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Frontline Holds a Reception Celebration for the President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights

The BCHR commends the role played by the Organization in the Arab Gulf Region

30 July 2010

The Frontline organization held a reception celebration in honor of the president of the BCHR, Mr. Nabeel Rajab during his visit to the Irish Republic in the period 1 to 20 April, at the invitation of the organization. In the celebration, the officials in the organization spoke about their work in defending the human rights defenders across the world, and the challenges met by these defenders in the Arab region and the role they play. Rajab commended the ever-increasing role of this organization in the Arab region, and especially in the Gulf countries which is characterized by its countless violations faced by the human rights defenders. Before ending the ceremony, the president of the BCHR extended a word of thanks to the organization on behalf of the human rights movement in Bahrain and the Gulf region, and then he presented a plaque as a tribute to the notable role played by the organization. The honoring ceremony was held in the head office of the organization in the Irish capital – and in presence of the workers and officials in the international organization.

Bahrain Center for Human Rights Continues its Campaign and Grants Prizes to those Monitoring Violations through Photography

28 July 2010

In act of the social responsibility that the Bahrain Center for Human Rights bears towards fighting human rights violations, and as a means of encouraging the activists, human rights defenders and website owners to monitor the violations of human rights and document them through photos and publish them by using the latest technologies, the BCHR had granted Mrs Rosie Tavares from the Migrant Workers Protection Society, for taking several photos that show the violations which the members of the migrant workers are facing, and especially the domestic workers. The prize is a modern style Canon Camera.

On this occasion, the media officer at the BCHR stated, "these continuous programs held by the BCHR is one of the means to promote and spread the culture of human rights by monitoring the violations by using photos and modern technologies for that", he added, "we aim at stopping the continuous violations and to deliver a clear message to the violators of human rights, that they are not safe from being exposed and that they should immediately put an end to these violations". The media committee in the BCHR calls upon all photographers and media workers to work on tracking and monitoring further violations of human rights on all levels or the targeted groups from these violations and issues such as torture, discrimination and violations of the rights of women or the migrant workers or any other subject, and there are many more prizes awaiting its winners."

Because of their Assistance in Producing a Program that Sheds Light on the Children Deprived of Citizenship

Interrogating the Disadvantaged and Human rights defenders

24 July 2010

In a new precedent that aims at suppressing freedom of opinion and expression, and which demonstrates the Authority's oppression in listening to its critics, and its policy in depriving and denying the Bahraini children who are from a Bahraini mother their right to a Bahraini nationality, the National Security Apparatus (Intelligence) summoned two female activists from the Bahrain's Women Association to interrogate them about the assistance they provided to Al-Jazeera news channel in holding a TV interview it had produced about children who are deprived of citizenship in the Arab World.

Two activists[1] in the Bahrain's Women Association received two phone calls from the National Security Apparatus (Intelligence) demanding them to immediately attend the Investigation Building, without giving reasons or the subject intended for investigation. One of the activists demanded the members of the Apparatus to send a summons according to the official framework which indicates who the summoning party is and the reasons behind the summons, instead of summoning via the phone, which violates the legal norms of summons which are carried out by security institutes, especially that the summons was made on a Friday, 2/7/2010, which is the weekly day off in all public and private departments and state institutions. Besides the two activists, two disadvantaged Bahraini females, whom Al-Jazeera Channel interviewed, were also summoned, and they were a sample of mothers whose children have been deprived of the Bahraini citizenship.

Al-Jazeera Channel

Al-Jazeera Channel previewed on 9/7/2010 an episode from the program's case, and which is the program whose production caused summoning the activists. The topic addresses the phenomenon of denial of citizenship for the children of female citizens in some Arab countries. The Bahraini Authorities had suspended Al-Jazeera's activities last May and prohibited the channel's crew from entering the country on the background of previewing a documentary broadcasted by Al-Jazeera Channel on 17 May 2010, within the weekly program "Economy and People" which addressed poverty in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The Ministry of Culture and Information justified its decision at that time that the news channel did not respect the laws governing the press sector, clarifying that the suspension will continue until an agreement on a memorandum of understanding outlining the relationship between the ministry and the channel in question is reached. The BCHR believes that pressurizing Al-Jazeera Channel to look into the memorandum of understanding is intended to set more restrictive constraints on this Channel as is the case with the rest of the channels, news agencies and correspondents working in Bahrain, and which aims for the dominance of the Bahraini Authorities and maintaining their control over the information sector and excluding all programs that do not correspond to their policy. The Bahraini Authorities practice restrictions on the foreign channels and news agencies and its correspondents in Bahrain through the Department of Foreign Media, and which is part of the Ministry of Information only in form while it actually operates as part of the National Security Apparatus (Intelligence).

The two activists who have been summoned are from the Bahrain's Women Association for Human Development and which is a non-political social association, and which is considered one of the most active women associations in Bahrain. Despite its recent establishment, the association's name managed to emerge on the local and international level, especially for the type of programs it is active in and which exceeds the traditional role of women associations in the Arab region. As well as defending women's rights, the association has been active in the environmental field through its program (the environmental citizenship), in addition to the topic of human development by holding several conferences to discuss the UN report on human development. Its name also emerged when coordinating a national, Gulf and Arab campaign under the title: "My nationality is a right for me and my children", and which aims at defending and urging for the children of the Bahraini mother to obtain their mother's nationality. Due to all these continuous local and regional activities, the Bahrain's Women Association acquired a consultative status at the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, and it is the first and only Bahraini Association to be granted this membership.

Naturalization and Deprivation of Nationality

Dealing with the issue of naturalization and the deprivation of nationality is considered one of the multiple aspects of discrimination in Bahrain. While the country's King had declared closing the file of the deprived of nationality, there are still many who are deprived of the nationality who have not obtained their rights to a Bahraini citizenship, although their mothers are Bahrainis and both their mothers and them were born and raised in this country, and this takes place at a time where the Authority openly brings thousands of tribe members from some of the Arab and Asian countries and grants them the Bahraini citizenship in an illegal manner. The apparent discrimination against women in the citizenship law that is currently being implemented is incompatible with the obligations of Bahrain towards The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and The Convention on the Rights of the Child whose seventh Article states, "The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents" and it also states that, "States Parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights in accordance with their national law and their obligations under the relevant international instruments in this field, in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless," and the tenth Article of the same Convention indicates that, "Applications by a child or his or her parents to enter or leave a State Party for the purpose of family reunification shall be dealt with by States Parties in a positive, humane and expeditious manner."

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights recommends:

· Granting the civil society institutes the freedom to meet all the media agencies in order to shed light on its humane message;

· Stop targeting the activists of the civil society institutes and to provide the appropriate conditions for them to carry out their social role to the fullest, without targeting or restricting them;

· Lifting the ban imposed on the activities of Al-Jazeera channel and to provide the appropriate environment for the press and media institutions to carry out their role freely and independently;

· Granting the right to nationality to the children of the female citizen on the basis that it is the right of the child and his or her mother, guaranteed by the international conventions of human rights.

[1] The BCHR is retaining their names

Nabeel Rajab Appointed as the Deputy Secretary-General for the International Federation for Human Rights

In a the FIDH International Board meeting which was held in Paris from 9 through 11 July, 2010, it was decided to appoint the President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab, in the position of Deputy Secretary General and as the permanent representative of the International Federation for Human Rights in the GCC countries.

Besides his new position, Rajab currently holds the position of the president of CARAM Asia – which is a regional organization based in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur and is concerned with defending the rights of migrant workers – he was also chosen at the end of last year to be a member of the advisory board of the Middle East/North Africa at the Human Rights Watch. This is in addition to his presidency of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. Rajab commented on the decision of appointing him by saying, "I hope that this appointing contributes in improving the conditions of human rights in the Arab world and the surrounding Gulf.

The International Federation for Human Rights was established in 1922, and includes 164 organization, association or network engaged in human rights distributed among more than 100 countries. The Federation works for the protection of all civil, political, economic and cultural human rights stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The headquarters of the Federation is based in the French capital, Paris, and it has offices and branches in several countries, among them Hague in the Netherlands, New York in the U.S, and the capital Bangkok in Thailand, Nairobi in Kenya, Cairo in Egypt, Brussels in Belgium and Geneva.

Bahrain: Two organizations Request "Government" Funding to Monitor Elections!!

Having Election Observation without Guaranteeing Independence and Efficiency is to the Detriment of the Neutrality and Credibility

Depending on Government Support or Funding will Increase the Government's Ability to Penetrate the Human Rights Organizations

Receiving Funding from the Executive power is an International Standard for the Lack of Independence of the Non-government Associations

24 June 2010

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is following up in wonder and concern the request of two Bahraini associations – who are expected to be the only two authorized associations to observe the upcoming elections – to receive government funding to carry out election observation[1]. The BCHR fears that this – intentionally or not – would give the Authority more dominance over election observation, and which on the other hand would increase its ability to manipulate the elections and its results, and to mislead internal and foreign public opinion.

It has been proved, from previous experiences in 2002 and 2006, that the government had made use of its power in manipulating the election process in dividing the electorates, and by using the general ballot boxes and the political naturalization and army, and the direct interference in supporting some candidates who are adherent to the Authority or overthrowing it opponents. At a time where the Authority prohibited any external or internal institute to observe the elections, it limited it to two associations, which are the same two associations that are currently requesting the support of Authority to observe the upcoming elections. Despite all that was raised regarding the government's manipulation in the last elections, the outcome of the final report of these two associations in the elections of 2006 was in the interest of the Authority, which raised a lot of babel and criticism, especially from the Authority's opponents, which could demonstrate a failure of performance or being influenced by the Authority's power or pressures.

In addition, it has been proved from the experiences of the last years that the Authority in Bahrain uses various methods to penetrate the non-government human rights organizations and to influence their decisions. These experiences have proven that the human rights organizations are vulnerable to government penetration and influence, and that depending on any government support or funding will increase the government's ability to penetrate and influence.

Note that the international organizations consider that if any non-government organization receives funding, openly or secretly, from the Executive Authority it is an indication of the lack of independency of that organization, and this does not apply to the funding the State allocates for the civil society associations away from the dominance and power of the Executive Authority.

Any institute that intends to take on observing the elections should not do so unless it has secured the bare minimum of the basic requirements, and among them:

§ Enjoying independence; where it does not receive funding or any influence on its work and decisions by the government or any other political institute with a direct interest in the electoral process. § Having human and organizational potential and efficiency to cover the electoral process, geographically and time-wise, otherwise it should not give comprehensive conclusions and should only limit it to the observations it has obtained by the partial field monitoring in terms of quality and quantity, and that it should demonstrate that limitation in its final report. § The final report should not be limited to the voting and the results of the vote counting, yet it should include all the effects of the electoral process and to assess if it has in fact achieved the political rights of citizens, and if it was far from discrimination, and if it was unbiased, and if its system is compatible with the international standards, and if the fundamental liberties, such as the freedom of expression, press and organization is widely provided for both in terms of legislation or in practice. § That no institute, which has been permitted to observe the elections, should accept to be a substitute for international observation which usually has the benefit of greater capabilities, experience and independence. Also, that its report includes an assessment of the Authority's policy towards the international and local observers.

The BCHR encourages that the election observation mostly should be built on voluntary work accompanied with good training, and it has been proved from the experiences of other countries, that the volunteers are more committed and accurate than those who do so for financial benefits. The policy of depending – as much as possible – on volunteer work also benefits reducing the dependence on funding from any source.

The BCHR emphasizes that in case any institute insists on observing the elections without guaranteeing independence and efficiency, this will make that institute liable to become part of the Executive Authority and its plot, instead of being an impartial and credible observing institute.

[1]Alwasat newspaper

Seminar Invitation: Bahrain: deterioration of human rights and public freedoms

Lord Avebury, the Vice-Chairman of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group and Baroness Falkner of Margravine Cordially invite you to a seminar on

Bahrain: deterioration of human rights and public freedoms

Human rights situation is rapidly deteriorating with arbitrary detentions, allegations of torture, crackdown on activists and curtailment of public freedoms. Speakers include international lawyers who have recently witnessed the attacks on protesters

11.00 am Thursday 5th August 2010

1 Abbey Gardens (Annexe to the House of Lords), London SW1P 3SE

For further information please contact: Lord Avebury: 020 7274 4617, Email: ericavebury@gmail.com

Bahrain: Life Sentences against 7 activists in the “Ma'ameer” Case after an Unjust Trial

The Use of Excessive Force against the Defendants and their Families in the Courtroom and its Surroundings

The Sentence is Based on the Anti-Terrorism Law that has been Internationally Condemned

The Court Bases its Sentence on Confessions taken under Torture and Testimonies of Security Officers which do not prove the Charges

The Defendant Kumail Hussein and the signs of torture on his face and hands

11 July 2010

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its deep concern for the recent developments in what is known as the Ma'ameer case and the violent incidents which accompanied the verdict. Contrary to the expectations, the High Criminal Court issued a ruling on Monday 5 July 2010 which convicts seven individuals from the village of Ma'ameer, and sentenced them to life imprisonment on the charge of causing the killing of Sheikh Mohammed Riyad, a Pakistani national 58 years old on 7 March 2009, and who died two weeks after his car was burnt during security confrontations in the village of Ma'ameer. This trial strikes a lot of doubt in its integrity and independency, where the trial was based on the internationally condemned anti-terrorism law, disregarding all the pleas presented by the Defense of the defendants, among them the allegations of extracting confessions under torture and abuse, which was raised by the defendants, their lawyers and the human rights organizations. The BCHR also expresses its concern for the use of excessive force against the defendants and their families, men and women, inside and outside the courtyard by the Security Special Forces which is made up of foreign nationalities.

The Prosecution had charged the defendants with accusations that varied between illegal gathering, arson which led to the death of Sheikh Mohammed Riyad at Salmaniya Medical Complex, two weeks after the incident, where he died due to the burns. The Prosecution claims he had suffered burns after throwing a Molotov cocktail on his car while he was passing through the area of Ma'ameer which was witnessing protests at that time.

At a time where the BCHR expresses its deep regret for the death of the Pakistani national Sheikh Mohammed Riyad, which is a flagrant violation of his right to life, the BCHR believes that Riyad was not the a target himself, he was rather the victim of the security confrontations and the protest witnessed in the Bahraini villages and areas. According to the pleas of the defendants, they were innocent and according to the lawyers, the direct cause of death may be due to his attempt to save an amount of money in the car that was set to fire. The lawyers also provided evidence that indicates that there was negligence during the treatment period.

The Defense decided to challenge the ruling and appeal against the court's decision which completely neglected the torture allegations at a time when there was clear evidence of torture, and they were submitted to court and supported with photographs. This is in addition to the forensic report, and the testimonies of the inmates who witnessed the torture the defendants were subjected to. The Judge refused to form an independent medical committee to look into the torture allegations or to hand over a copy of the forensic report to the Defense. The Defense's request to summon the medical examiner to identify the reasons behind the death of the victim was refused.

Violating the Defendants Right during the Arrest, Interrogation and Trial

The defendants' lawyer protested to the court against the procedures used to detain the defendants in the Criminal Investigation Prison, and interrogating them in the absence of their lawyers by the police officers or by the investigating Public Prosecutor later. Rarely – as in this case – do the defendants get caught red-handed. Usually in the days following the incident arrest campaigns are made based on the set lists of the National Security Apparatus which often target the activists and opponents. The defendants in this case were detained in isolation of the outside world and their lawyers, and they were questioned for long hours until midnight, then they were presented to court which did not put any consideration to discrepancy in the legal procedures or in the torture allegations. It, on the other hand, based its verdicts on the confessions taken under torture, and which the defendants denied before court. The court also depended on the testimonies of the security men whose statements were inconsistent and who did not testify to identifying the defendants while committing the alleged crime. As well, the court did not even accept the statements of the defense witnesses. The court sentenced all the defendants with the same verdict (life sentence) without specifying the degree of responsibility of each one of them for the alleged crime, as is the norm in such cases.

Arresting the defendants and interrogating them coincided with a campaign to condemn and incite hatred, carried out by the ore government media against those defendants, and it worked on politically employing the incident to smear the image of the political opposition and activists and to push for a prior conviction against the defendants before issuing the verdicts.

Systematic Torture to Extract Confessions

Many of the defendants' families confirmed to the BCHR that since the moment of the arrest of their children in March 2009, they were subjected to immense violations and systematic torture in order to extract confessions from them. The BCHR obtained some photographs that support the credibility of these allegations. The Defense team confirmed that their clients were subjected to torture in order for them to state things they did not commit. Among the torture methods the defendants were subjected to, and which was indicated by the Defense in the pleading submitted to the court in the session dated on 23 May 2010, as well as in the statements obtained by the BCHR from the families of the defendants: beating on all parts of the body with solid tools, at a time when the defendants were blindfolded and handcuffed, spraying burning material on the face, attempting to sexually abuse them or threatening to sexually abuse the wife, sister or mother, or by inserting iron pipes in their hind to fill their stomachs with water if they do not state the accusations they were charged with, and throwing one of them off the stairs while being handcuffed, and their relatives were prevented from visiting them for a period that exceeded the first eight months.

The Defendant Hasan Sarhan and the signs of torture on his body

The allegations of torture against the defendants in security cases, or in the demonstrations and protests with political backgrounds witnessed in the Bahraini villages and cities have increased in the last years. The courts, however, do not usually accept those allegations in their final rulings, yet they base their rulings on the confessions that are perhaps taken under torture and coercion, and which the defendants immediately deny when presented to the court judge. The court judges also depend on the testimonies of the security men and especially from the Special Forces who are one of the reasons for these protests and a party in the crisis, and who were brought from some Arabic and Asian countries to suppress these continuous protests in the Bahraini villages and areas. Last February, the Human Rights Watch released a report that addresses the systematic torture against the detainees in the prisons of Bahrain, when they are questioned and interrogated. However, the Bahraini Authorities disregarded that report and the sources of concern it raised. They also disregarded numerous recommendations released by the local and international human rights institutions about torture in Bahrain, including the sources of concern raised by the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) in 2005, and the recommendations the government is called for. Bahrain was supposed to submit its next report to the same committee in 2007; however the Bahraini Authorities did not comply with their international obligations towards these mechanisms to fight torture.

The Use of Excessive Force and Shotgun (internationally forbidden) to Confront the Protestors

As soon as the Judge declared the sentence that convicts the defendants, the voices of the defendants rose in protest against the sentence, and the cries of their families in sorrow for the conviction which made the members of the Special Forces, affiliated with the National Security Apparatus, and who were present in the court, attack the defendants and abuse them and their family members, and to severely beat them with sticks and rods and kick them. These assaults caused many injuries and cases of fainting among the relatives, and the lawyer Balqees Al-Manami was taken to hospital as a result of being beaten by these Forces. These scenes happened in front of the people, some journalists working in the local newspapers, local and international observers; among them the delegate of the British Lawyers Association and another from the London-Based Islamic Human Rights Commission, and which later released a report[1] about the views of its delegate while observing the trial and the assaults of the Special Forces against the detainees and their families.

The families of the defendants protesting outside the Court and in the other photo members of the Special Forces chasing the protestors after issuing the sentence

Later, the relatives were chased and beaten in the streets and alleys of the Diplomatic area where the court building is, by the use of rubber bullets and teargas[2]. The clashes developed to reach and spread in several Bahraini villages which witnessed wide protests on the day of issuing the sentence. The BCHR was informed of the injury of one of the citizens with more than 20 splinters by fire (shotgun) by these Forces in the area of Bilad-al-Qadeem, and he was entered in the recovery room in Salmaniya Medical Complex.

The Verdict is Based on the Internationally Condemned Anti-Terrorism Law

The defendants were trialed based on the Bahraini anti-terrorism law[3], and which is the law that has been condemned by many international organizations[4], among them the United Nations[5], due to lacking the minimum standards of human rights. This law was used, since its issuance, against the political activists or human rights defenders[6], and to suppress the peaceful protest movement which started to escalate in the last years, and which demand the reform of the democratic process, and which calls for setting down immediate solutions to the increasing deterioration in the living conditions for more than half the citizens, and the increase of unemployment and the housing crisis and the systematic discrimination, and the spread of financial and administrative corruption. Despite the clarifications released by the Authority that the bill submitted by the government to the Parliament is to limit the terrorism coming from the outside, it in reality and after the law was approved was proven to be the opposite, where the laws' articles were phrased in a broad manner that enables the Authority to misuse it to restrict public liberties and to intimidate those it considers to be its opponents of political activists or human rights defenders, to stop their activity and to subject them to excessive penalties.

Security-wise Treatment to Solve the Political and Human Rights Crisis

The BCHR had expressed earlier its regret for the death of the Asian victim Sheikh Mohammed Riyad, which comes among a series of incidents of violence and clashes between the Special Security Forces – and an increasing group of protestors who are active at the entrances of the villages in various areas of Bahrain, where they set fire to car tires and garbage containers, and some of them throw stones or Molotov Cocktails at the Special Security Forces, after the latter would fire teargas on the areas, sound bombs and rubber bullets. This comes as a result of the congestion of the political and security conditions in Bahrain, and the ever-growing decline in the rights and liberties, and the escalation of the sectarian discrimination by the State against the Shiite sect. The Authority, and instead of working on changing its policy to resolve those outstanding problems that are causing the crisis through dialogue, it turns to security solutions by bringing more foreign forces from abroad to suppress these protests, and through the continuous arrests, and the political trials that have become clear that they only lead to more security congestion and tensions but not solutions.

For all those reasons,

the BCHR believes that these sentences are political decisions intended to intimidate the opponents and to restrain the movements of the mounting protests in the Bahraini villages and areas, and that this sentence lacks professional integrity and independency required by judicial work. Based on that, the BCHR demands:

1. An impartial and independent re-investigation in the incident that Sheikh Mohammed Riyad was subjected to and which led to his death, under an independent supervision of the relevant civil society institutions. 2. Guarantee the international standards related to arrest, interrogation and fair trial of those arrested on charges related to such an incident, to guarantee the integrity and independency of the judiciary, and to guarantee the right of the defendant to be innocent until proven guilty in a court of law which meets the substantives requirements of a fair trail. 3. A fair and impartial investigation in all the allegations of torture raised by those defendants and other defendants in the cases with a political or security background, and to bring the ones responsible to trial and to redress the victims. 4. The Public Prosecution should stop interrogating the defendants in the absence of their lawyers. 5. An independent and impartial investigation in the complaints regarding the violations and transgressions, and the use of excessive force by the Special Security Forces in the courtroom in front of the international observers, and then in the areas that witnessed the protests, and to hold accountable the ones involved and to bring them to fair and impartial justice. 6. Put an end to the policy of the use of foreigners in the State Security Apparatuses and especially the ones dealing security-wise with the citizens, and to stop risking their safety and the safety of others by using them in areas of protests in civilian clothes and cars. 7. Put an end to the policy of employing the security incidents in smearing the reputation of the activists and human rights defenders and hindering their work and pursuing them. 8. Treat the causes of the political and security congestions that the country is going through by stopping the policy of systematic sectarian discrimination, and to guarantee the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of all citizens.

References: [1]IHRC Report [2]Video of the events outside the court [3]BCHR statement on the anti-terrorism law [4]International Amnesty Statement on the anti-terrorism law [5]Front Line Statement on the anti-terrorism law [6]UN Statement on the anti-terrorism law

Bahrain: The Persistence of the Decline in the Freedom of Opinion and Expression and Restricting the Publication Media

The Summoning of the Journalist Al-Sawad and Interrogating Him

National Security head, Sheikh Khalifa bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa

18 July 2010

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concern for the Bahraini Authorities persistence in attempting to silence the voices and block and conceal the truth of the local and international public opinion, by targeting some journalists and writers, and which was this time resembled in summoning the journalist Mohammed Al-Sawad and questioning him on the charge of publishing news related to the former Minister Mansoor bin Rajab, and where the Public Prosecution had issued a decision of banning publishing anything related to his case.

The BCHR was informed that the Public Prosecution had summoned the writer and journalist in "Al-Bilad" newspaper Mohammed Al-Sawad to interrogate him, and charged him with publishing news and information about a case where a decision to ban any publishing in this case has been issued by the Public Prosecutor. The Public Prosecution, and in forming its file against Al-Sawad depended on the Penal Code of 1976. Al-Sawad is facing a penalty of violating the publishing ban according to Article 246 of the Penal Code of 1976 and which states, "A punishment of imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding BD100 shall be inflicted upon any person who published the following by any method of publication: News reports concerning an on-going inquiry regarding a crime or one of the documents of such inquiry or if the investigating authority has decided to conduct without the presence of the litigants or if it has banned the release of any details relating thereto in order to maintain public order or morals or to discover the truth."

According to the journalist Al-Sawad, "the case of the former Minister is out of the mandate of the Public Prosecution and is now in the jurisdiction of the court, and thus, the decision to ban publishing automatically becomes invalid, and such decisions only continue until the interest of the investigation is achieved, then it is annulled automatically, as there is no thing as an infinite decision to ban publishing". Al-Sawad indicated, "The aim of publishing is to inform the public of the proceedings of the most significant issues of public opinion".

Mohammed Al-Sawad had addressed in "Al-Bilad" newspaper,on 1 June 2010, the subject of the case of the former State Minister Mansoor bin Rajab, and which is the case that preoccupied local and foreign public opinion since the moment of interrogating the former Minister last March, on the charge of money laundering inside the country and abroad, and at that time it was implied to public opinion by government newspapers that the funds belong to Iran's Revolutionary Guards and that they are derived from smuggling opium, and that they are related to Hezbollah in Lebanon, and that the former Minister had photographs of military sites he intended to deliver to Iran. While the Public Prosecution did not confirm the Minister bin Rajab's relation with Iran or Hezbollah at that time, it neither denied it and kept it a mystery, which suggested to local and international public opinion that these allegations were true without that being part of the case file according to the defense. The Public Prosecution instantly issued a decision of banning the circulation of information in this case after the defense of the dismissed Minister submitted a request to summon one of the members of the ruling family, and who is the National Security head, Sheikh Khalifa bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa.

Regularly, the Bahraini Authorities prohibit publishing in the cases that may cause it embarrassment or public disorder, taking advantage of the lack of independency in the Bahraini judiciary. In October 2006, the High Criminal Court issued a decision to ban publishing in the largest scandal that alarmed the country, and who had an influential ruling family member involved in it, and he is Sheikh Ahmed bin Atyat-Allah Al-Khalifa and who holds the post of Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs, and which was named "Bandargate" scandal in attribution to the person who revealed it, and he is the former government adviser Dr. Salah Al-Bandar. The ban is effective until this day without any mentionable logical reasons. This is an apparent violation of freedom of opinion and expression, as well as the right of people to access correct information, especially what was stated in the second paragraph of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, "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."
Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights demands the following from the Bahraini Authorities:

1. Withdraw the case filed against the journalist Mohammed Al-Sawad and to immediately stop interrogating him; 2. stop the continuous targeting of writers and journalists, and to provide a healthy environment for them to carry out their duties perfectly without any restrictions or intimidation; 3. Stop using the judicial authority as a tool to restrict journalists or suppress the freedom of opinion and expression, and to besiege publication media through liberty restricting laws and through the imprisonment or fine sentences; 4. To immediately lift the ban from circulating information related to the proceedings of the case of the dismissed Minister and the other banned cases, such as the case of Salah Al-Bandar, as they are public opinion cases that concern each citizen, and to stop violating human rights in obtaining information and news related to their fundamental rights.

The Observatory: Yemen: Acts of intimidation and threats of travel restrictions faced by Mr. Nabeel Rajab

7 July 2010

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the acts of intimidation and threats of travel restrictions faced by Mr. Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights.

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 Yemen.

According to the information received, on June 19, 2010, upon his arrival at the airport of Sana’a in Yemen, Mr. Nabeel Rajab was stopped, interrogated by two security officers about the aim of his visit to Yemen and his religious beliefs, and his luggage was searched between 3 and 6.30 pm, before being eventually authorised to enter the country. Upon his departure on June 23, 2010, Mr. Rajab was again stopped at the airport, submitted to a rough interrogation by a team of three security officers, including a security officer named Mr. Fayez Ali, his luggage was searched and his passport confiscated until his departure. During the interrogation, the officers used rude language and asked him about whom he met and the places he had visited in Yemen. After two hours, he was brought by the officers to the plane and asked not to come back to Yemen otherwise he would “face consequences”.

In August 2009, Mr. Nabeel Rajab had conducted an FIDH fact-finding mission on the situation of human rights in the framework of the fight against terrorism and security threats in Yemen. The findings of the report were published in January 2010[1] and Mr. Rajab was then visiting Yemen to present the report to the Yemeni authorities, civil society and diplomatic missions and to participate in a workshop aiming at discussing about the follow-up of the recommendations addressed to Yemen by the human rights mechanisms of the United Nations - in particular the Universal Periodic Review and the Committee Against Torture. Following these events, FIDH asked the authorities of Yemen for clarification regarding these acts of intimidation against its mission delegate but did not receive any reply.

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about the above-mentioned acts of intimidation and threats of travel restrictions in Yemen faced by Mr. Nabeel Rajab, which seem to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities and in particular the cooperation of Mr. Rajab and the organisation he is representing with UN mechanisms. The Observatory believes in this regard such travel restrictions unfairly and arbitrarily impair his ability and the ability of the organisation he is representing to address regional and international organisations and fora about human rights concerns, thus violating Article 9.5 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the General Assembly on December 9, 1998, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to unhindered access to and communication with international bodies with general or special competence to receive and consider communications on matters of human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

Actions requested:

The Observatory urges the authorities of Yemen to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Nabeel Rajab;

ii. Put an end to any kind of harassment against Mr. Nabeel Rajab as well as against all human rights defenders in Yemen and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their work without hindrances;

iii. Conform in any circumstances with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, 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”, above-mentioned Article 9.5 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 Yemen.

Addresses:

· General Ali Abdullah Saleh, President of the Republic of Yemen, Sana’a, Yemen. Fax: + 967 127 4147

· His Excellency Dr Ghazi Shaif al-Aghbari, Ministry of Justice, Sana’a, Republic of Yemen, Fax: +967 1 222 015

· His Excellency Dr. Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, Minister of Foreign affairs, Sana’a, Republic of Yemen, Fax: + 967-1-536 952

· Her Excellency Houda ‘Ali ‘Abdullatif al-Baan, Ministry for Human Rights, Sana’a, Republic of Yemen, Fax: +967 1 444 833

· Ambassador Monsieur Ibrahim Saied Mohamed Al-Adoofi, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Yemen to the United Nations in Geneva, 19 Chemin du Jonc, 1216 Cointrin, Switzerland, Tel: +41 22 799 05 10. Fax: +41 22 798 04 65, E-mail: mission.yemen@ties.itu.int

· Ambassador Abdulwhab Mohamed ALSHAWKANI, Embassy of the Republic of Yemen in Brussels 114 av. F.D. Roosevelt, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium. Tel: + 32 2.646.52.90, Fax: + 32 2.646.29.11, Email : yemen@skynet.be

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

Fidh.org

IHRC: Bahrain – 7 of 10 Ma’ameer detainees found guilty and sentenced to life

5 July 2010 (0830 GMT)

BREAKING NEWS / PRESS RELEASE: Bahrain – 7 of 10 Ma’ameer detainees found guilty and sentenced to life; IHRC Trial Observer witnesses excessive use of police force against convicted men, their relatives and supporters inside and outside court; Tear gas and rubber bullets used to disperse demonstrators outside court room

Islamic Human Rights Commission Trial Observer, Abed Choudhury has reported the judgment (0830 GMT) in the case of the Ma’ameer 10 in Manama[1]. Seven of the ten men have been found guilty of murdering a Pakistani truck driver, despite numerous investigations by human rights groups, including IHRC, which found that evidence used against the suspects was either non-existent or suspect in itself. In some cases the police interrogators used torture and threats to extract confessions. All the men were activists against the on-going discrimination against Bahrain’s majority Shi’a community.

A life sentence in the context of Bahrain usually means 25 years. The verdict and sentencing in this trial was only a few minutes long, and no explanation behind the judgement was given, reports Choudhury. He further states that as the judge left the room, the courtroom erupted into emotional scenes:

“The convicted men began chanting Allahu Akbar (God is Great) while relatives and supporters began shouting in protest at the sentences. At this stage, police in the courtroom became very heavy handed. I saw some 10 – 15 police officers pushing one prisoner Jasim Hassan Ahmed, against a wall and using extreme force against him. Likewise relatives and supporters including women, were surrounding by disproportionate numbers of officers using force.

“Immediately outside the courtroom, police were trying to push back supporters and relatives. One of the convicted men’s father Ali Farhan shouted at a police officer. Again some 10 – 15 police officers followed him, and threw him on the floor and arrested him. Many of the supporters rushed to him to help and more police officers then rushed in.

“In the meantime riot police arrived and tried to disperse the protestors. As this was going on we heard a loud bang and were told that tear gas had been fired.”

By 0845 GMT, Choudhury reports that the demonstrators were mainly dispersed, but he has received reports that tear gas and rubber bullets had been used by riot police to move supporters. Choudhury also came upon the sister of one of the convicted men receiving help and treatment from other supporters. One witness that the woman, herself a lawyer, had confronted police officer about the convictions, and was then set upon by female police officers and beaten. More information on the sentencing and aftermath to follow. For more information and to talk to the IHRC Observer directly, please call (+44) 7877400112. For comment from the IHRC office en London, please call (+44) 20 8904 4222 or (+44) 7958 522196.

Notes to Editor:

[1] The Ma’ameer 10’s case has been monitored by IHRC. To read a short report into one of the previous hearing please visit: Report of the Trial Monitor in the Karzakan and Ma’ameer Cases Bahrain, 2009 http://ihrc.org.uk/attachments/9137_KarzakanMaameerFINAL.pdf pages 9- 10.

[2] Jassim Hasan Ahmed’s arrest was also a violent affair. He was beaten in front of his young nephew during his arrest even though he did not resist arrest. He was left hanging from the ceiling at the police station for several days; they also used pepper spray on him. Jasim’s case is extremely worrying as his family claim that the public prosecutor, Usama Al Asfoor, threatened to rape Jasim’s wife and personally torture Jasim unless he signed the confession. -------------------------------------

Source: http://ihrc.org.uk

The Islamic Human Rights Commission is an NGO in special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Islamic Human Rights Commission PO Box 598 Wembley HA9 7XH United Kingdom Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222 Fax (+44) 20 8904 5183 Email: info@ihrc.org This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Web: www.ihrc.org