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Bahrain: Lawyers File A Lawsuit Against the Public Prosecutor On A Range of Violations To Their Defendants' Rights

16 Oct 2010

Following is a summary of the lawsuit filed by a group of Bahraini lawyers, litigants for the defendants in the case of the so-called "terrorist network" against the Public Prosecutor on 21 Sep 2010 on a range of violations committed by this institution and which has disrupted its neutrality as an independent institution that subordinate to the judicial authority

Violations of the Public Prosecution have been presented in the following:

- Violation of the provisions of Article 84 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which states: “For a prosecutor, defendant, prosecutor of civil rights and who is responsible for it, and their delegates, to attend all the procedures of the investigation. A member of the Public Prosecutor has to inform them of the day and the place in which investigation procedures take place”. The member of the Public Prosecution can hold investigations in their absence when he deems it necessary, in order to reveal the truth, and once that need ends, and he allows them to review the investigation. In case of urgency, he may proceed with some procedures of the investigative in the absence of opponents, and for those the right to access the papers that prove these procedures. If the member of the Public Prosecution authorizes him ,and if he does not authorize him, it shall be proved in the record:

- Violation of the provision of paragraph c of Article 2 of the Constitution, which stipulates that: "The accused is innocent until proven guilty in a legal trial ,at which he has had all the guarantees necessary to practice the right of defense at all stages of investigation and trial in accordance with the law.

- This is in addition to a violation of the provisions of paragraph b of section 3 of Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that: "Every accused charged with a crime can enjoy during the consideration of his case, and in full equality, the following minimum guarantees: A-To be informed promptly and in detail in a language which he understands ,of the nature of the charge against him and their causes, b- To be given time and facilities which are sufficient for the preparation of his defense, and for communicating with a lawyer of his own choosing,”

- As well as violation of the second paragraph of Article 61 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which states: “one who is arrested shall be confronted by the reasons for his arrest, and shall have the right to communicate, with his family in order to inform them of what had happened and to consult a lawyer.” Knowing that the Public Prosecution refused to permit the appellants to meet their lawyers, either before or after the start of the investigation, contrary to the provisions of Article 146 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

- This was accompanied by violations of the provisions of the Constitution and laws of many other violations, forcing the lawyers of the appellants to address the Public Prosecutor in accordance with their letter of 07/09/2010 Document No. 1, which included a whole description for all offenses committed by the Public Prosecutor.

Delegates of the appellants concluded in their above statement by demanding insurance of all the rights established in favor of the appellants, including their demand to enable them to meet the appellant’s pursuant to the provisions of Article 146 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which states that: "The public prosecutor may order the imprisoned defendant not to communicate with other prisoners ,and not to be visited , without violating the right of the defendant to communicate with his defender in private”.

To avoid repetition, allow us to refer the content of that letter, in terms of what is listed as the facts and reasons as an integral part of these Regulations.

First: On Facts:

As of the date of 13 Aug 2010 and subsequent different dates , security bodies whether represented by National security apparatus or security forces of Ministry of the Interior, did arrest the appellants and others, and these parties declared that the arrest of the appellants and others have been based on the permissions issued by the Public Prosecution.

As of the date of 28 Aug 2010 and subsequent different dates, investigations of the Public Prosecution began with the appellants, starting with the first appellant, whom have been convicted by several charges including, for example, but not limited to, the establishment and management of an organization whose purpose is promoting disabling provisions of the Constitution, the establishment of an unlawful organization , in order to turn over the main statute of the state, participation and promotion to change the political or the social or the economic system of the state. Public Prosecution has issued resolutions against each appellant by imprisonment up to 60 days.

Procedures for arresting and investigating with appellants have suffered a number of explicit and clear violations of the provisions of law related to providing guarantees of the right to defend assigned to any defendant ,in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, laws , conventions and international treaties which Bahrain joined, and which are therefore part of the National Legislative System.

Second: On Causes:

Since the public prosecution has deprived and still deprive the appellants from meeting their lawyers, despite their lawyer’s request submitted to the Public Prosecutor in the above statement, and still the injunction is in effect depriving the appellants of their most basic rights and their legal safeguards with the continuation of investigations with the appellants, which could hurt them a great harm , that is still continuing due to lack of response by the Public Prosecution - represented by the Public Prosecutor - to the request of the appellants and their lawyers pursuant to the rule of law. It is indisputable that this right is unquestionable, being assigned by the law.

Therefore, the appellants seek justice from this distinguished court, in an urgent article to compel the defendant to issue permission for the appellants ,to meet with their delegates whose names listed in these Regulations, with imposing legal fees and attorney's fees on the defendant.

Signed by Lawyers: 1. Hassan Ali Red. 2. Abdullah Alcamlawi. 3. Jaleela Elsayed Ahmed. 4. Mohamed Ahmed Abdallah. 5. Mohammed Issa AlTajer. 6. Hafiz Ali. 7. Issa Ibrahim Salman. 8. Sami Seyaadi. 9. Abdul Jalil Hassan Al Aradi. 10. Mohammed Madan. 11. Osama Almkabi. 12. Hussein Al-Haddad. 13. Fatimah Khalf. 14. Mohammed Al-Jeshi. 15. Hassan Al-Nowah 16. Mahmoud Rabie.

Appellants:

1. D. Abdul Jalil Abdullah Yusuf Alsingace. 2. Sheikh Saeed Mirza Ahmad Nouri 3. Sheikh Mohammed Habib Mansour Miqdad. 4. Abdul-Ghani Issa Ali AlKhanjar. 5. Jafar Ahmed Jassim Alhesabi. 6. Sheikh Abdullah Al-Issa Al-Mahroos 7. Sheikh Abdul Hadi Abdullah Almkhawder. 8. Mohammed Saeed al-Sahlawi 9. Seyed Kazem Seyed Al Alawi 10. Ahmed Jawad Ahmed Jawad. 11. Ebrahim Tahir. 12. Suhail al-Shihabi. 13. Al-Hur Yousif Alsmikh 14. Hussain Imran. 15. Ahmad Jamsheer Fairuz. 16. Hassan Hamad Al-Haddad. 17. Salman Naji Salman Ahmad. 18. Abdul-Ameer Jaffer Rashid Aradi. 19. Abdel Hadi Abdullah Al Ali Al Saffar. 20. Hussein Sahlawi. 21. Sayed Aqeel Ahmed Ali al-Moussawi. 22. Ali Hassan Abdalimam.

Network for Education and Academic Rights : Bahrain Professor Mistreated in Detention

14 October 2010

A professor and blogger has been subjected to violence since his arrest on 4 September, Scholars at Risk reported on 14 October (scholarsatrisk.nyu.edu).

Dr Abduljalil al-Singace, mechanical engineer at the University of Bahrain and Director of the Human Rights Bureau of the Haq Movement for Civil Liberties and Democracy, was arrested by the authorities on 13 August at Bahrain International Airport as he returned from London with his family. Whilst in the UK, al-Singace attended a seminar on Bahrain at the House of Lords, where he criticised Bahrain’s human rights practices. He was accused of “inciting violence and terrorist acts” yet Bahrain officials are yet to issue a formal charge that would justify his arrest.

International reports indicate that after several weeks in detention, Professor al-Singace has been permitted a meeting with legal counsel. His lawyer has reported that during detention, al-Singace has been subjected to severe mistreatment, including sleep deprivation and physical violence, resulting in the partial loss of hearing. In addition, he has been deprived of the crutches and wheelchair he relies upon and is being denied medical treatment. He has been held in solitary confinement since he was placed in a National Security detention centre.

Professor al-Singace was previously arrested in 2009, whilst using his blog (http://alsingace.katib.org) to report on violations of civil liberties and cases of discrimination against Shiite citizens. Twenty three people are currently being held under anti-terrorism legislation introduced in 2006, which is considered to be used as a tool by the Bahrain authorities to arrest human rights activists.

RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Scholars at Risk recommend that letters, emails and faxes be sent:

1. Respectfully calling on authorities to ensure that Bahrain’s obligations under international law are upheld with regard to Professor Al-Singace

2. Respectfully calling on the authorities to examine the circumstance of Professor Al-Singace’s treatment and detention; and

3. Respectfully calling on authorities to intervene to ensure his well-being, including ensuring immediate and regular access to legal counsel of his choosing, to family and to medical treatment.

APPEALS TO:

His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa Prime Minister Ministry of Foreign Affairs P.O. Box 547 Government Road Manama Kingdom of Bahrain Fax: +973 1-753-6343 Email: info@mofa.gov.bh

COPIES TO:

His Majesty Shaikh Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa King of Bahrain Office of His Majesty the King P. O. Box 555 Rifa’a Palace, Kingdom of Bahrain Fax: + 973 1-766-8884

His Excellency Dr. Majid Bin Ali Al Nuaimi Minister of Education Ministry of Education Building Al Istiklal Street P.O. Box 43 Isa City Bahrain Fax: +973 1-768-7866 Email: moe.relations@bahrain.gov.bh

The Honorable _________ Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain to [YOUR COUNTRY] [POSTAL ADDRESS] [FAX] [EMAIL] (See http://www.mofa.gov.bh/ for a list of Bahraini embassies worldwide.)

The Honorable _________ Ambassador of [YOUR COUNTRY] to the Kingdom of Bahrain [POSTAL ADDRESS] [FAX] [EMAIL]

Scholars at Risk c/o New York University 194 Mercer St., 4th floor New York, NY 10012 USA Fax: +1 212-995-4402 Email: scholarsatrisk@nyu.edu

Deputy Director Network for Education and Academic Rights London South Bank University Technopark 90 London Rd, London, SE1 6LN Fax: +44 207 021 0880 Email: joyce.near@lsbu.ac.uk

Scholars at Risk: Call for Urgent Action for Detained Mechanical Engineering Professor Abdul Jalil Al-Singace of Bahrain

14 October 2010

Scholars at Risk (SAR) is gravely concerned about the current treatment of Professor Abdul Jalil Al-Singace, a mechanical engineer at the University of Bahrain in Isa Town, who is being detained by the National Security Apparatus of Bahrain.SAR asks for letters, faxes and emails urging the appropriate authorities to examine the circumstances of Professor Al-Singace’s detention and treatment and ensure his well-being pending his earliest release, including ensuring immediate and regular access to legal counsel of his choosing, to family and to medical treatment.

Scholars at Risk is an international network of over 240 universities and colleges in 29 countries dedicated to promoting academic freedom and its constituent freedoms of thought, opinion, expression, association and travel. In cases like Professor Al-Singace’s involving alleged infringement of these freedoms, Scholars at Risk investigates hoping to clarify and resolve matters favorably.

Professor Al-Singace, a scholar of mechanical engineering at the University of Bahrain and Director of the Human Rights Bureau of the Haq Movement for Civil Liberties and Democracy was arrested on August 13, 2010. The arrest followed his August 5th address to the British House of Lords, during which he reported negatively on Bahrain’s human rights situation.

International reports indicate that after several weeks of Professor Al-Singace’s detention in an undisclosed location, his lawyer was finally able to meet with him. Professor Al-Singace’s lawyer reports that Professor Al-Singace has been subjected to severe forms of ill treatment during his detention. The abuse has reportedly included sleep-deprivation and severe physical beatings, which has resulted in partial hearing loss for Professor Al-Singace. In addition, Professor Al-Singace’s wheelchair and crutches have apparently been taken away and detention officials have forced him to crawl back and forth to his cell and stand for long periods of time, even though he is partially paralyzed from poliomyelitis. Professor Al-Singace’s abuse and extended detention without regular access to counsel, family or adequate medical support would appear to constitute a reckless disregard of his health and well-being.

This disregard, coupled with the suddenness and lack of any clear basis for his arrest, raises concerns not only about his situation but about the intimidation of scholars generally in Bahrain and about the ability to conduct world-class research, teaching and scholarship in such an environment. This case appears to involve retaliation against one scholar’s peaceful exercise of fundamental rights, which are guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Bahrain has acceded.

Scholars at Risk therefore joins with the many national and international academic associations, human rights organizations and individual scholars that respectfully urge the government of Bahrain to examine the circumstances of Professor Al-Singace’s detention and treatment and pending his earliest release, to intervene to ensure his well-being, including ensuring immediate and regular access to legal counsel of his choosing, to family and to medical treatment.

Scholars at Risk invites letters, emails and faxes be sent:

-respectfully calling on authorities to ensure that Bahrain’s obligations under international law are upheld with regard to Professor Al-Singace;

-respectfully calling on the authorities to examine the circumstances of Professor Al-Singace’s treatment and detention; and

-respectfully calling on authorities to intervene to ensure his well-being, including ensuring immediate and regular access to legal counsel of his choosing, to family and to medical treatment.

PLEASE WRITE TO:

His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa Prime Minister Ministry of Foreign Affairs P.O. Box 547 Government Road Manama Kingdom of Bahrain Fax: +973 1-753-6343 Email: info@mofa.gov.bh

His Majesty Shaikh Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa King of Bahrain Office of His Majesty the King P. O. Box 555 Rifa’a Palace, Kingdom of Bahrain Fax: + 973 1-766-8884

COPIES TO:

His Excellency Dr. Majid Bin Ali Al Nuaimi Minister of Education Ministry of Education Building Al Istiklal Street P.O. Box 43 Isa City Bahrain Fax: +973 1-768-7866 Email: moe.relations@bahrain.gov.bh

The Honorable _________ Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain to [YOUR COUNTRY] [POSTAL ADDRESS] [FAX] [EMAIL] (See http://www.mofa.gov.bh/ for a list of Bahraini embassies worldwide.)

The Honorable _________ Ambassador of [YOUR COUNTRY] to the Kingdom of Bahrain [POSTAL ADDRESS] [FAX] [EMAIL]

Scholars at Risk c/o New York University 194 Mercer St., 4th floor New York, NY 10012 USA Fax: +1 212-995-4402 Email: scholarsatrisk@nyu.edu

To view a model letter of appeal as well as a copy of SAR’s letter, please visit our website: www.scholarsatrisk.org.

scholarsatrisk.nyu.edu

A Statement by Members of Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) about their Stance of Parliamentary and Municipal Elections 2010

13 October 2010

Members of Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) aasures that their society has nothing to do with the monitoring of the parliamentary and municipal elections scheduled on October 23, 2010. In relation to the statement issued on 12 October by the judges of the Supreme Committee for the general supervision on the safety of the elections and who introduced the name of BHRS within the four associations as the statement said "applied to participate" in what was called "Monitoring of the national elections," BHRS members are not participating in 2010 elections monitoring.

With its current delicate situation, BHRS assures the public of its commitment to the fundamentals of human rights work it has done since its foundation until now would like to emphasize the following points to the public and representatives of the international human rights organizations and media.

1. BHRS,members had rejected in total the ministerial order No. 63 for 2010 issued by the Ministry of Social Development on 8 September sissolving the board of directors and the appointment of an emmployee from the ministry as an administrator, charged with preparing financial and management reporting and open membership. BHRS members emphazises the current board of directors is the legitemate elected boatd on the 27 th of March 2010.

2. BHRS members and elected board, considers the ministerial order is on contrary to the spirit and the essence and the content and the texts of charters of the International conventions of Human Rights and the work of human rights organizations, institutions working in the field of human rights and in violation of these covenants as a flagrant interference in the affairs and work of human rights CSOs which enjoy legal personality and independent ensured by international human rights covenants have the freedom to work independently and without any interference from any official body or others; so as to ensure the safety of its procedures taken by the defense of human rights and public freedoms.

3. members of BHRS reject altogether any reports issued in its name, whether legal or moral, financial or regulatory or parallel reports that were not issued by the elected board. The members reject any attempts to place BHRS name without its members knowledge, to monitor legislative and municipal elections scheduled to take place on 23 of October under control or any other elections for any of the institutions of civil society in the country.

The members refuse to monitor these elections, unless, it is under the leadership of its legitimate, elected BHRS board. BHRS also warns to put their names in any report related to elections monitoring. We urge the candidates and representatives of civil society organizations and international human rights organizations and officials for the management of the polling stations to deal with those observers who are caught up in surveillance operations on behalf of our society. . BHRS stresses that it will remain faithful to the principles of human rights that have stood since the start of its work; and human rights embodied in the integrity and transparency, impartiality and independence in decision and action and defend the rights and public freedoms.

Members of Bahrain Human Rights Society

The authorities puts great pressure to prevent the Arab Group from monitoring the media performance of 2010 elections

After Preventing international monitoring of the elections and limiting and restricting local monitoring
Will 2010 witness the same fall through in election media as 2006?

Summary of results and recommendations related to media performance during 2006 elections in Bahrain.

Chart shows that the electoral mobilization and government news accounted for (71%) of broadcast programs compared to the other topics on the television in the 2006 elections


10th October 2010

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concern over the restrictions and practices imposed by the Bahraini authorities in regard to observing the current elections taking place in Bahrain which started on the 3rd of October and continues until the 30th of October, which is the date of the reruns.

The Bahraini authorities continue the prevention of international and regional organizations from monitoring the elections. In the last month they proceeded to disband the board of directors of the Bahrain Human Rights Society, which is one of two organizations the government usually allows to monitor the election. On the other hand, the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society has been given complete liberty to monitor the elections, this society is founded and funded secretly by the government as was revealed in the documents published by a former advisor to the government[1].

Regarding monitoring of the media during the elections, which is a project organized by the Arab Working Group for Media Monitoring AWG-MM in collaboration with the International Center for Media Support (based in Denmark), the authorities have so far put great pressure on those in charge of the project. There has been pressure on the societies that intended to host the project in their headquarters. Moreover, there has been an opposing media campaign through the pro-government press and the government controlled Journalists Society. The executive director was pressured into withdrawing from the project and making statements that commend the government and declare that the implementation of the project has come to an end, without referring to the group in charge of the project.

The Arab Working Group for Media Monitoring had carried out a project of monitoring the role of the media in the 2006 elections, which received wide attention from the local press. The final findings of the project where stated in a detailed report issued by the group in July 2007 which included the results of the quantitative and qualitative monitoring conducted by a trained group of observers under the supervision of the Arab Group. The 140 pages of the final report included in the beginning a summary of the results and recommendations to the government, media, political societies and civil society institutions[2].

The reports findings about the role of the media in the 2006 elections has revealed many failures concerning freedom of information in relation to the elections, also regarding integrity, impartiality and professionalism, this criticism included both the radio and television stations and the performance of the daily newspapers. The report also stated that despite the margin of relative freedoms in Bahrain in comparison with other countries in the region, it has been found that in the end rather than supporting democracy, the media was actually an obstacle to democracy, and that there is a lot to be done to remedy the situation. (Find a summary of the report’s findings and recommendations below.)

The Bahrain Center calls on the Bahraini authorities to lift the ban and restrictions on independent monitoring of the elections, considering that such restrictions are a key indicator of declining freedom and the lack of transparency. And to work instead on taking advantage of the findings of the monitoring programs and their recommendations to promote democracy and human rights.

Will 2010 witness the same fall through in election media as 2006?

Summary of results and recommendations related to media performance during 2006 elections in Bahrain.

Summary of results:

Candidates and political societies running for elections were forbidden from broadcasting their election campaigns and ads through the radio and television, using neutrality as the reason. Instead, during this period, these channels were used systematically to broadcast condensed ads to promote the ruling family, with news and programs. This resulted in the direct or indirect influence on voters to promote pro-ruling family candidates. These channels were also used to broadcast programs which clearly targeted certain political groups without providing an opportunity for them to respond. This may be seen as a systematic act of directing political opinions, as well as not allowing space for discussions or diverse opinions.

In the quantity results shown by the report, 93% of broadcast in the radio was used for electoral mobilization and governmental news in comparison to other topics which are electoral education and electoral opponents. As for the television, 71% of broadcast was used for electoral mobilization and governmental news in comparison to other topics[3]. According to the quality monitoring provided by the report, it shows that most of the electoral mobilization was directed for political propaganda for the king and royal family, which serves directly, or indirectly to affect the elections by promoting the candidates who are close to the royal family, and to weaken the candidates from the opposition parties.

In regards to the international media, the authorities undertook an intelligent approach to serve their interests, by selecting and hosting approximately 200 journalists from the international media. The journalists were taken care of financially, and were provided with facilities, which affected their ability to be neutral in the elections. On another level, websites that criticized the government were banned so that the journalists would not have access to them.

Despite the fact that daily newspapers in Bahrain are privately owned and proclaim political independence; they are subjected to governmental pressure and influence when they are established as newspapers are only given permission to circulate based upon a political decision made after detailed studies. Also, press law states that a newspaper may only be established if they can provide a large capital, which is only possible through prominent businessmen or investors who more often than not have political loyalty or financial interests with the government. This law has been used to take editors and journalists to court. The government also uses its influence through who they select to distribute governmental ads, and through a system of preference in deciding who they provide important governmental news to about the executive bodies. In that, the government possesses conclusive influence which they used during the elections to promote their news and achievements through newspaper headlines. This caused a situation of self-censorship in an attempt to avoid anything that is considered a red line by government. Hence, we now have private independent newspapers from a business and legal perspective, but they are in fact subject to unofficial and unannounced governmental pressure and influence.

Chart shows the non-neutrality of the press coverage in the 2006 elections
The quantity results for the newspapers[4] stated that the government used the newspapers in a systematic manner to broadcast news and pictures to influence voters during elections days by broadcasting governmental achievements or positions of officials and promises in regards to citizens’ living and housing situations. It important to note that there were certain newspapers that were more willing to promote the governmental news, and these were firstly Akhbar Alkhaleej, secondly Alwatan, thirdly Almeethaq and fourthly Alayam.

In regards to the political neutrality of the newspapers in regards to the political societies and candidates, the quantity and quality monitoring showed that there was clear bias in all daily newspapers towards certain political societies and against others. The quality results are compatible to the quantity results in regards to the bias of the newspapers either to the candidates close to the authorities, especially those belonging to the AlMenbar Society and the Islamic Asala as was found in Akhbar Alkhaleej and Alwatan, or to those belonging to the opposition parties like Waad as found in Alwaqt and Alayam[5]. The results also showed that there was a coherent correlation in the spaces provided for the paid election campaign ads and news coverage. In certain newspapers, the election campaign ads were limited to certain societies[6].

In general, there was a lack in impartiality, professionalism and experience and there were violations of laws related to election coverage. Despite the fact that the law states that any election publicity must be halted 24 hours prior to voting, the direct and indirect campaigning for certain candidates (according to the newspapers preference) continued the day before the elections, and on the day of the elections. To add to that, certain candidates continued writing in the newspapers about the elections. The Bahrain Journalists’ Society expressed their concern about the fact that certain journalists were receiving payments to conduct interviews, broadcast news as well as publishing paid editorial pieces without marking it as advertisement with the objective of promoting certain candidates for the parliamentary elections.

At the same time that the candidates and their political societies were denied access to private radio and television, they were also denied access to government run channels. To add to that, they did not possess any daily publications for their parties, nor did they have any widespread media outlet, be it printed or electronic. Thus, the political societies and candidates depended mostly on street advertisements that usually only had a personal picture, and which heavily rely on the society’s or the candidate’s financial status. They also depended on setting up tents and having election festivals, which the radio and television refused to cover and which were affected by the unprofessionalism and biasness of the daily newspapers.

The report concluded that the role of the media during the 2006 elections was not neutral, which negatively affected the voters and the democratic process. There was a lack in independence for the television and radio which did not allow election publicity for the candidates, and the country lacked newspapers that could be trusted to be neutral, impartial and professional. When candidates running for the elections do not have effective means to reach the voters, which affects the voters right in getting information which then affects how their choices are made and their participation. In the end, this affects the whole legitimacy of the democratic process.

Recommendations

Based on the details and results from the abovementioned report, and starting with the international standards and the exemplary practices from other countries, we here present a set of recommendations which if implemented, aim to establish media which is more neutral and impartial. This will then cause it to gain the public’s trust especially that of the political parties taking part in the electoral process, and will contribute to enhance democracy as well as freedom of opinion and freedom of speech.

Firstly: Recommendations to the government (the legislative and executive authorities):

1. To form an independent committee to monitor the governmental media during the elections, and to make sure that the national laws as well as the international standards relevant to electoral media coverage are being abided. This committee should put forth a detailed methodology for their work, and chose individuals to implement it according to a transparent, neutral and impartial strategy. 2. For the public (governmental) media outlets, especially the television and radio, to play a positive neutral role, not a negative one, by covering the elections as needed by the electoral process and according to the rights of the candidates and voters. That should be done by allotting time for broadcasting the electoral programs of the candidates, as well as providing journalists who are neutral, impartial and professional to cover the elections and to prepare the programs which go to serve all opinions and political views. 3. To remove all obstacles which hinder political parties and candidates in the elections from owning private media outlets such as television channels, radio, daily newspapers and electronic outlets. 4. To stop using public media outlets especially the television and radio to promote political propaganda to any party including the governing family. To cover news about governmental officials in a moderate manner as representatives of the general public and according to their positions in a constitutional and democratic country. 5. To stop producing programs of political propaganda using the public’s, students’ and the state’s institutions’ budget. To stop using these programs as a tool for political influence during the election period. 6. To put criteria and mechanisms which limit the governments’ ability to abuse the use of laws, advertisements, and media circulation to influence the impartiality of the independent media outlets, especially newspapers. To have the government parties print their own private publications, and to not impose their political views on the independent newspapers. 7. To stop using the policy of selecting international journalists, bringing them to cover the elections, and provide them with facilities in a way which can be seen as trying to influence them. To discontinue the monitoring of these mentioned journalists’ movements and stay. Instead, they should be provided with facilities in a transparent manner by an independent election media committee. 8. To ease the process of monitoring the media during elections, and to use their reports and recommendations, as well as using the reports issued by organizations specialized in media freedoms in general. 9. To amend the laws and practices which bind the freedom of the press as well as freedom of expression in accordance to international standards and declarations which the Kingdom of Bahrain signed; especially those related to the elections.

Secondly: recommendations to the private media and newspapers:

1. For every media outlet to put clear criteria to put into effect the principle of political independence, especially during the election period so that there are no political, ideological or sectarian motivations which greatly influence the impartiality and professionalism of their media work. 2. For there to be an ethics referendum for the journalists which includes clear criteria about impartiality and being neutral in covering the elections. Also, for there to be evaluation carried out by the newspapers, and other relevant institutions, which can then hold journalists and writers accountable for their work. 3. To hold workshops for journalists and others working in the media about professionalism, neutrality and impartiality, as well as the international standards concerning the role of the media during elections. To conduct these workshops especially during periods which precede the elections. Specialized organizations and other country’s experiences can be used as reference. 4. For there to be cooperation with international organizations which specialize in freedom of the press, as well as institutes which specialize in monitoring the media. This is in regards to the publication of reports, implementing recommendations, training, consulting or dialogue.

Thirdly: recommendations to political societies and institutes of civil society:

1. To put a strategy to stimulate the country to guarantee the rights and freedoms concerning the press and media. As well as to put laws and policies to amend the government’s policies in regards to the electoral media coverage and its development. 2. To put strategies to develop partisans media outlets and methods of reaching the voters. 3. To adopt an ethics referendum for the political societies. A referendum which will include the standards of honest competition especially in regards to using media outlets. 4. To cooperate and consult with institutes which specialize in freedom of the press, and to make use of the reports they publish, as well as to work on circulating them. 5. To develop programs to monitor the elections and to follow up on them, as well as programs to monitor the role of the media during the elections. 6. To start an initiative to establish an independent institution specialized in opinion polls, especially in regards to the elections.

-- [1]The Report: What it says [2]The final report of the results of media monitoring program in the 2006 elections of the Kingdom of Bahrain (Arabic) [3] See details in Chapter II of the report, the results of quantitative monitoring of radio and television. [4] See details in Chapter III of the report, the tendencies of newspapers between the government and the opposition. [5] See details in Chapter III of the report, the results of monitoring the results of the quantitative and qualitative monitoring. [6] See details in Chapter III of the report, and especially Figure (6) which compare the size and sources of electoral advertisements published in newspapers.

Bahrain : Elections in The Dark

The Arabic Network Asserts: Monitoring Media During Elections is A Necessity Not exclusive for Journalists Association

Cairo October 13th ,2010

The Arabic Network for Human Rights denounced the Bahraini authorities continuous restrictions on civil society and human rights organizations operating in Bahrain prior to public elections running this month as all candidates have started their propaganda campaign. The government not only arrested human rights defenders ,dissolved the Bahraini Association for human rights the only independent human rights organization authorized to monitor elections and refused the international monitoring , but is putting pressures to impede The Arabic Group to Monitor Media from monitoring media performance in covering elections.

The Bahraini government pressured the hosting organizations so as not to receive the Arabic Group trainees , thus hindering the whole media monitoring project. At the same time , independent press and media launched a crackdown against the Arabic Group to mar its image in Bahrain alleging that the Group is a secret cell working for foreign institutes , joining the stream of aggression against civil society and human rights activists.

On the other hand, The Arabic Network denounced the statement issued by the Bahraini Journalists Association resenting the work of The Arabic Group alleging that monitoring Bahraini press performance during elections is a direct accusation of prejudice and bias. The statement stated that monitoring media in Bahrain is a local issue. The Arabic Network considers this rhetoric quite misleading as monitoring elections is an indispensible necessity especially that the Bahraini government controls all media and has the widest space for propaganda. However , The Bahraini Journalists Association kept silent regarding that fact.

The Arabic Network said, ” The Bahraini Journalists Association has every right to defend media in Bahrain and the civil society has a role to play in monitoring elections and media performance. Claiming that monitoring is a direct accusation to the Bahraini press is unacceptable, we cannot deal with media and official authorities as though they were perfect. It is necessary to monitor the performance of all bodies and then assess their stands”.

The Arabic Network added, ” There is no excuse to oppress activists and human rights organizations unless that the Bahraini government intends to violate human rights , run flawed elections and freeze all positive steps towards democracy and providing public freedoms which are totally absent in Bahrain these days”.

anhri.net

Amnesty International: Bahrain authorities must allow detainees access to lawyers

13 October 2010

Amnesty International has called on the Bahraini authorities to allow political opposition and human rights activists arrested in an August crackdown prompt and regular access to their lawyers and family.

The organization understands that as many as 250 people – including clerics, students, members of human rights organizations and charities, and opposition activists have been detained since August.

Almost all are believed to be members of the Shi'a community, the majority population in Bahrain, whose rulers are mostly members of the Sunni minority.

"Detainees' access to lawyers of their choosing, and to their own families, is a fundamental human right that the Bahraini authorities are obliged by international law to respect," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"Denying detainees contact with the outside world heightens concern for their safety; when this right is withheld, it greatly increases the risk of torture and other ill-treatment."

The Bahraini authorities have carried out many arrests since mid-August, many in connection with protest demonstrations and rioting in predominantly Shi'a towns and villages. They have declined to disclose the true number.

Many of those arrested are opposition activists and critics of Bahrain's ruling family. They include members of Al Haq, a Shi'a political oppositon movement which is not legally authorized in Bahrain

In the first wave of arrests, 21 prominent Shi'a political and human rights activists were detained and subsequently charged with terrorism and plotting to overthrow the government.

During the first few weeks the 21 were held incommunicado, although a few were allowed visits by their families. They were able to see, but not speak to, their lawyers for the first time when they were taken before the Public Prosecutor at the end of August.

According to lawyers several of the detainees told the Public Prosecutor that they had been tortured and otherwise ill-treated in detention.

Mohammad Habib al-Miqdad, for example, reportedly complained to the Public Prosecutor on 28 August that he had been suspended by the wrists for several hours and punched by officials. He remains in prison and, as yet, there is little sign that his allegations have been independently investigated.

"There must be a thorough, independent investigation by the Bahraini authorities into allegations of torture and other ill-treament – allegations that cast a dark shadow over Bahrain's human rights record," said Malcolm Smart

In September, amid growing tension, the government suspended the board of the legally registered Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS), accusing it of "legal and administrative irregularities" and co-operating with "illegal organizations", after it had publicly criticized the government for violating the human rights of those arrested in August.

"The Bahraini authorities must also lift restrictions and allow human rights organizations and human rights defenders to operate freely in the country," said Malcolm Smart.

The Bahraini goverment has banned publication of all information relating to the arrests and detentions in August, a ban that is enforceable with a penalty of up to one year's imprisonment.

Previous Published Documents and Press Releases by Amnesty International:

Bahrain: Around 250 individuals at risk of torture: Further information , 8 October 2010

Bahraini government must end interference in human rights organization , 9 September 2010

Bahrain: Detained Shi'a Muslims at risk (Urgent action) , 7 September 2010

Bahrain activists must receive a fair trial , 6 September 2010

Bahrain: allegations of torture and ill-treatment must be independently investigated , 3 September 2010

Bahrain intensifies crackdown on activists and clerics , 18 August 2010

amnesty.org

Members of Bahrain Society to be prosecuted And Suspending an activist from work after her participation in a meeting with HRW

11 October 2010

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concern about the continuing security campaign against human rights defenders and the continuous pressure on the work of institutions of civil society. This pressure comes in the form of referring the board members of the Bahrain Society for Human Rights to prosecution a few weeks after issuing an order to dismantle the management of the society and replace it with a governmental official to manage it. To add to that, a prominent activist was suspended from her job due to her participation in a meeting with the deputy director for the MENA region from Human Rights Watch.

In a statement released by the Ministry for Social Development[1] on the 6th of October, 2010, it was announced that they will be prosecuting the board members of the Bahrain Human Rights Society for financial, administrational and criminal violations. As well as their refusal to cooperate with the ministry, the board members also refused the ministry’s request to appoint a new Chairman. The ministry’s decision came after the board of the Bahrain Human Rights Society filed a lawsuit[2] against the ministry’s decision to dissolve the society’s board, as well as the board’s refusal to hand over the office keys to the ministry.

On the 13th of September, 2010, the Ministry for Social Development announced their decision to dissolve the board of the Bahrain Human Rights Society[3]. The decision came immediately after the Society had held a press conference with the families of the detainees who were recently imprisoned after the recent crackdown on human rights and political activists. The ministry accused the society of only representing one particular sect of the population, whilst also collaborating with illegal groups, referring to those groups that are not registered under the Public Societies Act. The ministry then went on to appoint a government employee as Chairman to manage the society’s board whilst given him the full authority to appoint new members to the board in a move which is believed to be intended to take over full management of the society, especially after the previous board had announced their intentions of monitoring the upcoming municipal and parliamentary elections.

The Ministry of Social Affairs uses the Public Societies Act, which was passed in 1989, and which is condemned by human rights organizations[4], to restrict the activities of civil society institutions and to intervene in their management and work. This law clearly violates fundamental rights such as freedom of expression, publication, and assembly.

On the other hand, Al-Watan (the pro government newspaper) published an article stating that the Ministry of Education had suspended activist Fatima Fairooz from her job (education specialist) for a period of 3 months after she had participated in a private meeting which brought together the families of the detained and Human Rights Watch representative Joshua Colangelo. This decision was based on the Civil Service Bureau mandate No.4 of 2008 which states that ‘firm action will be taken against government officials in the event of breaking the laws and regulations or the issuance of a judicial ruling against them relating to their participation in protests or unlicensed meetings’. Yet, the suspension of Fairooz from her job goes against the law, as there was no judicial sentence against her.

The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights believes that with these developments, and along with the recent crackdown on human rights activists and organizations, it is clear that the government is feeling vulnerable to being exposed and is attempting to restrict the work and activities of these entities in an attempt to regain its authority.

Based on the above, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights demands:

- To immediately retract the decision made by the Ministry of Social Development to dissolve the board of the Bahrain Human Rights Society - To cancel the decision of suspending the activist Fatima Fairooz from her work. - To stop the harassment and pressure put on human rights defenders and civil society institutions. - To allow independent human rights groups such as the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights and the Youth Human Rights group, and other bodies related to the families of those detained, as well as other economic and social rights groups, to work freely with no restrictions or fear. - The immediate amendment the civil society laws and other laws that restrict the work of human rights defenders, in order for them to be in line with international conventions, and in particular the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

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-- [1]http://www.alwasatnews.com/2953/news/read/482594/1.html [2]http://www.alwasatnews.com/2954/news/read/482793/1.html [3]http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/ar/node/3348 [4]http://www.hrw.org/ar/news/2010/05/14

Bahrain: Authenticated reports of torture by independent investigators

From left to right: Lord Avebury, Baroness Falkner and Omar Ahmad

11 Oct 2010

The Press Conference held today at Room 3, the House of Lords, highlighted the latest report by the Islamic Human Rights Commission, titled “Broken Promises”, prepared by Omar Ahmad. Lord Avebury inaugurated the meeting which was attended by several news channels and human rights bodies. At least two British public relations companies sent their staff to monitor the event.

Lord Avebury started by welcoming the audience and said that this is the second press conference in few weeks. This is unusual situation. None of our pleas to open access to detainees has been heeded. There were some visits by families but were warned not to ask questions from the detainees about their torture or tell them about what is happening outside about their case. Lawyers had little access and were warned against talking about the ordeal of the detainees. There have been protests on almost daily basis. The people are conscious over detentions without trials. We need to consider what further actions need to be taken. The Human Rights Council in Geneva needs to be involved. Last week, we had a question session at the House of Lords about detainees. Baroness Falkner put some questions to the Minister, Lord Howell. I proposed allowing the UN Special Rapporteurs on Torture, Arbitrary Detention and the Protection of Human Rights Defenders. These Rapporteurs must ask for visits to Bahraini jails. Our Minister said that a favorable reply was possible. We wrote to the Special Rapporteurs. No visit has ever taken place before. Today, we are also launching the special report by the Islamic Commission for Human Rights.

Then Baroness Falkner delivered some remarks about the situation. She said that the view among the Western Governments is that those in the Gulf who had elections in Gulf countries did well, and that would lead to domino effect. Tolerance to low level of transgression of human rights would lead to better political outcome. In the past few months this proved to be wrong. They believed a bit of human rights violations was good. We now see that in Bahrain this did not work. If we listened to Bahrain’s Terrorism Bill 2006, we would have been vigilant. We were naive in the West, that low level conversation with some officials would lead to good outcome. We were wrong.

She said that on 5th August I chaired a meeting at the House of Lords. Later I found out that three of those who had attended were subsequently arrested. That is outrageous. The Bahraini Ambassador said we were naive claiming that other states were involved without naming one. I said most countries have other countries with whom they cannot go on well. Even democratic countries have this problem. When I mentioned our anxiety to him, the Bahraini Ambassador did not understand. Then we met our Foreign Secretary and he intervened by calling the Crown Prince of Bahrain about Mr Jaffar Al Hesabi. Last week the Bar Human Rights Committee published their fantastic report. They were extremely concerned. There are now calls for Special Rapporteurs to visit Bahrain. The Bar Human Rights Committee wants to meet Bahraini lawyers during their current visit, but those lawyers would not be able to disclose the details of the detainees terrible experiences. The Bar delegation likes to meet the ministers involved. I am also told that there will be peers to Bahrain later this month. Lord Avebury and myself have not been invited to go on this trip. This means that we are not trusted because we raised such issues. I told Ambassador unless there is dialog with those in jail there will be no lasting solution. The Ambassador was naive to deny the need for such dialog. If there is a delegation we must be part of it.

Lord Avebury then said; After 5th August meeting three of those who attended were arrested. That was bad. It means there is no dialog with opposition.

Baroness Falkner then said that when she told the Ambassador that some of the prisoners were detained because they had met me, he denied that. Then I produced the Al Watan newspaper, which is loyal to the regime and showed him the main photo that was used to prove their guilt. It was a photo taken during the meeting of 5th August, including myself.

Then Omar Ahmad, the author of ICHR’s report spoke. He said that on 13th August, Dr Al Singace was arrested. The wheel chair, polio-riddled activist was severely tortured. Other detainees are Sheikh Mohammad Habib Al Miqdad, Abdul Ghani Khanjar and Abdul Hadi Al Saffar. In the report we dealt with thematic issues of human rights violations, repression, exclusion of the majority etc. It contains details of a sour history. It dealt with reforms under Hamad who had pledged to change the situation. Although he disbanded the State Security Court, little else has been done. He indicated he was for dialog and held a referendum on the Charter. But he reneged on his pledges and undermined the 1973 Constitution. His promises of reforms were inadequate. There were many utterances but little action. There is also the charges of corruption and nepotism. It seems that the system cannot be reformed. The report deals with discrimination, repression, migrants workers (estimated at 455,000), construction and domestic labor and a list of human rights problems. In 1999, the Shia occupied 20 percent of high office, but representation is much less now. Human rights violations have now become symptomatic of a weak government, and torture is used extensively. Since 2007 torture has become a routine treatment of prisoners including the use of electric shocks and hanging. Bahrain is now at crossroads. The elections are undermined by continuous harassment. Bahrain speaks of reform but power is still concentrated in the hands of the Al Khalifa. We made several recommendations; the need to have transparency at all levels, eradication of corruption by senior Al Khalifa, respect of the rights of the migrant workers, ending the systematic discrimination against the Shia especially in the fields of security, defense and general employment, stop the demographic engineering, grant detainees legal representation, the torture must be investigated, the prohibition of torture, the release of the prisoners of conscience, allow free press. For this to be achieved the international community must question the government. The recent tensions are the latest episode in the conflict between the Al Khalifa and the people, sources of which lie in the problems with housing, unemployment, exclusion and corruption.

Lord Avebury then commented by saying that forcing the disabled Al Singace to crawl to reach the bathroom is absolutely disgusting.

Massoud Shajarah, the President of ICHR said that we should tell the Al Khalifa that there is opportunity to improve the situation through dialog, cooperation with the people and respect of the majority.

David Gotlib, who went to Bahrain in March 2009 during the detention of Mr Hassan Mushaime and Sheikh Mohammad Habib Al Miqdad, spoke briefly about his experience. He said when we went to Bahrain, we realized our FCO was not doing enough. He suggested to build a core of lawyers who will stand up for the human rights violations. We could help and support Bahraini lawyers.

Then Usama Danshyar, another lawyer who visited Bahrain last year raised the possibility of training Bahraini lawyers, and then they can take a role in Bahrain. The Bahraini government will then be talking to a member of the Bar. The Bar human rights committee and Council are ready to help. In Pakistan the government had to back down when the Bar and judiciary took strong stands. If our government can fund some lawyers then that will make the task easier.

Hassan Mushaime said few words. He said that we have a government which is a biological liar. They talk of burning tyres and present this as terrorism. Peaceful activists are banned. When they allowed some families to visit their sons in jails, they forced the detainees to wear heavy and thick clothes to hide their injuries, and prevented them from talking about their ordeals.

Saeed Shehabi talked about “Torture, Money and Services” arguing that even in this room there are victims who are ready to testify about the torture they had endured. He said the FCO is not serious to intercede on behalf of Jaffar Al Hesabi, who is a UK national undergoing extensive torture in Bahraini jails. He also talked of the infliction of punishment before the crime is proven, such as the case with Ahmad Jawad Al Fardan whose house was taken by the regime immediately after his arrest, and Abdul Ghani Khanjar and Dr Abdul Jalil Al Singace whose employment was terminated after their arrest. He complimented the ICHR report and called for implementation of its recommendations.

View more photos of the conference

Video coverage on PressTv

Video coverage on Al-Alam Tv [Arabic]

Front Line: Bahrain:Targeting of Waleed Ahmed Sulais and many other human rights defenders from GCC countries

11 Oct 2010

Front Line is concerned about the brief arrest and interrogation, at Bahrain Airport, of human rights defender Mr Waleed Ahmed Sulais, a Saudi national. Front Line believes that this may be an indication of further harassment against him and many other persons from neighbouring GCC countries who participated in human rights training in Bahrain.

Waleed Ahmed Sulais is a human rights defender, blogger and writer of many articles on human rights issues published on the Internet on: www.Rasid.com: http://www.Rasid.com, http://rasid94.homeip.net/writers.php?pid=&id=2425&t=0&p=1, http://rasid94.homeip.net/writers.php?pid=&id=2425&t=0&p=1 and on his personal blog:http://waleedsulais.blogspot.com

On 1 October 2010, at about 7 pm, human right defender Waleed Ahmed Sulais arrived at Bahrain Airport on his way back to Saudi Arabia from Beirut where he attended a seminar on “Failure of development strategies in the Arab countries”. The passport officer took him to the National Security Apparatus at the airport where his laptop, camera, and two mobile phones were taken from him and he was forced to provide secret codes for the laptop and the Blackberry mobile.

Waleed Ahmed Sulais was searched, his luggage was thoroughly examined, and his wallet, credit cards, money, papers and books were taken from him during his brief detention. A three side personal photo was taken of him. He was not interrogated except for a few questions regarding his home address, place of work, and the reason for which he went to Beirut. Although Waleed Ahmed Sulais asked repeatedly why he was being detained, the airport authorities refused to provide any explanation.

At 10:30 pm. all his belongings were returned to him. He was asked if he planned to stay in Bahrain or travel on to Saudi Arabia and he confirmed that he would leave. Later, when he checked his laptop, it was clear that some of the documents and personal photos had been opened, and all the information from both the laptop and mobile phones had been copied.

The brief detention of Waleed Ahmed Sulais coincides with an announcement made by the Bahrain Ministry of Interior on 24 September 2010. The Ministry stated that legal action would be taken against nationals of neighbouring countries who participated in unauthorised training organised in Bahrain by the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) in cooperation with international organisations. According to official records, as many as 75 participants took part in such events. This announcement forms part of a number of statements by the authorities in relation to a Ministerial Order on 8 September 2010 demanding the dissolution of the Board of Directors of BHRS and appointing a temporary administrator, who is an employee of the Ministry (ref to Front Line Appeal on this issue at: _http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/13275_).

In a statement published in the local press on 11 October 2010, as a reaction to the claim by the authorities that the training sessions were secret and illegal, the BHRS stated that all training and workshops conducted by the BHRS in Bahrain were for the training on human rights culture, conducted in hotels and public places, covered by local press, many of them were attended by Bahraini officials, and visas were issued for participants who needed visas by the relevant authorities.

Front Line believes that human right defender Waleed Ahmed Sulais was targeted and harassed because of his legitimate human rights activities including his participation in human rights training courses in Bahrain. Front Line appeals to the authorities in Bahrain not to take any action against persons from neighbouring countries for participating in human rights training.

http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/13529