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Bahrain: Continuous Targeting of Bahraini Opposition Former MPs

Bahrain Center for Human Rights condemns the continuous targeting of former Members of Bahraini Parliament because of their political opinions and criticism of government officials and bodies.

Bahrain Center for Human Rights has monitored the cases of former MPs, both Sunni and Shia Muslims, that have been punished in a variety of ways because of their political opinions. It demonstrates the constraints on freedom of expression and opinion against all citizens, including MPs in Bahrain.

Former MP, Jawad Fairooz, a member of al Wefaq opposition party and president of Bahrain SALAM for Human Rights confirmed that he was threatened during his time as MP from 2006 to 2011. Mr Fairooz was warned by a media personality that the State does not accept his activism and questioning of the government, and revenge against him will be sought “sooner or later”. On 2 May 2011, Mr Fairooz was arrested during the severe national security crackdown against anyone who showed support for the popular national demonstrations in February 2011. He was left in solitary confinement for more than 43 days and was subjected to physical and psychological torture before being released in August 2011 (1).

Mr Fairooz further stated that one of the investigators in the security apparatus said to him: “who do you think yourself to question and hold accountable the ruling family figures, even if they are ministers”.

Mr Fairooz was charged in a military court and was sentenced to imprisonment for 15 months in November 2012 after he was charged for an offence relating to freedom of opinion (2). The sentence coincided with the decision by the Interior Minister to strip 31 Bahrainis of their nationality, which included Mr Fairooz. His house was attacked on numerous occasions with Molotov cocktails and his pension fund has been ceased. His family has been targeted too, with his wife being briefly arrested in 2011, and has been harassed at work. Mr Fairooz was travelling outside of Bahrain when his citizenship was revoked, thus forcing him to seek asylum.

Mr Fairooz was not the only MP that was subjected to arrest and torture in the security crackdown in 2011, as another MP, Matar Matar, was also arrested on 2 May 2011 and was tortured as well according to reports (3). He too was released in August 2011 (4).

In November 2012, former MP Jalal Fairooz had his citizenship revoked whilst he was travelling abroad. His wife was targeted at her workplace and his daughter was expelled from her university as a form of retaliation against him.

In September 2013, former MP Khalil Al-Marzooq, the chairman of al Wefaq in Parliament, was arrested. He was detained for more than a month and was released on 24 October 2013 (5).

Further, in May 2014, Osama Al-Tamimi’s Parliamentary membership was revoked. Mr Al-Tamimi was also prevented from accessing his pension fund (6). He was arrested again in October 2014, charged with abusing police officers, with sentencing against him still on-going. His business place was attacked by armed forces in May 2012 after his criticism of the Prime Minister of Bahrain (7).

In December 2014, former MP Sheikh Ali Salman, Secretary General of al Wefaq and leader of the largest parliamentary opposition, was arrested and remains imprisoned following investigations of charges against his political statements (8). On a previous occasion, a tear-gas canister was directed at him, which caused major injuries to another who received the blow. Sheikh Ali Salman has been called in numerous times for investigations since 2011, and was investigated by the Military Prosecution. His house has been repeatedly hit with tear-gas canisters.

On 25 December 2014, former MP, Khalid Abdil-Aal, was called in for questioning by the Public Prosecution because of criticisms he tweeted in April 2014, charging him with the offence of “slandering the Ministry of Interior” (9).

In addition, on 14 January 2015, former MP, Jameel Kadhim, chariman of the consultative council of al Wefaq, was sentenced to 6 months in prison following the charge of “disrupting elections”. The Justice Minister brought forward the case against Mr Kadhim because of tweets he made where he suggested “political money runs in the election” (10).

As a result of this rhetoric, the Inter-Parliamentary Union has described Bahrain as one of the most dangerous of 7 countries in the middle-east for MPs that are active in human rights (11).

Bahrain Center for Human Rights has expressed its grave concerns regarding the absence of freedoms of expression and opinion in Bahrain, and that Bahraini MPs have paid a hefty price for exercising their rights in this regard. What they are experiencing from arrests and judicial-hounding to imprisonment is seen as revenge against their human rights and political activities.

In light of what has happened, Bahrain Center for Human Rights demands the following from the Bahraini Government: 

1- The prompt release of Sheikh Ali Salman and Jameel Kadhim along with all activists, political or otherwise, that are in Bahraini prisons, aswell as to drop the charges against them.

2- Cease revengeful crackdowns against former opposition MPs, which are being carried out in violation of their right to freedom of expression.

3- Ensure that all MPs are able to exercise their rights and duties in inspecting and questioning senior officials in Parliament without fear of reprisals.

 

[1] http://www.redress.org/case-docket/allegation-letter-concerning-jawad-fairooz

[2] http://www.alwasatnews.com/3714/news/read/714144/1.html

[3] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-14439733

[4] http://www.alwasatnews.com/3322/news/read/600526/1.html

[5] http://www.alwasatnews.com/4310/news/read/898764/1.html

[6]http://www.alhurra.com/content/%D8%A5%D8%B3%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%B7-%D8%B9%D8%B6%D9%88%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%A6%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%AD%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%86%D9%8A-%D8%A3%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A9-%D9%85%D9%87%D9%86%D8%A7-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%B3%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%82%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%AE%D9%8A%D8%A9/250040.html

[7] http://www.bahrainrights.org/ar/node/5282

[8] http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/7215

[9] http://www.alwasatnews.com/4493/news/read/947534/1.html

[10] http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/7229

[11] http://www.ipu.org/press-e/pressrelease201412081.htm

Bahraini NGOS Condemning the decision of Germany to deport Bahraini citizen Ahmed Nawar to Bahrain

Five Bahraini human rights organizations, signatories to this joint statement, express their deep concern at the information they received about the intention of the German authorities to deport Bahraini citizen Ahmed Nawar from their territories to Bahrain after examining his asylum application and protection. Nawar, who is a member of a Bahraini targeted political opposition group, has been applying for asylum in Germany since 2015. The signatory organizations fear that Nawar will be at risk if he will be deported to Bahrain, especially with increasing number of cases of activists or detainees who been tortured under interrogation or custody.

Nawar participated in many anti-arbitrary activities in Bahrain during his stay in Germany. He also participated in different media programs, expressed his views on social media, and delivered speeches opposing the Bahraini government's policy. He fears that all these acts will be used against him if he is deported to Bahrain. Nawar has been living with concern since Germany authorities decision to deport him from the court, the local police may implement the decision at any time.

This is not the first time that Bahraini nationals have been deported from countries where they have applied for asylum or taken refuge in order to escape the influence of the security agency in Bahrain. The Dutch authorities deported Bahraini citizen Ali Shuwaikh, who arrived at Bahrain airport late on Saturday 20th October where he was arrested on arrival and transferred to an unknown destination.

In January 2014, Omani authorities handed over Bahraini citizen Sadiq Jafar al-Shaabani, age 31, after being arrested by the Omani intelligence service. According to information obtained by human rights organizations in Bahrain, al-Shaabani was severely tortured in the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) building.

Bahrain National Security Agency responsible for the arrests is considered to be the deadliest body in the country. The results of the investigations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry concluded that this Agency practices torture and physical and psychological ill-treatment like what happens to Abdul Kareem Fakhrawi and Ali Issa Saqr. The fact-finding committee recommended freezing the authorities of this Agency in terms of criminal arrest and investigation and limiting its work to research and investigation. However, the government reintroduced the authority of investigation and re-arrest of this agency since January 2017.

Several international human rights organizations have issued reports confirming the torture and ill-treatment systemically practiced by the security authorities in Bahrain, including Amnesty International, which issued a report in 2017 entitled "No one can protect you", which contained details of claims and complaints of torture, including the case of woman human rights activist Ibtisam al-Sayegh where she been physical tortured and sexual assaulted during interrogation at National Security Agency headquarters in Muharraq in June 2017.   The signatories to this joint statement hold the German authorities responsible for the safety of Bahraini citizen Ahmed Nawar and invite them to reconsider their decision, especially when they tolerates Nawar's torture and inhuman treatment once he deport to Bahrain.

* Bahrain Center for Human Rights * Bahrain Forum for Human Rights * Bahrain German Organization for Human Rights and Democracy * Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights * Salam for Democracy and Human Rights

Bahraini NGOS Condemning the decision of Germany to deport Bahraini citizen Ahmed Nawar to Bahrain

Five Bahraini human rights organizations, signatories to this joint statement, express their deep concern at the information they received about the intention of the German authorities to deport Bahraini citizen Ahmed Nawar from their territories to Bahrain after examining his asylum application and protection. Nawar, who is a member of a Bahraini targeted political opposition group, has been applying for asylum in Germany since 2015. The signatory organizations fear that Nawar will be at risk if he will be deported to Bahrain, especially with increasing number of cases of activists or detainees who been tortured under interrogation or custody.

Nawar participated in many anti-arbitrary activities in Bahrain during his stay in Germany. He also participated in different media programs, expressed his views on social media, and delivered speeches opposing the Bahraini government's policy. He fears that all these acts will be used against him if he is deported to Bahrain. Nawar has been living with concern since Germany authorities decision to deport him from the court, the local police may implement the decision at any time.

This is not the first time that Bahraini nationals have been deported from countries where they have applied for asylum or taken refuge in order to escape the influence of the security agency in Bahrain. The Dutch authorities deported Bahraini citizen Ali Shuwaikh, who arrived at Bahrain airport late on Saturday 20th October where he was arrested on arrival and transferred to an unknown destination.

In January 2014, Omani authorities handed over Bahraini citizen Sadiq Jafar al-Shaabani, age 31, after being arrested by the Omani intelligence service. According to information obtained by human rights organizations in Bahrain, al-Shaabani was severely tortured in the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) building.

Bahrain National Security Agency responsible for the arrests is considered to be the deadliest body in the country. The results of the investigations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry concluded that this Agency practices torture and physical and psychological ill-treatment like what happens to Abdul Kareem Fakhrawi and Ali Issa Saqr. The fact-finding committee recommended freezing the authorities of this Agency in terms of criminal arrest and investigation and limiting its work to research and investigation. However, the government reintroduced the authority of investigation and re-arrest of this agency since January 2017.

Several international human rights organizations have issued reports confirming the torture and ill-treatment systemically practiced by the security authorities in Bahrain, including Amnesty International, which issued a report in 2017 entitled "No one can protect you", which contained details of claims and complaints of torture, including the case of woman human rights activist Ibtisam al-Sayegh where she been physical tortured and sexual assaulted during interrogation at National Security Agency headquarters in Muharraq in June 2017.   The signatories to this joint statement hold the German authorities responsible for the safety of Bahraini citizen Ahmed Nawar and invite them to reconsider their decision, especially when they tolerates Nawar's torture and inhuman treatment once he deport to Bahrain.

* Bahrain Center for Human Rights * Bahrain Forum for Human Rights * Bahrain German Organization for Human Rights and Democracy * Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights * Salam for Democracy and Human Rights

Bahraini education unionist Jalila al Salman given EI’s Mary Hatwood Futrell Award

Following democracy protests in Bahrain in February 2011, al Salman was unjustly imprisoned for six months. She was threatened, beaten and subject to acts of humiliation and torture by the authorities because of her trade union activities. 

Unwavering commitment to democracy, equality and human and trade union rights despite public harassment by authorities

In defiance of the restrictions imposed on her, al Salman has fought, without hesitation, for the rights of teachers in Bahrain to organise free from political interference. She has challenged the authorities in Bahrain to fully respect the rights of teachers in accordance with International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions. 

Following her release from prison, al Salman has continued to be a vocal champion for the rights of teachers and students, despite continued threats, intimidation and detentions.

An ardent campaigner for the rights of women and girls in Bahrain and the region, she has been an active representative and contributor to the Education International (EI) World Women’s Conference, UN Commission on the Status of Women and other meetings to advance the goal of equality for women and girls.

Under al Salman’s leadership, the Bahrain Teachers Association (BTA) is a recognised and vital member of the EI global trade union family. She continues to work to ensure a voice for Bahrain's teachers within EI. She has also contributed to efforts to build EI's regional structures for member organisations within the Arab countries in the Middle East.

Read full article.

Joint Letter by NGOs to Condemn Reprisals facing WHRDs

Ms. Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner

Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; 

Prof. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; 

Dr. Dubravka Šimonović, Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, its causes and consequences;

Ms. Elizabeth BRODERICK, Ms. Alda FACIO, Ms. Ivana RADAčIć (Chair), Ms. Meskerem Geset TECHANE (Vice Chair), Ms. Melissa UPRETI, members of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice; 

Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; 

Mr. José Guevara (chair), Ms. Leigh Toomey, Ms. Elina Steinerte, Mr. Sètondji Adjovi, and Mr. Seong-Phil Hong, members of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; 

18 October 2018

Dear High Commissioner and UN Experts,

The undersigned organisations are writing to urge you to publicly condemn the appalling reprisals facing women human rights defenders Hajer Mansoor, Najah Yusuf and Medina Ali in Bahrain’s Isa Town Prison for women, which we believe are in retaliation to the attention their cases received from the United Nations and British Parliament. Concurrently, our organisations raise grave concern for the total inefficacy of Bahrain’s human rights mechanisms and urge you to publicly call for the end of these punitive measures as well as the immediate and unconditional release of the three women.

On 16 September 2018, Mansoor, Yusuf and Ali were assaultedsoon after the publication of a report by the UN Secretary-Generaland a Westminster Debateraising their cases. The three women had been unjustifiably denied access to religious participation in previous weeks and, before the assault, they were attempting to join their fellow Bahraini inmates in the commemoration of Ashura.

In response, prison guards, led by the head of Isa Town Prison, Major Mariam Albardoli, harshly beat Mansoor, Yusuf and Ali, and then kept them in solitary confinement for two hours. Following the incident, Mansoor was unable to stand and was hospitalised, having suffered a dangerous drop in her blood sugar levels and bruises on her hands and back. In addition Ali says Major Albardoli also punched her on her back in an area without any CCTV monitoring en route to the isolation cell.

Following the assault, authorities have exacerbated their retaliation by applying restrictionson all inmates. Prison conditions have been made unbearable, prompting an inmate to attempt suicide. Family visits must now be conducted behind a glass barrier, which impedes any meaningful contact with family members. Furthermore, inmates are now locked in their cells for 23 hours a day, and their phone calls have been reduced to twice a week, when formerly it was three times a week. These changes significantly reduce the frequency with which families hear updates on the condition of inmates, especially since calls with legal representation are also deducted from allocated calls to family members. We are also concerned that 13 Russian inmates have deemed it necessary to launch a hunger strike to protest prison conditions. We fear that the protest may soon extend to a collective hunger strike of all Bahraini inmates if the situation does not improve.

This collective punishment has triggered international criticism, with members of the UK Parliamentraising concerns and international media outletsreporting on the events. However, we are deeply alarmed by Bahrain’s response. Oversight bodies have thus far failed to support Mansoor, Yusuf and Ali by ensuring they conduct independent investigations into their allegations. Furthermore, the claim of Bahrain’s Ministry of Interiorthat Mansoor “tried to hurt herself by hitting her body and lying on the floor”is implausible. We also condemn the National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR)’sstatementof 2 October which only whitewashedthe assault by Major Albardoli and the prison guards, as “within reasonable use of force”, even though it led to the hospitalisation of an inmate. Their investigation continues by claiming that there was “no case of intentional denial”of basic rights such as family visitations and phone calls, which is in stark contradiction with the testimonyprovided by the three women.

Last month, the UN Secretary-Generaldetailed the “ongoing trend of harassment and intimidation” against representatives of Bahrain’s civil society who cooperate with the UN, and noted the persecution of family members of Sayed Ahmed Al-Wadaei, the son-in-law of Mansoor, who is Director of Advocacy of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD). The timing of these recent reprisals against Mansoor, Yusuf and Ali suggests, once again, a coordinated effort by the Bahraini authorities to avert international criticism by intimidating and punishing prisoners of conscience and human rights defenders.

Bahrain is now a member of the UN Human Rights Council, and while its oversight bodies have completely failed to address the situation, it is vital that you make your position clear by publicly condemning these abusive restrictions, which violate the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.

On 3 October, Mansoor, Yusuf and Ali calledfor the urgent intervention of “UN Special Rapporteurs to stop the violations we are subjected to, and to expose the falsity of the human rights organisations and institutions that follow the regime in Bahrain.” In support of these demands, they began a hunger strike on 14 October, and are now being held at the prison clinic in critical conditions. It is imperative, now more than ever, to use the weight of your office to publicly defend them, by:

a.Issuing a public statement calling for an end to the reprisals against Hajer Mansoor, Najah Yusuf and Medina Ali, as well as the ongoing restrictions on phone calls, family visits and time outside the cell imposed on all inmates;

b.Calling on Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release those women who are imprisoned on politicised charges related to their human rights activities, and those of their relatives;

c.Publicly calling for an independent investigation into the allegation of torture and mistreatment against female prisoners, to ensure perpetrators, including Major Albardoli, are hold to account.

d.Urging the Government of Bahrain, in light of its recent appointment as Member of the Human Rights Council, to strictly abide by its international obligations, including by allowing the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to visit the country.

Yours Sincerely,

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)

Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)

Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)

CIVICUS

European Centre For Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)

Front Line Defenders

Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)

Index on Censorship

The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

Brian Dooley, Senior Advisor, Human Rights First (HRF)

"No to death penalty" conference: 22 Bahraini citizens sentenced to death

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights organized a press conference on the occasion of the "International Day Against the Death Penalty" with the participation of Maharat Foundation. The conference, which was held on 10 October, focused on the death penalty in Bahraini laws and legislation and the judicial rulings in civil and military cases.

The speakers at the conference aimed to demonstrate Bahrain's violation of human rights through this punishment. Bahraini laws contain more than 83 articles. The legal adviser to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Ibrahim Serhan, said that "the number of people sentenced to death is 22, four of whom are sentenced to a final sentence, and four others have been commuted to life”. Serhan add that the treatment of prison guards is very poor and does not amount to international laws that respect human rights. After the amendment of Article 105 of the Constitution in 2017, the Military Justice Act was amended, which made the jurisdiction of the military courts to impose sanctions on civilians, which led to an increase in the death penalty in Bahrain," said Hussein al-Sharif, a representative of Maharat.

The speakers also urged the Government of Bahrain to refrain from implementing such punishment, even if stipulated by the laws, in the same manner as the States that follow this method.

Bahrain Center for Human Rights: Death penalty is a nightmare for Bahraini society

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) issued a statement today, October 10, on the occasion of the World Day against the Death Penalty. On this occasion, BCHR reiterated its request to the Government of Bahrain to sign and accede to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the abolition of the death penalty.

The Center pointed out that "the death sentences have increased in recent years in the courts of Bahrain, especially in cases related to freedom of  opinion and expression in the exercise of political rights. The number of sentenced 22 people, four of them are sentenced to a final verdict and four others were commuted to life sentences. Real fears of the implementation of these provisions, as happened in early 2017, as the government of Bahrain carried out the death penalty against three civilians did not have a fair trial.

"While 137 countries tend to abolish the death penalty, the government of Bahrain is expanding the scope of the legislation and issuing death sentences, and the Bahraini laws and legislation are full of articles that contain the death penalty either in the Penal Code or the Protection of Society from Acts of Terror Law, as the number of articles and items in these laws to more than 83 articles and a sentence of capital punishment.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights concluded its call for the international community, including the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to urge the government of Bahrain to freeze the death trials, and to join the countries that have abolished them.

Bahrain Center for Human Rights

10  October 2018

 

A report by the Bahrain Center reveals violations by the military judiciary of trying civilians

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights issued a new report entitled "Death Courts". The report was issued in Arabic and English to highlight violations of military justice and to try civilians before and after the amendment of the Military Justice Act.

In its report, which coincides with the International Day against the Death Penalty, the Center studies Bahrain's laws, which are a guarantee that the military judiciary does not have the jurisdiction to try civilians. And then explains the amendments to these laws in 2017, which gave these courts the powers to try civilians, after the King submitted a proposal for constitutional amendment to allow such trials under the pretext of combating terrorism. The report also documents the trial of civilians before military courts as well as monitoring and revealing facts about their sessions.

The report concluded with recommendations to the Government of Bahrain urging them to repeal the constitutional amendment and the Military Justice Act, and also calling them to accede to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the abolition of the death penalty. In addition, the center made recommendations to the international community to confront the death penalty and to review the situation of courts in Bahrain.  

Full report here

Bahrain Center for Human Rights: Enforced disappearance is a phenomenon that threatens the security of society

Denying the crime of enforced disappearance will not solve it

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses deep concern over the continuous cases of enforced disappearances since 2017 and 2018. This came as a response to the silence of Bahrain's judicial authorities on the investigation of complaints of enforced disappearance monitored and documented by human rights organizations in Bahrain, including the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, as well as the lack of compensation to the victims for the suffering and torture they have been through.

It is noteworthy that four of the recommendations that were stated in the UPR in May 2017, insisted on the need to urge Bahrain to sign, ratify and join the International Convention for the Protection of Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and harmonize its domestic legislations with this convention.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights believes that the absence of effective laws may be a major cause of the widespread practice of enforced disappearance, especially after the issuance of Decree No. 68 of 2014 amending Article 27 of Law No. 58 of 2006 which allowed the security authorities to detain individuals for 28 days without the need for a court order.

On the occasion of the International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearance, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights called on the Government of Bahrain to:

 

- Implementation of the recommendations stated in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), including signature, ratification and accession to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance

- Repeal of decree 68 of 2014, which allowed the security authorities to detain persons for 28 days without the guarantee of the accused to meet with his lawyer

- The trial of officials and perpetrators of the crime of enforced disappearance within the security system

- Appropriate Compensation for victims of enforced disappearance and their families for the suffering that was caused by this arbitrary measure.

The Round Table: The Crime of Enforced Disappearance

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) organized in cooperation with SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights the “Round Table” in Beirut entitled “The Crime of Enforced Disappearance” on the occasion of the the International Day Of The Victims Of Enforced Disappearances which happens to be tomorrow. A number of international human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International, MAP and MAHARAT, in addition to lawyers, participated in the round table.

The round table consisted of five axes; the first one defined the enforced disappearance and the conditions for its realization. The second talked about the importance of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. The third axis discussed the role of civil society in combating the crime of enforced disappearance. The fourth axis presented Bahraini laws and legislation that contributed to the crime of enforced disappearance. Finally, The Round Table ended with the fifth axis, which highlighted the state's responsibility for the crime of enforced disappearance.