel Rajab posted on human rights in Bahrain or the humanitarian crisis in Yemen justifies his spending a single minute behind bars,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “These charges inherently violate Rajab’s basic human rights and should have never been brought in the first place.”


    Rajab is one of dozens of human rights defenders, political activists, opposition leaders and journalists that authorities have unjustly imprisoned since quelling anti-government protests in 2011.


    Public prosecution documents Human Rights Watch reviewed cite three criminal code provisions for the charges against him. The documents cite article 133 of the Criminal Code, for “deliberately disseminating in wartime false or malicious news, statements or rumors […] so as to cause damage to military preparations.” They also cite Article 215 for “publicly offending a foreign country,” in this case Saudi Arabia; and Article 216 for “insulting a statutory body,” in this case the Ministry of Interior and the Reform and Rehabilitation Services, for. Rajab’s tweets alleging the use of excessive force by Jordanian security forces to quell unrest at Jaw Prison and security forces’ torture and ill treatment there.


    Human Rights Watch said that the charges against Rajab are a clear violation of his right to free expression,  protected under article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Bahrain ratified in 2006.


    Rajab, who suffers from a skin condition, is held in a cramped, dirty, and insect-infested cell at Jaw Prison no bigger than 3-by-3 meters that he shares with five other detainees, his relatives said. Prison authorities keep the men locked in their cell 23 hours a day. Although Rajab needs further surgery for his skin condition, authorities have yet to transfer him to a hospital for the procedure, his relatives said.


    Authorities arrested Rajab on April 2, 2015, and filed charges based on his allegations on social media of torture in Jaw Prison. Authorities released Rajab on humanitarian grounds on July 13, 2015.


    But on June 13, 2016, authorities again arrested Rajab, this time for his criticism during a television interview of their refusal to allow journalists and human rights groups into the country. A court sentenced Rajab to a two-year prison term for this criticism, on charges of “spreading false news and rumors about the internal situation in the Kingdom, which undermines the state prestige and status.” The Court of Cassation upheld that sentence on January 15, 2018. He is due to be released when he completes his sentence this month, unless the new conviction and sentence in the tweeting case are upheld.


    Rajab is a member of the Human Rights Watch Middle East and North Africa Advisory Committee. 

  • HRW: UAE: Award-Winning Activist Jailed For 10 Years
    June 01,2018
    The UAE should immediately release Ahmed Mansoor, an award-winning human rights activist, and vacate the 10-year prison sentence issued against him for crimes that appear to violate his right to free expression.

    Authorities arrested Mansoor, who won the prestigious Martin Ennals Award in 2015 and is a member of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East advisory committee, on March 20, 2017. He was held in an unknown location for more than a year with no access to a lawyer and only very limited family visits and was sentenced on May 29, 2018.
     
    “The UAE has exposed itself as a brutally repressive place more interested in sending rights defenders to rot in jail than in any real reform,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch said. “So long as Mansoor remains in prison, no amount of money nor army of public relations firms will be able to wash away this stain on the UAE’s reputation.”
     
    Until his arrest in 2017, Mansoor had been one of the last remaining public human rights defenders in the UAE able to criticize the authorities publicly. United Nations human rights experts have echoed the calls to free Mansoor, describing his arrest as “a direct attack on the legitimate work of human rights defenders in the UAE.”

    On May 30, the UAE-based newspaper The National reported that a court had sentenced Ahmed Mansoor to 10 years in prison, a fine of 1,000,000 UAE Dirhams (US$272,000), three years of probation after completion of his sentence, and confiscation of his electronic devices. The court convicted Mansoor for insulting the “status and prestige of the UAE and its symbols,” including its leaders, and seeking to damage the UAE’s relationship with its neighbors by publishing false reports and information on social media, the paper reported.
     
    The reporting echoed that of the UAE’s official news agency, WAM, on March 20, after Mansoor’s arrest. WAM reported that authorities had arrested Mansoor on the orders of the Public Prosecution for Cybercrimes for using social media websites to “publish false information and rumors,” “promote [a] sectarian and hate-incited agenda,” and “publish false and misleading information that harm national unity and social harmony and damage the country’s reputation.” That report classified these as “cybercrimes,” indicating that the charges may be based on alleged violations of the UAE’s repressive 2012 cybercrime law, which authorities have used to imprison numerous activists. It provides for long prison sentences and severe financial penalties.
     
    In February 2018, a group of international human rights groups commissioned two lawyers from Ireland to travel to the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, to seek access to Mansoor during his pretrial detention. UAE authorities gave the lawyers conflicting information about Mansoor’s whereabouts and denied them access to him. According to the Gulf News, Mansoor told the court during his first hearing that he had been unable to retain a lawyer, so the court appointed one for him.
     
    People in the UAE who speak out about human rights abuses are at serious risk of arbitrary detention, imprisonment, and torture, and many are serving long prison terms or have felt compelled to leave the country.
     
    In the weeks leading up to his most recent arrest, Mansoor had criticized the UAE’s prosecutions for speech-related offenses. Mansoor had also used his Twitter account to draw attention to human rights violations across the region, including in Egypt and Yemen. He also signed a joint letter with other activists in the region calling on leaders at the Arab League summit in Jordan in March 2017 to release political prisoners in their countries.
     
    In April 2011, UAE authorities detained Mansoor over his peaceful calls for reform and in November, the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi sentenced him to three years in prison for insulting the country’s top officials after a trial deemed unfair. Although the UAE president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, pardoned Mansoor, authorities never returned his passport, subjecting him to a de facto travel ban. He has also faced physical assaults, death threats, government surveillance, and a sophisticated spyware attack.
     
    In August 2016, the Toronto-based research group Citizen Lab reported that Mansoor received suspicious text messages on his iPhone promising information about detainees tortured in UAE jails and urging him to click on a link. Citizen Lab discovered that clicking on the link would have installed sophisticated spyware on his iPhone that allows an outside operator to control the targeted iPhone’s telephone and camera, monitor chat applications, and track the user’s movements. Similar methods for breaking into iPhones have been valued at US$1 million, leading Citizen Lab to call Mansoor “the million-dollar dissident.”
     
    While Mansoor can appeal his recent conviction, trials in the UAE, including Mansoor’s own in 2018 and in 2011, are often marred by legal and procedural flaws.
     
    Article 32 of the Arab Charter on Human Rights, to which the UAE is a party, guarantees the right to freedom of opinion and expression and to impart news to others by any means. Restrictions are only allowed on the practice of this right to “respect for the rights of others, their reputation, or the protection of national security, public order, public health, or public morals.” Article 13(2) of the charter also requires that judicial hearings be “public other than in exceptional cases where the interests of justice so require in a democratic society which respects freedom and human rights.”
     
    “Mansoor’s sentence is a cruel reminder of the UAE’s relentless determination to quash any semblance of criticism or any conversation about rights,” Whitson said. “The UAE’s supposed allies – including in Washington and London – should stand up for Mansoor and demand that he is freed.”
  • Amnesty:UAE: Activist Ahmed Mansoor sentenced to 10 years in prison for social media posts
    May 31,2018

    The jailing of a prominent human rights activist in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for posts he made on Facebook and Twitter is a devastating blow to freedom of expression in the country, Amnesty International said today.


    Ahmed Mansoor was this week sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined 1,000,000 Emirati Dirham (approximately USD $270,000) for posts he made on social media.


    “Ahmed Mansoor is one of the few openly critical voices in the UAE, and his persecution is another nail in the coffin for human rights activism in the country,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director.


    “The decision to lock up Ahmed Mansoor for the next 10 years for simply sharing his opinion on social media is what causes the real damage to the UAE’s reputation and so-called ‘social harmony’, not Ahmed Mansoor’s peaceful activism.


    “Ahmed is a prisoner of conscience who has been targeted, tried and sentenced for using Facebook and Twitter to share his thoughts. He should never have been charged in the first place and now he must be released immediately.”


    Mansoor was reported to have been convicted of “publish[ing] false information, rumours and lies about the UAE” which “would damage the UAE's social harmony and unity.”

    The prosecution characterized his so-called crime as “publish[ing] false information to damage [the] UAE’s reputation abroad” and “portray[ing] the UAE as a lawless land.” Mansoor had also been charged with “cooperating with a terrorist organisation operating outside the country” but was acquitted on this charge.


    Mansoor was sentenced at the State Security Chamber of the Federal Appeal Court in Abu Dhabi. He can appeal his sentence to the State Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court.


    Mansoor’s trial began in mid-March this year, and continued at a hearing on 11 April. A third hearing may have taken place on 9 May but there has been no confirmation of this. He was sentenced on 29 May, but the news was only revealed yesterday.


    Amnesty International is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Ahmed Mansoor, which includes the quashing of his sentence. Pending his release, Ahmed Mansoor must be granted immediate and regular access to a lawyer, his family and any health care he may require.

    Background


    Ahmed Mansoor has been detained since 20 March 2017 and held for most of this time in solitary confinement. His place of detention has never been officially confirmed and he has been granted only two visits from his family; when his family visited him, they and Ahmed were both brought to the prosecutor’s office.


    This is not Ahmed’s first conviction for expressing his opinion. In 2011, the Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court sentenced him to three years in prison for “insulting UAE leaders by delivering speeches and public lectures” and “provid[ing] false reports and information about the UAE that would harm the policies of the state”, in addition to “contacting international rights and political organisations working abroad”. He did not serve that sentence, however, as he was pardoned by the UAE President.

  • HRW:Saudi Arabia: 2 New Arrests of Activists Crackdown Clouds Upcoming End of Driving Ban
    May 30,2018
    Saudi authorities have arrested at least two more human rights activists since May 15, 2018, when it began a large-scale crackdown on women’s rights activists and other supporters, Human Rights Watch said today. Saudi activists fear more arrests are forthcoming, as the crackdown overshadows the expected government announcement that the ban on women driving is to end in June.

     

    On May 24, Saudi Authorities arrested Mohammed al-Bajadi, a founding member of the now-banned Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), one of Saudi Arabia’s first civic organizations. Since 2012, the authorities have prosecuted nearly all activists associated with the group, which a Saudi court dissolved and disbanded in 2014. Saudi activists have told Human Rights Watch that the second detainee, whose family asked that he not be identified, has since been released. The conditions of his release have not been made public.

     

    “The Saudi government seems so consumed with silencing dissent that even activists who have gone quiet for fear of retribution are being targeted again,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The Saudi authorities should be concerned that the chill created by this new wave of repression will lead the country’s allies to question how serious Saudi Arabia is about changing its approach to women’s rights.”

     

    The Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association had called for broad political reform, put forth interpretations of Islamic law that support a constitutional monarchy, and called out the government for abusive practices such as arbitrary detentions, and arrests of people peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression and association. The members have been prosecuted on vague charges, including disparaging and insulting judicial authorities, inciting public opinion, insulting religious leaders, participating in setting up an unlicensed organization, and violating the cybercrime law.

     

    Al-Bajadi spent several years in prison as a result of his advocacy. Saudi activists say that following his release in November 2015, he has largely refrained from speaking out publicly. In his last tweet on October 26, 2016, al-Bajadi wrote, “I will stop writing and participating on all social media accounts for reasons that are not unknown to all of you.”

     

    Saudi authorities have arrested at least 11 activists since mid-May. They have since released Aisha al-Manea, Hessa al-Sheikh, Madeha al-Ajroush, and Walaa al-Shubbar, none of whom were named in a government statement accusing those detained of “treason.” The conditions of their release have not been made public.

     

    Among those still detained are Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, Mohammed al-Rabea, and Ibrahim al-Modaimeegh. Saudi activists have told Human Rights Watch that al-Hathloul is being held incommunicado.
  • U.S Department of State published the International Religious Freedom Report for 2017
    May 30,2018
    The International Religious Freedom Report for 2017 released by Bureau of Democracy stated that the government in Bahrain continued to question, detain, and arrest clerics, community members, and opposition politicians associated with the Shia community. On May 21, Sheikh Isa Qassim, identified by the media as the leading Shia cleric in the country (who had been confined under de facto house arrest), and two of his employees received a one-year suspended sentence in absentia for money laundering and collecting funds without a government license. Since June 2016, the police have restricted access to Qassim’s home village following a sit-in around his house by his supporters who protested the revocation of his citizenship. On May 23, security forces conducted an operation to remove the protestors who had been blocking roads surrounding Qassim’s residence, located in the predominately Shia neighborhood of Diraz. The operation resulted in 286 arrests, five deaths, and 31 injured police officers. On December 4, the government permitted Qassim to leave his home for the first time since June 2016, in order to receive medical treatment for several days at a private hospital. On April 3, the Court of Cassation overturned the Appeals Court’s nine-year prison sentence given to Ali Salman, secretary general of the Shia-aligned opposition political society Wifaq, and restored his four-year sentence. On November 12, the Bahrain News Agency reported new criminal charges were being filed against Salman and two other individuals for conspiring with Qatar to undermine the government in 2011. In February the Court of Cassation upheld a September 2016 appeals court denial of Wifaq’s appeal and upheld the lower court’s order to shut down Wifaq and liquidate its assets. International human rights organizations published reports stating Shia prisoners were vulnerable to intimidation, harassment, and mistreatment by prison guards because of their religious affiliation. Shia community representatives complained about what they said was discrimination in government employment, education, and the justice system. Government officials continued to state some Shia opposition members were supporters of terrorism and engaged in treasonous behavior. The government permitted Shia groups to hold processions to commemorate Ashura and Arbaeen throughout the country. According to non-Muslim religious groups, the government did not interfere with their religious observances and encouraged tolerance for minority religious beliefs and traditions. Because religion and political affiliation were often closely linked, it was difficult to categorize many incidents as being solely based on religious identity.

    On May 21, the High Criminal Court sentenced Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim, who had been confined under a de facto house arrest, to a one-year suspended sentence in absentia on charges of money laundering and collecting funds without a government license. Two of Qassim’s employees, Hussain Al Qassab and Mirza Al Durazi, also received suspended sentences for the same crimes. The court fined the three individuals BD 100,000 ($265,000) each and reportedly confiscated more than BD 3 million ($7.96 million) from Qassim’s bank account and reported the funds would be delivered to local charities. In October Qassab withdrew his appeal of the suspended sentence and fine. Qassim’s supporters reported his office had collected the money and spent the funds in accordance with Shia customs and obligations, known as khums, and said the government had targeted Qassim due to his prominent status in the Shia community. On December 4, the government permitted Qassim to leave his home for the first time since June 2016, in order to receive medical treatment for several days at a private hospital.


    Supporters of Qassim continued a sit-in demonstration until May 23 around his house in the village of Diraz which began after the government revoked Qassim’s citizenship in June 2016. In response, the government established checkpoints to control access to Diraz. Local residents complained of long lines and difficulties accessing their community. Authorities prevented nonresidents, including Shia clerics, from entering to attend or lead prayers at mosques in Diraz.


    On May 23, the MOI conducted a security operation targeting alleged members of a terrorist cell involved in the sit-in around Qassim’s residence. The MOI stated its actions were to “apprehend terrorists operating in the area and clear illegal roadblocks and obstructions.” Protesters and human rights groups, including the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), stated police opened fire with shotgun pellets and teargas on peaceful demonstrators. Police stated protesters attacked them with iron rods, axes, knives, rocks, firebombs, and grenades. According to local press, police arrested 286 persons, reportedly including fugitives who had escaped from Jaw Prison in January. The media reported five civilians were killed and 31 police officers injured in clashes with protesters during the operation. While police stated use of force was justified, opposition groups and activists said the killings were politically motivated and were evidence of excessive use of force. Local and international human rights groups criticized the government’s actions. BCHR expressed concern over the “total impunity” of security forces, while Amnesty International called for an independent investigation into police use of “excessive force” against the protesters.


    On November 8, the MOI authorities entered and searched the Islamic Awareness Society headquarters in Diraz, which the government had closed in 2016. The authorities said they were responding to a suspicious package near the building. The society was registered as a charity with the MOLSD, but it was reportedly headed by Qassim, and its members were largely Shia clerics and religious workers such as teachers and chanters. Shia activists said the government had likely used the report of a suspicious package as an excuse to raid the society’s headquarters.


    In October residents of Diraz reported the MOI prohibited guest speakers from entering the village to teach at prayer halls during Ashura celebrations. International NGOs reported the police had summoned more than 70 individuals, including 30 clerics, prior to and during the Ashura celebrations. Police held many individuals overnight; some were detained and released soon after.


    Courts sentenced several Shia clerics to prison terms for participating in the demonstrations in support of Qassim. In October a court sentenced Hamza Al Deiri, scholar and former Member of Parliament (MP) of Wifaq, to one year in prison for taking part in the sit-in outside of Qassim’s residence. Authorities released seven other Shia clerics in August after they completed a one-year prison term following a demonstration in support of Qassim. Between August 3-9, authorities released an additional six Shia clerics – Sheikh Mounir Al-Maatouk, Sayed Yassine Al-Mosawi, Sheikh Imad Al-Shagla, Sheikh Aziz Al-Khadran, Sheikh Ali Naji, and Sayed Ali Ahmad – one year after their arrest over the Diraz protest that began in June 2016.


    On April 3, the Court of Cassation overturned the Appeals Court’s nine-year prison sentence of Sheikh Ali Salman, secretary general of the Shia opposition political society Wifaq, restored his four-year sentence, and cleared him of the charge of calling for regime change. On November 12, the Bahrain News Agency reported authorities filed new criminal charges against Salman and two other individuals, Hasan Ali Juma Sultan and Ali Mahdi Ali Al Aswad, for conspiring with Qatar to undermine the government in 2011. Salman’s two codefendants were abroad and would be tried in absentia. Salman appeared in the High Criminal Court on November 29 and December 28; however, no verdict had been announced in this case at year’s end.


    Several Shia clerics arrested in 2011 remained in prison at year’s end. They had been associated with the political opposition and given sentences ranging from 15-years to life imprisonment on charges related to terrorist activity or inciting hatred. Human rights NGOs considered them to be political prisoners.


    Authorities arrested Shia scholar Sheikh Abdul Zahra Al Karbabadi along with his wife and sister on April 28. No update on their cases was available at year’s end.


    Former Wifaq MP Hasan Isa remained in prison while his trial on charges of helping to finance a terrorist bomb attack continued. Authorities had arrested Isa in August 2015, following a July 2015 bombing in Sitra that killed two police officers. Isa denied involvement in the bombing, saying he had not given money to terrorists, but had distributed funds to poor families in his role as a religious leader of his neighborhood. The Court of Appeals postponed Isa’s case until November 7, but no further information was reported publicly.


    The government continued to monitor and provide general guidance for the content of sermons and to bring charges against clerics who repeatedly spoke on unapproved topics. On April 11, the High Criminal Court of Appeal upheld a six-month jail sentence for a Shia religious chanter, Mahdi Sahwan, who had participated in what the government called “an illegal gathering” outside of Qassim’s residence. On April 12, authorities summoned four Shia clerics for questioning after the clerics commemorated the death of an Iraqi clergyman who was executed by the Iraqi government in the 1980s. On May 25, the government arrested Shia cleric Isa Al Moamen for a sermon he delivered in August 2016. He was released after serving a three-month prison sentence. On June 28, authorities charged Sheikh Hasanain Al-Mhanna with “inciting hatred against the regime and inciting contempt against a sect” based on the background of a sermon he delivered. No additional details were reported on his case.


    Authorities generally permitted prisoners to practice their religion, but there were reports authorities sometimes denied prisoners access to religious services and prayer time. The government continued not to provide regular statistics on detainees. International NGOs reported Shia prisoners were vulnerable to intimidation, harassment, and ill treatment by prison guards because of their religion, which at times led to coerced confessions. Some Shia prisoners at Jaw Prison and at the pretrial Dry Dock facility reported they were not allowed to practice their faith freely. Government officials stated the MOI, which supervised detention facilities, only prohibited practices when they violated prison safety rules, such as waving religious banners or organizing large-scale gatherings for religious ceremonies. In November the National Institute for Human Rights, (NIHR), a quasi-official government human rights organization, stated inmates had the right to perform their religious rites as long as it did not impact the security of the prison or detention center. Inmates at Jaw Prison staged several hunger strikes throughout the year to protest detention conditions that included lack of religious freedom.


    The NIHR reported 15 cases of complaints by Muslim inmates and five Christian inmates at Jaw Prison saying prison guards prevented them from performing prayers in a designated prayer area for all faiths.


    On April 12, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, one of 13 Shia leaders sentenced to life in prison in 2011, started a hunger strike which lasted 24 days to protest what he said was degrading treatment and poor conditions in Jaw Prison. On September 9, the press reported inmates at Jaw Prison staged a hunger strike to protest prison conditions and lack of religious freedom, in particular the right to pray. Shia activists reported inmates from at least four cellblocks joined the strike and the prison administration isolated the group and cut off outside communication. Most prisoners reportedly ended the hunger strike on September 24, after prison officials agreed to improve conditions and allow Shia inmates greater ability to worship.


    At year’s end, no additional information was reported by the local press on implementation of the amendment allowing inmates to attend burials and receive condolences outside of prison. In response to the parliament proposal to provide religious lectures and sermons for prisoners, the government reported the law already permitted inmates to receive special programs for seminars and educational lectures. The government also stated inmates possess the right to maintain their own library containing a variety of religious books and publications.


    The government during the year reported 452 licensed Sunni mosques and 91 Sunni community centers, while the number of licensed Shia places of worship remained at 608 mosques and 618 ma’atams (Shia prayer houses, sometimes called husseiniyas in other countries). In 2016, the government reported there were 440 licensed Sunni mosques and 80 Sunni community centers, while the number of licensed Shia places of worship had been 609 mosques and 618 ma’atams. It reported it granted nine permits during the year to build Sunni mosques and 17 permits to build Shia mosques and ma’atams. According to local press reports, the predominantly Shia neighborhoods in the Northern Governorate have 344 Shia mosques, more than half of the country’s total, and 211 ma’atams, nearly one-third of the country’s registered ma’atams. Observers reported that, in new housing developments, there continued to be a disproportionately large number of Sunni mosques, which they said showed continued government favoritism toward Sunni Muslims. The government stated that determining whether the mosque was Sunni or Shia in new housing developments depended on the needs and demographics of the new residents.


    The MOJIA continued to monitor clerics’ adherence to a pledge of ethics it had created for individuals engaged in religious discourse. Preachers who diverged from the pledge were subject to censure or removal by authorities. The MOJIA reported reviewing sermons submitted to the government on a weekly basis by preachers. The MOJIA reported regularly visiting mosques to ensure preacher’s sermons were “moderate,” avoided discussing controversial topics, did not incite violence, and did not use religious discourse to serve political purposes. The MOJIA also continued to announce how much money an adult should give on a voluntary basis to the poor on religious feast days. According to Shia community representatives, during Ashura, police summoned some Shia chanters and preachers and had them sign pledges to avoid discussing politics from the pulpit.


    The government continued to permit Shia groups to hold processions to commemorate Ashura and Arbaeen throughout the country, with the largest procession organized by a Shia community-led organization, the Manama Public Processions Commission. Local press estimated the largest procession attracted 150,000-200,000 attendees in downtown Manama. As in previous years, the MOI provided security for the processions, but again removed some Ashura flags, banners, and decorations from streets and private property in Shia villages but not at the large procession in Manama, according to Shia leaders. The government stated MOI personnel had removed the banners because they violated zoning restrictions or because they contained political messages.


    The government continued to permit both registered and unregistered non-Muslim communities to maintain identifiable places of worship, hold religious gatherings, and display religious symbols. The MOI continued to provide security for large events held by religious communities, including non-Muslim ones. Security forces stated they continued to monitor religious gatherings and funerals to maintain peace and security.


    Adherents of minority religious groups reported they were able to produce religious media and publications and distribute them in bookstores and churches, although the government did not permit publications that were perceived to criticize Islam. According to non-Muslim religious groups, the government did not interfere with religious observances and encouraged tolerance for minority religious beliefs and traditions.


    In 2009, the government adopted a codified family law for Sunnis; however, following criticism from Shia religious leaders, the legislature did not pass a corresponding Shia personal status law at that time. Prior to passing the codified family law in July, the king appointed a sharia committee comprised of Sunni and Shia religious scholars to review the draft law for compliance with sharia provisions for both the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam.


    In 2016, the king announced he would permit a Coptic Orthodox church to be built in Manama; there were no updates available at year’s end.


    The government again reported no significant reconstruction work had been done on the three remaining Shia mosques from the 30 it had damaged or destroyed in 2011. The government pledged to do the reconstruction in compliance with the recommendations of an independent fact-finding commission established by the king in 2011. The government reported that one mosque in Salmabad was reconstructed by local residents without a permit on an “illegal” site, despite the government’s offer for an alternative site in the same neighborhood. According to the government, the second remaining mosque, in Hawrat Sanad, was under evaluation because nine other Shia mosques already existed within close proximity. The government also stated the third mosque, in Madinat Zayed, was under review pending determination of the need for a new mosque in the area. Some Shia stated they remained dissatisfied with three of the 27 reconstructed mosques because they had been rebuilt in different locations. Shia leaders stated the mosque grounds should have been preserved as they were. The government reported many of the mosques were previously built using primitive materials, without licenses, or in areas not in compliance with zoning regulations.


    In June the local press reported officials from the Jaafari Waqf Directorate and local municipal authorities blamed each other for the lack of attention to maintaining, remodeling, or cleaning existing Shia mosques and ma’atams in the Northern Governorate.


    NGOs reported the government showed disparate treatment of Shia versus Sunni individuals and stated this different treatment fueled perceptions among the Shia community of a justice system stacked against them. For example, several times during the year the government reported it had investigated a number of officials from the mostly-Sunni police and military services for breaking the law or violating official procedures, but the government did not name any of the individuals, including those who had been convicted of crimes, were in jail, or had been removed from their positions. On the other hand, the Public Prosecution Office, the MOI, and the state-run Bahrain News Agency sometimes published names and pictures of Shia who were convicted of crimes, although not explicitly stating their religious affiliation, and at times published their names before the persons were indicted.


    The government-run television station continued to air Friday sermons from large Sunni mosques, but not sermons from Shia mosques.


    According to the law, Arab applicants with 15 years’ residence and non-Arab applicants with 25 years’ residence are eligible to apply for citizenship. Shia politicians and community activists, however, continued to say the government’s naturalization and citizenship process favored Sunni applicants over Shia applicants. They said the government continued to recruit Sunnis from other countries to join the security forces, granted them expedited naturalization, and provided them with public housing while excluding Shia citizens from those forces. According to Shia community activists, this continued recruitment and expedited naturalization of Sunnis represented an ongoing attempt to alter the demographic balance among the country’s citizens.


    According to Shia leaders and community activists, the government continued to provide Sunni citizens preference for government positions, including as teachers, and especially in the managerial ranks of the civil service and military. They reported Sunnis received preference for employment, especially in the managerial ranks of state-owned businesses. They continued to report few Shia citizens served in significant posts in the defense and internal security forces. According to Shia leaders, senior civil service recruitment and promotion processes continued to favor Sunni candidates. They said educational, social, and municipal services in most Shia neighborhoods remained inferior to those in Sunni communities. The government stated it made efforts to support public schools in Shia and Sunni neighborhoods equally; however, many parents with the financial means preferred to send their children to private schools. The government repeated its statements affirming a policy of nondiscrimination in employment, promotions, and the provision of social and educational services. The MOLSD reported it organized expositions, job fairs, professional guidance, and assistance to needy families in predominately Shia neighborhoods. The MOLSD, which has a supervisory role in implementing labor law in the civil sector, said there were no reported cases of religious or sectarian discrimination during the year. Shia community activists said that they lacked confidence in the effectiveness of government institutions to address discrimination, so they did not utilize them. The king continued to appoint Shia citizens to senior leadership positions, including cabinet positions and seats on the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament appointed by the king.


    Human rights activists reported discrimination against Shia in education continued. Activists said interview panels for university scholarships continued to ask about students’ political views and family background. The government said their scholarships remained competitive, but some applicants not selected said their being passed over was due to discrimination. Rights activists said many top scoring Shia applicants continued to receive scholarship offers in less lucrative or less prestigious fields. The government reported that the flagship Crown Prince Scholarship Program continued to have representation from members of both Shia and Sunni groups, but it did not provide statistics of such a breakdown. There were continued reports of the MOE refusing to recognize the foreign degrees of some students. Some activists said these refusals disproportionately affected Shia students.


    The 40-member Shura Council included 18 Shia members, one Jewish member, and one Christian member, while 20 of its members were Sunni. Five of the 23 cabinet members, including one of the five deputy prime ministers, were Shia.


    In February the Court of Cassation rejected the appeal of Wifaq to halt the group’s dissolution and liquidation of its assets, upholding a September 2016 appeals court denial of Wifaq’s appeal and a lower court’s order to shut down the organization.


    Throughout the year government officials made statements accusing Shia individuals or segments of the Shia community of specific crimes, alleging they were supporters of terrorism, linking individuals with what they said were Iranian-backed militants’ efforts to subvert the government, or threatening community members and institutions with future legal action.


    NGOs reported the government closely monitored the collection of funds by religious organizations, including charity donations. The NGOs said religious leaders and organizations not authorized to collect money, or whom the government believed handled the money in improper ways, were potentially subject to legal action.


    In September under the king’s patronage, an interfaith NGO, This is Bahrain, launched the Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration in Los Angeles in cosponsorship with the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The Bahrain Declaration calls on all “people of faith” to “disown practices such as the sowing of terror, the encouragement of extremism and radicalization, suicide bombing, promotion of sexual slavery, and the abuse of women and children.” Local and international press reported that Arab diplomats, other foreign representatives, and 300 interfaith leaders from around the world attended the event.


    News editorials and statements from government and religious leaders emphasized the importance of religious tolerance. For example, in October the king wrote an editorial in international media that was reprinted in local press, highlighting what he said was the country’s tradition of churches, synagogues, a Sikh temple, and a 200-year old Hindu temple being built in close proximity to mosques. He wrote, “religious freedom should not be viewed as a problem but rather a very real solution to many of our world’s biggest challenges and especially terrorism, which knows no religion and threatens all peace-loving people.” Local press featured photos of the crown prince visiting the Diwali festivities of several prominent Hindu families.

    To read the whole article press here


  • HRW: Saudi Arabia: Growing Crackdown on Women’s Rights Activists
    May 23,2018

    Saudi authorities have accused seven recently detained women’s rights activists and others associated with the women’s rights movement of serious crimes, Human Rights Watch said today. A statement issued by the Presidency of the State Security cited possible charges for “suspicious contact with foreign parties” and undermining the “security and stability” of the state that appear to be directly based on their activism.

    The Presidency of the State Security was created by King Salman shortly after he named his son, Mohammad bin Salman, crown prince in June 2017, and reports directly to the king’s office. Within days of the activists’ arrests, pro-government newspapers and social media accounts launched an alarming and apparently coordinated campaign against them, branding them “traitors.” Saudi activists say at least four other women’s rights defenders have also been arrested since May 15, 2018, bringing the total suspected number of detainees to at least 11.

    “The crown prince, who has styled himself as a reformer with Western allies and investors, should be thanking the activists for their contributions to the Saudi women’s rights movement,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Instead, the Saudi authorities appear to be punishing these women’s rights champions for promoting a goal bin Salman alleges to support – ending discrimination against women.”


    Local state media outlets identified the long-time rights advocates Loujain al-Hathloul, Aziza al-Yousef, and Eman al-Nafjan, along with Mohammad al-Rabea, an activist, and Ibrahim al-Modaimeegh, a human rights lawyer, among those arrested. It is not clear if the detained activists have been charged with the offenses the State Security cited.


    Saudi activists told Human Rights Watch that the seriousness of the allegations and the viciousness of the deeply personalized media campaign are unprecedented and shocking. Saudi Arabia’s Okaz newspaper reported that those arrested could face up to 20 years in prison. Al-Jazirah, a local daily newspaper, published a photo of al-Hathloul and al-Yousef on its front page under a headline describing them as citizens who betrayed the state. A pro-government Twitter account posted images of those arrested with the word “traitor” splattered in red across their faces. Saudi Arabia does not permit any independent media to operate in the country.


    Several of the detained activists are best known for campaigning against the ban on women driving and publicly advocating abolishing the male guardianship system, which gives men the authority to make a range of critical decisions on behalf of their female relatives. Their arrests come ahead of the anticipated lifting of a ban on women driving on June 24.


    Saudi rights defenders said that in September 2017, the day the lifting of the ban was announced, officials working for the king’s office (also known as al-Diwan al-Malaki in Arabic) had phoned prominent activists, including some of those now detained, and warned them not to speak to the media.


    Al-Yousef, 60, is a retired professor of computer science at King Saud University, and a leading activist in the longstanding campaign against the male guardianship system. Under this system, women need the permission of their male guardian – who may be their father, husband, brother, or even son – to apply for a passport, travel outside the country, study abroad on a government scholarship, get married, or even leave prison.


    Al-Nafjan, 39, is an assistant professor of linguistics at a university in Riyadh, and the author of a popular blog on Saudi society, culture, and women’s rights. She has written about women’s rights for numerous international media, including the New York Times and the Guardian. In 2013, al-Yousef and al-Nafjan protested the driving ban by filming as they drove by police stations in Riyadh and were both briefly detained.


    Saudi authorities detained al-Hathloul, 28, in November 2014, as she attempted to drive into Saudi Arabia from the United Arab Emirates while live-streaming to bring international attention to the issue. She was held in a juvenile detention center for 73 days. She has built a significant social media following since then, with over 300,000 followers on Twitter, which has widespread popularity in Saudi Arabia.


    Mohammad bin Salman has offered rhetorical support for women’s rights reforms, especially during his whirlwind public relations tour in the United States and Europe promoting business opportunities and promising “a return to moderate Islam.” During his interview with 60 Minutes on March 19, he said: “Saudi women still have not received their full rights. There are rights stipulated in Islam that they still don’t have. We have come a very long way and have a short way to go.”


    Such reforms have so far been limited. In addition to planning to lift the driving ban, the authorities have allowed women to hold jobs previously closed to them, such as air traffic control, border control, and traffic police. However, the male guardianship system, the most serious impediment to women’s rights, remains largely intact.


    Moreover, Mohammad bin Salman has overseen a widespread crackdown on prominent activists, lawyers, and human rights defenders, which has intensified since he began consolidating control over the country’s security institutions.

    In mid-September 2017, Saudi authorities arrested dozens of people, including prominent clerics and intellectuals, in what appeared to be a coordinated crackdown on dissent. Other Saudi activists and dissidents are serving long prison terms based solely on their peaceful activism, including Waleed Abu al-Khair, Abdulaziz al-Shubaily, Mohammed al-Qahtani, Abdullah al-Hamid, Fadhil al-Manasif, Sulaiman al-Rashoodi, Abdulkareem al-Khodr, Fowzan al-Harbi, Raif Badawi, Saleh al-Ashwan, Abdulrahman al-Hamid, Zuhair Kutbi, Alaa Brinji, and Nadhir al-Majed.


    “Every government that believed that the Saudi crown prince is a reformer and a champion for women should demand the immediate and unconditional release of all human rights activists,” Whitson said. “It’s not real reform if it takes place in a dystopia where rights activists are imprisoned, and freedom of expression exists just for those who publicly malign them.”

  • BFHR: The human rights situation in Bahrain continued to deteriorate in April 2018
    May 17,2018
    The human rights situation in Bahrain continued to deteriorate in April 2018. 1977 serious human rights violations were observed between the 1st and 30th of April 2018, including arbitrary arrests, house raids, unfair trials, crackdown on peaceful protests, restrictions on freedom of movement, prohibition of Friday prayers, media materials that incite hate speech, enforced disappearance, torture, ill-treatment, injuries, destruction or confiscation of property and violation of freedom of religion and belief.
    While the number of violations in April exceeded those of March and February, the total violations were distributed as follows: 58 cases of arbitrary arrests, including 9 children; 42 cases of forced disappearances; sentences amounting to 847 years and 9 months in prison, BD 18,200 equivalent to approximately US $48,404 of total fines and bails; 56 cases of torture and ill-treatment, including 17 cases of deprivation of treatment; 589 media materials that incite hate speech; 80 unlawful raids on houses and residential facilities; 72 crackdowns on peaceful gatherings and protests; 878 individuals who were arrested or accused were referred to court because of trials that violate freedom of expression and peaceful assembly; violation of freedom of movement by the continuation of the siege on Duraz area for 678 days and the imposition of house arrest on the highest religious authority for the Shiite Muslims in Bahrain, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, for 341 days without a judicial order or administrative decision; violation of freedom of religion and belief by prohibiting Friday prayer in Duraz 4 times in April bringing the number of prohibitions to 94 times since 2016; 2 case of unlawful confiscation of property; and 3 cases of destruction of property.
    In April, Bahrain witnessed 262 protests, while since the beginning of the year the number of protests has reached 1440 even though there has been a complete ban on peaceful assembly for 1307 days. The number of arbitrary arrests since the beginning of the year has reached 376, including 55 children. Since 2012, the nationalities of 606 citizens have been revoked for political reasons. Moreover, since the beginning of the year, there have been 438 illegal raids on homes and residential facilities; 445 Bahraini citizens, including 5 women and 5 children, have been arbitrarily convicted; total sentences amounting to 2888 years and 11 months in prison, in addition to a suspended 3-year jail term; total fines imposed on the arbitrarily convicted amounting to US$ 1,019,276; 135 sentences of revocation of nationalities at several levels of litigation; 10 sentences of arbitrary deportation; and 14 death sentences. The total number of human rights violations that occurred in January, February, March and April are 5516.
  • BFHR: Hate speech in April: 589 media material
    May 17,2018
  • BFHR: THE ANTI TERRORISM LAW
    May 16,2018
    Bahrain issued Law No. 58 of 2006 on The Protection of Society against Terrorist Acts while it was witnessing some political disputes regarding constitutional amendments and some laws issued by the government, which were considered by political and human rights figures restrictive to political action. Despite popular and political parties’ disapproval of passing this law, the government took advantage of the opposition’s boycott of the 2002 elections, and because of the pro-government majority in the Council, the elected House of Representatives and the appointed Shura Council approved the new bill on July 16 and July 22, 2006, respectively. It was then presented to the King of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa for final ratification.
  • Call for international intervention to release the UAE prisoners of conscience
    May 16,2018
  • SALAM condemns Bahrain’s government’s policy of “collective punishment” and its refusal to issue a passport and identity card for the child Sarah daughter of the imprisoned Secretary-General of Al Wefaq Society Sheikh Ali Salman
    May 14,2018

    SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights expresses its deep concern over the use of the Bahraini authorities of the children of political and rights activists, and dissidents as a pressure card. The arbitrary deprivation of nationality against the children of detainees born during the period when their parents are in prison for demandingpolitical and civil rights.


    This is considered a violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Bahrain in 1989 by Decree-Law No. 16 of 1991, on 13 February 1992, which affirmed the need to ensure their well-being and development.


    The right to a nationality is also recognized in a range of legal instruments, international conventions on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which explicitly and universally prohibit arbitrary deprivation of nationality. Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights explicitly states that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality and that the General Assembly, in its resolution 50/152, avoids the fundamental nature of prohibiting the arbitrary deprivation of any person.


    SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights denounces the refusal of the Bahraini Ministry of Interior and the Central Information Agency to issue a passport and an identity card for the child, “Sara Ali Salman,” the daughter of the political detainee and the opposition leader, Sheikh Ali Salman.


    The reasons of this refusal are; administrative procedures which require the presence of the father personally and not the mother of what is considered another discrimination practiced by the Bahraini authorities against women.


    It is yet worth mentioning that her father, “Sheikh Ali Salman” addressed Jau Central Prison’s and through a lawyer and his wife Mrs. Alia Ahmed Mansoor Radhi as well as the competent authorities and the judiciary to issue permission to allow him to be taken to the administration that require him to attend and sign, but these requests did not receive a response despite the passage of three years.


    As a result of the Bahraini authorities’ use of the children in their conflict with the its dissidents, the child Sarah, who completes her fourth year in November, cannot obtain her civil rights such as education, health, treatment and travel in flagrant violation of the international treaties ratified by Bahrain, notably the Convention on the Rights of the Child Of the Bahraini Constitution, Article 17 that states: “Bahraini nationality shall be determined by law and may not be revoked fromthose who enjoy it except in the case of treason and other conditions specified by law”.


    “When my youngest was 40 days, the Bahraini authorities arrested her father, Sheikh Ali Salman, who is still in prison for leading the demands for reform in Bahrain,” said Alia Ahmed Mansoor Radhi, the mother of the girl, Sarah. She added: “The Bahraini authorities have not only prevented our young daughter Sarah from living with her father but she is now also deprived of all her rights stipulated by the Constitution and cannot even have access to the services of education and treatment”.


    “On more than one occasion and through lawyers, we have submitted applications for a passport and identity card to Sara, but the citizenship, passport and residency issues require her father to be present at the facility to apply for a passport and identity. We asked the prison administration and the court to allow Sheikh Ali to go to the Passport Department, but our repeated requests were rejected without any justification, and we were not even allowed to hire a lawyer to file the application on behalf of the sheikh” She noted.


    “Our young Sarah cannot live a normal life What is this system that punishes a girl who has not completed her fourth year and prevents her from obtaining education and health services only because her father has demanded his rights and the rights of all citizens peacefully?” Mrs. Radhi wondered.


    The Bahraini authorities arrested Sheikh Ali Salman in December 2014 and sentenced him to four years in prison after being charged with “inciting hatred of the regime, calling for the overthrow of the regime by force, insulting the judiciary, insulting the executive branch, People, bullying abroad, and broadcasting false data and news that would cause panic and disturb the security, and participate in rallies and gatherings that cause harm to the economy”. Salman is also being tried on false charges of “Spying for Qatar”.


    On this says Ebtisam Alsaegh, our member in SALAM DHR: “The authorities not only fabricated all these malicious charges against Sheikh Ali Salman, but also wanted to punish him for his political and national stances through refusing to issue a passport or identity card to his daughter Sarah. This is unfortunately not the first and only victim of this policy of revenge and collective punishment carried out by the authority, where many of the families of political prisoners and human rights activists are constantly subjected to various types of harassment and deprivation of the most basic civil rights. The Bahraini authorities hit to the wall all agreements, covenants and international treaties that they have signed”.

     SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights calls for: 

    1. That the Bahraini authorities abide by international conventions, especially the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
    2. Amend the internal laws and develop political programs aimed at implementing the conventions that would achieve the best interests of the child.
    3. Immediately stop the use of children as a card of political conflict and grant all children deprived of citizenship or civil documents because of the presence of their parents in prisons all of their rights.
  • Human rights organizations urge the Bahraini authorities to release Nabeel Rajab
    May 08,2018
  • SALAM: Bahrain: Torture and medical negligence of detainees with cancer, epilepsy and sclerosis
    May 07,2018

    SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights monitored more than 50 cases of abuse during April 2018 committed by security authorities in Bahrain against a number of political detainees and human rights activists. According to reliable sources, we report that four detainees were subjected to various forms of torture, one of which resulted in the injury of detainee Ahmed Ali Radhi from the village of Nuwaidrat with fractures and bruises in different parts of his body.

     In addition, 32 detainees were reportedly ill-treated during April, ranging from depriving some of them from attending funerals of their relatives, denial of visits, solitary confinement, denial of calls, and of doings sport exercises, exit to the yard, and a ban on drinking water.

    The detainee Mohammed Ahmed Ali from the village of Abu Saiba and the detainee Qasim Buhumaid from Al-Malikiya were subjected to solitary confinement while the detainee Qais Abbas from Ali village was confined for 5 hours in the hot sun after he asked the prison administration to allow him to go to the open area for exposure to the sun. Jaafar Al-Madani was also denied access to call his family. In addition to these cases, prominent human rights activist and detainee in the prisons of Bahrain, Nabeel Rajab was prevented from drinking water.

     Around this says Sayed Yousif Al Muhafdha, Vice President of SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights: “The ongoing monitoring of abuses indicates that brutal acts against political detainees and human rights activists in Bahrain are systematic, and officials of the Ministry of the Interior are aware of if not even directed by them”.

    “The security authorities in Bahrain continue to avenge all citizens who demand reform and democracy with all barbarism and brutality. The detainees, even children and those with serious illnesses such as cancer, epilepsy, sclerosis. We continue to hold the Bahraini government responsible for the safety of all political prisoners in its prisons, and we call upon the international community to put pressure on the Bahraini government to ensure the safety of all political prisoners in its prisons. The Bahraini government to stop all forms of human rights violations, hold those responsible for these violations, release political prisoners and start directly reforming the political, security and social system in Bahrain”, Al Muhafdha added.

    Not only were the security authorities and the prison administration committing serious violations, but more than 15 detainees were denied access to treatment and health care, and the authorities deliberately subjected a number of detainees to medical negligence, such as the case of detainee Yousef Mohammed Fathi from Muharraq, who was not treated and was deliberate neglected after having had a head tumor removed.

    The list of prisoners who are banned from treatment and health care includes Ammar Sahwan, who is suffering from injuries caused by shotguns. Detainee Elias Al Mulla, who is suffering from cancer, and the detainee Mohamed Ahmed Ali, and Ahmed Al Qubaiti, who are wounded by shotgun fissions whom the authorities completely refuse to treat.

    A number of detainees suffering from sclerosis, epilepsy and severe pain in various areas of the body such as the eye, head and teeth are subject to medical negligence and lack of health care. Nabeel Rajab was also prevented from undergoing surgery.

    It has been also monitored that families of three of the detainees were mistreated by security forces during raids on their homes.

    SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights calls for the immediate cessation of all violations and the opening of an immediate and transparent investigation with the participation of international and national rights parties in all violations committed by the official authorities. It should also release all political and rights activists, and cease all trials based on political grounds. The government should stop subjecting families of activists to harassment too. A national commission of justice for all victims of torture must be formed.

    On April 20, 2018, the US State Department issued a report on the exercise of human rights in 2017, in which it stressed the concerns and observations of the US administration on the human rights situation in Bahrain. The State Department report on arbitrary killings by Bahraini security forces, torture violations against detainees, harsh conditions of detention, and restrictions imposed by the Bahraini authorities on freedom of expression and the press, freedom of movement, withdrawal of nationality and discrimination on a sectarian basis and exacerbation of the problem of impunity to officials accused of human rights violations.

    In this regard, SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights affirms that the State’s condones of all incidents of torture monitored by domestic and international human rights organizations and their failure to carry out their responsibilities in investigating and prosecuting those responsible for these crimes is a proof of the systematic torture in Bahrain. Where the policy of impunity encourages more members and officers of the security services to commit crimes such as torture, forced detention and other violations of the principles of human rights and related international instruments ratified by Bahrain.

    Below are names of detainees subject to ill-treatment, torture and denial of treatment during April:

    Torture:

    1. Aqeel Hassan Jassem – from Al Aker village.
    2. Ahmed Ali Radhi – from Nuwaidrat (he spent three months spent in the hospital of the Ministry of Interior known by Al Qaalaa since his arrest after being subjected to brutal assault caused his back injury and fractures and bruises in various body parts).
    3. Hussain Ali Al-Sahlawi – from Karzakan.
    4. Hussain Ali Saleh – from Abu saiba.

    Maltreatment:

    1. Hussain Juma – from Bilad Al Qadeem (deprived of attending his grandmother’s funeral).
    2. Sheikh Issa Al-Qafas- from Sanabis (deprived of calls for celebrating an Islamic occasion).
    3. The sentenced to death Muhammad Al Mutghawi – from Al-Duraz (deprived of visits).
    4. The sentenced to death Sayed Alawi Hussain Al Musawi – from Al-Duraz (deprived of visits).
    5. Ahmed AbdulRasool – from Bilad Al Qadeem (deprived of calls).
    6. Muhammad Ahmad Ali – from Abu saiba (solitary confinement).
    7. Qassem Buhameed – from Al-Malkiya (solitary confinement).
    8. Brothers Hassan and Ali Abed Imam – from Abu saiba (denial of calls).
    9. Ali Abdul-Zahra Salman Al-Qafas – from Al-Nuaim (deprived of attending his uncle’s funeral).
    10. Ali Ahmed Habib Ashoor – from Karzakan (deprived of calls).
    11. Ali Hussain Al-Shaikh – from Al Daih (solitary confinement and denial of calls).
    12. Sayed Mohamed Taleb – from Al Qurayya (deprived of calls and going out at the yard for for exercise).
    13. The child Haidar Ibrahim Al Mulla – from Sanabis (deprived of visits).
    14. Sadiq al-Banna – from Jidhafs (denied calls).
    15. Qais Abbas – from A’ali (chained for 5 hours under the sun because he asked to go out in the fenced yard).
    16. Rights activist Nabeel Rajab – from Bani Jamra (prevented from drinking water).
    17. Mohammed Jawad Yaqoob – from Sanabis (deprived of calls).
    18. Sayed Hussain Amin- from Tubli (deprived of attending his grandmother’s funeral).
    19. Sayed Muntadher Amin- from Tubli (deprived of attending his grandmother’s funeral).
    20. Ali Hussain AlShaikh – from Al Daih (solitary confienement).
    21. – Sayed Redha Ali – from Abu Saiba (deprived of calls for celebrating a religious occasion).
    22. Jassim Mohammed Abdullah – from Salmabad (deprived of calls for celebrating a religious occasion).
    23. Emad Al-Oraibi – from Musalla (denial of calls).
    24. Abbas Sawar – from Musalla (denial of calls)
    25. Ali Al Sakran – from Musalla (denial of calls).
    26. Sayed Kadhem Al-Musawi – from Musalla (denial of calls).
    27. Sami Al Otaish- from Musalla (denial of calls).
    28. Muhammad Jawad – from Musalla (denial of calls).
    29. Qassim Al-Mansi – from Al-Bilad Al-Qadim (denial of calls).
    30. Jawad Kadhme – from A’ali (deprived of attending his grandmother’s funeral).
    31. Jassem Mohammed Rashed Al-Rashed – from Demestan (deprived from attending his grandmother’s funeral).
    32. The Child Jaafar Al-Madani -from Al Duraz (denial of calls).

     

    Denial of treatment:

    1. Ammar Sahwan – from Muqaba (injured by shotguns).
    2. Yousef Mohammed Fathi – from al-Muharraq (who underwent an operation to remove a tumor in the head and was not treated and was neglected).
    3. Elias Al Mulla – from Sitra (cancer).
    4. Human rights defender Nabeel Rajab – from Bani Jamra (deprived from a surgery).
    5. Mohammed Ahmed Ali – from Abu Saiba (wounded by a shotgun and the authorities refuse to treat him)
    6. Mohammed Al-Aamer – from A’ali (has skin condition and does not receive his medicines).
    7. Mohammed Hamid al-Daqqaq – from Karbabad (suffering from sclerosis and the prison administration ignore to transfer him to see the doctor).
    8. Hussain Ali Mohammed – from Karzakan (suffering from severe pain in his teeth).
    9. Yunus Hadher – from Al Duraz (subjected to epileptic seizures and prison administration ignore his conditions).
    10. Ahmad al-Qubaiti – Abu Saiba (injured by a shotgun).
    11. Ayoob Adel – from Muharraq (wounded with a broken leg with metal installations).
    12. Mohammed Hamid Al-Daqqaq – from Karababad (infected with severe sclerosis).
    13. Haider Mulla – from Al Duraz (has a broken nose and hearing impairment).
    14. Jaafar Aqil Al Madani – from Al Duraz (infected with scabies).
    15. Hussain al-Marri – from Bori (suffering from severe pain in his eyes).
    16. Osama al-Saghir – from Abu Saiba (suffering severe pain in the head and hand as a result of a shotgun injury on the day of the crackdown in front of the house of Sheikh Issa Qasim in Duraz, from a distance of about a meter).
    17. Sayed Hashim Alabbar – from Manama (suffering from Severe Acute Sclerosis and needs special care).


  • HRW: Saudi Arabia: Thousands Held Arbitrarily Dramatic Increase in Detention Without Trial
    May 06,2018
    Saudi Arabia is detaining thousands of people for more than six months, in some cases for over a decade, without referring them to courts for criminal proceedings. Saudi Arabia’s attorney general should promptly charge or release all criminal defendants and stop holding people arbitrarily.

    Human Rights Watch analyzed data from a public online Interior Ministry database, which revealed that authorities have detained 2,305 people who are under investigation for more than six months without referring them to a judge. The number held for excessively long periods has apparently increased dramatically in recent years. A similar Human Rights Watch analysis in May 2014 revealed that only 293 people had been held under investigation for that period.

    “If Saudi authorities can hold a detainee for months on end with no charges, it’s clear that the Saudi criminal justice system remains broken and unjust, and it only seems to be getting worse,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “It seems that MBS’s ‘Vision2030’ plan better describes the length of detentions without charge than an aspirational time horizon for reforms.”

    Saudi Arabia’s use of arbitrary detention has faced increasing scrutiny since the November 4, 2017 mass arrest of 381 people on corruption allegations. The arrests raised human rights concerns and appeared to take place outside of any recognizable legal framework, with detainees forced to trade financial and business assets for their freedom.

    Saudi Arabia’s Law of Criminal Procedure provides that a person may be detained without charge for a maximum of five days, renewable up to six months by an order of the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution (now Public Prosecution). After six months, the law requires that a detainee “be directly transferred to the competent court, or be released.”

    The Interior Ministry created the “Communication Window” online database in 2013. It does not identify detainees by name but includes their initials, nationality, type of identification, the last five digits of their foreign passport or Saudi identification numbers, the date they were detained, and their case status.

    Later that year the Saudi Embassy in London sent Human Rights Watch a letter in which it said: “[by] establishing this website the Government of Saudi Arabia is clearly demonstrating its intention to be transparent in its treatment of detainees. This treatment is in accordance with the laws and regulations and ensures justice and fairness for all.”

    The portal offers six possible case statuses: “under investigation,” “case file with the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution,” “case file under judicial review,” “in the process of completing procedures to refer to the prosecution to enforce directives in the case,” “convicted,” and “convicted subject to appeal.” Of these, all but “convicted” and “convicted subject to appeal” could indicate pretrial detention.

    Human Rights Watch analyzed the data on April 2, which was updated through March 31. Of the 5,314 people in the database, 3,380 had been held for over six months without a conviction or their “case file under judicial review,” including 2,949 for more than a year and 770 for over three years. The database indicated Saudi authorities were holding 2,305 people “under investigation” for more than six months, 1,875 for more than a year, and 251 for over three years.

    Saudi authorities have held one Saudi citizen without a conviction since September 2003 and another “under investigation” since December 2006. Of the 251 held “under investigation” for over three years, 233 are Saudis.

    “We’ve reverted to a Saudi version of Kafka when authorities detain citizens for over a decade without charge because they are ‘under investigation’,” Whitson said. “This effectively means that Saudi authorities can detain and jail anyone they want by claiming they are investigating them, however endless the investigation.”

    The database does not provide information on whether the authorities have allowed detainees to seek release on bail or a similar system. Nor did it disclose whether authorities had charged formally with a crime those detainees whose cases had been referred to the office of Public Prosecution or brought them before a judge.

    Human Rights Watch wrote to Sheikh Saud Al-Mojeb, the Saudi attorney general, on February 1 seeking his explanation for the high number of cases of apparent arbitrary detention, but received no response.

    Human Rights Watch has documented arbitrary detention by Saudi authorities for years. The 2014 review revealed much lower numbers indicative of arbitrary detention. The data showed 2,766 total people in detention, including 293 apparently held for over six months without the cases being referred to the judiciary, 16 of them apparently for over two years, and one for over 10 years.

    The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has determined that detention is arbitrary when the detaining authority fails to observe, wholly or in part, the norms related to the right to due process, including for a prompt hearing before a judge following the initial detention. Principle 11 of the UN Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment states that a detainee must be “given an effective opportunity to be heard promptly by a judicial or other authority,” and that a judicial or other authority should be empowered to review the decision to continue detention.

    The Arab Charter on Human Rights, which Saudi Arabia ratified in 2009, also guarantees the right of anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge to be brought promptly before a judge or other officer of the law, and to have a trial within a reasonable time or be released. The charter says that, “Pre-trial detention shall in no case be the general rule.”

    Extended detention without charge or trial or without an appearance before a judge is arbitrary, and violates both Saudi law and international human rights standards.

    “Mohammad bin Salman’s promises to modernize and strengthen the rule of law mean very little when the authorities can lock away thousands of people for years and throw away the key,” Whitson said.

  • SALAM: Bahrain: World Press Day and retreat of Press Freedom Index
    May 04,2018
  • GIDHR Calls on the authorities to release the detained journalists for exercising their right to expression
    May 03,2018
  • Amnesty: Bahrain: King commutes four death sentences to life imprisonment but trials remain nonetheless unfair
    May 02,2018
    Amnesty International has today expressed grave concern about the unfair trial conducted by the Military Court in Bahrain, in which four men, including three civilians, saw their death sentences confirmed by the Military Court of Cassation. The three men, along with 14 others, are the first civilians to be tried by a military court since 2011. Despite the King’s commutation of the sentences to life imprisonment the following day, Amnesty International remains concerned that these sentences were issued following unfair trials.
     
    Amnesty International calls on King Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa to quash the conviction against the four men and for them to be retried before an independent and competent ordinary court. 
     
    Also on 30 April, a group of UN human rights experts called for the retrial of the four men sentenced to death, and stated: “The fact remains that they should have never been convicted on the basis of flawed trials, let alone sentenced to death, and they still face life sentences”. 
     
    Military trials of civilians are inherently unfair as all officials in military courts, including judges, are serving members of the military. A constitutional amendment ratified by the King on 3 April 2017 paved the way for trials of civilians in military courts. This constitutional amendment came as part of the broader pattern of clampdown on freedom of expression to crush dissent, including through the judiciary, which Amnesty International documented in 2017. This is the first military trial of civilians following the new amendment.
     
    On 25 April, the Military Court of Cassation issued its verdict against seven people, including one Private in the Bahraini army. The court confirmed the death sentences against the four men, and three prison sentences were upheld on appeal. They were convicted on charges including “forming a terrorist cell, attempting to assassinate the Commander in Chief of the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) and committing other terrorist crimes”. 
     
    The four men sentenced to death are Sayed Alawi Hussain al-Alawi and Fadhel Sayed Abbas Hasan Radhi, who were subjected to enforced disappearance for over a year prior to the trial, as well as Mohammed Abdulhassan Ahmed al-Mitghawi, and Mubarak Adel Mubarak Mhanna, a Private in the army. The court also upheld the seven and five-year prison sentences against three defendants as well as the citizenship revocation of all those who had appealed their sentences, rendering them effectively stateless. Under Bahraini law, once a death sentence has been confirmed by the Court of Cassation the decision is sent to the King who holds the authority to then ratify the sentence, commute it or grant a pardon.
     
    Before the court began its final session on 25 April, the heads of the families of the four men sentenced to death were summoned to attend a meeting in the Military Court building, where they were told that they would have to be back the next day at 9:30am for another meeting, without any further information. The four heads of families went to the meeting, during which they were informed that the King had commuted the death sentences to life in prison. Two hours later,
    following the completion of the formalities, the decision was officially announced on the Bahrain News Agency website. 
     
    While the commutation of the death sentences of Sayed Alawi Hussain al-Alawi, Fadhel Sayed Abbas Hasan Radhi, Mohammed Abdulhassan Ahmed al-Mitghawi, and Mubarak Adel Mubarak Mhanna is a welcome step, it remains a far cry from the right of these individuals to enjoy a fair trial before a competent court. 
     
    The trial before the High Military Court began on 23 October 2017, and was the first trial of civilians before military courts since 2011. The previous day, the military prosecution had announced that three defendants, including Sayed Alawi Hussain al-Alawi and Fadhel Sayed Abbas Hasan Radhi, had been charged with forming a terrorist cell targeting the BDF. This was the first time that Sayed Alawi Hussain al-Alawi and Fadhel Sayed Abbas Hasan Radhi were seen in public since they were subjected to enforced disappearance over a year ago. Only one lawyer was present during this trial session, having found out incidentally that it was taking place. Amnesty International had already expressed its concern that both men may have been forced to “confess” during their detention, and that their “confessions” were later used as evidence during their trial before the military court.
     
    The High Military Court twice postponed the hearings and the number of defendants in the case rose to at least 18 men, ten of them detained, facing charges of “forming a terrorist cell, attempting to assassinate the Commander in Chief of the BDF and committing other terrorist crimes”. During a hearing on 2 November 2017, the defence lawyers requested that they be handed copies of the files but the military prosecution objected to this. The court upheld the objection stating that the files contained confidential information and that the lawyer would be able to consult the files in the security of the court building only. The defence lawyers also requested in court that their clients be examined by forensic doctors as the defendants looked in bad shape, but the court turned down the request. The High Military Court also banned publication of any information in electronic or print media concerning the trial citing general interest, protection of evidence and ensuring witnesses' right to legal protection, with the exception of authorized sources. Three more hearings took place before the verdict was issued on 25 December 2017. 
    Additional concerns related to this trial include the fact that the BDF Commander in Chief, who is mandated to appoint the judges in military courts, was himself the alleged assassination target, thereby calling into question the independence and impartiality of the military court’s judges in this case. Further, the trial of the seven men was marred by irregularities including: the military court’s reliance on the testimonies of secret informants and on alleged “confessions” extracted under duress, the court’s refusal to allow the defendants to be examined by a forensic doctor despite the request of their lawyers, and discrepancies around the facts being investigated and the charges brought against the defendants. 
    On 25 December 2017, the High Military Court issued its verdict against the 18 defendants, including eight who were tried in their absence, and sentenced six of them to death. The six men included Sayed Alawi Hussain al-Alawi, Fadhel Sayed Abbas Hasan Radhi, Mohammed Abdulhassan Ahmed al-Mitghawi, and Mubarak Adel Mubarak Mhanna, a military person, as well as two other civilians who were tried in their absence. The court also sentenced seven men to seven years in each, and all 13 men were stripped of their nationality. Five other men were acquitted. 
     
    Thirteen of those convicted appealed their sentences before the Military Court of Appeal as those tried in their absence were not legally allowed to lodge their appeal. The first appeal hearing took place on 10 January and on 21 February 2018, the court upheld four death sentences and two
    seven years prison sentences while it reduced two sentences from seven years’ imprisonment to five years in prison, as well as the revocation of their citizenship. Seven men appealed their sentences before the Military Court of Cassation.
     
    Deprivation of nationality is permitted only under narrow circumstances under international law, and must be accompanied by sufficient due process protections and a right to appeal, and should not leave people stateless. Stripping citizens of their nationality on the basis of vague allegations without due process protections is arbitrary and in violation of Bahrain’s international human rights obligations. The right to a nationality, which must not be deprived arbitrarily, is enshrined in Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which Bahrain is a state party.
     
    Amnesty International calls on the King of Bahrain to quash the convictions of the seven men, allowing for their retrial before a competent ordinary court that meets international fair trial standards, to investigate allegations of torture, and if confirmed, exclude all evidence obtained under torture and other ill-treatment, as well as not to resort to the death penalty. The organization further urges the King to repeal the constitutional amendment that allows the trial of civilians by military courts in line with international standards on fair trial; and reiterates its call on the Bahraini authorities to put an end to the practice of revocation of nationality that would render an individual stateless.
  • SALAM: World Labor Day in Bahrain: How does it go?!
    May 01,2018

    Brief introduction to the history of labor movements in Bahrain


    The history of the labor movement in Bahrain dates back to the 1930s when the workers of the Bahrain Petroleum Company moved to demand the formation of a labor union defending their rights and preserving their gains and demanding improvement of their conditions. In the fifties, the labor movements and trade unions began to develop until they established a federation of trade unions, however these movements were met with repression by the authorities in Bahrain at the time, and ended with the arrest of workers or forcible displacement of workers and the termination of all manifestations of the Labor Union at the time.


    This scene repeated in the eighties and nineties, the workers participated in the demands of political reform along with the popular demands of the 1990s. These protests did not stop until the authorities in Bahrain were forced to declare a national political reform. Thousands of detainees were released on the basis of their demands. The formation of trade unions and was allowed as well as the formation of political associations and parliament. Yet, after ten years of this trial, massive protests swept the Bahraini street in 2011 after concluding that all aspects of reforms were purely false and that the authorities had tightened their effective control over trade unions and parliament.


    The voices of labor movements are silenced


    The Bahraini authorities have not accepted the repeated demands of trade unions to participate in the country’s political, economic and social decision-making, which is essentially a fundamental right and an inherent democratic right. The authorities in Bahrain have continued to take their own decision-making approach and abuse this productive and labor sector. This were seen as a practice of corruption that has a negative impact on the rights of this large segment of the country.


    The authorities have continued to fight against many of the demands of the unions and the International Confederation of Trade Unions (ICFTU) to stop the restrictions and its abuses against labor movements in Bahrain and against workers and trade unions, which reached its peak since the beginning of the mass protests in 2011.


    In 2011, the Bahraini authorities dismissed thousands of workers from both the public and private sectors as collective punishment for participating in labor strikes. Hundreds of trade unionists and thousands of workers were arrested and criminal charges were brought against them either for participating in the labor strike or taking part in the movement took place in the country. Many lost their jobs and many have been tortured. An example is, the case with the chairman of the teachers’ association Mahdi Abu Deeb and his deputy Jalila Al Salman who were tortured during interrogations and imprisonment.


    The Bahraini authorities have not only abused their trade unionists, but have defamed them through the press and led a vicious campaign to defame them and accuse them of treason and “defame Bahrain.” Trade unions have demanded that all those who have been dismissed be returned, however these were not placed back into their jobs or in best case were placed in lower-ranking positions with lower pay than their previous posts.


    The unions also called for an end to the policy of sectarian discrimination in employment and the policy of dismissing employees because they belong to the Shiite community or for participating in anti-government protests. This is contrary to the International Convention adopted by the General Conference of the International Labor Organization on 25 June 1958 at its forty- Employment and Occupation Convention No. 111.


    Undoing the articles of the Trade Unions Law


    The Bahraini Trade Unions Act of 2002 came too late in comparison to the Labor Law of 1976. The current law lacks an explanatory memorandum and lacks provisions and articles that protect the rights of national workers. The legislator created restrictive articles for dialogue between trade unions and the authorities, where the law also prohibited workers of the public sector from forming unions defending their interests. Article 21 of the law also restricted the inherent right and effective means of defending the workers’ rights -the right of strike- with restricting article that limit their ability to activate this right and enable them to carry out a labor strike.


    In the Authority’s efforts to eliminate labor movements, the law was amended. The Minister of Labor was granted the right to choose the labor union which represents the workers of Bahrain in international forums and negotiations with the employers. The authorities also pushed towards controlling and dividing trade unions to ensure hegemony over workers’ voices by pushing loyalists to break-in unions and the establishment of unions loyal to the Authority. That is to tighten the screws on the General Union of Bahrain Trade Unions, which the authority sees as opponent because it announced its support for popular demands in the transition to democracy in 2011.


    Since October 2012, the Bahraini authorities have violated Article 21 of the Royal Decree of the Bahraini Trade Union Law of 2002, which stipulates that the strike is a legitimate mean of defending the economic and social interests of the labor. Where the Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa said through the Bahrain News Agency and broadcasted by international news agencies such as Reuters, that: “marches and protest rallies will be treated as unlicensed and legal proceedings will be taken against those who call for or participants in them”.


    Even before October 2012, the security authorities in Bahrain used to face these protests with repression. There are usually clashes between a number of demonstrators and police. The demonstrations end with the arrest of citizens. In May 2013, during the suppression of labor marches, Photographer of the French news agency Mohamed Al Sheikh, The Associated Press photographer Hassan Jamali, Radio Monte Carlo correspondent Naziha Saeed were all arrested and released in later times. Authorities in Bahrain have not responded to human rights organizations’ claims or the claims of the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions to abide by the constitution, which allows for protests and to comply with the Bahraini Union Law. It is worth noting that at the first of May trade unions all over the world organize marches and protests calling for the improvement of wages and modify the conditions and also demands concerning legal amendments and other types of workers’ claims.


    Trafficking in poor migrant labor


    Bahrain has tens of thousands of migrant workers living in extremely poor conditions with low wages and in uninhabitable housing. On the other hand, there are written but unenforceable laws, for instance, in 2007, the Bahraini authorities issued a law banning the work of construction workers or other workers under the sun at extreme high temperature between 11 am and 3 pm during the summer, and the inspection campaigns have succeeded in limiting the work under the sun during the high temperatures. However, the so-called “bulk labor” in Bahrain are still exploited, alongside the poor foreign labor in Bahrain such as workers at roads and construction often face economic and livelihood problems with employers that reach the level of human trafficking. They are paid very low salaries, forcing them to live in rooms that are rented by the workers themselves, which are uninhabitable and live in large numbers that are not commensurate with the size of the rooms. The houses are dilapidated where safety and protection requirements are not met.


    The laws in Bahrain did not regulate workers’ housing requirements if the worker chose to live alone. The law obliged the sponsor only to have adequate housing standards related to the safety of workers. In most cases, the low-wage foreign workers can not resort to the complaint in the competent authorities because of the lengthy procedures in conflict resolution and long-term judiciary for final judgment. It is also because they cannot survive for long without pay, forcing them to accept an unfair settlement outside the judicial system or places where labor disputes are resolved and many of them accept to return home without taking the rest of their wages.


    Modern enslavement: the enslavement of domestic servants


    The Bahraini Labor Law of 2012 included positive articles regarding domestic servants, who were usually female servants. Women were entitled to leave on an annual leave of 30 days, 2.5 days for each month, but in most cases the guarantors did not comply with this law. The law did not address working hours of the day, overtime or weekend leave. The law does not require the transfer of salary on a bank account to ensure control in case the maid claims not to receive her salary. In many cases, the sponsor is a dominant figure in the country and the maid cannot file a complaint against him or her or event resort to her country’s embassy. In many cases, non-Muslim female servant is obliged to wear the Islamic veil or impose a religion other than the religion she embraces and in cases are treated as domestic servants or cruelly subjected to physical, psychological or sexual abuse, and are treated as slaves.


    Recommendations


    Salam for Democracy and Human Rights urges the authorities in Bahrain to:


    1. Ensure that workers and trade unions in Bahrain do not face any kind of harassment or abuse because of their movements to prolong their legitimate rights.
    2. Stop the dismissal of activists in the General Federation of Trade Unions in Bahrain or the use of any arbitrary measures against them.
    3. Return all workers who have been dismissed due to their political positions or sectarian affiliation to their work or agree with them to pay compensation, especially those dismissed from work due to the popular movement in February 2011.
    4. Ensure that no form of punitive measures is used against workers to participate in any protest.
    5. Amend the articles of the Trade Union Law and listen to the demands of the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions.
    6. Stop suppressing rallies and marches or preventing them from going out, including protests by trade unions on May 1 of each year.
  • Bahrain: UN rights experts condemn military court convictions, cite torture allegations
    April 30,2018

    UN human rights experts* have called for the retrial of four men sentenced to death by a Bahraini military court in a collective trial that breached fair trial and due process guarantees and confessions obtained under torture.

    They welcomed the news that the King of Bahrain commuted the death sentences to life in prison but deplored the imposition of the capital punishment in the first place. “The fact remains, that they should have never been convicted on the basis of flawed trials, let alone sentenced to death, and they still face life sentences,” they said.

    The men, Mohamed AbdulHasan AlMutaghawi, Fadhel Sayed Radhi, Sayed Alawi Husain and Mubarak Adel Mubarak Mahanna, were sentenced to death by the Bahraini High Military Court on 25 December 2017 on charges of participating in a terrorist cell and attempting to assassinate Bahrain’s Defence Forces Commander-in-Chief. Two others facing the same charges were sentenced in absentia. All of them in addition had their citizenship revoked. They saw their appeals rejected by the Bahraini Military Court of Cassation on 25 April 2018.

    Prior to their conviction, it is understood that the men were forcibly disappeared for several months, held in solitary confinement in small cells for a prolonged period and subjected to torture and ill-treatment to obtain confessions which were then used against them in court. They did not have access to legal representation until late in the trial proceedings and the court reportedly refused to investigate the defendants’ allegations of torture in custody.

    “While welcoming the decision to annul the death sentences, we call on the authorities to ensure that the four men are retried in accordance with international law and standards“, the experts said. “The allegations of enforced disappearance and torture must be promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigated with a view to holding those responsible to account and preventing future similar occurrences.”

    They further urged the King of Bahrain to pardon all other death sentences and ensure that all these and other pending capital punishment cases are retried in full respect of fair trial and due process guarantees in compliance with the treaty obligations the country has undertaken under the ICCPR and CAT.

    “We also ask that the authorities reinstate the citizenship of all four men as well as that of all others that have been punished in the same manner in the same collective trial against established international human rights law and standards”, they added.

    This was the first trial of civilians by a military court in Bahrain since 2011, after the King of Bahrain amended the constitution in 2017 to allow for the military trial of civilians. The UN experts called on the King of Bahrain to reverse the amendment.

    The experts had previously sought clarifications from the Government on this case.

  • SALAM: Death sentences against civilians in military courts lack the minimum standard of fair trials
    April 26,2018

    SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights expresses its deep concern over the use of the Bahraini authorities of the judicial system to issue harsh sentences such as death sentences in an attempt to deter its opponents.


    On April 25, 2018, three civilian Sayed Alawi Hussain, Sayed Fadel Abbas, Mohamed Al Mutghawi and a military citizen Mubarak Muhanna were tried under the law” Protecting Society from Terrorist Acts “, and the final verdict was handed down by the Military Court of Cassation on charges of “having intentions to target the general commander of the Bahrain Defense Force”. It is worth mentioning that the Bahrain’s military court is also under the command of the general commander.


    Both civil and military judiciary in Bahrain does not abide by the guarantees of fair trial because of the lack of independence as they are part of the repressing machine against the opposition and political activists.


    SALAM for democracy and human rights fear the death penalty against those persons mentioned above who have been sentenced to death by the Military Court of Cassation and this is the last court of law.


    The military judiciary in Bahrain, both the military prosecution and the military courts, did not investigate the allegations of confessions extracted under torture, nor did they investigate cases of enforced disappearance against suspects that were documented by local and international human rights organizations. The victims reported being tortured during their enforced disappearance to force them to confess to charges of intentions that they did not commit. It is worth mentioning that the four accused testified this before the military court judge.


    The civil judiciary in Bahrain has already issued death sentences against 22 people since the outbreak of protests calling for the transition to democracy in 2011. On January 15, 2017, three people were executed (Sami Mushaima, Abbas al-Samee, Ali al-Singace) on the charge of attacking police in the village of Daih. The civil judiciary has also failed to investigate their allegations of confessions extracted under torture.


    The King of Bahrain is the person who approves the execution of the death penalty. He himself ratified a law on April 18, 2017, which abolished the civil judiciary in terms of the trial of those charged with serious terrorism-related charges and granted the powers to try them for military justice. These powers shall be determined for military trials of an exceptional and temporary nature during the period of war and crises. Herein lies the difference between the military courts which are permanent and are competent to try military personnel and military courts of exceptional character.


    When civilians are subject to military justice, they are called “customary courts”. This situation is usually linked to foreign military occupation and the absence of civil administration. This does not apply to the real situation in Bahrain. However, the authoritarian regimes similar to the regime in Bahrain often resort to military courts to intimidate opponents and activists.


    Based on the above, SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights demands that the authorities in Bahrain:



    1. Immediately suspend the execution of the death penalty and release all those arrested and incarcerated in prison because of their political or social background.

    2. Stop the trial of civilians in the military judiciary.

    3. Make the judiciary independent and completely neutral from the rest of the authorities.
  • The Bahrain Forum for Human Rights calls on the OHCHR and international human rights bodies to urgently intervene to stop the death sentences in Bahrain
    April 25,2018
    The Bahrain Forum for Human Rights (BFHR) called on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and international human rights bodies to urgently intervene to stop the death sentences in Bahrain, after the Military Court of Cassation upheld today four death sentences that were as a result of an unfair secret military trial, which was based on confessions extracted under torture. The BFHR pointed out that the proceedings of the trial and the conditions of exhaustion of all levels of litigation from the appeal to the cassation stage are clearly malicious and manipulate the right to life, especially with ignoring complaints of torture and ill-treatment, lack of independence of the judiciary, and hurrying to end the litigation.
    In its statement, the BFHR called on the member states of the Human Rights Council to open an independent investigation by a UN committee to investigate all complaints of violations in this case, including complaints of torture and ill-treatment; the victims in this trial were subjected to 11 violations, including torture by electric shock, solitary confinement and enforced disappearance.
    The Court of Cassation upheld today its death sentences against four citizens, who are Sayed Alawi Hussein Alawi Hussein, Mohammed Abdul-Hassan Ahmed al-Motaghawi, Fadhel Sayed Abbas Hassan Radhi and Mubarak Adel Mubarak Mohanna.
    The BFHR noted that each of the National Institute for Human Rights (NIHR), the Terror Crimes Prosecution and the Special Investigation Unit played clear roles in covering up the grave human rights violations that were committed against some of the detainees in this trial. In addition, the recent constitutional amendment concerning the Military Judiciary that violates the international law was exploited to expose the victims to a trial that results in harsh sentences and to issue these sentences arbitrarily.
    The security authorities also threatened to expose the concerned individuals to degrading treatment if the violations were revealed to the media or human rights organizations; the judicial authority therefore exploited the confidentiality of the hearings to commit the violations and provide impunity to those involved in subjecting the defendants to torture.
  • Human rights violations in Bahrain occupy 41 pages of the annual report of the US State Department
    April 20,2018
  • BFHR: 1668 serious human rights violations were observed within March 2018
    April 18,2018

    The human rights situation in Bahrain continued to deteriorate in March 2018. 1668 serious human rights violations were observed between the 1st and 31st of March 2018, including arbitrary arrests, house raids, unfair trials, crackdown on peaceful protests, restrictions on freedom of movement, prohibition of Friday prayers, media materials that incite hate speech, enforced disappearance, torture, ill-treatment, injuries, destruction or confiscation of property and violation of freedom of religion and belief.

    While the number of violations in March exceeded that of the previous month by 563 violations, the total violations were distributed as follows: 115 cases of arbitrary arrests; 42 cases of forced disappearances; 96 citizens received arbitrary sentences – the sum of which amounted to 599 years and 11 months in prison; 60 cases of torture and ill-treatment; 489 media materials that incite hate speech; 152 unlawful raids on houses and residential facilities; 86 crackdowns on peaceful gatherings and protests; 550 individuals who were arrested or accused were referred to court because of trials that violate freedom of expression and peaceful assembly; violation of freedom of movement by the continuation of the siege on Duraz area for 648 days and the imposition of house arrest on the highest religious authority for the Shiite Muslims in Bahrain, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, for 311 days without a judicial order or administrative decision; violation of freedom of religion and belief by prohibiting the Friday prayer in Duraz 5 times in March bringing the number of prohibitions to 90 times since 2016; 1 case of unlawful confiscation of property; and 10 cases of destruction of property.

    In March, Bahrain witnessed 296 protests, while since the beginning of the year the number of protests has reached 1153 even though there has been a complete ban on peaceful assembly for 1277 days. The number of arbitrary arrests since the beginning of the year has reached 315. Since 2012, the nationalities of 579 citizens have been revoked for political reasons. Moreover, since the beginning of the year, there have been 358 illegal raids on homes and residential facilities. The total number of human rights violations that occurred in January, February and March are 3539.

  • SALAM: Bahrain: Women Activists in the face of ongoing violations
    April 11,2018

    SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights expresses its deep concern about the increasing attacks against women in Bahrain by being subjected to arbitrary arrests, detention, torture, physical and psychological abuse and denial of basic rights in prison.


    More than seven years have passed since the mass arrests began in 2011 and the arrests and attacks on women in particular have been ongoing and continues to happen.


    Women activists in the field of human rights and women activists in the field of defending the rights of women, as well female doctors, lawyers, writers, journalists and teachers were all targeted. Women housewives were targeted only for their family ties with males who are allegedly wanted by the authorities for “terrorism-related issues”.


    The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) has documented the targeting of women, such as the arrest of the Vice-President of the Bahraini Teachers Association, Mrs. Jalila Al-Salman, the head of the Bahraini Nursing Association, Mrs. Rulla Al-Saffar, and The infertility doctor Khulood Al-Darazi and dozens others.


    According to the documentation and monitoring ofSALAMfor Democracy and Human Rights, the appalling raids, arrests, torture and sexual assaults of women have not stopped yet. Security checkpoints have also been used as a means of continuing humiliation, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and specifically for those who belong to the Shiite community.


    On 26 May 2017, human rights defender Mrs. Ebtisam AlSaegh attended the National Security Agency building in Muharraq City on the basis of a summons she received the previous day. According to her, she was beaten all over her body for seven hours and was kicked in the head and the stomach and also was subjected to verbal and sexual abuse by interrogators who threatened to rape her if she did not cease her human rights activities.


    As well as the case of women rights activist Ghada Jamsheer, who faced a one-year and eight-month prison term for expressing her opinion through tweets in her social networking account Twitter, which criticized corruption practices at King Hamad Hospital.


     Zainab Al-Khawaja is another example of targeting women. She has also faced numerous and repeated arrests and three-year prison sentences for her views and criticism of Bahrain’s policy of discrimination and marginalization.


    The female poet Ayat Al- Quromzi was also severely tortured in the period following the country’s widespread protests to force her to acknowledge acts she did not do in front of the cameras, which were broadcast by the state-run television channel in Bahrain.


    At the time of writing this statement, ten women are facing political imprisonment for “harboring wanted men”. We will mention it in the following:


    Detainee Tayba Darwish:


    She was sentenced to five years in prison for “harboring wanted men” even though she denied the charges during her interrogation in Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) and in the Public Prosecutor’s Office. The court convicted her and sentenced her to five years in prison. She is a mother of three children, Zainab (11 years old), Ahmed (10 years old) and Fatima (8 years old). Since their mother was arrested, they have been subjected to numerous psychological pressure. They have witnessed the security forces’ raid on their home on May 14, 2015, when their mother was surrounded by security men who insulted her verbally.


    Detainee Hajar Mansoor:


    She is (The mother-in-law of a London-based human rights activist, Sayed Ahmed Al-Wedae). She is now sentenced to three years in prison for “harboring wanted men” and was tried under the Terrorism Act. Her 19-year-old son, Sayed Nizar Neama Al-Wedae faces a three-years prison sentence too.


     Hajar Mansoor and the another female prisoner Madina Ali, who is also facing a three-year sentence with the same accusation of “sheltering wanted men,” began a hunger strike to protest the ill-treatment in the Isa Town prison for women.


     Detainee Zainab Makki Abbas Marhoon:


    From Karzakan village, detained in Isa Town women’s prison after being arrested in August 2017 with members of her families, two of her brother, Ali and Hasan and her husband Ameen habib Mansi. She was charged with “harboring wanted persons” and was tried under the Community Protection Act for acts of terrorism. Her young children remained without a mother and without a father, both of whom became political prisoners.


    Detainee Fawzia Mashallah:


     She is the eldest female detainee aged 56 years and was arrested on charges of “sheltering wanted persons.” She is being tried under the Community Protection Act for terrorist acts. She suffers from chronic diseases, but she has decided not to ask to go to the hospital where the Criminal Investigation Directorate who is responsible for transporting prisoners to the hospital intimidate her when they drive her to the hospital in very fast speed. She claims they do not take into account her old age.


     Amina Al-Qashaami, Faten Hussain, Hamida Al-Khour and Mona Habib also face charges of “sheltering wanted men.” They were tried and convicted under the Community Protection Act of terrorist acts. All were sentenced to five years in prison. In addition to Najah Ahmed Habib who is also detained on charges of “harboring wanted men” and is also tried under the law to protect society from terrorist acts.


    We at SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights urge the Bahraini authorities to stop targeting women in Bahrain, stop the escalation of the repressive crackdown, stop the continuation of politically motivated trials, and not use women as a pressure tool against those wanted and fleeing unfairness in Bahrain or fear of retaliation and torture.


    Women in Bahrain are in the face of ongoing violations by the Bahraini authorities with the silence of the Supreme Council of Women in Bahrain. Some of these women provided live testimonies of sexual harassment and torture by police in the National Security Agency and claimed they were forced to sign confessions under torture and threats.


    SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights calls on the Bahraini authorities to:



    1. Release all the women who were arrested on politically motivated charges and drop all charges brought against them.

    2. Investigate allegations of torture and abuse against women.

    3. End the use of checkpoints as a tool for sexual harassment and intimidation of women.

    4. Adhere to international law to eliminate all forms of violence against women.
  • GIDR urges Bahraini authorities to release all women prisoners of conscience
    April 11,2018
  • HRW: Bahrain: Official Threatens Online Crackdown Reprisals Against Activists, Repressive Speech Policies
    March 30,2018

    Bahrain’s interior minister has threatened to crackdown on dissidents and activists who criticize the government online, Human Rights Watch said today.


    Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa, the interior minister, said on March 25, 2018, that the government was already tracking accounts that “departed from national norms, customs and traditions,” and threatened unspecified new legislation and heavy punishments against “violators.”


    “No one can mistake the government’s latest assault on the shrinking space for dissent,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “A vow to punish those who ‘depart from national norms and customs’ is clearly aimed at anyone who criticizes the government’s policies.”


    Bahraini authorities have gone after scores of activists, journalists, and photographers since nationwide anti-government protests in 2011. People targeted as dissenters have been harassed, imprisoned, ill-treated, arbitrarily stripped of their nationality, and forced into exile. The authorities have also prosecuted family members of activists in trials tainted by dubious terror-related charges and due-process concerns.


    Human Rights Watch has documented how Bahraini authorities already actively police and punish online dissent, blocking numerous websites and publications, and arresting and harassing bloggers, journalists, and activists. The Bahrain Watch, a nongovernmental group, has reported that Bahraini authorities have used malicious links to determine who was behind certain social media accounts that they disapproved of.


    One of Bahrain’s preeminent human rights defenders, Nabeel Rajab, is serving seven years in prison for speech crimes after two separate trials, in 2017 and 2018. In the latest trial, a court sentenced Rajab to five years in prison on February 21 for tweets that criticized the Saudi-led military operation in Yemen.


    Since June 2011, 13 prominent dissidents have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms, including seven sentenced to life in prison. They include a leading long-term human rights advocate, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, and Hassan Mushaima, leader of the unrecognized opposition group Al Haq.


    In May 2017, a Bahraini court dissolved the leading secular-left National Democratic Action Society (Wa’ad). In June, the government ordered the suspension of Al Wasat, Bahrain’s only remaining independent newspaper.


    In March 2017, a court sentenced Duaa Alwadaei, wife of Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, advocacy director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), to two months in prison in absentia for “insulting” a public official. And on October 30, a court sentenced three other relatives of Alwadaei – Sayed Nazar al-Wadaei, Mahmood Marzooq Mansoor, and Hajar Mansoor Hassan – to three years in prison on dubious terrorism related charges despite allegations of coerced confessions and other serious due process violations.


    Sayed Nazar Alwadaei faces a total of 13 years in prison after additional convictions in two separate trials on dubious terrorism charges and sentences of three years and seven years.


    The Bahrain Press Association (BahrainPA), a UK-based non-profit organization, reported that the Bahrain Cassation Court on March 27 upheld a 10-year prison sentence and stripping of citizenship for Sayed Ahmed Al-Mousawi, a photographer, arrested in 2014 after covering anti-government protests. His father told Human Rights Watch at the time that interrogators questioned his son about his work, which included photographing the 2011 protests.

  • In March 2018, 49 complaints of ill-treatment were received from detainees. Salam for democracy and human rights: systematic torture continues
    March 27,2018
  • BFHR: Monthly report for examining the human rights situation and monitoring violations
    March 14,2018

    BFHR: The humanrights situation in Bahrain continued to deteriorate in February 2018. 1105serious human rights violations were observed between the 1st and 28thof February 2018, including arbitrary arrests, house raids, unfair trials, crackdown on peaceful protests, restrictions on freedom of movement, prohibition ofFriday prayers, media materials that incite hate speech, enforced disappearance, torture, ill-treatment, injuries, destruction or confiscation ofproperty and violation of freedom of religion and belief.

    While thenumber of violations in February exceeded that of the previous month by 110violations, the total violations were distributed as follows: 83 cases ofarbitrary arrests; 31 cases of forced disappearances; 97 citizens receivedarbitrary sentences, including 10 death sentences that are between the stagesof appeal and cassation; 16 cases of torture and ill-treatment; 374 media materialsthat incite hate speech; 76 unlawful raids on houses and residential facilities;51 crackdowns on peaceful gatherings; 290 persons who were arrested or accused werereferred to court because of trials against freedom of expression and peacefulassembly; violation of freedom of movement by the continuation of the siege onDuraz area for 617 days and the imposition of house arrest on the highestreligious authority for the Shiite Muslims in Bahrain, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim,for 280 days without a judicial order or administrative decision; violation offreedom of religion and belief by prohibiting the Friday prayer in Duraz 4times in February bringing the number of prohibitions to 85 times since 2016;16 injuries due to the suppression of peaceful gatherings; 7 cases of unlawful confiscationof property; and 4 cases of destruction of property.

    In February,Bahrain witnessed 513 protests, while since the beginning of the year thenumber of protests has reached 860 even though there has been a complete ban onpeaceful assembly for 1246 days. The number of arbitrary arrests since thebeginning of the year has reached 204. Since 2012, the nationalities of 580citizens have been revoked for political reasons. Moreover, since the beginningof the year, there have been 214 illegal raids on homes and residential facilities.The total number of human rights violations that occurred in January andFebruary are 2100.

  • Ana Bahraini: A dedicated network on revoking citizenship in Bahrain
    February 23,2018

    The 7th of November 2012, was marked as the day when stripping of citizenships has emerged as one of the most disturbing methods used to silence dissent in Bahrain. That was when the Bahraini Minister of Interior revoked the nationality of 31 citizens, among them were clerics,  former MPs, academics, journalists, human rights defenders, and members of civil society.

    The numbers quickly escalated afterwards, as unrest is still ongoing. Until now, rights groups have counted a number of 578 Bahraini citizens whom citizenships were effectively revoked and are rendered stateless. Among them are 19 Shia clerics including three at ranks of Ayatollahs: Isa Qassim, Husain Najati, and Mohammed Sanad.

    SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights has launched today, the 23rd of February 2018: "Ana Bahraini" network in both Arabic (https://www.anabahraini.org/ar) and English (https://www.anabahraini.org) with the support of a number of human rights organizations, media platforms and research centers. The network is supported by: Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, Bahrain Forum for Human Rights, the European-Bahraini Organization for Human Rights, Sentinel HRD, Bahrain Mirror and Bahrain Center for Studies in London.

    “Citizenship is the most basic and fundamental right of every individual. One losing his/her nationality consists a social demise. One possession of citizenship should not be seen as privilege or reward for allegiance, and its revocation should not be wielded as a weapon of control and oppression. The citizenry is above government and absolutely not vice versa. Citizenship revocation only enhances the discretionary and arbitrary power of the executive authority” said Jawad Fairooz, President of SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights, also a former Bahraini MP whose nationality has been revoked.

    “Ana Bahraini” network is interested in supporting and defending Bahrainis whose citizenships were arbitrarily revoked due to political and identity backgrounds.

    The website gathers all relevant content, including lists of many of the affected persons, as well as the position of both the Bahraini government and the international community. The website also aims at creating a dedicated space for the cases of revoked citizenship in Bahrain and at publishing significant data, reports and news from various human rights organizations, media and research centers that could serve as references in both Arabic and English languages.

    Organizers are seeking through this network to cooperate with all interested individuals or groups. Contact us on: info@salam-dhr.org




  • Germany Deeply Concerned about Sentencing of Bahrain HR Activist Nabeel Rajab
    February 22,2018

    The Government of Germany said that it is deeply concerned about the sentencing of Bahrain human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, appealing to the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain "to fulfill its obligations to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms."


    "The sentencing of Bahraini human rights activists and opposition politician Nabeel rajab to five years imprisonment for Twitter statements is a matter of grave concern given the many reports raising doubts about the rule of law," said Bärbel Kofler, German Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office.


    The human rights commissioner also urged Bahrain to honour its constitution's commitment to freedom of speech and the press.


    "Every government must face the criticism of its citizens and deal with it with factual arguments," said Kofler. "Freedom of expression and the press enjoy constitutional protection in Bahrain as well. There must also be an opportunity in social media to talk about grievances and undesirable developments openly."


    Kofler further expressed concern about yesterday's decision by the Bahraini parliament to withdraw the right to vote for former members of dissolved political groups, noting that this "carries the danger of a further polarization of society," also appealing to the Kingdom of Bahrain not to sign this law.

  • HRW: Bahrain: 5 More Years for Jailed Activist
    February 22,2018

    The Bahrain High Criminal Court on February 21, 2018, sentenced the prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab to five years in prison for criticizing torture in a Bahrain prison and Saudi airstrikes in Yemen, Human Rights Watch said today. The new sentence is in addition to the two-year sentence that Rajab is already serving on other charges related to peaceful expression.

    “The new prison sentence for Nabeel Rajab is only the latest chapter in years of persecution and efforts to silence an activist solely for his efforts to sound the alarm on human rights abuses,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Rajab should never have faced such charges or spent one day in prison for them.”

    Authorities first arrested Rajab, head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and deputy secretary general of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), on April 2, 2015, and filed charges based on his allegations on social media of torture in Bahrain’s Jaw Prison. Authorities released him provisionally on humanitarian grounds on July 13, 2015, but re-arrested him on June 13, 2016, for criticism in television interviews of the Bahraini authorities’ refusal to allow journalists and rights groups into the country.

    This criticism led to a two-year prison term that a criminal court imposed in July 2017. The Court of Cassation upheld that sentence on January 15.

    The new sentence is based on Rajab’s tweets on the Saudi-led military operations in Yemen, which have killed thousands of civilians, and on alleged torture in Jaw Prison.

    The BCHR reported that the Bahrain High Criminal Court had convicted Rajab based on article 133 of the Criminal Code for “disseminating false rumors in time of war”; Article 215 on “offending a foreign country” – in this case Saudi Arabia; and Article 216 for “insulting a statutory body,” based on comments to the media in March 2015 about alleged use of excessive force by security forces to quell unrest at Jaw Prison. Rajab can appeal this sentence.

    Rajab, who also spent eight months in pretrial detention, appears at times to have been subjected to treatment that may amount to arbitrary punishment. He was held in solitary confinement for more than two weeks after his arrest in June 2016. Rajab’s health also deteriorated while in detention, his family has said. While in detention he has had several surgical procedures, suffered heart palpitations that led to hospitalization, and developed other medical conditions, including a low white blood cell count, his family said.

    Rajab is a member of the Human Rights Watch Middle East and North Africa Advisory Committee.

  • Additional five-year jail term for Bahraini blogger Nabeel Rajab
    February 21,2018
    Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled by the Bahraini regime’s continuing persecution of Nabeel Rajab, an imprisoned blogger and human rights defender who received an additional five-year jail sentence today for tweets in 2015 criticizing torture in Bahrain and the Saudi-led coalition’s military intervention in Yemen.


    Bahrain’s high court convicted Rajab of offending Saudi Arabia, which has been fighting Yemen’s Houthis since 2015 with the support of Bahrain and other allies, and of insulting the Bahraini interior ministry by reporting criticism of cases of torture in Bahrain’s Jaw prison.


    Rajab, who is also president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, is already serving a two-year jail sentence, which he received last July on a charge of “spreading rumours and false information” for criticizing the Bahraini authorities in TV interviews.


    “We condemn this unjustified sentence and call for Nabeel Rajab’s immediate release,” RSF said. “We are appalled by the way the Bahraini authorities are persecuting a man whose only crime has been to use his right to free speech to draw attention to human rights violations.”


    Rajab has been arrested a total of six times since 2011. His health has suffered and he has been hospitalized several times during his many spells in prison. He was released under a royal pardon for “health reasons” in July 2015 but was arrested again in June 2016 and has been held ever since.


    According to RSF’s “barometer,” a total of 15 journalists and citizen-journalists are currently detained in Bahrain in connection with the provision of news and information.

    A small Gulf state that hosts the US Fifth Fleet, Bahrain saw a wave of protests in 2011 that prompted allegations that Iran was backing an attempt to topple the government. This led to a crackdown on dissent and an increase in censorship, which has been reinforced this year in the run-up to elections.


    Bahrain is ranked 164th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

  • Amnesty: Bahrain: Shameful attack on freedom of expression as Nabeel Rajab sentenced to five years in prison for tweets
    February 21,2018


     The sentencing of prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab to five years in prison today for peacefully expressing his opinions online illustrates the Bahraini authorities’ utter contempt for freedom of expression, said Amnesty International.


    The sentence relates to posts on his Twitter account in 2015 as well as retweets about alleged torture in Bahrain’s Jaw prison, and the killing of civilians in the Yemen conflict by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition.


    “The conviction of Nabeel Rajab today is a slap in the face to justice. This sentence demonstrates the authorities’ ruthless determination to crush all forms of dissent and leaves no room for doubt about the extreme lengths to which they are willing to go to in order to silence peaceful critics,” said Heba Morayef, MENA Regional Director at Amnesty International.


    “This shameful verdict must be quashed and the authorities must drop all pending charges and immediately release Nabeel Rajab. It is absolutely outrageous that he be forced to spend a further five years in jail simply for daring to voice his opinions online.”


    Nabeel Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, has been relentlessly harassed for his peaceful human rights work and has been in and out of prison since 2012 on various charges related to his peaceful activism. He has been banned from leaving Bahrain since November 2014.


    Nabeel Rajab has been detained since June 2016 and is now serving a two-year prison sentence for TV interviews he gave in 2015 and 2016. The Court of Cassation in Manama, Bahrain’s capital, upheld his sentence on 15 January 2018, convicting him of “disseminating false news, statements and rumours about the internal situation of the kingdom that would undermine its prestige and status”.


    Pending charges


    On 4 September 2016, an open letter was printed under Nabeel Rajab’s name in the opinion pages of the New York Times which described the situation in Bahrain and his own trial, and urged the Obama administration to use its leverage to resolve the conflict in Yemen.


    The next day, the public prosecution interrogated and charged Nabeel Rajab with “spreading false news and statements and malicious rumours that undermine the prestige of the state” in relation to the article. No trial date for this case has yet been set.


    On 19 December 2016, an article was published in Nabeel Rajab’s name in Le Monde. Two days later, he was interrogated at the Criminal Investigation Directorate, accused of “spreading false news and statements and malicious rumours that undermine the prestige of Bahrain and the brotherly countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and an attempt to endanger their relations”. The case was referred to the public prosecution but it is unknown if he will be officially charged.


    On 12 September 2017, the Terrorism Prosecution interrogated Nabeel Rajab in connection with comments and an image posted on social media accounts running in his name in January 2017. An image of the King of Bahrain with a Quranic verse asking whether he believed that “no one had power over him” was posted on an Instagram account in his name while comments on non-cooperation with national institutions and a call to protest against the January 2017 execution of three men were posted on his Twitter account. He denied the charges of “incitement to hatred against the regime”, “incitement to non-compliance with the law” and “spreading false news”. The case has yet to be referred to trial and could be activated at any time.

  • Reuters: Bahrain rights activist jailed for five years for 'insulting' tweets
    February 21,2018
    Reuters: A Bahraini human rights activist was sentenced to five years in prison on Wednesday for criticizing Saudi Arabia’s air strikes in Yemen and accusing Bahrain’s prison authorities of torture, his lawyer and fellow activists said.

    The United States, which has a major naval base in the country, has expressed concern about the case of Nabeel Rajab, a leading figure in pro-democracy protests that swept Bahrain in 2011, who was already serving a two-year sentence over a news interview in which he said Bahrain tortured political prisoners.

    The new convictions were for “insulting a neighboring country” and “insulting national institutions” in comments posted on Twitter, activists said. There was no immediate comment from the Bahraini government.

    Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, an activist with the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), said Bahraini courts were barring citizens from criticizing the authorities.

    “Instead of rewarding Nabeel Rajab for his brave and commendable exposure of human rights abuses and advocacy for peace, the authorities have chosen to punish the messenger.”

    Bahrain has cracked down on perceived threats since the 2011 protests inspired by the “Arab Spring”, led mainly by members of its majority Shi‘ite population, were quashed with help from Gulf Arab neighbors.

    The Sunni Muslim-led monarchy has closed two main political groups, revoked the citizenship of the top Shi‘ite cleric and banned activists from travel and put some on trial.

    Authorities accuse Iran, the region’s majority Shi‘ite power, of being behind years of militant bomb and gun attacks on its security forces, something Iran denies.

    Bahrain hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet, a key naval base in the oil exporting region riven by animosity between Bahrain’s main ally, Saudi Arabia, and Iran.


    A U.S. embassy representative attended an earlier hearing for Rajab, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Tuesday, adding that Washington was “disappointed” his earlier verdict had been upheld.


    “He’s a prominent human rights activist ... we continue to have conversations with the government of Bahrain about our very serious concerns about this,” Nauert said.

    Rajab’s son Adam tweeted on Wednesday that, on hearing the verdict, his father laughed in the courtroom and flashed a peace sign.
  • UN Special Rapporteur Michel Forst calls for an end to torture and the fight against impunity in Bahrain
    February 20,2018
  • HR Groups including Amnesty Int’l Launch Campaign Urging Bahrain to Release Nabeel Rajab
    February 19,2018

    Amnesty International has launched an online campaign to call on the Bahraini authorities to release Nabeel Rajab on the eve of his sentencing hearing on Tuesday (February 20, 2018).


    "Nabeel Rajab is on trial simply for tweeting! His verdict is Tomorrow. We call on King of Bahrain to Free Nabeel," said the human rights organization, calling on its followers to share this message on all social media outlets using the hashtag #FreeNabeel; as well as send emails to the King of Bahrain, urging him to release Nabeel Rajab and stop the Bahraini authorities' crackdown on the brave people who speak out for human rights.


    Addressing its followers, Amnesty said: "Your actions do have impact. Amnesty's online action contributed to the release of Ebtisam al Saegh, another human rights defender in Bahrain. Now we need your support in helping to release Nabeel too."


    Amnesty further noted that the emails will be sent to the King of Bahrain Hamad bin 'Issa Al Khalifa via the Bahrain Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also attaching a video of human rights defenders calling for Nabeel's release, which it asked its followers to watch and share as well.


    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) also called for taking part in a Twitter campaign to support the struggle of Nabeel Rajab today at 7:30 pm, pointing out that Nabeel Rajab has been targeted several times for his human rights activism as well as his media role and awareness that he spreads on Twitter. That is since Nabeel Rajab enjoys high credibility and is followed by many human rights organizations around the world, which led the Bahraini government to arrest him, thinking that it would be able to silence his voice and stop human rights activism in Bahrain.

  • bfhr: 145 violations were observed in one day on the occasion of February 14
    February 16,2018
    The Bahrain Forum for Human Rights (BFHR) said that 145 serious human rights violations were observed in one day, coinciding with the February 14 anniversary. The violations varied between arbitrary arrests, suppression of peaceful protests, enforced disappearances, restrictions on freedom of movement, raids on homes, residential facilities and areas, unfair trials, confiscation or destruction of property, and broadcast of hate speech in the official press and social networking sites.
    The BFHR pointed out that Bahrain witnessed more than 100 protest activities in 40 districts, pointing out that the activities included 66 peaceful gatherings and dozens of various protest activities such as closing shops, turning lights off, evening prayer session, etc. The BFHR added that 17 peaceful gatherings were subjected to excessive repression leaving 10 Injuries, 9 of which were due to the use of the internationally prohibited shotguns in the areas of Abu Saiba, Sitra, Al-Musalla and Al-Daih, and one case of suffocation in Al-Daih.
    The BFHR also pointed out that twenty Bahraini citizens are still subjected to short-term enforced disappearance, and they are from the following areas: Abu Saiba, Duraz, Bilad Al-Qadeem, Barbar, Damastan, Sar, Al-Dair, Sadad and Al-Daih. The BFHR said that the citizens include Ja'far Al-Qassim, who has been forcibly disappeared since 01/22/2018, noting that the Bahraini citizen Abdul-Nabi Fakhr from Al-Daih was arbitrarily arrested on the main street, in addition to Hussein Mohammed Ahmed from Damastan, who is being unfairly prosecuted, and will be presented to the High Court on 03/06/2018.
    The BFHR added that there were 59 illegal raids on private residences and public facilities, pointing out that members of the security services deliberately raided the areas in an intimidating manner. The BFHR also said that 3 cases of property confiscation by the security authorities and one case of property damage were observed, adding that Duraz has been under siege for 605 days, since June 20, 2016. The BFHR further added that the leader of the Shiite community in Bahrain, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qassim has been placed under house arrest by the authorities for 267 days, since May 23, 2017, without a judicial order or administrative decision.
    The BFHR further said that 31 media articles and messages that incite or encourage to incite hatred were observed in five articles in Bahraini Al-Watan and Akhbar Al-Khaleej newspapers and 26 post on social networking sites.
  • BFHR launches the Monthly Indicator: 995 violations in January in Bahrain
    February 09,2018
    BFHR: With the beginning of 2018, the human rights situation in Bahrain continued todeteriorate. 995 serious human rights violations were observed between January 1and January 31, 2018, including arbitrary arrests, house raids, unfair trials,suppression of peaceful protests, restrictions on freedom of movement,prohibition of Friday prayers, media materials that incite hate speech,enforced disappearance, torture and ill-treatment.

    Arbitrary arrests, raids and restrictions on freedom of movement

    121 cases of arbitrary arrest, including 6 children, were recorded,climaxing on January 23, 2018 and amounting to 44 unlawful arrests and 138 raids on houses and residential establishments that werecarried out without arrest warrants, and in a manner that spreads terror amongcitizens. In addition, the freedom of movement was violated through the continuationof the security siege on Duraz for 589 days and the imposition of house arreston the highest religious authority for the Shiite Muslims in Bahrain, AyatollahSheikh Isa Qassim, for 252 days without a judicial order or administrativedecision.

    On January31, 2018, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim was transferred to the hospital after a13-day deliberate delay by the authorities, as he was scheduled for surgery onJanuary 18, 2018, therefore his rights to treatment and to freedom of movementwere violated.

    Meanwhile,the security authorities continued to violate freedom of religion and belief bybanning Friday prayers at Duraz for 4 times in January, bringing the number to81 preventions since 2016. In addition, 200Bahraini citizens have been accused or arrested in the Public Prosecution andpresented to the Bahraini judiciary for reasons relating to freedom ofexpression and peaceful assembly.

    Hate speech: 342 media materials

    342 mediamaterials and messages that incite or help to incite hatred against humanrights defenders, political activists and Bahraini citizens were observedinJanuary. Those materials are divided into 89 media articles published in theofficial press and 253 materials published on social media by users thatinclude official and media figures, such as Assistant Undersecretary forInformation and Follow-up at the Prime Minister's Court, Ibrahim Al-Dosari,Ministry of Information Affairs’ adviser, Sawsan Al-Shaer, former MP MohammedKhaled, and journalists Faisal Al-Sheikh, Farid Hassan, Mona Mutawa and SaeedAl-Hamad.

    The mediamaterials inciting hatred published in local press are as follows: 18 articlesin the Bahraini Al-Ayam newspaper, 25 articles in Akhbar Al-Khaleej newspaper, 13articles in the Bahraini Al-Bilad newspaper, and 33 articles in the BahrainiAl-Watan newspaper.

    Torture, ill-treatment, enforced disappearance and destruction ofproperty

    18 cases oftorture and ill-treatment, which climaxed on January 14, 2018, were observed.The cases include four women and eight children – one of them an infant – who weresubjected to ill-treatment while attempting to enter the sieged area of Duraz. Inaddition, three children from Buri were also subjected to ill-treatment. Thedetained child, Sayed Hadi Ali Ne'ma from Iskan Aali and detainee Ammar AbdulGhani from Al-Daih were subjected to torture. Moreover, the right to treatmentand health care of Hasan Mushaima, Secretary General of the Movement for CivilLiberties and Democracy (HAQ), was violated. Moreover, 2 cases of destruction of property were observed onJanuary 24 and January 27, 2018. Also, 17 cases of enforced disappearance ofBahraini citizens were observed, including Ali Hussein Jassem who disappearedfor 45 days, Salman Ismail who disappeared for 40 days, Hussain Humaid Madanwho disappeared for 28 days, Mustafa Bahr who disappeared for 27 days, AbbasRahma who disappeared for 20 days and Mansour Al-Dulabi who disappeared for 20days.The cases of enforced disappearances were regionally distributed as follows:10 cases from Duraz, 3 cases from Nuwaidrat, and 1 case from each of Manama,Abu Saiba, Bilad Al-Qadeem, and Barbar.

    Unfair trials

    In addition,77 Bahraini citizens were handed arbitrary sentences, whichclimaxed on the 24th and 29th of January, 2018, amountingto 24 cases. The total arbitrary sentences amounted to the following: 679 years of imprisonment, 3 years of imprisonment suspended forone year term, total fines of US $268,000, 39 sentences of revoking nationalities, and 10 sentences of deportingcitizens whose nationalities were revoked, four of them were deported before January1, 2018. In addition, the death sentence against Maher Al-Khabaz was upheld,even though four UN experts issued a report saying that he was subjected to tortureand ill-treatment. 2 death sentences were issued against Ali Al-Arab and AhmadAl- Mullali. Also, amongthose who were arbitraily imprisoned are 4 women.

    The trial hearings,which violate the freedom of political action of Bahraini opposition leaderSheikh Ali Salman, as well as two former MPs of the Al-Wefaq parliamentarybloc, Sheikh Hassan Sultan and Ali Al-Aswad, continued.The fourth hearing washeld on January 4, 2018 and the fifth hearing on January 25, 2018. In the fifthhearing, Sheikh Ali Salman emphasizedthat the audio recordings which were usedas indictments for the charge of spying for Qatar are cut in a way thatdistorted their contents.

    On January 16,2018, Bahrain's Court of Cassation upheld a two-year prison sentence againstNabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and DeputySecretary-General of the International Federation for Human Rights. A statementby the Bahrain Center for Human Rights said[1],“We are very worried about Nabeel's safety and well-being,”adding, “Authoritiesshould release him immediately, drop the charges against him, and investigatethoroughly his possible ill-treatment in detention.”

    Appeals hearingsat the military judiciary for 17 civilians and one soldiercontinued to be held,in which civilian victims were tortured and ill-treated. Three appeals hearingswere held on January 10, 14 and 31, 2018, and the case was reserved until February21, 2018 without investigating the torture complaints which include 11violations: torture by electric shock, enforced disappearance, sleep andbathing deprivation, severe beatings and solitary confinement. On December 25, 2017,the military court sentenced five civilians and one soldier to death in thiscase, including human rights activist and head of Liberties and Human RightsDepartment at Al-Wefaq Society, Mohammed Al-Motaghawi, and the personal escortof Sheikh Isa Qassim, communications engineer Sayed Alawi Hussein.

  • Human Rights Watch: Bahrain: New Deportations of Nationals
    February 04,2018

    Bahraini authorities have deported eight stateless Bahrainis, whom they had previously stripped of their citizenship, since January 29, 2018, Human Rights Watch said today. The deportations followed an appeals court decision to uphold a 2012 ruling that ordered the deportation and stripping of citizenship of nine Bahraini nationals for “damaging state security.”


    Since 2012, Bahraini authorities have stripped 578 nationals of their citizenship, leaving many stateless. In the most recent cases, on January 31, the Fourth High Criminal Court stripped 47 people of their citizenship on terrorism related charges, and on February 1 the same court stripped another 25 people of their citizenship. Bahrain should immediately put an end to these arbitrary deportations and restore citizenship to those who have been left stateless or whose citizenship was revoked unfairly or arbitrarily, Human Rights Watch said.


    “Bahraini authorities have dropped all pretense of pluralism and tolerance for dissent and are clearly stripping away the citizenships of people whom they find undesirable,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Right Watch.


    On January 24, the First High Court of Appeal upheld a November 7, 2012 ruling to strip citizenship from the nine people and to deport them, according to a news report citing their lawyer.


    Authorities deported four of them to Najaf, Iraq – two brothers, Ibrahim and Ismail Darwish, on January 29, and Adnan Kamal and Habib Darwish on January 30, a human rights activist in Bahrain told Human Rights Watch. Due to concerns for their safety, the human rights activist requested to remain anonymous. Bahrain deported another four to Najaf on February 1: Abdulnabi al-Mosawi; his wife, Maryam Ibrahim; and his two brothers, Mohamed al-Mosawi and Abdulamir al-Mosawi. The ninth person, Adnan Ahmed Ali, was not in Bahrain when the judgment was delivered. The human rights activist said that Ali had agreed to voluntarily leave Bahrain for Iran some years ago.


    These nine people were part of a larger group of 31 people, including opposition political activists, lawyers, and rights activists, whose citizenship an Interior Ministry decree revoked on November 7, 2012. The ministry based its decision on Article 10 (3) of the Bahraini Citizenship Act of 1963, claiming the 31 were “damaging the security of the state.” Only 18 of the 31 were in Bahrain at the time. Only an estimated five had dual citizenship, leaving the majority affected by the 2012 decision stateless.


    The activist also told Human Rights Watch that the High Appeal Civil Court had moved up a session to consider the group’s appeals from December 31, 2017, to October 26 without informing the legal teams. Though the lawyers were not at the hearing and had no opportunity to present their cases, the court refused to rescind the order. The court action deprived the 31 people of their chance to exhaust all legal means to challenge the charges against them, the activist said. The Appeals Court used this decision in its ruling to uphold the deportation orders for the nine members of the group.


    Since 2012, Bahrain’s courts have on several occasions issued mass sentences that included stripping of citizenship and prison terms. The 47 people stripped of citizenship on January 31 were among 60 the Fourth High Criminal Court sentenced that day on charges of forming a terrorist group.


    Bahrain’s Supreme Court on January 29 also upheld a one-year prison sentence for Sheikh Isa Qassim, a Shiite spiritual leader of the now dissolved main opposition group al-Wefaq, and confirmed the revocation of his citizenship.


    On July 24, 2014, Bahrain’s Official Gazette published amendments to the Citizenship Law of 1963. Article 10 permits the Interior Ministry, with cabinet approval, to strip the citizenship of a person who “aids or is involved in the service of a hostile state” or who “causes harm to the interests of the Kingdom or acts in a way that contravenes his duty of loyalty to it.” The July 2014 amendments to Bahrain’s citizenship laws grant the Interior Ministry additional authority to revoke the citizenship of people who fail in their “duty of loyalty” to the state.


    Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to a nationality and that no-one shall be arbitrarily deprived of their nationality. Article 12 of the declaration states that, “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country.” In 1999, the Human Rights Committee, which interprets the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Bahrain has signed, stated that “The scope of ‘his own country’ is broader than the concept ‘country of his nationality,’” and that it would apply to people who have been stripped of their nationality in violation of international law.


    Article 29 of the Arab Charter on Human Rights, which Bahrain has ratified, states that “Every person has the right to a nationality, and no citizen shall be deprived of his nationality without a legally valid reason.”


    “By slapping human rights defenders, political activists, journalists, and religious scholars with arbitrary citizenship revocations and deportations, Bahraini authorities are reducing courts to rubber-stamps on their quest to stifle dissent completely,” Whitson said.

  • Highlights On The Crackdown On Human Rights In Bahrain in 2017
    February 01,2018
    Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights launched today (Thursday, February 1,2018)  a report documenting the blatant human rights violations in Bahrain in 2017

    To read the whole report click here
  • FIDH and BCHR strongly condemn an unprecedent wave of death sentences in Bahrain
    February 01,2018
    FIDH and BCHR: Bahrain has witnessed a dramatic increase in the use of capital punishment since 2017, and recent executions mark a dangerous return to the death penalty after a halt on executions since 2010. Our organisation strongly condemn this tragic trend and urge the authorities to abolish the death penalty immediately.

    Today a new death sentence confirmed the dramatic acceleration of death sentences in Bahrain.

    « Today Moosa Abdulla was sentenced to death. Already earlier this week Ali Al Arab, Ahmed Al Malaly and Maher Al Khabaz had been subjected to death penalty. 22 Bahrainis remain currently on death row, which marks a record in the history of Bahrain », Stated Maytham Al Salman, Special Advisor at the BCHR.

    On 25 December 2017, a Bahraini military court sentenced six men to death on charges of forming a terrorist cell and plotting to assassinate a military official.

    The victims in this trial were subjected to torture, sleep deprivation, electric shocks, solitary confinement and enforced disappearance. Communications engineer Sayed Alawi Hussein Alawi, and Sayed Fadhel Abbas were forcibly disappeared for nearly a year, and Mohammed Al-Shehabi and Mohammed Al-Motaghawi were forcibly disappeared for several months. Some of the lawyers and families of the defendants were threatened with reprisals if they revealed their treatment to the media or international human rights organizations. All the defendants were denied the right to meet their lawyers before the trials.

    « We strongly oppose the death penalty in all circumstances and for all crimes », expressed Florence Bellivier, FIDH Deputy Secretary General on Death Penalty. « The increased application of the death penalty in Bahrain is of high concern, as it also reveals a discriminatory and inhuman practice, in addition to the violation of the rights to a fair trial and the instrumentalization of death penalty as a political tool ».

    The fact that the defendants were tried before military courts and not civil courts is significative. These courts were condemned by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) in 2011 for their acceptance of confessions extracted under torture and their failure to hold fair trials. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry recommended halting trying civilians in military courts in 2011, which was accepted by authorities. However, Bahrain amended the constitution to grant these courts the power to try civilians on 3 April 2017. This constitutional amendment was regarded by Bahraini human rights organizations as catastrophic.

    “The prosecution of peaceful dissidents in military courts is expected to flourish if the international community remains silent ”, declared Maytham Al Salman “ Mohammed Al Mitqawi, a peaceful activist who has been working with human rights organizations and the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry in reporting violations, who is today on death row.”

    A year ago, on 15 January 2017, the Bahraini authorities executed Ali Al-Singace (21), Abbas Al-Samea (27) and Sami Mushaima (42) in such conditions that the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Dr Agnes Callamard, qualified the executions as “extrajudicial executions”.

    FIDH and BCHR condemn the last wave of death sentences and executions in the strongest terms, and urge the government of Bahrain to immediately abolish the death penalty and accede to the Second Optional Protocol to the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights for the abolition of the death penalty.

    Furthermore, FIDH and BCHR call on the government of Bahrain to repeal the constitutional amendment of 3 April 2017 and restore Article 105 of the Bahraini Constitution to its previous state to ensure that civilians are not tried in military courts. They also urge authorities to open an independent investigation into all complaints of violations in all the cases , particularly those related to complaints of torture and ill-treatment, and adopt the Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary adopted by the United Nations in 1985.


  • Amnesty: Bahrain: Government expels citizens after having revoked their nationality
    January 31,2018
    Amnesty: The Bahraini government expelled four of its citizens whose nationality was revoked in 2012, in yet another display of the kingdom’s steady and sustained disregard of its own citizens and for human rights and international law more broadly, said Amnesty International.

    Brothers Ismail and Ibrahim Darwish were expelled to Iraq at 09:00am on 28 January 2018, followed by Adnan Kamal and Habib Darwish on 29 January 2018. Four other people, Mohammed Ali, Abdul Amir, Abdulnabi Almosawi and his wife Maryam Redha, who also had their nationality revoked that same year, were told they would be forcibly deported to Iraq on 1 February 2018.


    “The Bahraini government is using revocation of nationality – rendering many of its citizens stateless in the process - and expulsion, as tools to crush all forms of opposition, dissent and activism.” said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East research director


    “It is doing so with little to no pushback from the international community, including key allies such as the United Kingdom that could use their leverage to publicly condemn these actions,”


    “Turning citizens into stateless people and banishing them by forcing them to leave the country is a violation of international law. Bahrain’s authorities must immediately halt all planned expulsions and allow those it has already expelled to return to the country and reinstate their nationality.”


    The four men who were expelled are part of a group of 31 Bahraini citizens who were stripped of their nationality on 7 November 2012 on grounds that they had caused “damage to state security”. The 31 people, who were never officially notified of this decision and learned about it from the media, include activists who are now in exile, a lawyer, Shi’a clerics, two former members of parliament and other individuals with no political or religious affiliation.


    Since 2011, the Bahraini authorities have revoked the nationality of over 550 people, including at least 150 in 2017.



    Article 10 of the Bahrain Citizenship Law and its amendments stipulates that nationality can be revoked if a person engages in the military service of a foreign country; if a person helps or engages in the service of an enemy country; or if a person causes harm to state security.




    This paragraph is framed too broadly and does not clearly define what could amount to “harm to state security” - thus enabling the state to crush the legitimate and peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly through revocation of nationality, even when doing so renders people stateless.


     


    Background


     


    On 28 October 2014 a lower court in the capital, Manama, ordered the deportation of 10 out of the 31 people whose Bahraini nationality was arbitrarily revoked on 7 November 2012 and fined them 100 Bahraini Dinars.


     


    On 29 January 2018, the Court of Cassation upheld the citizenship revocation and the one-year prison sentence, suspended for three years, of Sheikh Isa Qassem, the country’s most prominent Shi’a cleric and spiritual leader of the al-Wefaq opposition party, who is also now at risk of being forcibly expelled.

  • Amnesty: BAHRAIN: COURT OF CASSATION UPHOLDS DEATH SENTENCE: MAHER ABBAS AHMAD
    January 30,2018
    Amnesty: COURT OF CASSATION UPHOLDS DEATH SENTENCE On 29 January, Bahrain’s Court of Cassation upheld the death sentence imposed against Maher Abbas Ahmad following a trial which relied on “confessions” extracted under torture. If the King ratifies his sentences, he will be at imminent risk of execution.

    The death sentence against Maher Abbas Ahmad, also known as Maher al-Khabbaz, was upheld on 29 January by the Court of Cassation in Manama, the capital of Bahrain. It will be passed on to the King for final ratification. On 15 January 2017 three men were executed, six days after the Court of Cassation upheld their sentences.

    On 11 May 2017, the High Court of Appeal upheld the death sentence imposed on Maher Abbas Ahmad; the life sentences on two men, including his brother; and the 10 year prison sentences against six others which also included two of his brothers, all involved in the same case. On 1 December 2015, the Court of Cassation had overturned Maher Abbas Ahmad’s death sentence on grounds that his “confessions may have been made under coercion” and sent the case back to the High Court of Appeal for review.

    Maher Abbas Ahmad was first sentenced to death on 19 February 2014. He was charged with the premeditated murder of a police officer with explosive materials on 14 February 2013 while he attended a gathering in Sahla, on the outskirts of Manama. Maher Abbas Ahmad told his lawyer that he had been tortured during the first few days he was detained, while he was being interrogated. This included being beaten and threatened. During one hearing, he told the judge that he had been tortured, but no investigation is known to have been launched into his allegations. His lawyer complained that the court had accepted his “confession” as the main evidence against him, as well as the statements of some co-defendants who said they had “confessed” under duress, and testimonies of police officers called as witnesses. According to court documents, the judges said they would accept the defendants’ “confessions” because they believed the confessions were true and that the defendants had sustained their injuries, detailed in forensic reports, when they resisted arrest.

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
    Bahrain resumed executions on 15 January 2017, after a nearly seven-year hiatus. Following a grossly unfair trial, three men, Ali Abdulshaheed al-Sankis, Sami Mirza Mshaima’ and Abbas Jamil Taher Mhammad al-Samea, were executed on that day after their death sentences were confirmed by the Court of Cassation on 9 January. The speed at which the King of Bahrain ratified their death sentences and their executions were carried out was unprecedented in the country. Under Bahraini law, once a death sentence has been confirmed by the Court of Cassation the decision is sent to the King of Bahrain. The latter holds the authority to then ratify the sentence, commute it or grant a pardon. Prior to the 15 January executions, the last person executed in Bahrain was Bangladeshi national Jassim Abdulmanan in 2010.
     
    Maher Abbas Ahmad (also Known as Mahez al-Khabbaz) was tried along with eight men which included three of his brothers. He was sentenced to death while two were sentenced to life imprisonment and the other six were sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.
     
    In May 2014, the Chair Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, the Special rapporteurs on the independence of judges and lawyers, on torture and other cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, wrote to the Bahraini authorities in relation to the sentencing of Maher Abbas Ahmad and called for his conviction to be quashed and for his retria
  • Human Rights Watch: Saudi Arabia: Long Prison Terms for Rights Activists
    January 28,2018
    Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court convicted two Saudi human rights activists on January 25, 2018, solely for their human rights advocacy, Human Rights Watch said today.

    The charges against Mohammad al-Oteibi, sentenced to 14 years in prison, and Abdullah al-Attawi, sentenced to 7 years, included “forming an unlicensed organization” and other vague charges relating to a short-lived human rights organization they set up in 2013. None of the alleged “crimes” listed in the charge sheet resemble recognizable criminal behavior, and none of them took place after October 2013.
     
    “Mohammad bin Salman’s reputation is tarnished by his justice system’s relentless campaign against government critics and human rights activists,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Saudi Arabia should never have jailed al-Oteibi and al-Attawi on spurious charges, and their cases should be raised every time the Saudi government voices their plainly inadequate commitment to reform.”
     
    Al-Oteibi and al-Attawi formed the Union for Human Rights along with two others in April 2013, but they were unable to obtain a license for the group because Saudi Arabia generally did not allow independent non-charity nongovernmental organizations at that time. Al-Oteibi fled to Qatar in March 2017, seeking protection from Qatari authorities, but Qatar deported him back to Saudi Arabia in May. The deportation violated customary international law's prohibition on refoulement – that is, not to forcibly return anyone to a place where they would face a real risk of persecution, torture or other ill-treatment, or a threat to life.
     
    Saudi human rights activists with direct knowledge of the case confirmed the convictions and sentences. Al-Oteibi and al-Attawi can appeal within 30 days.
     
    Less than a month after the Union for Human Rights was formed, and after it issued several statements on social media, members were summoned for investigation. All of the founders promised to close the organization.
     
    Nevertheless, in late April 2013, the group’s founders applied for registration with the Social Affairs Ministry, since reorganized as the Labor and Social Development Ministry. The ministry rejected the application in May.
     
    In the rejection letter, which Human Rights Watch reviewed, the director general of charitable associations and institutions wrote that, “...in studying the application it became clear that it is not in line with the regulation on charitable foundations and associations ... we advise you to await the issuance of the law on civil associations and institutions, which provides for the establishment of civil associations in the area of human rights.” Authorities issued the associations law in November 2015.
     
    Authorities summoned al-Oteibi and al-Attawi again in March 2014, and both pledged to stop issuing statements and reports and not to participate in TV interviews.
     
    According to the charge sheet, al-Oteibi and al-Attawi faced vague charges including for “their participation in forming an association and announcing it before acquiring the necessary license,” and “their participation in drafting, issuing, and signing a number of statements … over internet networks that include offending the reputation of the kingdom.” Al-Oteibi also was charged with “making international human rights organizations hostile to the kingdom by publishing on a social media site false reports about the kingdom...”
     
    Though all the founders signed the pledge to halt all human rights activism, the charge sheet states that after monitoring his compliance with the pledge, “it became clear that [Mohammad al-Oteibi] continued with his previous path and a number of his violations of it were documented…” The “violations” the charge lays out, however, refer only to activities that supposedly occurred prior to the pledge, including “meeting members of and sympathizers with dissolved [Saudi Association on Civil and Political Rights]. The last meeting was on September 14, 2013.”
     
    Since 2014, Saudi authorities have tried a series of peaceful dissidents in the Specialized Criminal Court, Saudi Arabia’s terrorism tribunal.
     
    Authorities have prosecuted nearly all activists associated with the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), one of Saudi Arabia’s first civic organizations, which called for broad political reform in interpretations of Islamic law. A Saudi court formally dissolved and banned the group in March 2013. The members faced similar vague charges, including disparaging and insulting judicial authorities, inciting public opinion, insulting religious leaders, participating in setting up an unlicensed organization, and violating the cybercrime law.
     
    Saudi activists and dissidents currently serving long prison terms based solely on their peaceful activism include Waleed Abu al-Khair, Abdulaziz al-Shubaily, Mohammed al-Qahtani, Abdullah al-Hamid, Fadhil al-Manasif, Sulaiman al-Rashoodi, Abdulkareem al-Khodr, Fowzan al-Harbi, Raif Badawi, Saleh al-Ashwan, Abdulrahman al-Hamid, Zuhair Kutbi, Alaa Brinji, and  Nadhir al-Majed. The activists Issa al-Nukheifi and Essam Koshak are currently on trial.
     
    “Outlandish sentences against peaceful activists and dissidents demonstrate Saudi Arabia’s complete intolerance toward citizens who speak out for human rights and reform,” Whitson said.
  • FIDH: Bahrain: Fears for Nabeel Rajab’s life inside his prison
    January 25,2018

    FIDH said that according to a credible confidential source, Bahraini authorities have planned to interfere with prominent rights activist Nabeel Rajab’s medication in a clear attempt to threaten his security and integrity. The Bahraini authorities should immediately and unconditionally release him.


    “This attempted attack on Nabeel’s health is certainly not random” said today the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH - OMCT partnership), the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Gulf center for Human Rights (GCHR). It falls at a time when the government has tried to keep him under tight surveillance to prevent him from speaking out. The authorities couldn’t stop him from speaking out to defend human rights so they might be looking at other ways to silence him for good. The situation is even more worrisome as Nabeel Rajab needs surgery and has no choice but to take the medication he is given.

    In the last months, a number of prominent dissidents and activists have become seriously ill in detention in Bahrain, and have been denied independent, adequate and trusted care. Authorities have detained, imprisoned, tortured, intimidated, stripped of their nationality, or forced into exile many people who peacefully opposed or openly criticized the authorities’ actions and policies. The authorities have also shut down numerous independent media outlets.

  • Reuters: Bahrain human rights deteriorate as world looks away: activists
    January 25,2018

    Reuters: Human rights in Bahrain have deteriorated significantly in the past year because international pressure on the Gulf Arab kingdom has weakened, activists said.

    “Bahrain is now clearly sliding in a new and very dangerous direction with 37 people arrested yesterday alone,” said Brian Dooley of U.S.-based Human Rights First.

    “The fairly weak level of restraint that was there before has all but gone,” he said, adding that countries influential in Bahrain such as the United States and Britain needed to step up their criticism.

    Bahrain, where the Shi‘ite Muslim majority is ruled by a Sunni Muslim royal family, has pursued a crackdown on opposition activists since quashing 2011 protests calling for democracy.

    Authorities have closed opposition political groupings, revoked dissidents’ passports and arrested suspected militants. Activists say many arrests are for political reasons and breach detainees’ human rights.

    Bahrain, where the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based, denies clamping down on dissent. It says it faces a militant threat backed by arch-foe Iran on the opposite side of the Gulf.

    The Bahraini Embassy in Britain, responding to a request for comment, cited an earlier statement which said that the Gulf state was committed “to transparency and the protection and safeguarding of Human Rights enshrined in the Constitution, as well as in international treaties and obligations”.

    Human rights activists, at a press conference in Lebanon on Thursday, said the situation has taken a turn for the worse with 19 people now sitting on death row, renewed reports of torture in detention and military courts now trying civilians.

    In January 2017 Bahrain executed three Shi‘ite men convicted of killing three policemen in a 2014 bomb attack. They were the first such executions in over two decades, and sparked protests.

    Bahrain is due to hold parliamentary elections in 2018.

    The activists also said they have concerning new information about the health of detained prominent rights campaigner Nabeel Rajab, and demand he be given access to adequate healthcare.

    “Recently alarming signals have multiplied ... regarding his detention condition,” said Dimitris Christopoulos, president of human rights organization FIDH, calling for his release. Rajab is FIDH’s deputy secretary general.

    Rajab, a leading figure in the 2011 pro-democracy protests, has been in and out of detention since that time. He faces up to 15 years in jail over Twitter statements he made about the war in Yemen. A verdict is expected on Feb. 21.

    “Nabeel is in real danger,” said Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman from the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

  • Amnesty Urges Manama To Free Hassan Mushaima & 10 Other Leading Opposition 
    January 18,2018
    Amnesty: Hassan Mshaima, aged 70, a diabetic and former cancer patient, phoned his family on 16 January from Jaw prison, where he is detained, to inform them that his blood sugar had risen to a dangerously high level and that he had not been receiving one of his two prescribed diabetes medications. At the beginning of January, Hassan Mshaima wrote to the prison authorities requesting that his family be allowed to buy him his two diabetes medications for the prison authorities to hand them to him. The prison authorities denied his request stating instead that they would provide the medication without the involvement of his family. Hassan Mshaima was later given one of his medications but not the other.
    Since August 2017, Hassan Mshaima’s diabetes medication has been given to him sporadically. In October 2017, he was denied all medication and a fellow prisoner, who also suffers from diabetes and uses the same medication, shared his with him. In order for Hassan Mshaima to receive his prescription, prison authorities insist that he would have to go to the prison clinic shackled and in prison uniform, which he refuses to do. This practice, aimed at degrading and humiliating prisoners, is contrary to Rule 47 of the Mandela Rules, which states that restraint instruments should only be used as a precaution against escape or to prevent prisoners from injuring themselves or others. Hassan Mshaima suffers from multiple health issues, including heart problems, and as a former cancer patient he requires regular checks-ups such as Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans every six months. His last PET was in September 2016.
    Hassan Mshaima was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2011 after an unfair trial for leading widespread peaceful anti-government protests. In the same case, 12 other opposition activists received sentences ranging from five years to life imprisonment. Two of them have since been released.

    To read the whole article press here
  • Human Rights Watch: Bahrain: Government Stifles Dissent
    January 18,2018
    Bahrain continued its downward spiral on human rights during 2017 as the government harassed, intimidated, imprisoned, and prosecuted human rights defenders and their relatives on charges that should have never been brought, Human Rights Watch said today in releasing its World Report 2018.

    Bahrain’s preeminent human rights defender, Nabeel Rajab, is serving a two-year sentence for speech crimes, a punishment that a Manama appeals court upheld on January 15, 2018.  Rajab faces an additional 15 years in a separate trial on charges that include tweets criticizing the Saudi-led military operation in Yemen. A Bahraini court in May dissolved the secular-left National Democratic Action Society (Wa’ad) after the group condemned the January execution of three men. And in June, the government ordered the suspension of Al Wasat, Bahrain’s only independent newspaper.

    “Bahrain’s tolerance for dissent is approaching vanishing point, erasing whatever progress it made after promising to make reforms following the unrest in 2011,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

    In the 643-page World Report, its 28th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth writes that political leaders willing to stand up for human rights principles showed that it is possible to limit authoritarian populist agendas. When combined with mobilized publics and effective multilateral actors, these leaders demonstrated that the rise of anti-rights governments is not inevitable.

    Bahrain’s authorities placed 20 rights activists, lawyers, and political opposition figures under a de facto travel ban in September that prevented them from attending Geneva meetings in connection with Bahrain’s Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

    According to one human rights group, Bahraini authorities also stripped at least 156 citizens of their nationality in 2017, leaving them de facto stateless. Authorities also enacted a law that allows for the prosecution of civilians in military courts. In 2017, Bahraini courts sentenced to death a total of 14 people, including Sayed Alawi, a civilian engineer, who was one of six sentenced to death by a military court on December 25, 2017, for alleged terrorist activities.

    Two relatives of Sayed Alwadaei, a human rights defender exiled in the United Kingdom, were sentenced to three years and another relative to six years in prison, on terrorism-related charges, despite due process violations and allegations of ill-treatment and of coerced confessions. It was not the first time that Bahraini authorities have targeted relatives to pressure or punish activists in exile.

    The oversight bodies that the government set up in 2012 in response to a recommendation by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, failed to perform their stated mission of investigating credibly allegations of prison abuse. 

  • BFHR: Ongoing Forced Disappearance for 15 Citizens from 7 Villages Continue
    January 17,2018

     Bahrain Forum for Human Rights said that it monitored the continuation of enforced disappearance of 15 Bahraini citizens from 7 Bahraini villages: Diraz, Dair, Sitra, Bilad Al-Qadeem, Samaheej and Jurdab.

    BFHR indicated that 5 citizens have been forcibly disappeared for 34 days, since December 14, 2017 until January 17, 2018. These 5 are: Hamza Al-Safi from Sitra, Ali Khalil Al-Rami and Hassan Abdulhussein Al-Asfour from Diraz, Hussein Ali Mhana from Bilad Al-Qadeem and Mahmoud Abdullah Al-Wazir from Al-Dair.

    The forum pointed out that Ali Hussein Jassim from Diraz has been forcibly disappeared since December 15, 2017. Meanwhile, Bassem Ali Alawi from Al-Nuaim has been forcibly disappeared on December 17, 2017. Hussein Ali Mayouf from Samaheej and Mohammad Abdullah Mansour from Jurdan have been forcibly disappeared since 30 days.

    It also said that 3 citizens: Hussein Ali Al-Shaalan, Baqer Jaafar Abo Ruweis from Diraz, and Salman Abdulhussein Al-Nakhla from Al-Dair have been disappeared since 29 days.

    Bahrain Forum for Human Rights concluded its statement saying that Mohammad Salman from Jurdab has been forcibly disappeared since 27 days and that Abdulrazzaq Ali Mirza from Al-Dair has been forcibly disappeared since 24 days. However, Hussein Hmayed Madan from Diraz has been disappeared since December 31, 2017.

  • BFHR 453 hate-inciting materials by Former MP Mohammad Khaled were observed
    January 13,2018
  • Amensty: Misinformation on Amnesty International in Bahraini embassy report
    January 11,2018
    In response to erroneous statements by the Bahraini embassy in London about the organization’s planned work on Bahrain, Amnesty International clarified its recent discussions with the embassy and urged the authorities in general to respond positively to human rights concerns it raises and to its repeated requests for access to the country for it and other human rights organizations. 
     
    On 5 January 2018, the Bahrain News Agency (BNA) published the annual report of the Bahraini embassy to the United Kingdom entitled, “Tireless efforts to confirm the Kingdom’s presence and to identify its positions and defend its interests”. The report included two paragraphs relating to the embassy’s work “to correct the negative views on the situation of human rights in Bahrain and to clarify the fallacies and negative perceptions circulating in the United Kingdom and other countries covered by the Embassy diplomatically”. It said that “the Bahraini embassy responded to requests for clarification and questions raised by British parliamentarians, human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and others, as well as providing the British Foreign Office with legal updates in order to enable it to respond to any parliamentary inquiries in detail.” 
     
    The report went on to say: “The embassy’s efforts with Amnesty International have yielded positive results, including the organization’s goodwill initiative not to issue any reports on Bahrain’s human rights file until February 2018 and to only briefly address the situation in Bahrain in its annual report, in addition to dedicating two pages to the Kingdom of Bahrain in the organization’s forthcoming report in the month of February in such a way that the Kingdom is able to present any clarifications or responses relating to matters of interest in it.”
     
    The statements are a serious misrepresentation of the outcome of a meeting held between representatives of Amnesty International and the Bahraini embassy in the United Kingdom on 2 November 2017. In addition to specific human rights concerns, including some of those documented in Amnesty International’s report of September 2017, ‘No one can protect you’: Bahrain’s year of crushing dissent, the meeting discussed ways to improve communication between Amnesty International and the Bahraini authorities and specifically the most effective means for the organization to receive responses to requests for clarification relating to its ongoing monitoring of and reporting on human rights violations in the country.
     
    During the meeting, Amnesty International clarified its universal methodology with respect to communications with governments, notably the fact that it seeks clarification about human rights developments or specific cases from relevant authorities in order to reflect any responses received in its publications. At an operational level, Amnesty International agreed to copy in the Bahraini embassy in London to requests for clarifications from government authorities in Bahrain so that it could facilitate the communication process. The embassy committed to help obtain such responses. 
     
    Amnesty International also mentioned that it would be publishing its next Annual Report in February 2018. It clarified that the entries in this report, which covers some 160 countries around the world, are short summaries, typically of around two pages in length, of the human rights situation in each country rather than the product of new research. For that reason, the organization does not tend to
    submit the findings summarized in the entry to the government for response ahead of publication.
     
    In no way did Amnesty International commit not to publish any document related to Bahrain before February 2018, nor to restrict the Annual Report entry on Bahrain to a particular length, nor to submit the entry for comment to the Bahraini authorities before publication, as erroneously indicated by the annual report of the Bahraini embassy in London. 
     
    Subsequent to the meeting of 2 November 2017, Amnesty International submitted requests for clarification on a number of ongoing human rights concerns to both the Interior Minister and Justice Minister in letters sent on 21 November and provided copies of both letters to the Bahraini embassy in London at the same time. Amnesty International was disappointed not to receive a response to the requests despite the assurances it had been given that the embassy would make efforts to obtain responses to such correspondence. Amnesty International was therefore forced to publish its concerns, in a public statement entitled Bahrain: Human rights violations unabated and issued on 21 December, without a response from the authorities. 
     
    In its meeting with the embassy, Amnesty International also raised its concerns that the Bahraini authorities had failed to respond positively to a series of requests the organization had made to visit the country since it was last given access in January 2015. It presented this in a context in which the authorities had denied other human rights organizations access during the same period. It emphasized the point that, if the authorities wished to demonstrate that they were serious about wanting to develop a constructive dialogue with organizations such as Amnesty International, they needed to allow them access to the country to meet government officials, civil society actors and others. The embassy made no mention in its annual report of any efforts it may or may not have made to facilitate access to Bahrain for Amnesty International or others.
     
    Amnesty International has written to the Bahraini embassy to the United Kingdom to raise its concerns about the statements published in its annual report and to request that they should be correct or clarified.
     
     To read the whole article press here
  • Death or Confession": a report by human rights organizations monitors the torture of civilians in Bahrain's first military trial
    December 22,2017

    Death or Confession": a report by human rights organizations monitors the torture of civilians in Bahrain's first military trial

     

    Four Bahraini human rights organizations issued a report under the title of "Death or Confession", a report that monitors the violations due to secret military courts that tried civilians whose confessions were extracted under torture. These civilian were accused of attempting to commit crimes against Bahrain Defense Force, including human rights activist Mohammed Al Mutghawi and Sayed Alawi Husain, who is the personal attendant of the highest religious cleric in Bahrain Shaikh Isa Qassim.



    It is important to note that this is now the first military trial for civilians since the recent legal amendment to the military judiciary.


     

    The human rights organizations participating in drafting and writing of this report are: Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Bahrain Forum for Human Rights, Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR), SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights.



    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) said that "the trial violates fair trial procedures and that some of the accused were subjected to torture and ill-treatment". It added: "The recent constitutional amendment to the military judiciary was used to expose them to a trial that produces harsh sentences, as well as the arbitrariness of punitive sentences against three accused persons arrested as children", explaining that "two of the accused were forcibly disappeared around the year, namely Sayed Alawi Husain and Fadhel Abbas, without being investigated for their enforced disappearance.



    The President of the Bahrain Forum for Human Rights, Baqer Darwish, said that the "judiciary did not investigate the defendants' allegations of torture and ill-treatment. Military courts resorted to intimidating methods to threaten some of the families of victims and lawyers by exposing them to degrading treatment if violations were revealed on the media, or by human rights organizations". He also noted "In view of this, the judiciary has used the decision to secrecy of hearings to commit abuses and to enable those involved in torturing the accused with impunity".



    Asma Darwish, the Head of International Relations in SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights, pointed out that "the right to fair trials is an inherent right of any citizen anywhere and at any time, and no one has the right to violate such rights. incompatible with these inherent rights. Therefore, the decision to try citizens in military courts must be brought to an end because they do not conform to these inherent rights".



    Yahya Al Hadid, President of the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, criticized the "role played by the National Institute for Human Rights (NIHR) by issuing a statement praising the proceedings of the case, while it did not mention in its statement on the 14th of November 2017 that the military judiciary is not the usual judge stipulated in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. That means the NIHR is contributing to the legitimization of the role of the military judiciary in the trial of civilians in spite of its violations to the international Military Justice Law. It also did not have a clear position on the matter of the enforced disappearance of the four defendants".


     

    The report recommended the repeal of the constitutional amendment and the restoration of Article 105 of the Bahraini Constitution as it was; to ensure that civilians are not tried in military courts and to repeal Law No. 12 of 2017 amending the Military Jurisdiction Law, which allowed civilians to be tried by military courts. That is to also open an independent investigation into all complaints of violations in this and other cases, concerning complaints of torture and ill-treatment.


     

    The report also stressed that the UN Secretary-General, the High Commissioner and the members of the Human Rights Council should urge the Government of Bahrain to adopt the basic principles on the independence and application of the judiciary. That is in order to ensure that the Government of Bahrain retracts the trial of civilians in military courts and amends the law. It also urges the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers to request a visit to Bahrain and to call on the Bahraini authorities to accept the request for his visit.

    To read the report click here


  • BFHR publishes monthly report on hate speech: 595 hate propaganda media and incitement in November
    December 21,2017
  • Reuters: Bahrain's Shi'ite spiritual leader undergoes surgery, activists say
    December 08,2017

    Reuters: Bahrain's top Shi'ite Muslim cleric underwent surgery on Friday, activists said, after he was hospitalized following months under virtual house arrest. 

    News of Ayatollah Isa Qassim's fragile health has stoked tension in Bahrain as the Sunni Muslim-led monarchy pursues a crackdown on dissent by majority Shi'ites. 

    "The leading Shia cleric was transferred this morning at 7:30 am to Ibn al-Nafees Hospital to undergo urgent surgery," the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) said in a statement. "Upon his arrival, he went into surgery and he is expecting further operations." 

    Qassim, who is believed to be in his 70s, was suffering constant pain and excreting blood, citing a groin hernia, diabetes and a form of heart disease, the group said on Nov 27. 

    The Interior Ministry said in June 2016 that Qassim's citizenship had been revoked, accusing him of trying to divide Bahraini society, encourage youths to violate the constitution and promote a sectarian environment in the Gulf Arab state. 

    The decision sparked angry protests in Bahrain and drew sharp condemnation from regional Shi'ite power Iran and statements of concern from the United States and Britain. 

    In May, five people were killed when security forces raided Qassim's home village to disperse followers. 

    The Sunni-ruled kingdom -- where the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based -- has pursued a crackdown on members of the Shi'ite community since, with Saudi help, it quashed 2011 "Arab Spring" protests calling for more rights and representation. 

    Authorities have closed opposition political groupings, revoked dissidents' passports and arrested suspected militants accused of being backed by its arch-foe, Shi'ite Iran. 

  • The Bahrain Forum for Human Rights calls for enabling an independent medical body to supervise the health status of Ayatollah Qassim
    December 05,2017
    The Bahrain Forum for Human Rights (BFHR) said that the official positions of the Bahraini government in addition to the security and media measures the government has resorted to in order to mislead the international public opinion with regard to its violation of the right to proper treatment of Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, the highest religious authority for Shiites in Bahrain, confirm the need for enabling an independent medical body to supervise the health status of Ayatollah Qassim. The BFHR also called on the United Nations and the High Commission to pressure and oblige the Bahraini authorities to activate the international censorship mechanisms in this humanitarian issue.
    The BFHR stressed that the security siege and the imposition of house arrest in violation of national and international laws, prevented Sheikh Isa Qassim from having full access to the necessary medical follow-up before going to the Bahrain International Hospital on Monday 12/4/2017, and therefore he suffered some complications. The BFHR reminded medical institutions to abide by the Charter of Honor and medical ethics provided for in Article 26 of Law No. 7 of 1989 with regard to the practice of the medical profession.
  • BFHR:144 hate-inciting materials by journalist Saeed al-Hamad were observed
    October 17,2017
    The Bahrain Forum for Human Rights said that 144 media materials and messages that incite or help to incite hatred against the Shi'a sect (the indigenous component of Bahrain) written by journalist Saeed al-Hamad were detected by following his articles, which are published in Al-Ayyam newspaper, or what he posts on his Twitter account, between April and September 2017.
    The BFHR noted that the level of sectarian and political hate materials which incite political violence published by Saeed al-Hamad increased in May and June, since he was one of the most prominent participants in the provocative campaigns against the peaceful assembly, which was held in the area of Duraz before the security authorities dispersed it using excessive force.
    Some of the terms used by al-Hamad in the published media materials are: Safawi, Magi, spies, group of the roundabout of shame, traitors and other obscene terms that humiliate the indigenous component of Bahrain, the Shiite community, which make up more than 60% of the religious demographic. In addition, he published hate materials against international and local human rights organizations, including High Commissioner Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad al-Hussein. On March 8, 2017, al-Hamad published materials against al-Hussein because the latter criticized the human rights situation in Bahrain in his speech during his review of the annual report at the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council, saying that “repression will not eliminate people’s grievances; it will increase them.”
    The BFHR pointed out that journalist Saeed al-Hamad has been active in delivering hate speeches since the outbreak of the crisis in 2011 on Bahrain TV and afterwards on Al-Ittihad channel, which was closed down on May 31, 2015 because it does not present anything new, as Saeed al-Hamad said on Twitter. The BFHR noted that Al-Ittihad channel used to broadcast only the program “With Saeed al-Hamad”, on which hundreds of hate materials were broadcasted. The BFHR added that to this moment, al-Hamad has not faced any legal liability for his involvement in the dissemination of hate materials, even though the report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry criticized the involvement of official media in broadcasting provocative coverage in 2011.
  • Human rights report: UAE is forcibly deporting Syrian families
    October 13,2017
  • BFHR: 82 media substances against children
    October 12,2017
  • Reuters: In blocking arms to Yemen, Saudi Arabia squeezes a starving population
    October 11,2017

    DJIBOUTI (Reuters) - Late last year, the Kota Nazar, a Singaporean ship with 636 containers of steel, paper, medicine and other goods, set sail to Hodeida, the largest cargo port in war-torn Yemen.

     

    It never got there. Like dozens of other ships carrying food and supplies to Yemen over the past 30 months, the Kota Nazar was stopped by a Saudi Arabian warship blocking Yemen’s ports on the Red Sea.

    Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies have been stationing naval forces in and around Yemeni waters since 2015. Western governments approved the show of military force as a way to stop arms reaching Houthi fighters trying to overthrow Yemen’s internationally recognized government.

    The de facto blockade is exacting a dire humanitarian toll. The Saudi-led coalition’s ships are preventing essential supplies from entering Yemen, even in cases where vessels are carrying no weapons, according to previously unreported port records, a confidential United Nations report and interviews with humanitarian agencies and shipping lines.

    A U.N. system set up in May 2016 to ease delivery of commercial goods through the blockade has failed to ensure the Yemeni people get the supplies they need.

    The result is the effective isolation of Yemen, a nation of 28 million people where a quarter of the population is starving, according to the United Nations. The war has claimed 10,000 lives. Half a million children under the age of five are severely malnourished, and at least 2,135 people, most of them children, have died of cholera in the past six months.

    Aid agencies have ramped up their deliveries of food to some parts of Yemen this year. But Yemen imports more than 85 percent of its food and medicine, and commercial shipments have plunged. In the first eight months of this year, only 21 container ships sailed to Hodeida, according to port data compiled by the U.N. World Food Programme and Reuters. By comparison, 54 container ships delivered twice the volume of goods in the same period last year. Before the war, 129 container ships reached the port in the first eight months of 2014.

    Food and medicine are being choked off. No commercial shipment of pharmaceuticals has made its way to Hodeida since a Saudi-led airstrike destroyed the port’s industrial cranes in August 2015, according to the administrator of the port, which is under Houthi control. In at least one case this year, a blocked commercial shipment contained humanitarian aid as well.

    Representatives of the Houthi movement could not be reached for comment. Yemeni government officials declined to comment.

    Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, the Saudi ambassador to the U.N., denied last week that the coalition was blocking commercial shipments of food, medicine and fuel. Mouallimi said Yemen was receiving humanitarian aid.

    ”I can assure you that no shipment of humanitarian aid is being prevented from reaching Yemen by the coalition or for that matter by the Yemeni government. We have given clearance to all such requests for docking by any ship that carries humanitarian aid to the people of Yemen.

    “We are the largest contributor of aid to the people of Yemen so it doesn’t make sense for us to, on the one hand, be providing that aid and, on the other hand, be blocking it somewhere else.”

    In the cases of the Kota Nazar and 12 other ships examined in detail by Reuters, the Saudi-led blockade turned away or severely delayed vessels carrying aid and commercial goods before they reached Yemeni ports even though the United Nations had cleared the cargo and there were no arms aboard. Seven of those vessels were carrying medicine and food in addition to other supplies.

    Aid shipments are caught in the net. One of the seven vessels was carrying antibiotics, surgical equipment and me