BCHR Letter to the High Representative Catherine Ashton re Spy Gear Abuses
30 August 2011
Dear Ms. Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is writing to you to express its serious concern about the report published by the American magazine (Bloomberg) showing that European companies sold surveillances technologies known as Spy Gear which have been used in countries that practice human rights abuses against activists and politicians; tracing their calls and messages and then torturing them in violation of human rights laws and treaties signed by these countries. The Kingdom of Bahrain is one of those countries, and as stated in the Bloomberg report, the Bahraini rights activist, Mr. Abdul Ghani Al Khanjar said that he was subjected to systematic torture while in detention from August 2010 until February 2011; his jailers showed him records of mobile phone calls and text messages while he was interrogated with cruel and degrading treatment.
BCHR stands against human rights violations that occur against any person in the Kingdom of Bahrain. We send you this letter urging you to start immediate and impartial investigations on the sales of such equipment and technology to countries that have records of mass human rights violations against activists and politicians, such as Bahrain. We understand that five European MPs have also requested an investigation  into the sale of surveillance systems to the government of Bahrain. We support their calls for an investigation into whether this technology has been used in the commission of offences.
BCHR welcomed your condemnation of the violations and brutal repression committed by the Bahrain authorities in dealing with peaceful protesters and their legitimate demands since February. We would like to call on the EU to take further part in preventing violations of human rights in our country. Therefore, we recommend the following steps:
- An investigation into the issues raised by the Bloomberg report.
- Urging those countries and companies developing such technology to stop supplying it to states that do not comply with international human rights norms and practices.
- Sending a letter urging the government of Bahrain to achieve neutral investigations in these cases of torture and the illegal use of technology to track and monitor human rights activists and politicians.
Mr. Nabeel Rajab President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Manama – Bahrain