30 Oct, 2009

BCHR:Bahrain-The Public Prosecution and its Violations to Human Rights

A Report on its Role in Obstructing, Harassing and Targeting Human Rights Defenders and Political Activists: Bahrain-The Public Prosecution and its Violations to Human Rights The Bahrain Center for Human Rights September 2009 "Prosecutors, as essential agents of the administration of justice, shall at all times maintain the honour and dignity of their profession" Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors- Adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is deeply concerned for the grave role the Public Prosecution is playing in the cases related to public activities and peaceful protests.

The Prosecution did not the play the role of the honorable opponent in many of the cases, as it is mandated to do. Yet, it kept in line with the results and coincided with the suspicious investigations that were carried out by the intelligence agency or what is known as the "National Security Apparatus", and it worked on pressurizing the defendants to repeat the confessions that are believed to be taken under torture during their stay in the investigation offices and centers of the National Security Apparatus. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights has documented many testimonies that confirm that some of the detainees faced torture in the hallways of the Prosecution building, and that the heads of the Prosecution threatened the defendants and coerced them to admit and sign confessions that have been prepared in advance, or threaten to take them back to investigation and torture centers to force them to do so. What adds to the concerns of the BCHR is the participation of the Prosecution in the blatant violations to the rights of the defendants by denying their testimonies or disregarding the torture marks that were usually apparent on their bodies due to what they faced during the initial period of detention. The Prosecution has also violated the law more than once, when it is supposed to be the body that contributes in applying and maintaining it. As an example, it approved the display of the confessions of the detainees in what was dubbed as "Al-Hujjairah" case on the State television. These confessions were extracted during the interrogation period, before the beginning of the trial and before charging them. They were, later, proved to have been manipulated with the complicity of the Prosecution and that they (The confessions) were been extracted under torture. At the time, the Public Prosecution (PP) is lenient with the arrest procedures, the gravity of charges and punishments in the criminal cases that are related to the possession of weapons, major drug trafficking offenses or sexual assaults on children, it has been overly stringent with the procedures and charges when the matter relates to detainees accused of participating in public activities or protests of the Shiite community.

The BCHR envisages that the above-mentioned violations of the Public Prosecution are due to the intervention of its actual work with the security bodies, the National Security Apparatus in particular. Also, the background of most of the members of the PP come from military and security institutions who dealt with such detainees during the public protests in the past, and were involved in human rights violations. The BCHR, therefore, does not expect the Public Prosecution, in light of its current structure, to play the role it is mandated to do; achieving justice, especially in the political and human rights issues, and those stigmatized by the Authorities as "destabilizing security" due to its relation with the public protests. Structure and Mandates of the Public Prosecution Until 2002, the Public Prosecution was called the Office of Attorney General and was part of the Ministry of Interior and under the direct supervision of the Minister of Interior himself, according to the reorganization plan of the Ministry of Interior, prescribed by Decree no. 29 of 1996 [1]. As per Article 6 of the Criminal Procedures Decree no. 46 of 2002, promulgated on 23 October 2002, " the term 'Code of Criminal Procedure' replaces the term 'Code of Penal Trials Procedures ', the term 'Public Prosecution' replaces the term 'office of Attorney General ', and the term 'Public Prosecutor' replaces 'Attorney General'… wherever they appear in laws and regulations in force" [2]. It is apparent from the phrasing that Article that the title of "Attorney General" was changed but there was no indication to the formation of an independent organization. Rather, it reinforced the belief that what happened was a change in the official hierarchy (where the organization belongs to) of the body which was renamed as Public Prosecution – such that it is a subordinate of the Ministry of Justice instead of being the Ministry of Interior. It is to be noted that both ministries are headed by a member of the ruling family, who are also members of the Supreme Defense Council (SDC) which sets the foreign and internal security policies. SDC is made up of 14 political leaders and ministers, all of them are members of the ruling family. It is evident that the presence of the Attorney General (AG) under the supervision, guidance and administration of the Ministry of Interior ensures the loyalty of its members to the security bodies and the Executive Authority. The AG was not expected to stand as an opponent in any of the cases against any member of the Security and Executive Authorities. This would include cases of torture and abuse against members of the security bodies, extrajudicial killings inside and outside prison, and what was deemed as crimes against humanity by any of the employees of the Ministry of Interior. In the Judicial authority's amendments, as prescribed in Decree no. 42 of 2002, the authority specified a special section for the Public Prosecution in the fourth chapter of the law where it considers it, "an integral part of the divisions of the judicial authority, exercises the functions that are prescribed legally, and can exclusively initiate the criminal procedures unless otherwise stated in the law". "The Minister of Justice shall control and supervise the Public Prosecution and its members. The Public Prosecution members follow their heads according to their ranks, and they act on behalf of the Attorney General in practicing their jobs, and they all follow the Minister of Justice". The fact that majority members of the Public Prosecution were originally employees of the Ministry of Interior (See below), except for those who joined the Prosecution after it was formed (renamed), was evident on their performance, attitude and inclination in dealing with a security and military mentality. This was proven by the testimonies of those arrested in the cases of public protests.

This background and structure of the Public Prosecution in the senior positions starting from the Attorney General, prosecutors and heads of prosecution led directly to fixing charges – coercively – against anyone detained by the security apparatuses. The role of the Prosecution (PP) focuses on arranging confessions prepared in advance and working on documenting its details with the ones presented by the security and intelligence apparatuses in the interrogation and torture centers. Moreover, the PP works on searching for articles of the existing laws that would criminalize the detainees based on those charges and following it up in the Courts. The Public Prosecution basically relies on the evidences and testimonies prepared by the security apparatuses and tries to comply with it even during the interrogation with the detainees which is usually at midnight or at dawn. It also insists on denying all the violations of those apparatuses as well as the abuse and torture whose effects are usually apparent on the bodies of the detainees. This runs completely counter to the Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors adopted by the Eighth UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, where Article (3) states that "Prosecutors, as essential agents of the administration of justice, shall at all times maintain the honour and dignity of their profession". In addition, Article (16) asserts that "When prosecutors come into possession of evidence against suspects that they know or believe on reasonable grounds was obtained through recourse to unlawful methods, which constitute a grave violation of the suspect's human rights, especially involving torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or other abuses of human rights, they shall refuse to use such evidence against anyone other than those who used such methods, or inform the Court accordingly, and shall take all necessary steps to ensure that those responsible for using such methods are brought to justice." What is striking is that all cases that were related to public protests, usually linked by the Authorities with the internal security, which involved prosecuting well known activists and human rights defenders been taken over by PP heads who had military or security positions in the past. This in turn was reflected on the manner they dealt with the accused and their transgressions as well as the violations of the standards and internationally known values of the Public Prosecution, as will be detailed later. No doubt that the tribute received by the PP members by virtue of the superior positions in the judicial authority, issued by royal orders and decrees, will ensure their permanent loyalty to the authority. This justifies the Prosecution's (or previously the Office of Attorney General) inclination to secure the criminalization of the political opponents and defenders of human rights before the state courts, where the Public Prosecution and Judiciary – which is also biased and not independent – are in accordance with each other at the expense of the defendant who is always the victim. Some Members of the Prosecution and their Jobs Background 1. Ali Fadhl Al-Bu'ainain –Attorney General at the rank of a minister – was working as an officer in the Office of Attorney General at the Ministry of Interior. He was then appointed as vice-president of the security committee, formed during the unrests of the nineties. This committee has been accused of exposing the activists and detainees to torture, which in some of the conditions, led to permanent physical and mental disabilities, and to extrajudicial killing in several documented cases. At the rank of a Colonel, Al-Bu'ainain later held the position of Director of Department of Legal Affairs, which subsides directly under the Minister of Interior according to Decree no. 29 of 2003 on the organization of the Ministry of Interior. He represented the Ministry of Interior in various official committees at the local and regional levels, the last of which was the security committee formed by the Prime Minister on 19 October 2004 to study the causes of "crimes" in that period [3]. Five days after the previous resolution, he was appointed by a Royal Order dated on 24 October 2004 in the Public Prosecution in the rank of First Lawyer, which is equivalent to Deputy, the Court of Cassation [4]. In September 2005, another Royal Order was issued to appoint Al-Bu'ainain as Attorney General at the rank of a minister [5]. 2. Hameed Habib – General lawyer in the Public Prosecution – worked as a researcher in the office of General Attorney at the Ministry of Interior, then head of legal affairs at the Northern Governorate which is a subsidiary of the Ministry of Interior. Habib was appointed in 2005 in the post of Head of Prosecution type (A), which is at the rank of a head of High Court. 3. Ahmed Al-Dossery – General lawyer in the Public Prosecution – worked as an officer in the Criminal Investigations Bureau at the Ministry of Interior. 4. Nawaf Abdullah Hamza – General lawyer in the Public Prosecution – worked as an officer in the Minister of Interior before joining the Public Prosecution. Hamza was appointed in 2003 as a deputy Attorney General [6], then in 2005 [7] and 2007 [8], respectively, in the post of head of prosecution type (B) in the rank of a judge then a deputy at the High Court. 5. Osama Ali Jassim Al-'Oufi – Head of Prosecution – worked as an officer at the Ministry of Interior before joining the Public Prosecution. He was appointed in 2003 in the post of a deputy of the Attorney General. Al-'Ofi was promoted in the years 2005 and 2007, respectively, to the post of Head of Prosecution type (B) in the rank of a judge then as a deputy at the High Court 6. Nawaf Mohammed Hamad Al-Mu'awda – Head of Prosecution – worked as an officer at the Ministry of Justice before moving to the Public Prosecution. He was appointed in 2003 as deputy of the Attorney General. It is worth mentioning that in a period that does not exceed five years more than 20 deputies to the attorney general were appointed, before promoting some of them to the rank of a judge or head of prosecution. In the same period, more than 25 were appointed as assistant to the Attorney-General. The criteria of recruitment depend on their acquaintances and relations with some officials in the Public Prosecution, the Ministry of Interior or Ministry of Justice. What is also noted in the recruitments in the Public Prosecution is the high pace in the promotions to hold senior positions. Paragraph (A) of Article (2) of the Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, states, "Selection criteria for prosecutors embody safeguards against appointments based on partiality or prejudice, excluding any discrimination against a person on the grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, social or ethnic origin, property, birth, economic or other status, except that it shall not be considered discriminatory to require a candidate for prosecutorial office to be a national of the country concerned".

Before the full establishment of the PP, non-Bahraini employees were recruited with temporary contracts, on the expense of the qualified Bahrainis whose political loyalty to the authority is not guaranteed. Since 2003 and until the re-location of members of the former attorney-general office of the MOI to their new post at the Ministry of Justice, a group of legal advisers of Arab nationalities, the majority were Egyptions, were taking the posts of the public prosecution. Some of those names are: · Mohammed Rafat Mustafa Barghash who was a senior general lawyer. · Ahmed Ra'fat Abdul-Mune'm Shenaishen who was a senior general lawyer · Shareef Hasan Abdullah Shadi at the post of general lawyer · Mukhtar Ahmed Ibrahim Mahmood who was head of prosecution type (A) · Mahmood Mustafa Mursi Al-Daqqaq as head of prosecution type (A( · Ashraf Kamal Abdul-Haleem Abdullah as head of prosecution type (B( · Hani Ahmed Fahmi Darwish as head of prosecution type (B( · Wajeeh Kamal Hasan Abadha as head of prosecution type (B( Violations of the Prosecution The BCHR received numerous complaints and reports on the Public Prosecution's gross violations of human rights. These will be briefed highlighting the most flagrant and taking into consideration the reservation to publicize the names of detainees and lawyers who contributed in documenting these violations for their own safety. However, the Center will be ready to provide and announce those names and the details in any investigation carried out by an independent body. Noteworthy, the Prosecution was recently accused of manipulating the testimonies of prosecution witnesses in some of the cases which proves that the corruption has penetrated into those institutions that are initially accused of prejudice. Following are some of the violations of the Prosecution that have been documented: Late Night Interrogations Many victims and detainees complained that the Public Prosecution interrogated them at very late hours of the night or at dawn, and usually, after questioning for long hours and exposing them to torture and ill-treatment by members of security apparatuses. The last episode which involved such act was the Prosecution's interrogation to children in Salmaniya Hospital who were fired upon in Sanabis by members of the Special Forces. The children and their families indicated to the local press that the interrogation was in their rooms at the hospital, without the presence of a lawyer, started at about half past twelve after midnight and ended at dawn. This was also the case with the detainees of the events in December 2007, December 2008, and the detainees of Karzakan and Ma'ameer who were all interrogated at late hours at night. Interrogation without the Presence of Lawyers There have been numerous cases in which the detainees were brought to the Prosecution very late at night, without the knowledge of their families or lawyers. Testimonies confirmed the persistence of the detainees to summon their lawyers during the interrogation in the Public Prosecution; however the prosecutor usually denies their request on the grounds that it is too late in the night to summon the lawyers. The prosecutor then insists on initiation and continuing the interrogation without any form of legal representation. This was the case with the detainees of December 2007 and the detainees of 2008, as well as the detainees of Karzakan. Article (12) of the Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors, states, "Prosecutors shall, in accordance with the law, perform their duties fairly, consistently and expeditiously, and respect and protect human dignity and uphold human rights, thus contributing to ensuring due process and the smooth functioning of the criminal justice system." Threatening and Forcing the Defendants to Sign Ready Confessions- Torture in the PP building Detainees and victims of torture confirmed that heads of prosecution threatens or shouts at them to coerce them to admit or sign ready confessions that correspond with the confessions that have been extracted under torture. In case the defendant refuses to sign, the prosecutor threatens the detainee to call for his return to the same place he was interrogated for more torture. This has been confirmed by more than one detainee. Some even asserted that the prosecutor keeps the door of his office opened during the interrogation and allows the intelligence officer, who is in charge of the torture, and usually accompanies the detainee, to stand by the door to terrify him and force him to sign the ready statements taken under torture. Testimonies of some of the detainees indicated that those who refused to sign ready statements presented to them by the head of prosecution were returned to the detention centers to face a share of torture, before being returned and forced to sign the prosecution papers without having the chance to read it or know what confessions were made against himself. Other detainees testified that they refused to sign ready statements prepared by the prosecutor, and those were not returned to the detention centers again, but were taken to a room next to the Prosecution representative. Those detainees were faced with beating and kicking within earshot and in full view of the prosecutor. This has negatively impacted many detainees, who already experience a state of terror as soon as they enter the Prosecution building, where they are abused and ill-treated. Such attitude hastened them signing to sign confessions that prepared in advance by prosecutors without having seen its content.

These shameful acts of the Public Prosecution body contradict all the international standards, its members should abide by, particularly Articles (12) and (16) of the Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors that have been referred to above. Violating and Breaking the Law The Prosecution violated the law more than once by using authorities it is not even entitled to. At the end of the year 2008, in what was known as "Al-Hujjairah Plot", the Prosecution agreed to the request of the National Security Apparatus (NSA) to publicize the confessions and identities of those detained, during the period of arrest and investigation, while their case had not been transferred to the court yet. The Ministry of Information and some local newspapers, based on the approval of the head of prosecution directly responsible for the case, published the confessions which were recorded and broadcasted on Bahrain TV channel and in the newspapers without the knowledge or consent of the detainees or their lawyers. Hence, the Prosecution conspired with the National Security Apparatus in criminalizing those detainees in the public view before presenting their case to court, which is incompatible with the articles of Decree Code no. 46 of 2002 of the Criminal Procedures and that of Penal Code no. 15 of 1976 in revealing the identity of the defendants, exposing and ruining their reputation, let alone the effect it has on the course of justice by utilizing the media. The Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors in the Criminal Proceedings indicate, in Article (13), on the necessity of "Keep matters in their possession confidential, unless the performance of duty or the needs of justice require otherwise; Consider the views and concerns of victims when their personal interests are affected and ensure that victims are informed of their rights in accordance with the Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power". Overlooking Torture Cases and Opposing Independent Medical Reports Testimonies of detainees as well as some of their lawyers have recurred that Prosecution representatives overlook the documentation of torture cases which are usually fresh in front of them, or when the detainee expresses orally and/or by showing the torture scores which are apparent on his body. These signs on the detainee were due to the ill-treatment to extract forced confessions he was exposed to when he was at the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) or in the Police Fort- NSA Headquarter. Moreover, the Prosecution took a negative stance in dealing with the reports of the medical committees and was defending the security apparatuses and their violations, abuse and torture which were mentioned by more than one detainee and in more than one case. The Prosecution considered a default position of challenging and questioning those testimonies and reports, at a time where it was supposed to initiate an immediate investigation n the torture claims and present to the court those proven to practice torture. Article (15) of the Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors, states, "Prosecutors shall give due attention to the prosecution of crimes committed by public officials, particularly corruption, abuse of power, grave violations of human rights and other crimes recognized by international law and, where authorized by law or consistent with local practice, the investigation of such offences." The Role of the Public Prosecution While it is expected from the Prosecution body to be an honorable opponent, the attitude of the members of this organization, their security and military background which is characterized by trying to exhibit their loyalty to their subordinates as well as their prejudice. This has revealed a repetitive tendency of the Public Prosecution to search for legal articles that criminalize activists and human rights defenders, after the success of the latter and their activities in compelling the authorities and exposing their systematic violations. The case of the young man, Hasan Ali, who was accused of publishing information about the NSA – and was sentenced on 16 September 2009 to three years imprisonment – has disclosed the Public Prosecution's intentions in targeting human rights defenders and the attempt to incriminate them. This highlights the role and conduct of the Prosecution which disregarded all complaints filed by the activists on smearing their reputation and the harassments practiced by those who are servile to the security apparatuses, (among the complaints that the Prosecution have disregarded: the smearing campaign by using SMS messages from mobile phones in December 2005 against Sheikh Ali Salman – Secretary General of Alwefaq Society, as well as against Mr. Hasan Mushaima – Secretary General of Haq Movement in February 2006, in addition to various harassments and threats to Mr. Nabeel Rajab – president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights- and his wife since 2005).

The Prosecution strived to criminalize activists by using laws that violate rights and which are locally and internationally condemned because they contradict the most basic standards of human right (Gatherings Code, Penal Code, Counter Terrorism Law, Civic Societies law and others). This achieved with the support of the Bahraini judiciary which is known for its lack of independence or impartiality. The Demands of the BCHR Based on the above, and in order to achieve justice and secure its proper function and integrity, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls for the following: 1. The Public Prosecution body should comply and adhere with the international standards related to its function and duties, in particular and foremost the Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors adopted by the Eighth UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders in September 1990. 2. Changing the current team of the Public Prosecution, starting from the Attorney-General and including heads of prosecution and prosecutors, and to recruit a specialized and experienced team with a good repute, and whose record is devoid of any connection with the security or military apparatuses or previous records of violations of human rights. 3. Reinitiating the interrogation in all the cases mentioned earlier, in which the Prosecution played an active role in convicting the activists and subjecting them to torture, abuse or illegal procedures that contradict the international standards to which Bahrain vowed to adhere to. 4. To lift the immunity of the current members of the Prosecution and present the perpetrators to the court for the charges of: - Conspiring with the intelligence and security apparatuses - Concealing the violations of human rights and the detainees - Transgressions that amount to crime against humanity, public right and the right of the defendants.

References: [1] www.legalaffairs.gov.bh/Portals/0/Dept_LegalLaw/D2996.htm [2] www.legalaffairs.gov.bh/Portals/0/Dept_LegalLaw/L4602.htm [3] Premier Council Resolution no. 44 of 2004 to form a security committee and define its terms of reference on 19 October 2004 [4] Royal Order no. 34 of 2004 to appoint senior general lawyer at the Public Prosecution on 24 October 2004 [5] Royal Order no. 30 of 2005 to appoint of the Attorney General on 24 December 2005 [6] Royal Order no. 5 of 2003 to appoint members of the Public Prosecution on 28 January 2003 [7] Royal Order no. 16 of 2005 to appoint heads of prosecution types (A) and (B) on 9 July 2005 [8] Royal Order no. 27 of 2007 to appoint heads of prosecution type (B) on 4 October 2007

Contact the Bahrain Center for Human Rights:

E-mail: info@bahrainrights.org

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25 Oct, 2009

Reporters Witthout Borders: Internet Enemies

Internet Enemies “The 12 ‘Enemies of the Internet’ - Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam - have all transformed their Internet into an Intranet in order to prevent their population from accessing ‘undesirable’ online information,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“All these countries distinguish themselves not only by their ability to censor online news and information but also by their virtually systematic persecution of troublesome Internet users,” the press freedom organisation said. Reporters Without Borders has placed 10 other governments “under surveillance” for adopting worrying measures that could open the way to abuses. The organisation draws particular attention to Australia and South Korea, where recent measures may endanger online free expression.

“Not only is the Internet more and more controlled, but new forms of censorship are emerging based on the manipulation of information,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Orchestrating the posting of comments on popular websites or organising hacker attacks is also used by repressive regimes to scramble or jam online content.”

A total of 70 cyber-dissidents are currently detained because of what they posted online. China is the world’s biggest prison for cyber-dissidents, followed by Vietnam and Iran.

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Bahrain Bahrain has one of the region’s highest levels of Internet penetration, alongside Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. However the struggle launched by the government against sectarianism has limited access to some websites. The information ministry, with which websites have had to register since 2005, on 14 January 2009 ordered the country’s access providers to block some political and commercial content, specifying that it alone had the power to go back on the decision.

Since then, websites that provide help in getting round censorship have also been inaccessible. As a result, Internet users cannot go on to some pages on social networking sites such as Facebook, seen as critical of government policy, along with 66 other websites dealing with human rights or politics. The information ministry however conceded that some blocking did result in “technical errors”. In order to fight censorship, Bahraini bloggers have devised their own code of ethics, finalised on 14 August 2008. This code of conduct should help limit proliferation of incitement to hatred online. The code says, “We reject all writing or allusions containing a sectarian message, incitement to hatred, abuse of freedom of worship or belief”.

While a new draft law is under discussion allowing the authorities to shut down websites without recourse to the courts, the government has decided to strengthen its policy of holding on to people’s personal details in the name of national security. Bahrain’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) on 25 February 2009 launched a public charter for Internet regulation. Aimed at operators authorised to provide Internet, it will define technical methods needed to “guarantee national security”. Under this charter, and also article 78 of the telecommunications law, operators must offer “legal and secure” Internet access. They also have the obligation to allow “security organs to access the network for national security reasons”. They have until 26 March to make any representations to the authorities.

http://www.rsf.org/en-ennemi26083-Bahrain.html

14 Oct, 2009

Gulf Times:Bahrain court acquits 19 of policeman’s murder

Bahrain court acquits 19 of policeman’s murder Tuesday13/10/2009October, 2009, 11:58 PM Doha Time

A Bahraini court yesterday acquitted 19 Shias charged with murdering a policeman, a rights activist and a prosecution official said. “They were considered innocent by the High Criminal Court,” said Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, who attended the trial. “The public prosecution will study the judgment, and after that it will decide whether it will appeal or not,” an official at the public prosecution office said. “We believe in the justice of Bahraini courts,” an official at the ministry of interior said. The 19 were charged with murdering a policeman by throwing petrol bombs into his car in a Shia village in April 2008.

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Villagers not guilty of policeman's murder Mazen Mahdi, Foreign Correspondent Last Updated: October 13. 2009 11:39PM UAE / October 13. 2009 7:39PM GMT

MANAMA // In a surprise verdict yesterday, a Bahraini court acquitted 19 men accused of killing a policeman last year in the Shiite village of Karzakan, after ruling the government case against them lacked incriminating evidence.

The men were accused of killing a Pakistani policeman during clashes in the village in April 2008 after they allegedly threw Molotov cocktails at the unmarked police car he was in as he patrolled the streets.

Opposition groups, who see the accused as victims of government persecution and the rioting as a result of official discrimination against Bahrain’s Shiite community, hailed the verdict.

The Bahraini government brought murder charges and attempted murder charges – because two other officers survived – against the men based on confessions it obtained from them. The men alleged the statements were made under torture.

The high criminal court, in its ruling, said it did not find the testimony of the two surviving officers “comforting enough” and that the testimonies of witnesses produced by the defence were more solid.

The court also based its judgment on the medical examiner’s testimony, which found that the death of the policeman, Majid Asghar Baksh, 24, to be the result of a head injury sustained as a result of a fall and not the Molotov cocktail attack.

The case is one of two clash-related deaths being reviewed by courts. In the other, 10 men stand accused of taking part in an attack in March of this year in Maamer, a Shiite village, on a civilian pickup vehicle during clashes that resulted in the death of a 58-year-old Pakistani man. It is believed the men thought the pickup was a private security vehicle.

Mohammed al Tajer, the head of the 15-lawyer defence team for the Karzakan detainees, described the ruling as one that proves the independence of the Bahraini judiciary, despite his earlier criticisms that the court was biased.

“We were confident that we will win the case because it is impossible to have 19 people [in the middle of a riot] come to an agreement to kill one person and because we had brought forward enough evidence to disprove the government allegations.”

He said he was hopeful that the court on November 17 would also find the 10 suspects from the Maamer case not guilty.

The judgment came as a blow to the credibility of the security services training and investigational procedures, but human rights and political activists said the ruling proved the independence of the judiciary system.

Abduljaleel al Singace, a spokesman for the opposition Haaq Movement, described the decision as a wise one that helped the country steer clear of entering a “dark tunnel” of government repression.

Opposition groups had warned of the “uncertain future” and possible political and social upheaval in the case of a harsh judgment, a warning that had been repeated since June as talks to mediate a settlement with the families of the two men killed failed and an April pardon did not materialise.

Two weeks ago, opposition groups in a joint statement called for the release of all the detainees, describing it as the “best path to maintain the stability and security of the country by moving it away from the security solutions approach which only generates violence and confrontation in which all lose”.

The statement also repeated the position taken by the opposition that both cases had major contradictions on the level of the evidence presented to the court and the indications that the detainees’ statements taken during investigation were extracted under duress.

In April, Bahrain’s king, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa, issued a pardon for 178 detainees and wanted men – including four key Shiite opposition figures – arrested between December 2007 and March of this year standing accused of security related charges, as part of an effort to reduce tensions with the Shiite community.

The pardon was the result of secret negotiations led by the Shiite opposition group Al Wefaq, which has 17 members in parliament. The 29 suspects from Karzakan and Maamer were said to be included in the deal.

However, in June, Al Wefaq accused elements in the government of obstructing the final stages of a compensation agreement with the families that would have secured their release before the two cases resumed in courts.

On Monday, Al Wefaq warned of a return to unrest if the two court cases continued, less than 24 hours before the court was expected to issue its verdict in the Karzakan case.

mmahdi@thenational.ae http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091014/FOREIGN/710139840/1040

24 Sep, 2009

Ministry of Information undersecretary orders blocking of 1,040 websites

(BCHR/IFEX) - The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is alarmed to learn that a further grip by the local authorities was introduced on electronic sites, in continuation of a Ministry of Information campaign initiated earlier in 2009 by Ms Mai Al-Khalifa, a member of the ruling family.

On 24 August 2009, Mohammed Albanki, the newly appointed Ministry of Information undersecretary, sent a letter to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) in Bahrain ordering the blocking of a further 1,040 sites, based on a January 2009 ministerial resolution, regulating the blocking of websites. The letter from Albanki referred to Article 2 of the resolution, which states that "All telecommunications companies and Internet service providers shall block pornographic websites that breach public morality", thus giving the impression that the blocked sites are of a "pornographic" nature. Detailed information on the targeted sites, including server names, the sites' IP addresses and the originating countries, was also attached to the undersecretary's letter.

Since the Ministry of Information initiated and led its website regulation campaign, hundreds of websites, inside and outside Bahrain, have been blocked and banned within the country. These include many electronic public forums belonging to villages, religious, cultural and political establishments, as well as opposition and human rights organizations. The campaign did not exclude bloggers and specific pages in the Facebook and YouTube sites. The common element among these sites is that freedom of expression is respected and many subjects, which are considered subversive by the authorities and not favoured, are reported and discussed freely.

"We are appalled by this approach of abrupt silencing and the abusive use of power to block access to the Internet. The said shameful Ministry of Information resolution early this year has resulted in the blocking of any sites which speak about public affairs without being controllable by the authorities," BCHR President Nabeel Rajab said. "This is not acceptable and has resulted in laying down Bahrain in the black list of countries (which are) against the use of technology . . . People can still access websites, irrespective of the wealth and expertise spent on the web blocking campaign," Rajab continued.

"If the authorities have an issue with these sites, they should revert to the judiciary, not administrative orders," Rajab added.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Send appeals to the authorities urging them to:

- lift the block on all websites related to public, cultural and human rights affairs in Bahrain or other countries

- respect the country's vows and commitments to international conventions, of which Bahrain is a signatoree, as well as the implementation of the Universal Periodic Review, which includes amendments of legislation which violates freedom of expression and access to information

- cease using administrative orders to block sites and revert to the judiciary, while at the same time ensuring that this does not violate basic rights

APPEALS TO: His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa King of Bahrain

Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa Cabinet Prime Minister Fax: +97 3 1 721 1363

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

24 Sep, 2009

Update: Prosecution of Journalists Shoroogi and Sabt

24 September 2009

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its ultimate concerns about prosecuting journalists and bringing them for charges of defamation and slandering when reporting about malpractices and corruption in the Government offices. The Bahrain Higher Criminal Court (HCC) presided by Mohammed Bin Ali Al-Khalifa, a member of the ruling family, scheduled next September 27th, for its verdict in the cast brought against her by the Civil Service Bureau (CSB) on charges of publishing an article which “harms unity and introduce discrimination between Shia and Sunni Muslems”.

In one of her columns in Alwasat newspaper, Ms Shoroogi wrote about the Civil Service Bureau (CSB) discrimination practices in recruitment of citizen on basis of their sect and political affiliation, highlighting her own experience when applying for a post at the CSB. The Civil Service Bureau (CSB) accused Ms Shoroogi of insulting the Bureau when accusing it of discriminatory practices among citizens as well as of slandering and false reporting when she spoke of her experience.

More information: http://ifex.org/bahrain/2008/12/09/journalist_prosecuted_for_alleged/

On the other hand, the Public Prosecution (PP) has already referred to the Court the case against Mr Husain Sabt, Alwaqt newspaper journalist, on charges of defamation using publication means, which is scheduled for its first session on next October 6th. The PP bypassed its role of questioning Mr Sabt and, without any obvious reason, deprived him from showing his initial defense and refutes the evidence against him. On March 11th, 2009, in Alwaqt newspaper, Mr Sabt published a report on the corruption in Bahrain Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) in which he referred to the resignation of one of its officials amidst news of corruption and manipulation in the proportions of Bahrainization. This was considered defamatory and, after two days of the report, the LMRA responded in a statement in Alwaqt, negating the reasons behind the resignation of the said official.

More information: http://ifex.org/bahrain/2009/05/08/journalist_summoned_for_allegedly/

The charges in the cases formed against Ms Al-Shoroogi and Mr Sabt, as it is for other journalists in Bahrain, are based on the Press Decree Code no. 47 of 2002 and the Penal Decree Code no. 15 of 1976, which have been condemned and criticized, locally and internationally.

Mr Nabeel Rajab, President of BCHR, commented on the prosecution of journalists by saying that:" The local Authorities are not appreciating the importance of providing impunity to journalists, instead of targeting them while performing their duty in monitoring all forms of corruption and ill-practices". He added:" Using the power of the PP and laws to undermine the role of journalism in public affairs, will evidently encourage corrupt and abusive individuals in Governmental institutions to feel safe and continue what they have been doing in the dark". Rajab concluded:"In order to clear their tarnished image, we call upon the Authorities to put off all cases against journalists in Bahrain"

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Send appeals to the Bahraini Authorities to: - Repeal the case against Ms Maryam Al-Shoroogi and Mr Husain Sabt and ensuring no reprisals are carried out against them as a result of shedding light on malpractices in official establishment. - Stop harassing and prosecuting journalists when performing their duty of documentation, reporting and analysis about conduct of public institutions - Amend all legislations, such that they conform with the international charters and covenants, in particular, the notorious Press Code of 2002 and the Penal Code of 1976.

APPEAL and TAKE ACTION TO:

- Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, King of Bahrain

- Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, Cabinet Prime Minister

Fax: +97 3 1 721 1363

Please copy appeals to the source if possible. MORE INFORMATION: For further information contact Nabeel Rajab, President, BCHR, Manama, Bahrain, tel: +973 3963 3399 / 3940 0720, fax: +973 1779 5170, e-mail: nabeel.rajab@bahrainrights.org, info@bahrainrights.org, Internet: http://www.bahrainrights.org No virus found in this incoming message. Checked by AVG - www.avg.com Version: 8.5.409 / Virus Database: 270.13.111/2386 - Release Date: 09/21/09 05:51:00

23 Sep, 2009

Letters on Bahrain from the Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association of North America

Letters on Bahrain

21 September 2009

Dr. Ebrahim Ahmed Aljanahi President, University of Bahrain Fax: +973 1744 9900

Dear Dr. Aljanahi:

On behalf of the Committee on Academic Freedom (CAF) of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA), I am writing to you to express our concern at the disciplinary action taken against Ms. Noor Abbas, a student at the University of Bahrain. Earlier this year, Ms. Abbas circulated a statement on behalf of the Student Union List criticizing some policies and facilities at the University.

MESA was founded in 1966 to promote scholarship and teaching on the Middle East and North Africa. The preeminent organization in the field, the Association publishes the International Journal of Middle East Studies and has more than 3000 members worldwide. MESA is committed to ensuring academic freedom and freedom of expression, both within the region and in connection with the study of the region in North America and elsewhere.

Universities, their administrators, and their faculty, have a special obligation to encourage free inquiry and discussion on their campuses. We should lead by example. CAF, a committee composed primarily of university faculty members (many with administrative experience), therefore strongly urges your university to reconsider the disciplinary action you have taken in this case. The statement circulated by Ms. Abbas, while critical of some University policies, was well within the bounds of reasoned discourse. It would seem to be more worthy of a reasoned than a punitive response. We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Virginia H. Aksan MESA President Professor of History, McMaster University

cc: Dr. Majed Ali Al-Nuaimi Minister of Education and President, Board of Trustees of the University of Bahrain Fax: +973 1768 0161, 1768 4493 Email: info@batelco.com.bh, akhbar-alterbia@maktoob.com

Her Excellency Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Washington, DC 20008 Fax: 202 362 2192

Mr. Nabeel Rajab President, Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Manama, Bahrain Fax: +97 31 7795170 http://www.mesa.arizona.edu/caf/letters_bahrain.html

16 Sep, 2009

A member of the Ruling Family assaults an elected opposition figure

A member of the Ruling Family assaults an elected opposition figure

A series of attacks and harassments against the largest political group in the country

The BCHR calls for implementing “the rule of just law” rather than the “rule of the tribe”

“If man is not to be compelled to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, human rights should be protected by the rule of law” (The Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

15 September 2009 The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights is highly concerned for the assault by a military officer, Brigadier-General Shiekh Hamad Bin Salman ALKhalifa, who is a member of the ruling family, against Fadhel Abbass (Mr.), an elected member of the Manama Municipal Council who represent the largest political group in the country, Al-Wefaq .

The attack took place at 11 am on September 2, 2009 at the entrance of Ministry of Municipalities following an argument on a minor issue which was the place where Fadhel Abbass parked his car. The attack was repeated few minutes later at the office of the Minister of Municipalities. One hour after the attack, Fadhel Abbass submitted a complaint to the police. The complaint could be referred to the military court, procedures of which are not public and which is unlikely to take any action against the assaulter.

A week later, when the incident was reported in a local semi-official newspaper, the Prime Minister, who is also a member of the ruling family, asked the Minister of Municipalities to make reconciliation between the two parties. Fadhel Abbass and the Al-Wafaq society, to which he belongs, have been calling only for a public apology by the military officer. Fadhel Abbass expressed fears of retaliation and has already been threaten by the military officer to take action against him and his family.

Worth noting that it is not unusual that members of the ruling family commit abuses against other citizens, without being held accountable for their deeds. On Sunday 2nd March 2008, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Transportation hit with his car a young worker near the ministry building. The worker was standing to direct drivers not to pass through because of road constructions. The undersecretary hit the worker with his car and continued his way through, while many people were watching. The worker was injured in the right leg and was taken to hospital by an ambulance. A member of BCHR advice the victim to press charges against the undersecretary but the young man was reluctant knowing the influence of the undersecretary who is a member of the ruling family. On an “advice” by an employee at the same ministry, the young worker went to the police and canceled the case.

As for Al-Wefaq society, it is not an isolated incident against its members. Although it is supported by 62% of total votes in the last 2006 election, the society was subjected to harassments and defamation campaigns by semi official media. On 30th march 2004, the organization was threatened publicly by the Minister of Labor and social affairs to be closed down if they continue with their campaign calling for constitutional reforms. In April 2004, members of the society were arrested for collecting signature on a petition related to the same issue.

On 21st May 2004, the two main spiritual leaders of Al-Wefaq society and many of its senior members were among hundreds of people who were physically attacked when the Special Police Force suddenly attacked an authorized peaceful demonstration. The king took advantage of the incident to assign a new minister of interior in replacement for the former sick minister and advised the victims to complaint to the court. No investigation was conducted in the incident, and members of Al-Wefaq Society who complained to court lost their cases . To date, no answer has been given for why the demonstration was attacked and the whey the prominent religious and political figures were assaulted and humiliated, leaving a sore feeling of oppression and humiliation.

On 6th October 2005, the society reluctantly decided to re register itself in accordance with the restrictive low on Political societies avoiding its closure, the decision lead to a split in the organization.

In 2006 the society decided to end its boycott to the election despite their continued disagreement to the amendments to the constitution and election system declared by the new King, hoping for gradual reforms. However, in the council which was manipulated by the ruling family, Al-Wefaq was marginalized as minority despite that they are the largest block in the elected council. Furthermore, defamation and threats against the society top leaders continued. Loyal members of the Royal court, such as Shaikh Al-Saedi occasionally attacked the society spiritual leaders using the press and mosque prayers.

During 2008, two representatives of the society were threatened by the Minister of Interior, who is a member of the ruling family, to be imprisoned after delivering critical interventions at a UN conference on discrimination in Geneva and at press conference on sectarian discrimination at the US Congress in Washington.

The government used to put pressure on Al-Wefaq society to use its religious and political influence to suppress other shia’ groups, by blaming the society for any unrest in the Shia’ areas or any activities that does not comply with the restrictive laws. The Bahrain center for Human rights calls for: 1. Implementing the rule of just law rather than the rule of tribal system, where members of the Ruling family abuse their unjust privileges and enjoy impunity 2. An independent and neutral investigation in the physical assault against Fadhel Abbass making the results public, bringing the perpetrator to a affair trial and redressing the victim 3. Amending the political system; in text, institutions and practices to reflect the well of the people by implanting the equal right of citizens to elect their representatives in a fair election and real democratic system where checks and balance are maintained. 4. Securing freedom of association and the ability for political groups to operate freely without restrictions or intimidation as this is a main pillar of a real democracy

As stipulated in Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: • Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. • The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Finally, as stated in the Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law”

9 Sep, 2009

BCHR: A University Student Penalized for Distributing Critics to Academic Status

A University Student Penalized for Distributing Critics to Academic Status

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is gravely concerned about extending the deterioration in the status of freedom of expression in Bahrain to include university students as the recent victims of attack on the practitioners of that right. The administration of the University of Bahrain (UOB) - the only national university – produced a resolution to punish Miss Noor Husain- a business college student - by revoking a semester of her academic record in reprisal of "distribution of papers constituting abuse to the university and its administration, as well as inciting and provoking students against the university regulations."

Noor (22yrs) -the Student Affairs Officer at the Bahrain Youth Society- is active student in the UOB and was involved in the distribution of a statement issued by the Student Unity bloc and circulated among University students on the Bahraini Student Day, marked February 25th. The statement calls for "setting guiding regulations for private universities under the auspices of the UOB- The National University – responsible for embracing all Bahrainis, warned of a systematic policy within the University which may force students to abandon it to private universities known of its inferior quality of education". The UOB administration considered the statement to be abusive, tarnishing its reputation and provocative to students against its regulations.

In response, the University formed a committee, formed of five members, to investigate into the matter. Miss Noor was interrogated and her case was dealt with as a security matter which threatens the security of the country in terms of the nature of the questions. She was asked for her political affiliation, the political parties which supports her and the type of relationships she has with other students. Noor was informed that the UOB regulations prohibit the distribution of this type of publications.

Noor, on the other hand, expressed her commitment to the regulations of the university and her quest to, peacefully and democratically, develop them. She has affirmed her belief in the content of the said statement which calls for introducing reform in the educational system in Bahrain and providing sufficient fund to the budget of the UOB to ensure its renaissance and development.

The committee's report confirmed the charges against Noor and exhibited sensitivity to the fact that she appeared insistent and "did not show remorse or regret for the content of the statement, rather expressed determination to issue similar statements". Noor refused to sign the minutes of the meeting, which contained many points that were not referred to or discussed, considering it falsification of facts which did not occur.

BCHR considers punishing Noor Husain for exercising her right to freedom of expression is a blatant breach of Bahrain's international obligations as a member of the Human Rights Council and a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), ratified by Bahrain in September 2006. In particular, ICCPR Article 19 which refers to:"the right to hold opinions without interference, the right to freedom of expression; which includes freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice".

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls the University of Bahrain to immediately revoke the penalty against Noor Husain, or any other penalties related to exercise of her right to freedom of expression or student activities. The BCHR calls the Government of Bahrain to positively deal and support student activities in various dimensions; political, cultural, social and human rights, instead of looking at its from the security perspective only.

RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Send appeals to the Bahraini Authorities to:

1 - Abolish the penalty imposed on Noor Husain, not to harm her academic record or impose any other sanctions because of her stance. 2 - give more space for freedom of expression in the University of Bahrain and eliminate any form of penalties for its students or employees - administrators or academics - for exercising their natural right to freedom of expression. 3 -Amend the laws and regulations of the UOB to conform with the right to freedom of expression as outlined in the international covenants ratified by Bahrain. 4 - To encourage all forms of activities among students (Political, cultural, Social and human rights) and stop the traditional dominance on those activities or deal with it as issues of security.

APPEAL and TAKE ACTION TO:

- Dr Majed Ali Al-Nuaimi Minister o Education and President of Board of Trustees of the University of Bahrain Fax:+973-1768-0161,1768-4493 Email: info@batelco.com.bh, akhbar-alterbia@maktoob.com

- Dr Ebrahim Ahmed Aljanahi President of University of Bahrain Fax: +973 1744 9900

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

MORE INFORMATION: For further information contact Nabeel Rajab, BCHR President, Manama- Bahrain, Tel: +973 3963 3399 / 3940 0720, Fax: +973 1779 5170, E-mail: nabeel.rajab@bahrainrights.org, info@bahrainrights.org, Internet: www.bahrainrights.org, www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=50727622539, www.twitter.com/bahrainrights, bahraincenter.blogspot.com

30 Aug, 2009

The Arrest of the BCHR president for his solidarity with Al-Mirbati's Family-Al-Mirbati the Forgotten Prisoner in the Saudi

In Solitary Confinement Since 7 Years

Abdul-Raheem Al-Mirbati the Forgotten Prisoner in the Saudi Jails

The Arrest of the BCHR president for his solidarity with Al-Mirbati's Family

August 2009 The Bahrain Center for Human Rights

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights express their deep concern for receiving information on a serious deterioration in the health of the Bahraini detainee in the Saudi prisons Mr. Abdul-Raheem Al-Mirbati, who has been arbitrarily detained without a clear charge and without presenting him to any judicial body. They also express their concern and protest for the arrest of the BCHR's president Nabeel Rajab for his solidarity with Al-Mirbati's family in front of the Saudi embassy in Manama on Tuesday 25 August 2009.

Several weeks ago, and in protest against the arbitrary detention of Al-Mirbati, his wife (Um-Usama) who is wheelchair bound is sitting with one of her sons and one of her daughters from 10 o'clock in the morning every Tuesday in front of the Saudi embassy in Manama for one hour. She had informed the BCHR that she intends to continue her protest in front of the Saudi embassy on a weekly basis until her husband is released.

Nabeel Rajab was present in the protest on Tuesday 25 August in solidarity with Al-Mirbati family. Before the protest was over a security force made up of three cars and headed by the officer Ahmad Fleifel came and arrested the four protestors and they are three from Al-Mirbati's family and Nabeel Rajab. Fleifel insisted on taking the four to the police station in Um-Al-Hassam, in the police car and refused that they come in their personal cars. The BCHR president stayed for almost two hours in the police station before he was permitted to leave and he was warned that any future protest in front of the Saudi embassy will be suppressed by force by the riot police even if the protestors were only four people. Note that the Bahraini law allows the security forces to intervene to disperse any gathering of more than four people in a public place without prior permission.

The Bahraini detainee Abdul-Raheem Al-Mirbati (50 years old) is a father of three boys and three girls; he is detained in the Saudi prisons since 7 years without being presented to any judicial body. He is languishing in a solitary cell with almost no air and access to the outside world.

Since the moment of his arrest, Abdul-Raheem Al-Mirbati has been transferred to several Saudi prisons, the first was a prison in Medina then Jedda, Riyadh, Asir and was finally brought to the prison of the Eastern Region. Based on what members of his family stated, Al-Mirbati faced in the early years of his detention the worst types of torture, including electric shocks and beating all parts of the body, strapping the legs and hands with heavy metal chains throughout the period of imprisonment, he was even left for years with his hands and legs tied and his eyes covered all the time. Since his arrest, Al-Mirbati is languishing in a small solitary room where he can hardly stretch and lay in, and in light of cold weather without blankets or sheets sufficient to cover his body. Al-Mirbati suffered recently from severe bleeding which is feared to be life-threatening. Since the moment of his detention, his health and mental status led to the loss of half his weight and his eyes protruding, and is almost losing his ability to speak or eye-sight. His family asked the prison administration to present him to a doctor to identify his health condition and if it is life-threatening, however this request has not been responded to until now.

Since his arrest and until now, no one knows why he has been arrested or why he has been kept for such a long period, and that he has not been presented to any judicial body. His wife (Um-Usama) and his family, who he has been supporting, are living in a severe mental suffering for not being able to do anything that can help in the release him. It is believed that due to the suffering and mental pressure, the wife suffered from a stroke that resulted in a physical disability, which made her lose her ability to stand or walk, and was a reason for her stopping to visit her husband in jail since more than two years. During his stay in prison, his mother passed away without seeing her son since his arrest, or being able to say goodbye. His children are usually permitted to visiting him in prison twice a month, on the condition that the period of the visit does not exceed 30 minutes of a recorded and taped visit with videos installed in the ceilings and walls of the visit room, and with the presence of Saudi security officer who sits between Al-Mirbati and his children.

Whereas the Bahraini government failed to take any action or measure to return its citizen Abdul-Raheem Al-Mirbati from the Saudi prisons, it has not even made any statement or presented any protest to this inhumane position from the Saudi authorities, it even failed to demand that he be presented to court. We saw that it instead intimidated Al-Mirbati's crippled wife and her children who are peacefully protesting outside the Saudi embassy, by threatening them to use violence if they returned to protest in front of the Saudi embassy, indifferent to the sufferings that this family is living who lost their supporter since seven years without any known reason. The Bahraini government's indolent attitude raises suspicion on its complicity with its neighbor Saudi Arabia in keeping Al-Mirbati detained in an arbitrary manner for such a long period.

Since the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a member in the Human Rights Council, it consequences international obligations on it more than any other country towards the international conventions and human rights standers, and it is expected to respect the international human rights law and covenants that it is part of. Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that, "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile", and Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that, "Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law. Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him. Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release. It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody, but release may be subject to guarantees to appear for trial, at any other stage of the judicial proceedings, and, should occasion arise, for execution of the judgment."

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights bears the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, members in the Human Rights Council, full responsibility for the health deterioration of the Bahraini citizen Abdul-Raheem Al-Mirbati, or what might happen to him as a result of that. The BCHR demands the two governments to work on:

1. The prompt release of Abdul-Raheem Al-Mirbati from the Saudi prisons.

2. He must be immediately removed from the solitary cell and be placed in a cell shared with others, until he is released.

3. Be presented to a specialized doctor and to provide him with the necessary treatment, and to inform his family of what he is suffering from and how serious it is.

4. Investigating the torture and abuse claims he faced, and to bring to trial whoever is proven to commit those crimes.

5. Compensating the long period of illegal imprisonment and to bring those responsible for that to trial.

28 Aug, 2009

Tweet for Human Rights in Bahrain

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights announces the start of its Twitter feed to keep readers up to date with the latest human rights news in Bahrain as soon as it happens. Readers can view and follow the BCHR twitter feed at the following web address:

http://twitter.com/BahrainRights

We also want to start a new trend in Bahrain by encouraging others to make use of Twitter to discuss and report on local human rights issues by using the hashtag #BhRights.

Twitter is a powerful method to communicate in real time and bypass state attempts to censor information.

To learn more about Twitter and how it can be used for human rights activism please read the The DigiActive Guide to Twitter for Activism.