The Bahrain Center for Human Rights

Press Communiqué

Within the “Reform Project” and among set of legislations violating human rights:

The Bahraini House of Representatives Legislates Banning Defence of Detainees

June 12th, 2006

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) received, with great concerns, the decision of the House of Representatives (HR) to pass a bill governing amendment of Article 246 of the Penal Code. This Article states, after amendments, that “it is punishable, with imprisonment of not more than a year or fine of not more than BD 100, who publishes, with any means (..), names or photographs of those accused, before the final verdict, and without permission from the Public Prosecution (PR) or the relevant court depending on the circumstances. It is also punishable with the same penalty who cooperated with foreign media by providing names and photographs of the those accused”.

It is anticipated that the Appointees (Shura) Council will approve this bill, and later pass it to the King for ratification, for an its issue in form of a law. In return, the accused, their families, and human rights defenders, inside and outside Bahrain, will be completely prevented from the being able to make any move to protect the rights, especially those related to arbitrary detention, or torture, or maltreatment, or unjust prosecutions. This is attributed to the fact that any public activity, to defend the accused, is not possible without declaring their names and photographs, which will be a punishable crime, with imprisonment or fine, after the said amendment.

The course of the House of Representatives (HR) is in complete contrast to a popular campaign, started many years ago, demanding the protection of the detainees of smear, carried out by the security authorities or the public prosecution (PR), by publicizing their names and photographs prior to bringing them to court or the final verdict in the crimes they are accused for. Instead of introducing constraints of the executive authority and the PR in defaming the accused, the HR surprisingly opted to privilege PR and courts in publishing their names and pictures, while banning the accused, families and supporters from such privilege to enable advocating detainees cases inside Bahrain and abroad.

The amendment of Article 246 by the HR comes in a format stiffer than the current one, which includes imprecise phrases, which do not initially ban publishing, as do the amendment passed by the HR. It is to be noted that the current format, before the amendment, prohibits publishing the court deliberations, and empower the prosecution authorities to ban publishing “any news regarding any interrogation in a crime or any of its documents, if the prosecution authorities decided to carry it out discretely away from opponents, or it was banned publishing part of it in consideration for public order, morality or appearance of the truth.

This bill comes after HR has passed other laws which stirred local and international protests, as it violate human rights principles. This includes the enacted “Political Societies” code, the “Gatherings and Processions” bill, which awaits approval of the Appointees (Shura) Council, as well as “Terrorism Combat” code which will be presented soon, enabling pursuit of political opponents with convicts reaching up to death sentence. Unfortunate, that HR is, not only, unable to protect citizens rights by amending legislations, and perform oversight to the conduct of executive, it is approving new legislations which strip basic rights of individuals and groups, obstruct the role of civic societies in promoting and defending those rights. These decisions and their consequences are the bare responsibility of all the Representatives, the political parties they represent, as well as the political the authority which has weakened the HR and is performing its direct influence upon it.

The BCHR is calling for an extensive and urgent campaign in and outside Bahrain to stop this ominous deterioration of the legislative status with regards to freedoms and human rights in the country (Bahrain). The BCHR is also calling all reform concerned parties in the region to benefit from Bahrain experience to evaluate the disfigured circumstances created by the “reform” policies adapted by the regional governments close to the US administration. These policies institute for establishments and pseudo democratic conducts, which us adopted by the authoritarian regimes to constrain and violate human rights. We regret that these conducts is being treated with either silence or advocacy of the US administration and its embassies, which show clearly its double standards between its slogans and policies on the ground.

For information: Nabeel Rajab- Vice president of BCHR Tel: +937-39633399 Email:;