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An open letter to the King of Bahrain to avoid the worst case scenario

BCHR reports a widespread and fast going call on Facebook and other internet mediums for wide protests on Monday 14 February 2011 as a “Day of Rage” in Bahrain

BCHR calls on the King of Bahrain to ease tensions by: releasing detainees, dissolving the National Security Apparatus and engaging in serious dialogue on disputed issues

BCHR calls to avoid the use of force against peaceful protests and to guarantee basic rights such as freedom of assembly and freedom of opinion including the free use of social networking

12th February, 2011

The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights has sent today an open letter to the King of Bahrain to avoid the worst case scenario, by releasing more than 450 detainees including human rights defenders, religious figures and more than 110 children, dissolving the Security apparatus and prosecute its official responsible of violations and to start serious dialogue with civil society and opposition groups on disputed issues such as political participation, corruption by high officials, housing and low income problems and discrimination and naturalization on sectarian basis.

The BCHR has also called on the King to take measures to insure avoiding the use of force by security forces against peaceful protests which might take place in the very near future and to guarantee basic rights such as freedom of assembly and freedom of opinion including the free use of social networking. The letter from the BCHR to the King of Bahrain comes in the wake of a widespread call on Facebook and other internet mediums for wide protests on Monday 14th February 2011 as a “Day of Rage” in Bahrain. Up to the time of issuing this release, one of the many pages engaged in this campaign has attracted more than 11.000 fans. (The page name is “ثورة 14 فبراير في البحرين” which means “the revolution of 14th February in Bahrain”).

The president of the BCHR, Nabeel Rajab, has warned from the capital Manama about the mounting tension which has been building up for the last few years but has been sharply escalated as a result of inspiration by the recent events in Tunisia and Egypt.

“The release of all the detainees in Bahrain will not solve the main highly disputed issues between the ruling family and the majority of the people. However, it could help to ease the tension and pave the way for a serious, instant and constrictive dialogue on issues such as; political participation, corruption by high officials, housing and low income problems and discrimination and naturalization on sectarian basis” said Mr. Rajab. “The dissolving of the security apparatus and the prosecution of its officials will not only distance the King from the crimes committed by this apparatus especially since 2005, such as systemic torture and the use of excessive force against peaceful protests, but will avoid the fatal mistake committed by similar apparatuses in Tunisia and Egypt which lead to the loss of lives and hundreds of casualties and eventually resulted in the fall of the regimes who created these “double edged swords”, added Mr. Rajab.

Mr. Rajab clarified further that the BCHR warned during 2005-2007 against the amounting use of excessive force by the security apparatus against peaceful protests by disadvantaged groups such as the unemployed, which eventually lead to more violent trends by angry youths especially in predominantly Shia’a populated areas and villages. Then, since December 2007, the BCHR warned against using these violent atrocities as pretexts to wage waves of crackdown on human rights defenders and political activists accusing them, without profound evidence, of “instigating hatred or violence” against the regime. The last and most atrocious crackdown started in mid-August 2010 resulting in the high restriction of basic freedoms, the surrounding and harassing of Shia’a villages around the clock, arbitrary detention and systematic torture of hundreds of people who are still in prisons being subjected to unfair trials and harsh punishments. All these violations which have been widely documented and condemned by various national and international human rights organizations, widened and escalated the outrage in Bahrain.

“Now that different groups of youths have taken the initiative to call for a wide protest starting on Monday 14 February, no one is completely sure what is going to happen on February 14th, if it is going to be “The Day of Rage” in Bahrain or if it is going to be just the start of series of events that we hope will end in enhancing rights and freedoms and an escalation into chaos or bloodshed” concluded Mr. Rajab.

Fore more information please contact: Bahrain Centre for Human rights Nabeel Rajab Email: info@bahrainrights.org Mobile: 0097339633399 Twitter: Bahrain Rights | Nabeel rajab

Bahrain: Crackdown in Bahrain: Human Rights at the crossroads

Index Number: MDE 11/001/2011 Date Published: 11 February 2011 Categories: Bahrain

Human rights have come under increasing pressure and rising tension between the government and its critics. Hundreds of people have been arrested or imprisoned for participating in protests. In August-September 2010, the authorities swooped on 23 opposition political activists, detaining them incommunicado for two weeks during which some allege they were tortured. Meanwhile, the authorities have curtailed freedom of expression, closing critical websites and banning opposition publications. Years of progress and achievement could be erased unless urgent measures are taken to reverse the downward trend.

Read the full report (PDF)


HRW World Report 2011 - Bahrain

Events of 2010

Human rights conditions in Bahrain deteriorated sharply in the latter half of 2010. Starting in mid-August authorities detained an estimated 250 persons, including nonviolent critics of the government, and shut down websites and publications of legal opposition political societies.

Authorities detained 25 of the most prominent opposition activists and accused many of them of "spreading false information" and "meeting with outside organizations." Some rights activists were among those held and allegedly tortured. Authorities prevented detainees from meeting with their lawyers prior to the first session of their trial, and allowed only extremely brief meetings with some family members.

This crackdown came after months of street protests, which often involved burning tires and throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. Among the first people arrested were activists who had just participated in a public meeting in London where they criticized Bahrain's human rights record.

The main exception to these dismal human rights developments involved improved protections for migrant workers.

Torture and Ill-Treatment

Almost all of the 25 prominent activists-whose trial began on October 28-told the court, some in considerable detail, that they had been subjected to torture. Lawyers able to attend the public prosecutor's pretrial interrogations of clients said that in some cases they observed marks and wounds that appeared consistent with the allegations.

A Human Rights Watch report released in February 2010 concluded that in the 2007-2009 period, the authorities regularly resorted to torture and ill-treatment when interrogating security suspects. Officials denied these findings, but apparently conducted no criminal investigations and ordered no disciplinary measures against alleged perpetrators.

On March 28 an appellate court convicted 19 men of the murder of a security officer, overturning their acquittal by a lower court in October 2009. The lower court judge determined that there was no evidence linking them to the crimes other than confessions that appeared to have been coerced.

Counterterrorism Measures

The government charged at least 23 of those detained in August and September under Law 58/2006, Protecting Society from Terrorist Acts, which allows for extended periods of detention without charge or judicial review. The United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism has criticized the law's broad definitions of terrorism.

Freedom of Expression

In September the Information Affairs Authority blocked websites and blogs associated with the opposition. On state-run Bahrain TV on September 20 Abdullah Yateem, the general director of press and publications at the authority, said that websites and bloggers had committed 12 crimes, and he specifically mentioned: offending the person of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, incitement to overthrow the government, publishing information about bomb-making, and slander and defamation. Yateem also banned publication of the newsletters of several opposition political societies, which are political groups the government allows, unlike other opposition groups that have no legal status.

On September 4 Ali Abdelemam, whose popular Bahrain online blog carried information about human rights developments, responded to a summons to appear at the headquarters of the National Security Agency, a body that operates outside the criminal justice system and reports directly to King Hamad. Authorities refused his request to contact a lawyer, even at his formal interrogation. At the opening session of the October 28 trial of 25 prominent activists, Abdulemam said he was subjected to torture and degrading treatment.

Municipal officials ordered one Waad Party candidate in the National Assembly election scheduled for October 23 to remove billboards with the slogan "Enough to Corruption," saying it was "a breach of the law" but not indicating which law. A court ruled on October 4 that the banners did not violate the law, but the government appealed.

The Ministry of Information suspended the satellite station Al Jazeera on May 18, the day after the channel broadcast a feature about poverty in Bahrain. On July 2, police summoned for questioning two volunteers with the Bahrain Women's Association who had spoken with Al Jazeera about challenges they face being married to non-Bahrainis.

On August 16, 2010, Al-Wasat, Bahrain's one independent newspaper, reported that the minister of information suspended its online audio reports. The suspension came after several of the reports featured persons alleging mistreatment of inmates in Jaw prison.

Freedom of Association

In April the minister of social development denied the request of the Bahrain Human Rights Society to hold a monitoring workshop for human rights defenders in the Gulf region, saying it would violate the association law, which prohibits organizations from involvement in political activities. The ministry subsequently allowed the workshop to take place in late May.

In August the ministry wrote to the Migrant Workers' Protection Society saying that the society's shelter was not legally registered and would have to close. This followed an incident in which a migrant domestic worker fled to the shelter from the home of a high ministry official, claiming she had been abused. The society responded by providing a copy of the government's 2005 authorization of the shelter, noting that in previous years the ministry had donated funds to support the shelter.

The government continues to deny legal status to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), which it ordered dissolved in 2004 after the group's then-president criticized the prime minister for corruption and human rights violations.

On April 5 Bahrain's Lower Criminal Court fined Mohammad al-Maskati, president of the Bahrain Youth Human Rights Society (BYHRS), BD500 (US$ 1,325) for operating an unregistered NGO. The BYHRS attempted in 2005 to register with the Ministry of Social Development, as required by law, but received no response to its application.

Human Rights Defenders

Those detained in the wave of arrests in August and September and allegedly tortured included Abd al-Ghani al-Khanjar, spokesperson for the National Committee for the Victims of Torture, and Muhammad Saeed al-Sahlawi, a BCHR board member.

On September 1 the pro-government daily Al Watan featured a front-page article alleging that BCHR president Nabeel Rajab and former president Abd al-Hadi al-Khawaja were linked to a "terrorist network" responsible for arson attacks and plotting sabotage. A similar article appeared on the official Bahrain News Agency website on September 4, but was removed the following day.

On September 6 Salman Kamaleddin resigned as the head of the newly established official National Institution for Human Rights to protest the institution's failure to criticize the recent arrests.

On September 8-after the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) criticized the widespread arrests and alleged torture of detainees-the Ministry of Social Development dismissed Abdullah al-Dirazi, the group's secretary general, dissolved the group's board of directors, and appointed a ministry official as "interim director." The minister accused the organization of "only serving one segment of society," communicating with illegal organizations, and conducting "secret training" of regional rights defenders, referring to the May workshops that the ministry expressly approved and that were well publicized at the time. The BHRS had been the main Bahraini organization permitted to monitor parliamentary elections scheduled for October 23; the government refused to allow international observers.

Migrant Worker Rights

Over 460,000 migrant workers, primarily from South Asia, work in Bahrain. Many experience prolonged periods of withheld wages, passport confiscation, unsafe housing, excessive work hours and physical abuse. Government redress mechanisms remained largely ineffective.

In August 2009 Bahrain adopted Decision 79/2009 allowing workers to change jobs more freely. The reform does not apply to domestic workers and many workers remain unaware that they have the right to change employment freely.

A draft labor law circulated in May 2010 extends some rights to domestic workers, including annual vacation and end-of-term pay, but still excludes them from provisions mandating maximum work hours and days off. The law also creates a new "case management" mechanism to ensure the adjudication of labor complaints within two months, potentially making litigation a more viable option for migrant workers seeking redress for abuses.

Women's Rights

Bahrain's first written personal status law (Law 19/2009), adopted in 2009, applies only to Sunnis. Shia religious leaders demand a constitutional guarantee that, should a separate personal status law be passed for Shias, parliament will not be able to amend any provision of the law. Women's groups favor a unified law for all citizens in part because Sharia court judges-generally conservative religious scholars with limited formal legal training-decide marriage, divorce, custody, and inheritance cases according to their own individual readings of Islamic jurisprudence, which consistently favor men. It remains unclear to what extent codification has alleviated these problems for Sunni women.

Key International Actors

Bahrain hosts the headquarters of the United States Navy's Fifth Fleet and provides logistical support for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the US provides military aid to Bahrain. The US initially did not publicly criticize the government's crackdown on civil society or other serious abuses; on October 31 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement congratulating Bahrain for its recent parliamentary election, but also expressing concern about "efforts in the lead-up to the elections to restrict freedom of expression and association targeted at civil society."

British officials expressed little concern publicly about the sharp deterioration of human rights conditions. One of the activists arrested in August, Jaffar al-Hasabi, is a dual national, and it reportedly took a phone call from British Foreign Secretary William Hague to Bahrain's crown prince before a British consular visit to al-Hasabi was permitted, about a month after his arrest. Bahrain publicly called on the United Kingdom to investigate and prosecute or extradite two of those indicted in the alleged terrorism case whom reside in London. The UK responded that it would investigate if Bahrain provided evidence of criminal activity. At this writing, Bahrain has provided no such evidence.


Blocking the Documentary ‘Systematic Torture in Bahrain’ on YouTube

In Concurrence with the Increase of Torture Allegations from the Activists and Detainees

08 February 2011

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concern for the Bahraini Authorities persistence in its policy in blocking electronic websites, blogs and forums on the Internet, especially those that contain opinions and ideas which criticize its policy or the practices of its security apparatuses and the violations carried out by them, where the Information Affairs Authority lately blocked the translated version of the documentary film ‘Systematic Torture in Bahrain’ which was prepared and uploaded on the well-known YouTube website by the BCHR.

The browsers inside Bahrain received a block page saying that the documentary film ‘Systematic Torture in Bahrain’ is blocked. This is one of the films that are available on the BCHR channel on YouTube. The BCHR media team had prepared a documentary for the live testimonies of the victims of systematic torture in the Bahraini prisons, who were referred to by the Human Rights Watch organization ‘Torture Redux’[1] report released by the organization last February. The documentary displays seven testimonies of victims who were arrested and tortured in the Criminal Investigation Bureau[2] in December 2007 . The film also includes interviews of some human rights defenders on the issue of torture and Bahrain’s international commitments. The Information Affairs Authority had blocked the film’s page without prior notice and even without justifying the motives behind blocking it. Note that it is blocking the English translated version of the film, and which verifies the Authority’s permanent attempt in concealing the security apparatuses’ practices of torture and maltreatment from the outside world, especially at a time where the torture allegations against hundreds of detainees from the Shiite villages have increased in the last months.

On this occasion, Mr. Nabeel Rajab, president of the BCHR stated, ‘The Bahraini Authorities should have run a transparent and sincere investigation in the torture allegations practiced by the security apparatuses, instead of blocking the documentaries that address those allegations from the outside world, and this policy of obscuring the crimes of torture will contribute in its spread instead of stopping or limiting it, and it will yet show the attempt of the officials in the State to conceal this crime against humanity’.

The BCHR emphasizes that this ongoing organized campaign launched by the Authority in blocking electronic websites contradicts Bahrain’s position as a member in the Human Rights Council, and this is a blatant violation of human rights in the freedom of opinion and expression, and especially Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights endorsed by Bahrain, and which 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.’

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights demands the government of Bahrain, represented by the Information Affairs Authority the following:

1. To lift the ban from all the public dialogue, cultural, social, human rights, political and religious websites, and to annul all the procedures that restrict freedom of opinion and expression or that prevent transmitting information; 2. To meet Bahrain’s international commitments as a party in the international covenants and conventions concerned with freedom of opinion and expression, and to amend Press Law No. 47 of 2002 in accordance with the international standards of human rights; 3. Stop the systematic torture in the prisons of Bahrain and to initiate a sincere, transparent and impartial investigation in all the torture allegations in order to bring forth the perpetrators to justice.

-- [1]www.hrw.org [2]Systematic Torture in Bahrain

STOP Torture in Bahrain: Lets All Stand Together Against Torture

Hear their screams, the victims of torture are calling you

Our Fellow Citizens of the World,

In Bahrain*, the Monarchy imprisons and tortures those who speak out for people’s rights and against injustice. As you read this email there are human rights activists, bloggers, political figures, people with disabilities and children in Bahraini prisons being subjected to torture. There are currently 514 political prisoners in Bahrain, 116 of them are children. While our brothers, fathers and sons scream in their prison cells, we feel helpless.

In recent events we heard some of these prisoners speak in court:

“They threatened to rape my wife, daughters and sister, and every night I heard the screams of others being tortured.”

“Since my arrest when I was taken to an underground prison, I have been severely tortured. They used electric shocks, my eyes were blindfolded and my hands tied behind my back. I was not allowed to sleep for the first 5-6 days.”

“Due to the severity of the beatings on my head and ears, both my ear drums have torn. Some nights I bled due to the severity of the beatings as well as the electric shocks.”

“They warned me last night not to mention in court today any of the torture acts that I was subjected to, such as being stripped naked and sexually assaulted”

YOU can help us. Tell the government of Bahrain to STOP using torture against prisoners, and show Bahrainis that you CARE. That the suffering and torture, blood and tears of Bahrainis will not go unnoticed.

Please hear our call, and respond, so we know we are not alone. Lets all stand TOGETHER AGAINST TORTURE.

In a few minutes you can stand against torture in Bahrain. It’s easy! All you have to do is:

1) Print a copy of the sign: Click Here Or write on a piece of paper with a clear marker:

STOP Torture in Bahrain My name is _______ (Plz write full name) I'm from ________ (country of origin) and I CARE

2) Take a picture of yourself, using your phone or webcam, holding up this piece of paper filled with your information. 3) Send to stoptorturebh@gmail.com and we will upload it for you! 4) You can check out your picture on our facebook page Together Against Torture (You can also use the same picture as your profile picture on facebook, to encourage others to join our campaign.) 5) Please forward this email to all your contacts.

Want to do more? Do you know people who would like to help? Be proactive. Print more copies of the attached file, ask your family and friends to fill them out, and take their pictures to send to us. If you send in more than 10 pictures we will send you a TOGETHER AGAINST TORTURE t-shirt.

*Don’t know much about Bahrain? That’s ok…. For general information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bahrain#Politics

For latest human rights conditions: http://bahrainrights.org/ For International Human Rights Reports: Amnesty Human Rights Watch Report on torture based on interviews with former detainees

In Fear of Transmitting the Tunisian and Egyptian Demonstrations to Bahrain:

Blocking a Facebook Group that Calls People to go Down the Streets and Demonstrate against the Authority’s Policy

6 February 2011

In a new violation of freedom of opinion and expression and publishing, and in a step that reflects a state of confusion, apprehension and anticipation – the Bahraini Authorities block an electronic group on the social network Facebook[1] which calls upon people to go out and protest against the policy of the Authority on February 14th, similarly to what happened in Egypt and Tunisia. Two days after it was launched on Facebook, the Information Affairs Authority blocked the page of a group called – The Revolution of 14th February in Bahrain – and which is a group on Facebook that urges citizens to go down to the streets and protest against the policy approached by the Authority in the political naturalization, sectarian discrimination, and continuous arbitrary arrests of those opposing the Authority’s policy and in order to demand social justice. At a time where the people standing behind this call are not known, it has spread widely among the youth in the Bahraini areas and villages that suffer marginalization and discrimination. That group selected the coming 14th February to be the start of those protests, and which coincides with the tenth anniversary of the National Action Charter.

This is not the first time that the authority blocks certain web pages from the social networks, as it had previously blocked hundreds of websites, web pages, blogs and electronic forums. Many Bahraini bloggers and internet active individuals have to work behind pseudonyms in the local discussion forums. The Authority lately arrested some bloggers and electronic activists in an attempt to curb the wave of the use of technology in exposing the violations of the government, as it arrested the prominent Bahraini blogger Ali Abdulemam, as well as the academic blogger Abdul-Jalil Al-Singace and accused them of terrorism. It also prosecuted the electronic activist Mohammed Al-Rashid due to topics he published on electronic forums.

While the Authority claims that it only uses censorship to blog pornographic websites and those that incite violence and raise sectarian tension, reality proves that the censorship tools are primarily targeted at suppressing the voices and opinions that oppose and defy its policy or those which reveal its transgressions and violations of human rights. The websites of both the BCHR and the Arab Network for Human Rights still remain blocked for years.

The BCHR believes that amidst the rapid development of technology it has become difficult for governments to entirely block all the electronic websites, it however by its insistence on the blocking policy strengthens its position in the black lists of authoritarian and undemocratic countries, and the organization of Reporters without Borders had already listed Bahrain among the group (under monitoring) in its report on the enemies of the Internet.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights demands the government of Bahrain the following:

• Lift the ban from all the public, discussion, cultural, social, human rights, political and religious websites; • Annul all the procedures that could restrict freedom of opinion and expression or that prevents that transmission of information; • Meet its international commitments and respect all forms of freedom of expression as is stated in the international charters and covenants; • Amend Press law 47 of 2002 in accordance with the international standards of human rights


[1]14th Feb Anger Day - Facebook Group

Assaults against Children in Bahrain Continues: Firing a Shot at a Child outside his Home

The child Hasan Ali Jassim before and after the assault incident

4 February 2011

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its great concern for the continuous and dangerous escalation represented in targeting children by firing shots at them; the latest victims being the child Hasan Ali Jassim (15 years old). On Monday January 24th 2011, when the child Hasan Ali Jassim was returning with his friend Haytham Mahdi from the grocery near his house, he heard someone calling him ‘boy!’ which made him stop and turn to see where the voice came from. It was one of the Special Forces police who was in his military car, who then raised his shotgun and fired a shot at the child right beside his house, which caused injuries with several splinters scattered in various parts of his face, head and body. As soon as he reached home his father took him to the emergency section at the Salmaniya Medical Hospital for treatment.

The Medical Report for the Assault Incident

The child Hasan Ali Jassim before and after the assault incident While he was in hospital for treatment, an officer from the Ministry of Interior named Salman Ameer Al-Zarqawi visited him in an attempt to transfer him to the BDF Hospital (military hospital) by force, to be under the supervision of the security apparatuses, however, the child’s father refused to do so in fear for his son from the security apparatuses. This was due to the fact that the security had in several precedents justified a wrongful shooting by incriminating the innocents and victims of those incidents to make them appear as if they are the ones who carried out the assault. Due to the officer’s insistence on transferring the child to the BDF Hospital, the child’s father filed a complaint in Budaiya Police Station against the assault that happened to his son and against the officer’s insistence on transferring his son by force. However, the police, and instead of investigating the matter, arrested the child and detained him with the pretext that there is a complaint filed against him by the abovementioned officer, yet he was released hours later.

The Shotgun Being Used

The shotgun fires a bullet that explodes directly after being shot, which fires dozens of solid balls to spread over a wide area to hit the largest number possible of targets, and this leads to the injury of many amongst the demonstrators. These solid blocks penetrate the human skin to stick to the bones and do not penetrate them, and it is difficult to later extract those blocks from the body due to their small size. There are dozens of Bahraini citizens whose bodies still suffer from the penetration of these objects, and the lodging of these objects in their bodies since the 1990’s. Many were killed as well in the 1990’s due to this weapon. The shotgun is usually used to hunt birds or small animals. Protocol 1 of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) prohibits the use of shotgun or any other similar weapon as the Protocol states, ‘It is prohibited to use any weapon the primary effect of which is to injure by fragments which in the human body escape detection by X-rays.’

Marks of beating on Abbas AlFuraikh’s head and body

The assault of Special Forces on children has reoccurred when on January 3rd of last year the child Fatima Mirza (13 years old) was attacked. She was severely injured in the face, chest and feet – due to the glass of the house scattering when the rubber and sound bullets were fired by those forces inside her room. In another incident on October 29th, 2010 three Bahraini children , two of them 9 years old and a girl aged 6 were injured with various splinters in their bodies due to firing shotgun bullets and rubber bullets at them by members of the Special Forces while they were playing in the garden near their house, at a time when the village was witnessing some protest acts. They were later transferred to Salmaniya Medical Hospital for treatment. On November 3rd, 2010 the same Forces attacked the child Ali Abbas Radhi (14 years old) from Daih village and injured him in the head with a deep-set wound and fractures in his leg and other injuries in different parts of his body. There were no confrontations or security turmoil at the time of the assault which could require the presence of the Forces in the area. The Special Forces were used effectively in the surroundings of villages or areas where the residents are of a Shiite majority, among them elderly women and children who were injured or subjected to suffocation, and a number of properties, houses and mosques have been damaged due to these weapons. The Security Forces used excessive force against several public peaceful gatherings and public seminars. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights believes that this attack is one of many random assaults carried out by these Forces to spread terror and fear amongst the Bahraini Shiite villages and especially among its children and youth in order to scare them from participating in any protest act. Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child which Bahrain endorsed prompts ‘State Parties shall ensure that: No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Based on the provided information, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights demands:

1. Stop targeting children or using violence or weapons against them, especially those that are internationally forbidden; 2. Stop the collective punishment and lift the siege on the villages; 3. Release all the detained children in the political or security cases of a political nature; 4. Investigate in an urgent, neutral and effective manner the incidents of firing shotgun bullets at children and minors, and to bring forth the ones involved, both those responsible and the executors of those crimes to justice.


[1]The Injury of a Child in Der Village after the Special Forces Brutal Attack on her House [2]The Injury of Children with Shotgun and Rubber Bullets [3]Children in Bahrain: Victims of Physical and Sexual Assault and Kidnaps, Arbitrary Arrests and Unjust Trials

Restricting freedom of press and publishing through judicial power: Journalist convicted and fined for violating a gag order

31 January 2011

The BCHR expresses concern about the Bahraini authorities targeting of journalists and writers and putting them on trial, in order to restrict freedom of speech and as an attempt to conceal facts from the domestic and international public opinion.

On the 30th of December 2010, after a trial that lasted about 6 months, the criminal court issued a ruling to fine Mohammed AlSawad, a journalist at Albilad newspaper, with 50 Bahraini Dinars. This after being convicted on charges of spreading news and information on the issue of former Minister Mansoor Bin Rajab, which was one of the issues that the attorney general had issued a gag order on. The public prosecution based their case against AlSawad on the penal code of 1976 which states that: “The crime of publishing any information about an investigation, if the investigation authorities had decided to be conducted in the absence of liabilities or had banned the broadcast in the interest of public order, morality or the emergence of truth, will be punishable by imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding one hundred dinars”.

According to journalist Alsawad: "The issue of the former minister has come out of the mandate of the Attorney General and became the Court's jurisdiction and, therefore, the decision to stop publishing falls automatically. Such decisions continue only for the interest of the investigation, and then get cancelled automatically, since there is no gag order with no end " He also pointed out: "that the purpose of publication is to inform the public on the outcome of the biggest cases of public opinion."

Mohammad AlSawad wrote in the newspaper "AlBilad", which is known to be close to the Prime Minister, on June 1, 2010 an article on the issue of former State Minister Mansoor bin Rajab. This was an issue which preoccupied the public opinion at home and abroad since the moment the investigation started with the former minister last March, on charges of laundering funds at home and abroad. It was suggested to the public by the governmental newspapers that the funds belonged to the Iranian National Guard, and was obtained through the smuggling of opium and was related with Hezbollah in Lebanon. It was also suggested that the former minister was in possession of photographs of military sites which he intended to deliver to Iran. While at the time the public prosecution did not confirm the relationship between Minister Bin Rajab with Iran or Hezbollah, they did not deny it either, but kept it a mystery, which suggested, to the local and the international public opinion that these claims could be valid despite them not being in the case file, according to the defence. When the defence lawyers issued a request to subpoena a minister who is a member of the ruling family, the minister of national security, Sheikh Khalifa bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, the prosecution was quick to issue a ban on the circulation of information in this case. While the King met with the minister and his family later which confirmed the termination of the case, no reference was made in regards to the name of the minister or his meeting with the king in the press release which was published only locally; which confirms the intention of the Authority to keep the image of the minister the same internationally. This was so as not to seem as if the authorities had withdrawn from their decision or was mistaken in the issue of prior conviction of the former minister at the local and international level.

Even after months, the minister was never brought to trial and there were no announcements of any developments, on the other hand, the journalist Alsawad was sentenced. The press is under a very repressive atmosphere especially since the trails of activists is taking place at the same time, which is another example of an investigation under gag order. It seems that Alsawads verdict was intended to promote self-censorship by journalists and to avoid repetition of violation of any gag orders.

Taking advantage of lack of independence of the judiciary in Bahrain, the Bahraini authorities usually prevent publication on any issues that might cause them embarrassment or stirs the public. In October 2006 the criminal court issued a gag order on the biggest scandal which shocked the country. An influential member of the ruling family Ahmad Bin Atiyatallah Al-Khalifa, was involved, who is currently Minister of state for cabinet affairs. This Albandar scandal was named after the person who unveiled it, former government advisor, Salah Albandar. This gag order remains in effect until this very day without any logical reason.

These practices are a clear violation of freedom of opinion and expression as well as the people's right of access to correct information, especially as provided for in the second paragraph of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which provides that "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 appeals to the Bahraini authorities to do the following:

1. Withdraw the sentence against the journalist Mohammed AlSawad. 2. To stop the continuous targeting of journalists and writers and to provide a healthy platform for them to do their duty to the fullest, without pressure or intimidation. 3. To halt the use of the judiciary system as a tool to crack down on journalists, to suppress freedom of opinion and expression. To stop control on the media through publishing laws which restrict freedoms. 4. To immediately lift the gag order placed on forbidden issues such as this case, as well as the issue of Dr. Salah al-Bandar, as those issues are issues of public concern to every citizen.

The Observatory: Administrative harassment against 24 lawyers - BHR 001 / 0111 / OBS 007

24 January 2011

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 that 24 appointed lawyers were referred to a disciplinary committee initiated by the Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs after they refused to abide by an order of the same Minister. They risk penalties ranging from an oral warning, a written warning, temporary disbarment to definitive disbarment, depending whether they have already committed another disciplinary offence. The first meeting of the committee will be held on January 25, 2011.

According to the information received, the Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs ordered the establishment of a disciplinary committee to investigate on 24 lawyers, namely Ali Ahmed Al-Oraibi, Shahnaz Ali Abdullah, Loay Abdul Ghani Qarooni, Nabila Sayad Alawi Majeed, Timor Abdullah Karimi, Ali Abdullah Al Ayoubi, Mohamed Ali Alwatani, Mohamed Eid Al-Husseini, Ibrahim Saleh Ibrahim, Abdul Aziz Abdullah Al Ayoubi, Ibrahim Issa Ramadan, Hassan Abbas Haider, Hussein Jaafar Alnahash, Hussein Mohsen Hussein, Mahmoud Hassan Bash, Ziad Reuven, Mona Mohammed Salim, Nouf Mohammed Yousif, Abdulhadi Ali, Saleh Abdel Karim Al-Marzouq, Abdulali Hamza al-Asfour, Layla Jassim Al-Jawad, Mohammad Ali Mirbati, Ahmed Jassim Abdullah, who had been appointed by the Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs to represent a group of 25 people including 11 human rights defenders accused of “membership to a terrorist network aiming to overthrow the government” in a trial which opened on October 28, 2010 [1]. The 24 lawyers refused to represent the 25 defendants arguing that the respect of the rights of the accused implied that the defendants agreed to the appointment of lawyers.

On December 9, 2010, a first group of lawyers who had been appointed by the 25 defendants decided to withdraw from the case to protest with the decision of the High Criminal Court not to investigate on allegations of torture and ill-treatment made by the defendants.

23 new lawyers were then appointed by the Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs and during the hearing of December 23, 2010, the new lawyers requested the consent of the 25 defendants to represent them in this trial, in accordance with Article 20 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain which states that “anyone accused of an offence must have a lawyer to defend him with his consent”. The 25 refused to be represented by the new defence team and requested representation by their initial defence team. 19 lawyers out of the 23 then decided to withdraw from the case to comply with the rights of the defendants.

New lawyers were again appointed by the Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs and during the hearing of January 13, 2011, some of the new lawyers requested the consent of the 25 defendants to represent them in this trial, in accordance with Article 20 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain which states that “anyone accused of an offence must have a lawyer to defend him with his consent”. The 25 refused to be represented by the new defence team. Four lawyers then decided to withdraw from the case to comply with the rights of the defendants.

On January 20, 2011, at the following hearing, Lawyer Abdul Wahab Amin also decided to withdraw from the case. The Observatory fears that the latter will also be subjected to the disciplinary procedure.

The Observatory is concerned by the administrative harassment faced by the 24 lawyers, which merely aims at punishing them for standing for the respect of the rights of the defence.

The Observatory urges the Minister of Justice to re-examine its decision to open a disciplinary procedure, to put an end to any kind of harassment against lawyers and to refrain from hindering activities of promotion and protection of human rights. The observatory also calls upon the authorities of Bahrain to conform in all circumstances with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Bahrain.

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 lawyers 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”;

* its article 10 which provides that “No one shall participate, by act or by failure to act where required, in violating human rights and fundamental freedoms and no one shall be subjected to punishment or adverse action of any kind for refusing to do so”;

* and its article 12.2 which states 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.


· 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.


Under the Bahraini Authorities Negligence to all the Appeals Demanding the Stop of Torture:

Citizens are Tortured In Front of a Member of Parliament

The officer Faisal Al-Mursi and to the right the Exhibition Police Station

24 January 2011

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its great distress towards the Bahraini Authorities’ persistence in torturing its citizens in the corridors of police stations, prisons and places of detention without taking into account local and international appeals demanding the cease of torture and initiating an investigation in all torture allegations. In the same context, the BCHR received information that a Bahraini citizen was subjected to torture by members of the Special Forces and intelligence officers in the presence of a Member of Parliament[1].

The details of the incident commenced on Thursday January 6th, 2011 when Mr. Mohsen Al-Sharakhat,, who is in his forties from Sanabis, was returning home after playing football beside his house which he does every afternoon. He was surprised by a white car following him after it had been watching them playing football. The car was driven by an officer of Yemeni origins named Faisal Al-Mursi, known in the area for being linked to several torture cases that targeted Shiite villages. Moments later, more than ten cars affiliated with the police surrounded him and they then arrested Al-Sharakhat after he was close to reaching home, which led to his father and uncle being subjected to severe beating by the officer and the rest of the forces with him when they tried to inquire about the reason of the arrest[2].

Mohsen Al-Sharakhat was transmitted to the police station in the Exhibition Area. His brother Saleh, accompanied by the area’s MP and the head of Al-Wefaq parliamentary bloc Mr. Abdul-Jalil Khalil, followed him to file a complaint against the officer Al-Mursi. They were shocked when an officer from the Special Forces and five others wearing civilian clothing who appeared to be of Yemeni and Pakistani origin started to beat Mohsen Al-Sharakhat until blood appeared on his clothes. Some of them were beating him with sticks on his back and head, and others were punching him in his face while others were kicking him all over his body. They also used vile language and insulted him with offensive words aimed at him and his family. They then turned to his brother Saleh who was grabbed and severely beaten in front of the same MP, and in the presence of the deputy head of the capital municipality, Mohammed Abdullah Mansoor. The MP Abdul-Jalil Khalil later informed the BCHR that he was also subjected to vile language and insults when he demanded they stop the beating and torture of citizens, which was taking place in his presence. It seemed as though they were ignorant of the fact that he was a member of parliament. The MP Abdul-Jalil Khalil heads the largest parliamentary bloc which represents more than 50% of the electoral bloc in Bahrain.

The matter developed when the MP filed a written report against the mentioned people, and against the public scenes of torture he had witnessed. Upon realizing who the MP is, the officer threw himself on the ground and pretended to be unconscious. He then got up and filed a report against the victims they had just beaten. Based on the report filed by the officer, the victims of this incident were held in custody at the police station, and two days later they were transferred to the Public Prosecution who then extended their detention for a week pending interrogation. They were released after the matter was exposed in the Bahraini newspapers.’[3]

The recurrence of these incidents and the increase of torture allegations confirm the statements and reports of the BCHR and many other regional and international organizations which verify the presence of torture in prisons and places of detention in Bahrain, which has systematically returned since 2006.

Commenting on this incident, Mr. Nabeel Rajab, president of the BCHR, stated, ‘If torture and degrading treatment is being practiced so plainly against the defendants without any constraints or apprehension in the police stations and in front of the representatives of people, how are they (the detainees) dealt with behind closed doors away from the outside world, and with the existence of numerous torture allegations against the police officers and members of the National Security Apparatus’.

Several criminal detainees died during the last months in the prisons of Bahrain under mysterious circumstances. However, the security apparatuses quickly came up with justifications and explanations in regards to each death which they related to health issues or diseases. Yet, the BCHR has reason to believe that the death of some of those detainees may have been a result of the torture practiced against them during interrogations and detention.

It is worth mentioning that Bahrain is a signatory party to the Convention against Torture. Bahrain has however failed to implement the recommendations given by the committee affiliated with implementing the aforementioned Convention or to amend the laws to measure up to that Convention, especially that the definition of torture in Bahrain is not compatible with the articles of the Convention. Furthermore, all local and international appeals demanding investigations in torture allegations have been ignored.

Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights demands the following from the Bahraini Authorities:-

• To immediately end the systematic torture against all detainees in Bahraini prisons; • To prosecute those responsible and put on trial those involved in crimes of torture, especially those whose names have been mentioned in the report of Human Rights Watch and the rest of the reports released by the BCHR; • To adherence to the commitments, treaties and international recommendations it signed, and among them the recommendations released by the UN Committee against Torture.

-- [1]www.alwasatnews.com/3047 [2]www.alwasatnews.com [3]alwefaq.net