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Preventing the Director of the NDI from entering Bahrain


Raises Questions and Doubts about the Bahraini Government's Intention towards the Next Elections

12 May 2010

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its great concern regarding the harassment practiced by the Bahraini authorities towards the local and international organizations or civil society institutions through administrative decisions. This harassment was recently represented in preventing the training officer at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) – from entering Bahrain to conduct some workshops and training the political and human rights associations.

One of the local newspapers published a news piece that the Director of the National Democratic Institute residing in the Gulf, Mrs. Stacey Hague, was prevented from entering Bahrain after the official authorities and some MPs closely related to the government sent a warning earlier due to the so-called "interference of an institute in the internal affairs" of the country. The National Democratic Institute – being close to the U.S. Democratic Party – is one of the largest specialized American institutes in training, educating and political empowerment, and has wide-ranging activities in many third world countries. NDI held, since 2002 and up to this day, numerous courses and training workshops to Bahraini civil society institutions and where a large number of more than 2500 people, among them MPs, municipals, human rights workers and members of political associations benefited from. The last of these workshops was held last month to train Bahrain civil society in how to monitor the election. It was held in coordination with Bahrain Human Rights Society.

The BCHR believes that the reason of prevention may be due to the Bahraini authorities' fear that the NDI would monitor the next municipal and parliamentary elections in October 2010, or that it would empower the civil society institutions to do so, especially after the institute initiated courses on monitoring elections to a group of human rights youth workers. The Bahraini authorities prevent any kind of independent international monitoring of the elections.

The government of the United States, and through the military, security, economic, judicial and commercial agreements with the government of Bahrain and its open relations with all the components of the State and society, is actually interfering in all affairs of Bahrain, therefore it is not convincing to prevent the institute from training or monitoring the elections on the grounds that it is interfering in internal affairs. The U.S administration work in double standards in dealing with the Bahraini government; on one hand it imposes its will on the government in all security and economic affairs related to its interest, while on the other hand it is oddly negligent when the matter is related to empowering the civil society institutions.

This is not the first time where the authorities prevent human rights and political organizations and institutions and its representatives from entering Bahrain. Where it prevented, in March 2010, the French "Kitson" organization from holding seminars on anti-terrorism. It also prevented, in April that followed, the Bahrain Human Rights Society from conducting workshops to train on the mechanisms of visiting prisons on the grounds that the topic of the workshop is considered political and that the society is not permitted to work with political topics.

In May 2006, several months before the previous parliamentary elections, the Bahraini authorities expelled the Director of the NDI, Fawzy Gouled, in belief that it is due to the role played by the institute in training and empowering the civil society institutions, which is something rejected by the Bahraini authorities under the pretext of interfering in internal affairs. The report of Dr. Salah Al-Bandar indicates the Bahraini authorities' fear from the role played by the NDI in empowering the opposition and supporting it.

The BCHR fears that preventing this official at the NDI from entering Bahrain or any other institute affiliated with it to do its work now before the next elections raises a lot of questions on the intentions of the Bahraini government from the next elections, and the increasing doubts about the ability of manipulating the procedures or changing the results, as had happened in the previous elections through opening general centers away from residential areas where it is believed that widespread manipulations have taken place, as well as bringing many Saudi tribes, who were naturalized illegally for this purpose.

Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights demands the Bahraini authorities the following:

• Lift the ban from the National Democratic Institute and permit it to work on empowering the institutions wishing to do so, and to lift the ban from all international institutes who wish to monitor the upcoming elections or training the local institutes to do so.  

• To stop targeting the international institutions or restricting them from carrying out their role in empowering the civil society institutions from carrying out theirs.  

• To stop the procedures which increase the tension and space and which remove the remaining trust between the government and civil society institutions.  

Reuters: Bahrain sets up rights watchdog amid criticism

Web posted at: 5/14/2010 8:19:22 Source ::: Reuters

MANAMA: Bahrain, under pressure to improve its human rights record, is creating a national watchdog, but some activists cast doubt on its independence.

The Gulf Arab island kingdom said last year it would establish the organisation, which would draft a national rights strategy and advise on new laws as well as receive complaints.

Majority Shia Bahrain, a key Western ally that is home to the US Fifth Fleet, is ruled by a Sunni dynasty, and its Shia population complains of discrimination in jobs and services, accusations government officials deny.

Bahrain has also come under fire from international human rights groups for the abuse of detainees during interrogations, internet censorship and over the working conditions of thousands of Asian labourers.

Representatives to the watchdog, appointed by the king last month, were to meet to discuss steps to get the organisation off the ground amid criticism the members were too close to the government.

Seven independent Bahraini rights groups complained that over half of the watchdog's 20 members were either government officials or current or former members of Bahrain's upper house of parliament whose members are appointed by the king.

The remainder were mostly from government-backed rights groups or were linked to the state, they said in a statement.

Overall, the composition is neither independent nor pluralistic and the institution is expected to be biased towards its patron as time will certainly show, the rights groups said.

APPOINTED BY KING

The rights groups, including the human rights section of mostly Shia political movement Haq, said they considered the watchdog a government-backed body and would continue to call for an independent organisation.

The groups have said the government was backing a number of human rights organisations while ignoring concerns of independent groups with the purpose of countering what it sees as Shia criticism of the government.

Bahrain, which regularly sees night-time battles between young protesters in Shia villages and security forces, has been accused by rights groups of coercing confessions of involvement in violence from those detained during protests.

Government officials deny there is torture in Bahrain and have said the government would investigate the torture claims made by the US-based rights group.

Bahrain very much wants to portray itself as a strong advocate of human rights, but the behaviour on the ground leaves a whole lot to be desired, said Joe Stork, Human Rights Watch deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Stork said it was too early to judge how independent the new body would be.

The fact that somebody is a shoura council member, or used to be, doesn't necessarily mean much. An official is in a different position, it seems to me, he said.

Source: The Peninsula Qatar

HRW: Bahrain: Set Aside Ruling Against Activist

Judgment Against Leader of Rights Group Violates Freedom of Association

May 14, 2010

(New York) - Bahrain's criminal court judgment against Mohammad al-Maskati, leader of a human rights group, clearly violates the right to freedom of association and should be revoked immediately, Human Rights Watch said today. Al-Maskati, president of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR), was given a heavy fine for operating an unregistered organization, after the government refused it a license.

On May 6, 2010, Bahrain's Lower Criminal Court fined al-Maskati 500 Bahraini Dinar (BD, US$1325) for operating a nongovernmental organization in violation of the Civil Associations Law, which requires groups to register with the Development and Social Affairs Ministry. The group applied for a license in 2005, but the ministry never responded. The society nevertheless openly carried out activities, including public events and workshops regarding the human rights situation in Bahrain and neighboring states.

"Bahrain's claim that it respects and promotes human rights is incompatible with this kind of arbitrary restriction against a group that may be critical of official policies," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Mohammad al-Maskati tried to comply with the law, and the authorities responded by punishing him with a large fine."

The law, No. 21/89, stipulates in article 11 that failure to respond to a license application within 60 days constitutes rejection of the application. The authorities initially summoned al-Maskati to court on November 27, 2007, and the May 6 ruling followed numerous delays in the case. Article 89(2) of the law stipulates a fine of 500 BD and/or six months' imprisonment for establishing and operating an unregistered nongovernmental organization.

The government has also targeted other human rights organizations. In 2004, authorities revoked the legal status of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and ordered it dissolved after its then-president criticized the prime minister for alleged corruption and human rights abuses. The Ministry has refused to register the National Committee for the Unemployed as well as al-Maskati's group.

On March 23, authorities ordered the Bahrain Nursing Society (BNS) closed down. The organization was planning to celebrate the release of Ibrahim al-Dimistani, the group's secretary-general, who had been arrested for allegedly "harboring" a suspect who had been shot during an anti-government demonstration and providing medical treatment to the person. In August 2008, the Office of the Public Prosecutor had accused al-Dimistani and another high-ranking member of the group with defaming and insulting Health Ministry officials.

In 2007, the Development and Social Affairs Ministry drafted new legislation on civil society organizations, but the government has not yet submitted the draft to parliament. The draft law contained some improvements over the existing law, but also includes provisions incompatible with international standards. A version of the draft law circulated in November 2007 authorizes the Social Development and Social Affairs Ministry to close any organization for up to 60 days without a court order if it deems the organization to have violated any Bahraini law, including the associations law itself.

Other provisions of the current associations law are also problematic. Article 11 states that the ministry can reject an association's registration request if it determines, among other things, that the "creation of such association undermines the welfare and security of the state." Article 63 of the law prohibits the registration of organizations that engage in "political" or "religious" activity. The law does not elaborate on what constitutes "political" or "religious" activity.

These elements of the associations law violate article 19 (guaranteeing the right of free expression) and 20 (guaranteeing the right of free association) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Bahrain acceded on September 20, 2006. Any restriction on free expression or association can only be for specific grounds, should be clearly set out in law and should be the least restrictive possible. Vague restrictions such as those in Bahrain's Civil Associations Law, or complete bans on political or religious activity, are clear violations of the ICCPR.

"The government should immediately vacate the judgment against al-Maskati and should swiftly enact an associations law that leaves Bahrain in compliance with its international legal obligations," Stork said.

Source:http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/05/14/bahrain-set-aside-ruling-against-activist

The King of Bahrain recently formed a governmental body under the name of “the National Human Rights Institution”

PRESS STATEMENT ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE “NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTION” IN BAHRAIN

NGOs consider this a non-independent government-backed organization and will continue demanding the formation of an independent national instition The choice of members appointed by royal order to the committee of this organization poses serious questions on the credibility and independence of this organization and the NGOs these members are associated with

May 2 2010

After an eight year wait, and promises made by the Bahraini government to set up a national institution for human rights, the King of Bahrain issued royal order (46) for 2009 to set up “National Human Rights Institution”. Furthermore, royal order (16) for 2010 appointing the Chairman and members of the “National Human Rights Institution”.

One of the main tenets of the Paris Principles[1] about the establishment of human rights institution is that the composition of the national institution and the appointment of its members have guarantees of independence and pluralism.[2]

A glance at the names of the 20 appointed members, we find that 5 members hold high ranking positions in ministries and government bodies; another 6 are currently appointed on or were previously appointed in the hand-picked upper house of parliament (the Shura Council); 5 members are members of other human rights organizations that are government-made or backed , so-called “gongos”; 4 members are close associates to the government which include a journalist, two former officials in the Interior Ministry and Defence Ministry and an academic; the final 3 members are controversial figures associated with different NGOs.

The appointment of this institution through royal order contradicts the proposed parliamentary bill by MPs to form this institution according to the Paris Principles and also did not consult with stakeholders in the community and civil society groups.

Overall, the composition of members does not reflect the voices of genuine NGOs responsible for human rights, trade unions, trends in philosophical or religious thought. In addition, the composition also violates the principle that government officials should participate in the institution in an advisory capacity only since several members hold positions in the Labour, Health and Education Ministries. Overall, the composition is neither independent nor pluralistic and the institution is expected to be biased towards its patron as time will certainly show.

The establishment of this institution comes at the same time that government authorities continue to harass independent human rights defenders carrying out genuine monitoring of the human rights situation. International human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and many others have noted the increasing rise in human rights violations, discrimination and corruption. Implicated in these violations is the political regime that has established this new institution and appointed its members. All of this therefore, leads us to conclude that this “National Human Rights Institution” is nothing more than a PR attempt to rectify the discredited international reputation of the government and to counter the work and effort carried out by genuine and independent human rights defenders. This is not a new policy and other bodies such as the Higher Council for Women (established to contain feminist movements), and the Institute for Political Development (to contain the training of political leaders and parliamentarians) is run by the Royal Court directly.

Based on all the above, the organizations undersigned consider this so-called “National Human Rights Institution” to be in contravention of the Paris Principles due to the non-independent government-backed majority of its members that has the hidden agenda of defending the will of the authority that established it and assigned its members rather than promoting and protecting human rights. We therefore will continue to call for and demand a true independent and pluralistic national human rights institution with a committee that is free from government influence in order to have a credible monitoring role on the human rights situation in Bahrain. Finally, we reject the way in which the noble cause of human rights is abused and exploited in this way for self-publicity and propaganda and to contain and distract hardworking activists from carrying out their work on the ground. Signed by:

Bahrain center for Human Rights Bahrain Youth society for Human Rights Women’s Petition Committee The Committee for martyrs and victims of torture The Human Rights Office of the Freedom and Democracy movement (Haq) The Committee for citizenship-less The coordinating committee for defense of political detainees

Background The Most Important Members of the so-called National Human Rights Institution The King has appointed the activist Salman Ali Kamal Al-Din as the president of the new institution, and he is the former deputy secretary-general of the Bahrain Human Rights Society, where he was known in his tenure of that office for his close relationship with the authority's institutions, and for him publicly criticizing the defenders of human rights, which includes them sending information to international organizations. In the last years, Kamal Al-Din contributed in several government campaigns against the protest acts through government TV and the government-backed newspapers. Dr. Abdullah Al-Dirazi was also appointed from the same society, and he is the current president of the society and a former member in the central body in Waad Political Society. Al-Dirazi recently sparked widespread controversy by questioning the Human Rights Watch Report about systematic torture in Bahrain, where Al-Dirazi was forced to resign temporarily due to the protest reaction of the torture victims against him. At that time, it was disclosed that Al-Dirazi's position was in return for a promise to appoint him in the National Human Rights Institution; however he denied this at that point. Although Al-Dirazi was representing his society in the Coalition for Truth and Justice – and which released common positions related to forming a National Human Rights Institution – Al-Dirazi did not adhere to the position announced by the Coalition and he did not discuss his appointment with any of the ten institutions that take part with his society in that Coalition. The third activist appointed in the new institution is Dr. Jassim Al-Ajmi and he is the former president of the Bahrain Transparency Society. Financial suspicions were raised around the society during his presidency, as well as being not able to obtain the trust of the Transparency International or the trust of the donors which provided funding for the society. Al-Ajmi was also condemned for siding by the government against the Arab Delegation for the Defenders of Human Rights during the Future Conference held in Bahrain, and he was also condemned for his hasty position of announcing the integrity of the 2006 elections. His society also released after that a report on the mentioned elections – in conjunction with the Bahrain Human Rights Society – which the opposition considered to be in the interest of the authority and covers up on its violations.

The five people, who were appointed by the King among the ones working in artificial human rights organizations by the government (GONGOs) , are 1. Faisal Fouladh who is the president of the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society, and a member in the Shura Council, and 2. Tariq Jalil Mohammed Al-Saffar who is a member of the board of directors of the Telecommunications Regulatory and also a member in the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society, and 3. Yousif Isa Al-Hashimi who is the president of the Jurists Society. Dr. Salah Al-Bandar, the former government adviser revealed – in the documented report he released in 2006 – how the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society and the Jurists society were established with government funding and a government agenda amid the plot against the political opposition activists and the independent Human rights defenders. The mentioned figures and organizations have indeed been exploited actively in the spate of attacks on the independent defenders of human rights. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights recently released a leaked government document ordering the payment of an amount of B.D. 30 thousand to the Jurists society to invite a suspicious body to sabotage the work of the independent civil society institutions. As to the fourth person, he is 4. Hasan Mousa Shafifii, who was a formed member of independent human rights organizations, however he was secretly employed, without the knowledge of his colleagues in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 2003 where he was actively utilized abroad to distort the work of the independent human rights organizations as he currently works as a counselor in Bahrain's embassy in London , as well as taking part in the governmental delegations in Geneva . He currently works as the president the Bahrain monitor Human Rights and which is a bulletin released from London in both Arabic and English. It is a bulletin prepared and distributed by the media committee at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The fifth person is 5. Mohammed Airij Al-Ansari who is currently the director of recruitment at the Ministry of Labour, and the government has lately sent him to defend it with regards to systematic torture , in a hearing session organized in the American Congress on 27 April 2010. Mohammed Al-Ansari took advantage of his small society "Association of Public Freedoms and Human Rights" to promote for himself as a human rights defender and to penetrate the non-government organisations, where it was found that during that time he was employed in the Royal Court and that was before being appointed in his current position in the Ministry of Labour. Internal discord erupted in the mentioned association, and as a result its already limited activity froze. Al-Ansari was a key player in that dispute.

Ranking Members in the Ministries and Government Institutions:

1. Isa Al-Khayat, and who was a appointed as a senior vice president in the new institute, is the former Dean of Admission and Registration at the University of Bahrain, and the Executive Director of the Institute of Political Development, which was founded in aim of monopolizing the training of the political activists and members of Shura and MPs, and it is directly run by the Royal Court and government. 2. Fadheela Taher Al-Mahroos, which was appointed as a vice-president in the new institute, is an office holding doctor at the Ministry of Health, and a member in the Supreme Council for Women which is a government organization headed by the King's wife established to contain female activity. 3. Mariam Athbi Shamlan Al-Jalahma, the assistant undersecretary for primary care at the Ministry of Health, and former doctor. 4. Khalid Ahmed Al-Khaja, a head specialist in curriculums in the Directorate of Curricula at the Ministry of Education. 5. Ali Abdullah Al-Aradi, a legal counselor taking part in the governmental delegations within the UN on human rights, and he coordinates the role of groups sent by the Bahraini government to Geneva to play the role of the non-independent associations and distort its work, as had happened with the group of the Sheikh, Al-Saidi while reviewing the record of Bahrain in the Committee against Torture in Geneva.

Former and current members in the Shura Council: 1. Ebrahim Nono, a business man from the Jewish minority and a former member in the Shura Council. He did not have any significant role in the Council except for approving government requests and giving the impression to the western public opinion that the political regime in Bahrain is tolerant towards the religious minorities and to gain support from the Jewish lobby in the United States. 2. Alice Thomas Yousif Sama'an, the second deputy chairman of the Shura Council. She is a Christian who largely contributes in the international campaigns arranged by the Committee of Foreign Media at the Ministry of Information to improve the image of the regime when subjected to criticism of the human rights organizations; the latest was the campaign held by the government in the United States after the recent Human Rights Watch report. 3. Rabab Abdul-Nabi Salim Al-Arayadh, a lawyer and member of the Shura Council and a member in the Supreme Council for Women headed by the King's wife. 4. Aisha Salim Mubarak, a member in the Shura Council. 5. Abdul-Ghaffar Abdul-Hussein Abdullah, the secretary-general of the Union of Labour Committees during the State Security era – and which was controlled by the Intelligence Apparatus – he then succeeded in becoming the secretary-general of the Bahrain Trade Unions, and when he failed in his reelections in the Union, the King appointed him in the Shura Council. He still holds the post of the president of the Bapco Trade Union, where he took advantage of his relations with the administration of the company and his presidency of the Union to exclude three independent unionists for the benefit of the company's administration. 6. Muneera Isa bin Hindi, a member in the Shura Council, and the sister of the King's counselor for sport affairs and the governor of Muharraq.

The remaining appointed members are represented in: 1. Aqeel Al-Sewar, a journalist writer specializing in attacking the opponents of the political regime and the defenders of human rights, and he writes in Al-Watan newspaper which the report of the former government adviser Dr. Salah Al-Bandar exposed that behind establishing and funding it is the Royal Court and that it is part of the plot of sectarian exclusion and striking the regime's opponents. 2. Ahmed Abdullah Farhan Thani, a former officer in the army in military justice, and the legal counselor of the Council of Representatives, where he was appointed with influence of the government. The MPs counted for the opposition say that the legal counsels of Farhan in most cases serve the government's agenda. 3. Dr. Abdul-Rahman Aqeel Janahi, the director of the Center of Transportation and Roads in the College of Engineering at the government University of Bahrain. 4. Abdullah Faisal Jaber Al-Dossari, a former officer in the Ministry of Interior and he currently holds the post of deputy chairman of Arcapita, which is believed to be owned by senior State officials.

[ ] - Bahrain Center for Human Rights report presenting documents that reveal the "GONGOs" organizations in Bahrain – its heroes… role and mechanisms http://bahrainrights.no-ip.info/en/node/2983 [ ] - Bahrain Center for Human Rights report presenting documents that reveal the "GONGOs" organizations in Bahrain – its heroes… role and mechanisms http://bahrainrights.no-ip.info/en/node/2983 [ ] - Bahrain Center for Human Rights report presenting documents that reveal the "GONGOs" organizations in Bahrain – its heroes… role and mechanisms http://bahrainrights.no-ip.info/en/node/2983

[ ] - The Report "Bahrain … the democratic choice and mechanisms of exclusions" – the Gulf Centre for Democratic Development – United Kingdom – August 2006. Report link http://virtualbahrain.net/report/index.php [ ] – BCHR statement A Secret Document Reveals the Authority's Plot to Fund Projects to Distort the International Human Rights Activity http://www.bchr.net/ar/node/3049 [ ] – The website of Bahrain's Ministry of Foreign Affairs where he is named counselor among the employees of the embassy http://www.mofa.gov.bh/mofa/mofaeservices/LiveBahrainMissionsWebSite/BhMissionsEn.aspx [ ] - http://tb.ohchr.org/default.aspx?country=bh [ ] – The report on the hearing session about torture in Bahrain in the American Congress http://bahrainrights.no-ip.info/en/node/3077

Trialing the Human Rights Activist Mohammed Al-Maskati in Response to his Human Rights Work

Suppressing Liberties with Laws

6 2010

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its deep concern regarding sentencing the human rights defender and president of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights Mr. Mohammed Al-Maskati to fine of B.D. 500 in the case of establishing a society and practicing human rights work without an official license.

News published in one of the local newspapers[i][1] spoke of the Lower Criminal Court issuing a ruling which fines Mr. Mohammed Al-Maskati with B.D. 500 after it had charged him with working in an unlicensed association. The details of the case return to when Mr. Al-Maskati received a summon on Tuesday 27 November 2007 to appear before court on the background of practicing activities and holding events and training workshops in the field of human rights by the name of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights without a license from the Ministry of Development and Social Affairs. The opening arguments continued for three years until the Lower Criminal Court issued the abovementioned sentence. It justified that court sentence with the Law of Civil Associations issued in 1989 and which is one of the laws that restrict freedoms and which has long been criticized by the international institutions due to its incompatibility with international standards for establishing non-governmental institutions. Al-Maskati's request to establish the Society was met with a refusal in the past.

The lawyer Mohammed Al-Jishi and Fadhel Al-Medefea challenged the constitutionality of Articles (11) and (89/2) from law no. (21/89) regarding the societies, social and cultural clubs and private bodies working in the field of youth and sport, stressing that the articles – of the Law of Associations – contradicts Articles (27), (28 A and B), (23) and (31) of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain issued in 2002, and that the articles of the Law of Associations are an apparent restriction of freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of assembling and joining civil organizations.

It is worth mentioning that Mr. Mohammed Al-Maskati is one of the known defenders in the field of human rights. In addition to his presidency of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, he contributed in establishing a regional network in collaboration with the Social Democratic Forum to train youth on the principles of human rights. Al-Maskati was also involved in several local, regional and international activities, and his Society was known for being found in the first place in the Middle East to train on the principles of strategies and struggling without violence. He recently participated in establishing a union that is concerned with the defenders of human rights in the Arab World. In acknowledgment of his continuous efforts in defending human rights, Mr. Al-Maskati received several local and regional awards. The BCHR believes that the prominent role played by the Society in documenting the cases of torture and violations of human rights, especially by filing several complaints related to torture to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, and revealing the escalating abuses and violations of human rights, had a major role in issuing the sentence and setting restrictions to this Society and its president Al-Maskati.

The BCHR believes that the series of targeting the activists and the associations is a continuation of the Authority's policy in Bahrain to restrict civil society institutions. The authorities had closed down the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and imprisoned its executive manager solely for holding a seminar on poverty and discrimination in Bahrain, and the Bahrain Nursing Society was also lately closed down in an attempt to discourage them from their human rights work which calls for respecting human rights and adhering to international commitments and agreements. The BCHR released a statement earlier that addresses the systematic targeting of activists in aim of smearing their reputation and isolating them socially.

Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights demands the Bahraini authorities to:

1. Immediately annul the trial of the human rights defender Mohammed Abdul-Nabi Al-Maskati;

2. Allow the non-governmental human rights organizations to operate freely and not to restrict them;

3. reform the laws that restrict liberties which are incompatible with the international standards and which guarantee the right to establish associations and the freedom to work in the fields of human rights;

4. adhere to the international charters and covenants related human rights, especially those signed and endorsed by the Kingdom of Bahrain.

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[1] http://www.alwasatnews.com/2769/news/read/393925/1.html

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[i][1] http://www.alwasatnews.com/2769/news/read/393925/1.html

Bahrain: Court Ruling Disregards Torture Evidence

19 Convicted in Killing Despite Earlier Acquittal, Lack of Evidence, Coerced Confessions April 30, 2010 Related Materials: Torture Redux.This appeals court decision flies in the face of Bahrain's claim that it has a policy of zero tolerance of torture during interrogation of criminal suspects. The government hasn't offered a single shred of evidence linking the defendants to the incident other than these thoroughly discredited confessions. .Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch .(New York) - A Bahrain appellate court's March 28, 2010 conviction of 19 men on charges of murder and attempted murder badly undermines the government's claim that it does not tolerate torture, Human Rights Watch said today.

The government had appealed an October 2009 lower court ruling that acquitted the 19 because of the apparent coercion of their confessions and the absence of any other evidence linking the suspects to the death of a security officer. The appellate court made its ruling despite a report by government doctors that found most of the accused men had injuries consistent with their accounts of abusive interrogation techniques.

"This appeals court decision flies in the face of Bahrain's claim that it has a policy of zero tolerance of torture during interrogation of criminal suspects," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The government hasn't offered a single shred of evidence linking the defendants to the incident other than these thoroughly discredited confessions."

The case arose from confrontations between demonstrators and security forces in the village of Karzakan in April 2008, which left an unmarked police vehicle ablaze and resulted in the death of a plainclothes officer, Majid Asghar Ali, a Pakistani working for Bahrain's Interior Ministry. The Public Prosecution Office said that 17 of the 19 defendants voluntarily confessed to their roles in the incident and implicated the other two. The 17 subsequently recanted their confessions in court, claiming that they had been tortured and coerced into confessing.

Human Rights Watch issued a report in Manama on February 8 documenting the repeated use of painful physical coercion by Bahrain security officers to secure confessions.

On the basis of the torture allegations, the lower court ordered Health Ministry doctors to examine the defendants. The examinations took place in July 2008. In September, the Health Ministry physicians provided a report to the court detailing their findings regarding 28 defendants (the 19 defendants involved in this case and 9 others in a case arising out of a separate incident in Karzakan). The medical report found, among other things, that:

•17 of the 28 had scars, bruises or both; •Five had scars or bruises on their wrists caused by "handcuffing this area or being hung from the ceiling as most suspects testify;" and •The other scars and bruises could have "resulted from beating." On October 13, 2009, the lower court, whose presiding judge was a member of Bahrain's ruling Al Khalifa family, dismissed all charges against the 19 defendants. In explaining the acquittal, the court cited the medical report's conclusion that the defendants had "bruises on their wrists, which [they] said are because of hanging from the ceiling" and that the defendants had other "bruises and traces of wounds." Because the court "[was] not comfortable with the confessions attributed to the defendants, and [had] doubts that the confessions were voluntary and by their choosing," the judges elected to "annul all confessions." The lower court ruling also noted the absence of other evidence against the defendants.

The Human Rights Watch report released on February 8, "Torture Redux: The Revival of Physical Coercion During Interrogations in Bahrain," detailed abusive interrogation practices by Bahraini security forces between late 2007 and early 2009. "Torture Redux" cited the Health Ministry report regarding the Karzakan defendants and the court's subsequent dismissal of all charges. In response, the Interior Ministry vehemently denied that it tolerates any physical abuse.

The appellate ruling statement that prosecutors, when they conducted the formal questioning of the suspects, observed no evidence of injuries that could be attributed to the abuse they alleged, is inconsistent with earlier Interior Ministry statements. In a written response provided to Human Rights Watch on February 7, the Interior Ministry said that prosecutors had in fact observed wounds on the suspects but that they attributed these to injuries sustained during the violent demonstration rather than any abuse inflicted during interrogation.

The appeals court decision also provides no corroborative evidence linking the defendants to Ali's death. According to the written ruling, Fahd Fadalah, a captain with the Interior Ministry's General Directorate of Criminal Investigations, "testified that his investigations revealed that the mentioned accused set on fire a police car and killed Majid Asghar Ali," but provides no information about the content or any specific findings of Fadalah's investigation. Fadalah is one of five officers named in "Torture Redux" as among those allegedly responsible for physically abusing suspects during interrogation.

The only forensic evidence cited in the appellate ruling identified blood samples from the scene as belonging to the deceased victim and damage to the police vehicle consistent with an attack involving stones and Molotov cocktails. The ruling also cites the testimony of Ammar Mus`ad and Saleh Ali Saleh Mansur, two other police officers who were on the scene at the time of the attack, but does not indicate that either officer was able to identify any of the 19 defendants as having been involved.

The Higher Criminal Appellate Court convicted all 19 defendants, including the two who had refused to confess. The appellate ruling argued that the defendants' complaints of torture were baseless, citing Public Prosecution Office officials' claims that they had not observed any injuries to the defendants when they questioned them in the days immediately following their arrest. The appellate ruling also said that the Health Ministry doctors could not conclude definitively that the defendants had been tortured and that some of the observed wounds predated the original arrests and therefore did not constitute evidence of abuse. The defendants, the appellate court concluded, confessed freely.

"The court's written decision cannot withstand even gentle scrutiny," Stork said. "Our report demonstrated that the Public Prosecution Office is very much part of Bahrain's torture problem, with a clear interest in discrediting the defendants' allegations. The Health Ministry doctors, on the other hand, had no identifiable interest in any particular conclusion."

The doctors did state that they could not definitively conclude that torture had caused the injuries they observed, given that months had passed by the time of their examination, but they also stated that the injuries they observed were consistent with the defendants' accounts of torture.

The notion that the Health Ministry doctors observed old wounds is wrong, Human Rights Watch said. The doctors carefully noted that in two cases the injuries they found were old, but those two cases are not among the 17 in which they found scars or bruises consistent with physical abuse.

Human Rights Watch also said that the court's decision to sentence all 19 defendants to three years' imprisonment for killing a police officer appeared to be political. Article 333 of Bahrain's penal code mandates the death penalty for the murder of "a public servant or an officer entrusted with a public service...." The court made no apparent effort to determine which of the individuals were allegedly responsible for the policeman's death, sentencing them all indiscriminately to three years each.

"These three-year sentences make it apparent that the authorities don't actually believe these individuals killed a policeman," Stork said. "This is a transparently political ruling, and indicates Bahrain is still some distance from having an independent judiciary at all levels." http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/04/30/bahrain-court-ruling-disregards-torture-evidence

Human Rights Situation in Bahrain

Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission Hearing on Human Rights Situation in Bahrain

“The Human Rights Situation In Bahrain”

Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission

Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2200

April 27, 2010, 12:00 – 1:30 PM

The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission held a hearing to explore the human rights situation in Bahrain. Credible human rights NGOs and the State Department have documented violations of Bahraini constitutional protections, and have expressed concern for women’s rights, trafficking, freedom of speech and religion, domestic violence and discrimination against the Shi’a population and foreign workers’ rights. To discuss these issues, the commission – chaired by

Congressman James McGovern (D-MA) with Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-MD) in attendance – requested the testimony of five individuals:

Joe Stork, Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division;

Stephen McInerney, Director of Advocacy for the Project of Middle East Democracy;

Katie Zoglin, Senior Program Manager of Freedom House’s Middle East and North Africa division;

Kenneth Katzman, Specialist in Middle East Affairs for the Congressional Research Service; and

Mohammed Alansari of the Bahrain Society for Public Freedom.

Congressman McGovern led off with an overview of Bahrain’s uneven progress, often characterized by one step forward, and one (or two) steps back. “It’s a dance that leaves many citizens an foreign workers uncertain and deprived of rights… leaves too many men, women, and children vulnerable to labor and sexual exploitation, trafficking, and slavery.” Congressman Edwards continued that this hearing wasn’t about criticism or placing blame, but rather about figuring out how we can work toward a future where human rights are respected and valued.

Joe Stork

provided the first testimony, and began by noting that the period between 2000 and 2002 saw the “remarkable beginnings of political change and liberalization and reform” after Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa took over as king. State security laws and courts were abolished, and an independent press began to emerge. Some of the reforms have endured, Stork said, which has “quite properly left Bahrain with a favorable reputation as a modernizing state.” But at the same time, “this has meant that the government has gotten something of a free ride” in other areas, and he maintained that it’s important we not lose the momentum from earlier in the decade.

Reflecting upon his recent visit to Bahrain in 2009, Stork said that conversations with former detainees, defense attorneys, journalists, and officials from the ministries of interior and justice indicated that

after nearly a decade of a fairly clean record with regard to prisoner abuse, torture is once again a serious problem. There were two HRW findings: Since the end of 2007, security officials regularly resorted to torture to secure confessions from security suspects; and there’s simultaneously a complete failure to investigate these situations.

“The question is not whether the detainees we interviewed were responsible for criminal activity,” Stork said, “the issue is that torture is prohibited, flat out.” He urged congress to push Bahrain in private meetings to investigate these incidents and prosecute those responsible. However, he did note that there are some positive signs in recent years. “Unlike my previous investigations prior to 1999, some officials did fulfill their responsibility,” he said. For example, government doctors are now able to provide reports corroborating torture and ill treatment, which marks a major improvement.

Next,

Stephen McInerney spoke on the issue of freedoms of association and expression, as well as the forthcoming parliamentary elections later this year. “In general,” he said, “Bahrain is a freer place than it was 10 years ago. Unfortunately, in the past five to six years, we’ve seen regression in a few areas.” An existing press law from 2002 empowers the government to detain journalists for criticizing the government or Islam. All of broadcast media is government-owned and strictly controlled.

Although print media is privately owned, “there are still boundaries that are not exceeded.” Just in the last year, McInerney said, the government has targeted new media and the Internet, giving an order to block certain news websites, blogs, public discussion forums, and some websites that track human rights in Bahrain and elsewhere.

“The government has followed the example of some other regimes,” McInerney said, “taking some steps it touts as reforms, but are actually intended to consolidate control.” One example is the Institute for Political Development, ostensibly established to advance democratic reforms, but in practice an institution meant to consolidate government power. Every organization is required to coordinate activities through the IPD.

Similarly, a 2005 political associations law has in recent years been interpreted more broadly to prohibit foreign organizations from not only funding groups in Bahrain, but also from training or even meeting with them.

With regard to the election, McInerney said that the government seems to be cracking down on the opposition – not because they fear the result of an election, but rather because

they fear that the campaign itself may bring unwated attention to political issues that they would prefer not be discussed in a public sphere.

Katie Zoglin

then shifted the focus to women’s rights, saying that although they have improved, Bahrain still lags far behind the rest of world. “The constitution guarantees a certain degree of equality between men and women, but gender discrimination is still fairly pervasive.” Yet there have been positive legal reforms, such as rescinding the law requiring women to get male approval for a passport. A recently passed “personal status code” also has some positive provisions; women must consent to marriage, must be allowed to include provisions in a marriage contract, and have the right to a separate residence if their husband takes multiple wives.

Zoglin reported that women remain underrepresented in the political realm. But they are doing quite well educationally, making up more than half of Bahrain’s two largest universities. 34 percent of women are also employed, and women can no longer be fired because they get married or become pregnant.

Kenneth Katzman

provided a geopolitical perspective, analyzing Bahrain in terms of its relationships and behavior within the larger region. Part of the underlying unrest, he said, is a lingering government fear that Iran is supporting Bahrain’s Shi’a resistance movement. Bahrain has also been designated as a major U.S. non-NATO ally, which means it is eligible for certain categories of U.S. defense equipment and larger sums of aid. It is heavily reliant upon U.S. support – the implication being that there may be areas where the U.S. can leverage this relationship.

Mohammed Alansari

was the final witness to speak, and began by providing a geographical, social, and historical overview. Unlike the other witnesses, Alansari defended the government as a “straight forward” political regime with strong checks and balances. While tensions do exist, he maintained that they continue because Shi’a and Sunni groups tend to form their own exclusive associations that never have genuine interaction beyond their own narrow vision and mission. Bahrain also has strong constitutional guarantees for freedom of religion, he said, and there is never physical violence or harassment on religious grounds.

Following the witnesses’ testimony, Congressman McGovern asked how the U.S. can play a positive and constructive role. Stark responded that it’s important to maintain consistent messaging in public and private – U.S. officials must make it clear that good relations and enrichment of relations does require some action by Bahraini authorities to address human rights problems like torture and restrictions on human rights associations. “The existing laws are pretty good,” he said, “but there’s an enforcement problem, and no serious prosecutions.” Alansari countered that any direct interference will not be accepted by Bahrainis; instead, the best way to is to encourage dialogue between internal parties. Katzman added that the State Department would probably say that they’re currently doing a lot of this, in the form of MEPI and other programs.

Addressing a question about why NDI representatives were barred from meeting with Bahraini groups, Alansari explained that the government saw this relationship as unacceptable since some of the Bahraini groups were supporting illegal demonstrations that were not officially approved by the government.

Bahrain Center for Human Rights on the Blackberry

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights announces the launch of the SMS Service for the subscribers of Blackberry, to inform the subscribers of all the latest updates in the Bahraini human rights field in Arabic and English, and especially those that are not published in daily newspapers.

The president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights Mr. Nabeel Rajab begin_of_the_skype_highlighting     end_of_the_skype_highlighting , "This is a new step among the series of media steps we are taking in order to inform citizens of the latest updates in the human rights field, and in using the latest mechanisms and techniques in broadcasting and promoting the culture of human rights."

To receive the latest updates, for the subscribers of Blackberry to register, please add the following number: BB2212EEF6

Restrictions to freedom of association

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

BHR 003 / 0410 / OBS 052

Bahrain April 27, 2010

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bahrain.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the recent restrictions imposed by the authorities to the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS), an organisation that promotes human rights in Bahrain.

According to the information received, on April 19, 2010, BHRS received a letter from the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD) denying them the permission to organise a workshop on capacity-building on human rights, scheduled to be held from May 27 to May 29, 2010 in collaboration with the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT). The agenda intended to cover issues such as the monitoring of preventive detention, admission to places of detention, human rights in the period of detention with a focus on the basic rules for the treatment of prisoners, managing preventive visit to detention places, Istanbul Protocol, the use of international human rights mechanisms, and the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture.

Indeed, on March 21, 2010, BHRS had sent a letter to MoSD urging them to facilitate their visa request for their foreign participants to the workshop. Indeed, since several months, the Directorate of Immigration and Passports (DoIP) is reportedly no longer able to deliver visas without the approval of MoSD. This approval was denied for BHRS participants on the ground that the workshop contradicts with the Bahraini Law of association[1][1], which provides that “the association may not get involved in political activities”. The BHRS wrote to MoSD to ask them to reconsider their decision.

The Observatory denounces the recent restrictions on freedom of association in Bahrain applied by the MoSD and considers that the concept of “political activities” as defined in the law is unclear and that its general prohibition lead to impede NGOs from carrying through their activities in violation of the right to freedom of association guaranteed by the Bahraini Constitution[2][2] and by the international instruments ratified by Bahrain.

The Observatory urges the Bahraini authorities to ensure BHRS, as well as all human rights defenders, the ability to carry out their work without unjustified hindrances conforming to the Bahraini's legislation.

Actions requested:

The Observatory urges the authorities of Bahrain to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

ii. Put an end to any kind of harassment - including administrative - against the above-mentioned organisation’s as well as against all human rights defenders in Bahrain and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their work without unjustified hindrances;

iii. Conform in any circumstances with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular its article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, and its article 12.2 which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Bahrain.

Addresses:

· Cheikh Hamad bin Issa AL KHALIFA , King of Bahrain, Fax: +973 176 64 587

· Cheikh Khaled Bin Ahmad AL KHALIFA, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tel: +973 172 27 555; Fax : +973 172 12 6032

· Cheikh Khalid bin Ali AL KHALIFA, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Tel: +973 175 31 333; Fax: +973 175 31 284

· Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United Nations in Geneva, 1 chemin Jacques-Attenville, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, CP 39, 1292 Chambésy, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 22 758 96 50. Email: info@bahrain-mission.ch

Please also write to diplomatic representations of Bahrain in your respective countries.

*** Paris-Geneva, April 27, 2010

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80 Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

Dealing In Double Standards whilst Fighting Corruption, and Violating Freedom of Opinion and Expression:

The Bahraini Authorities Ban Publication in the Case of the Minister Accused of Corruption Due to the Possible Involvement of an Official from the Ruling Family

Authority Panels Deliberately gave the Case a Sectarian Scope, and Targeted the Weakest Link to Cover-Up on Major Corruption

18 April 2010

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights express their grave concern towards the Bahraini Authorities persistence in its attempts to violate the right of people in receiving information, especially the information that has a direct influence on the fundamental rights of citizens. This time the matter was represented in the Public Prosecution's decision in banning the publication and circulation of all news, comments and details regarding the case where the State Minister Mansoor bin Rajab is accused in and which is related to money laundering. This ban only took place after the defense lawyer requested the Public Prosecution to summon one of the members of the ruling family to testify in the case.

What is the Truth behind the Dismissed Minister? What is his relation to Opium and the Money Laundering of the Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah?

In a case that preoccupied domestic and foreign public opinion, the State Minister Mansoor bin Rajab was arrested on Thursday 18 March, and was later released on his own recognizance after questioning him on the charge of carrying out money laundering inside the country and abroad, as was stated by the Assistant Under-Secretary for the Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Interior Brigadier General Mohammed Rashid Bouhmod[1][1]. From the first moment, several newspapers and local, gulf and international news agencies were quick to publish news and information which it had drawn from Bahraini sources who refused to mention their names that the money concerned is the money of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and is the outcome of smuggling opium[2][2], the same sources mentioned that that money is connected to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Yet, some news, especially in those newspapers with a close relation to the Authority, went as far as indicating that the Minister possesses photos[3][3] of military sites which he intended to hand over to Iran. By following up on the sources of information and panels that initiated publishing and promoting it, it appeared that the information that connected the dismissed Minister and Iran was fabricated and leaked from the Department of Foreign Media at the Ministry of Information and the media team at the Royal Court and National Security Apparatus. The Department of Foreign Media that led the campaign against the State Minister is only affiliated with the Ministry of Culture and Information superficially, while it works as part of the National Security Apparatus (NSA). The department was previously headed by the current head of National Security Apparatus Sheikh Khalifa bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa, while it is now headed by Sheikh Abdullah bin Ahmed, the former vice-president of the NSA.

The wording of the news related to that case and the methods of publishing it reflects the approach of the panel in the Authority in giving the case a sectarian scope by linking the accused Minister who belongs to the Shiite sect with Iran. At a time where all members whose names were mentioned in the case were dealt with in absolute confidentiality by only mentioning them through their initials – such as Khalid Rabea was mentioned with the letters K.R – the Minister's full name was published.

While the Public Prosecution did not confirm the minister Bin Rajab's relation with Iran or Hezbollah, it did not deny it either. It however remained quiet and kept it a mystery, which suggested to the local and international public opinion that these claims were true without it being part of the case according to the defense. Whereas the Public Prosecution banned[4][4] the defendant and the defense from proving those allegations false to the public relations or publishing any comments or news in the newspapers, it gave itself the right to release and publish statements. The Public Prosecution issued a decision of banning the circulation of information in the case after the defense of the dismissed Minister filed a request to summon the Minister of National Security, Sheikh Khalifa bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa as a witness in the case. Usually, the Bahraini Authorities bans publications in cases that may cause embarrassment or public mayhem, taking advantage of the Bahraini judiciary's lack of independence. For example, in October 2006 the High Criminal Court issued a decision of banning the publication in the scandal that shook the country at that time, and which was named Al-Bandar in attribution to the one who launched it and who was the former government adviser Dr. Salah Al-Bandar, and the ban is still in force until today without any logical reasoning behind it.

Although the case started off with accusations related to the Minister carrying out laundering of drug money of the Iranian Revolutionarily Guard and Hezbollah, and possessing photos of military sites in intent to deliver them to Iran, all that changed now. The course of the case started to incline towards other claims related to corruption, and receiving bribes and inducements and that the isolated Minister is taking advantage of his job, and which is an accusation that is quite different from the first one, in terms of form and content. However this transformation and change in the case was not at first reflected in the media, and the Authority deliberately covered up the updates. The Bahraini Authorities have for years attempted to gain the trust of some of the Western and Israeli powers which in turn have negative relationships with Iran by stirring up the connection between Shiite public movements in Bahrain with Iran. The Bahraini government always attempts to question the loyalty of the Shiite citizens although these accusations are not evident on the ground. This is nevertheless the first time where the matter reaches accusing a Shiite figure who is considered the closest to the King and his family.

Bahrain is not familiar with questioning or prosecuting any of its ministers or officials such as executives which led to classifying it in the international corruption indicators, especially with the involvement of senior officials in extensive corruption schemes, and taking over lands and public funds and impunity, due to being members of the ruling family or those who are close to it. One of the most significant cases that emerged in the recent months is the one related to Alba Company[5][5] and where Sheikh Isa bin Ali Al-Khalifa – the Prime Minister's adviser – was mentioned and who was accused of receiving bribes over the years that amount to two billion dollars – the sum of money that is equivalent to the state budget for a full year. Although the case of Alba's corruption exceeds the magnitude of the case of the minister Mansoor bin Rajab, Sheikh Isa Al-Khalifa still holds his position in the government as a minister until this moment, and he was not questioned or brought to trial in contradiction to what happened to the dismissed Minister, Mansoor bin Rajab. The Council of Representatives lately disclosed one of the largest corruption schemes[6][6] and taking over lands in Bahrain of a value of approximately 40 billions dollars. No governmental, parliamentary or judiciary institute did anything to discuss any judicial prosecution in those cases, and especially because the main collaborator in it is the Royal Court and the principal beneficiaries are the senior officials from the ruling family. Therefore, it seems that targeting the minister Mansoor bin Rajab is to target the weakest link in the chain of corruption which drains lands and public funds, in aim of convincing the public opinion of the sincerity of fighting corruption and to cover up and to divert the attention from the major corruption schemes.

Based on the above, and at a time where the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights welcomes any step towards eliminating corruption and fighting against illegal money laundering, especially amongst the officials and executives in the state, including the interrogation taking place in the case of the dismissed minister Mansoor bin Rajab, they alongside request:

1. Immediately lifting the ban from circulating news related to the case of the dismissed Minister, considering it a case of public opinion that concerns each citizen, and to stop violating human rights in obtaining information and news related to the fundamental rights, where the second paragraph of Article 19 from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states, "Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include 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."

2. Guarantee the integrity and independency of the Public Prosecution and Judiciary, and to lift the ban from the accused Minister and his defense team, and not to violate their right to defend themselves, and to express their opinions in media. The second paragraph of Article 14 from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states, "Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall have the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law."

3. Stop dealing in double standards in the cases of corruption, and to work on proving the seriousness and credibility in the campaign against corruption in prosecuting the senior officials involved in taking over public lands, which was revealed in the last report by the Council of Representatives, and the officials involved in the bribe cases that amount to billions of dollars. Any negligence to those cases will prejudice the credibility of the Authority in any campaign it launches against corruption, and it will yet send a clear message that the Authority is only targeting the weakest links of officials as scapegoats each time it is being criticized or accused of corruption.

4. The efforts of the civil society institutions, figures and media should be intensified to defend the interests and rights of people in relation to revealing crimes of corruption and prosecuting the collaborators even if they were senior officials. Inaction towards this or concealing any information related to crimes of theft and corruption under any justification is a direct collaboration in those crimes.

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[1][1] Elaph http://www.elaph.com/Web/news/2010/3/544286.html

[2][2] Al-Arabiya http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2010/03/22/103727.html

[3][3] Al-Bilad http://www.albiladpress.com/news_inner.php?nid=70904&cat=1

[4][4] Al-Waqt http://www.alwaqt.com/art.php?aid=203902

[5][5] The One-Eyed War Against Corruption http://www.bahrainrights.org/ar/node/3018

[6][6] The attempt of concealing the largest theft and corruption scheme in the history of Bahrain http://www.aljazeeratalk.net/forum/showthread.php?t=235911