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NI-CO criticised over Police Ombudsman meetings with Bahraini investigators

A human rights group has voiced concern after a company owned by Invest NI facilitated meetings between the Police Ombudsman and investigators from Bahrain.

Reprieve hit out after it emerged that officers from the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in the Persian Gulf nation met with officials from Michael Maguire’s office in a meeting set up by NI-CO (Northern Ireland Co-operation Overseas).

Reprieve said it has obtained correspondence through freedom of information legislation which shows that officials from Bahrain wanted to be briefed on a particular ombudsman case where a PSNI officer had been vindicated.

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British Guns for Hire 'Teach Bahrains to Whitewash Deaths

BRITISH police have advised their Bahraini counterparts on how to “whitewash” deaths in custody, international human rights group Reprieve alleged yesterday.
The guidance was part of a widely criticised multimillion-pound training deal with the Gulf kingdom, where security forces routinely rely on torture and the death penalty, both banned under international law.
Bahrain’s poor human rights record has been highlighted recently by the case of Mohammed Ramadan, who has been held on death row since 2014. His lawyers allege that he was tortured into making a false
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Frontline Defenders - Want Reform in Bahrain? Listen to Human Rights Defenders

The Irish Times this week ran an opinion piece defending the Northern Ireland Policing Board's training and financial support for Bahraini security forces. When rights group Reprieve uncovered that a state-owned Belfast business trained forces in Bahrain that use torture, staff in Northern Ireland who worked on projects aimed at "reforming" Bahrain's criminal justice system went on the defensive. Pauline McCabe argued that “the sharing of experience, best practice and skills” is critical for progress. But organisations and experts in Northern Ireland who want to see reform in Bahrain cannot disregard local rights experts in the process. Instead of defending the surface level reforms of Bahrain's criminal justice institutions, the Northern Ireland Policing Board ought to be consulting with Bahraini human rights defenders. The sheer number of them who have been imprisoned and tortured for their peacefully advocacy makes them experts on the need for criminal justice reform in Bahrain.

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Bahrain Court Overturns Jail Term of Opposition Chief

Bahraini Court of Cassation overturned a nine-year jail term against opposition chief cleric Ali Salman, convicted of inciting hatred and calling for forceful regime change.

The court also overturned three death sentences and seven life imprisonment sentences against a group convicted of killing three police, including an Emirati officer, in a bomb attack more than two years ago.

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Visionary, Defiant and Resilient: Bahrain’s Dissenting Women

The Gulf State of Bahrain is known for its extravagance. Gloating over multi-million dollar investments in tourism, sports and banking, the kingdom does not shy away from showing off with the Grand Prix races, or celebrity visitors the likes of Kim Kardashian. This alone, makes the Kingdom look like a miracle of some sort to many who associate the Middle East with subsequent failures, instability and conflict.

However, what does not make international headlines anymore is a resilient and defiant social movement and creative forms of civil disobedience challenging the kingdom’s legitimacy and holding it accountable to its human rights violations. For decades, but especially since the uprising of 2011, Bahrain housed a call for democracy and fundamental rights, which consequently led to thousands of people jailed and tortured - some even to death. Many continue to be jailed for merely advocating for democracy and fundamental rights. Two things Western democracies have ample support for in theory but not so much in practice, especially outside their borders. The US, and UK, and many other EU states, are the biggest enablers of Bahrain in arms and trade.

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“Al-Khashram”, Lawyer Assigned to Sheikh Qassim’s Case, Is the Bahraini Government’s Yes Man

What is the truth behind the events that took place on Monday (September 26, 2016) during the trial of the Bahraini Shia spiritual leader Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim and two other defendants- the case which is based on accusations of "money laundering" linked to the Shiite religious obligation of Khums (alms).

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Three News Reporters Banned From Working in Bahrain

As of the end of September 2016, at least three Bahrain-based reporters of major foreign news agencies were denied a renewal of their licenses to work in Bahrain, effectively banning them from working. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is concerned about the ongoing and intensifying harassment of independent journalists by the Bahraini government.

Mohammed Al-ShaikhMohammed Al-Shaikh, a photojournalist for Agence France Presse (AFP) based in Bahrain, was notified on 22 September 2016 that his request to renew his permit was denied due to allegedly “biased coverage.” Hence he is prevented from further undertaking his profession. Al-Shaikh has received over 200 international photography awards, one being the Bayeux-Calvados Award for war correspondents by Nikon in 2014 for a series of images taken during pro-democracy protests in Bahrain.


Hasan Jamali, a photographer for the Associated Press (AP), was denied renewal of his license on 15 August 2016 by the Bahraini authorities. On his personal Facebook account he wrote a statement saying, “Hopefully independent journalism will be allowed again in Bahrain soon.”




Nazeeha SaeedNazeeha Saeed, the Bahraini correspondent for Radio Monte Carlo Doualiya and France24, was summoned to the Public Prosecution and notified on  17 July 2016 that she is facing new charges for “unlawfully working in international media.” This incident occurred after Saeed applied for a renewal of  her permission to work for foreign media. She still has not received approval to renew her license from the Bahrain government. Saeed is a torture  survivor, who was tortured in police custody in 2011, where she was blindfolded, punched, kicked, beaten and subject to electric shocks, for covering the  pro-democracy demonstrations during the Arab Spring.


Based on article 88 of Law 47/2002, which regulates the press in Bahrain, all journalists from foreign news agencies who are based in Bahrain, are prevented from freely conducting their profession of covering the news without first acquiring a license from the Information Affairs Authority (IAA), which must be renewed annually.

Since 2011, Bahrain has placed severe restrictions on foreign media access to the country, resulting in the denial of entry to over 100 journalists in efforts to stop international media coverage of the ongoing political and civil unrest in Bahrain.

Bahrain’s actions to suspend the foreign news journalists is in violation of freedom of expression as protected under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Based on the facts and cases above, BCHR expresses its deep concern about the right to freedom of expression being undermined and calls on the authorities of Bahrain to:

  • Allow journalists to conduct their profession and to respect their right to freedom of expression;
  • Cease arbitrarily withholding license renewals; and
  • Drop the charges against journalists who exercise their work.

Charles accused of not caring enough about the 'crushing of dissent' in Bahrain

The Prince of Wales has been accused by a human rights organisation of not caring enough about the "crushing of dissent" in Bahrain as details of his trip to the Gulf state were announced.

Human Rights Watch also criticised the Government, which requested Charles and Camilla tour the region, for standing "squarely and cravenly" behind the Bahrain administration, which has been accused of a string of abuses since pro-democracy protesters were violently suppressed during the Arab Spring of 2011.

Amnesty International UK called on the heir to the throne to speak out about universal values like free speech and open debate when in the Middle East.

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