4 Jun, 2015

June Champions for Justice: The Prisoners of Jau

Jau Prison is the largest male detention facility in Bahrain and is used to detain many prisoners of conscience. Conditions at the prison are characterized by inadequate healthcare facilities, unsanitary cells and toilets, and extreme overcrowding: recent estimates place Jau’s current population at more than double its capacity. Prisoners protested these conditions by peacefully, staging demonstrations and going on hunger strike, but on March 10, 2015, a riot broke out as some prisoners took to violence. Prison guards and riot police backup reacted by collectively beating the prisoners and shooting tear gas and firing shotguns into enclosed cell blocks. The guards then herded the prisoners into the building courtyards, where they stayed in extreme temperatures for weeks. Since March, the prisoners of Jau have been subjected to collective punishment, enforced disappearance within the prison and physical and mental torture.

As June 26 is the International Day for Victims of Torture, this month we highlight the prisoners of conscience who continue to suffer abuse at Jau.

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), default qualityAbbas al-Samea is a 25-year-old teacher from the village of Sanabis. Al-Samea was arrested on March 3, 2014, after a bomb killed three policemen. Despite evidence that he was in school at the time of the bombing, a judge sentenced him to death on February 26, 2015. Government forces have subjected Al-Samea to various forms of torture, including cigarette burns, electric shocks, sleep deprivation, and sexual assault. After having his face beaten, Al-Samea suffers from swollen gums, missing teeth, a broken nose, and internal bleeding. The United Nations Special Rapporteurs for freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, independence of judges and lawyers, terrorism, and torture, and the Working Group on arbitrary detention have all expressed serious concern about Al-Samea in their latest Joint Communications Report.

Description: C:\Users\ADHRB-M2\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\Naji Fateel.jpgNaji Fateel is from the village of Bani-Jamra. Fateel is a prominent human rights defender and co-founder of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR). On May 2, 2013, plain clothes security forces arrested Fateel at his home and held him incommunicado for three days. On September 29, 2013, a Bahraini court sentenced Fateel to 15 years in prison on political charges. He is serving his sentence in Jau, where he participated in a hunger strike to protest his detention and the treatment of prisoners. Mr. Fateel has also been the subject of multiple communications from United Nations Special Rapporteurs who have expressed concern about his arrest, conviction and treatment in prison. During the March 10 riot, government forces singled out Fateel for physical beatings, even though he did not take part in the riot. For several weeks after the March 10 events, Fateel’s family was unable to communicate with him. On one occasion when Fateel’s wife tried to visit him in prison, guards presented her with a note, not in Fateel’s handwriting, stating that he did not want to see her.

Description: C:\Users\ADHRB-M2\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\almahffodh-220x160.jpgSheikh Mahfooz is a Shia religious cleric and prisoner of conscience at Jau Prison. Sheikh Mahfooz has never advocated violence but was singled out for mistreatment by guards during and after the riot. Prison guards forcibly shaved his beard and head. Guards have also beaten and tortured him repeatedly, leaving him very weak.


We call on the Bahraini government to allow the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture into the country to conduct an independent investigation into the use of torture and standards of detention. We also urge a prompt and impartial investigation into crimes of mistreatment of detainees, and the prosecution of and all individuals found to have taken part or been complicit in acts of abuse.

During the month of June, we ask that all supporters of human rights in Bahrain, raise the issue of torture at Jau prison with their elected officials. Supporters can also highlight these cases by engaging on social media using hashtag #JauTorture.

1 Jun, 2015

Bahrain: Further information: Court upholds death sentences of two men

Death sentences imposed on Mohamed Ramadhan ‘Issa ‘Ali Hussain and Hussain ‘Ali Moosa Hussain Mohamed in December 2014, following an unfair trial that relied on “confessions” extracted under torture, were confirmed on 26 May by a Court of Appeal in Manama. The death sentences will go to the Court of Cassation for final ratification.


27 May, 2015

Nabeel Rajab's Speech at the 2015 Oslo Freedom Forum: Delivered by Said Yousif Almahafdah

Bahraini human rights defender, and president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) Nabeel Rajab wrote the speech below, which he was to deliver at the 2015 Oslo Freedom.  The Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF) is a thriving global community of people who share the common vision of making the world a more free and open place. However, due to Nabeel Rajab’s imprisonment in Bahrain, he was unable to deliver the said speech in person. Hence, the Vice President of BCHR Said Yousif Almahafdah delivered the speech on behalf of Nabeel Rajab. Below is the complete speech.


My name is Nabeel Rajab, and I am writing you from my island country Bahrain, where I am in a prison cell. It was my intention to join you in person today at this exceptional forum and I was looking forward to meeting you human rights advocates and defenders of free expression, thought, and belief. However, I am now behind bars once again.

This is the fifth time that I am being jailed over the past four years. During most of my time in prison I have been completely isolated from the outside world. I am being punished not because I have committed a crime, but because I have defended the human rights of the oppressed and deprived ones, and because I have engaged in exposing the crimes of Bahrain’s rulers and the dictators of the Gulf region.

My people are still living under a repressive regime that rules with an iron fist. A regime that prevents journalists from exposing abuses and rampant corruption; a regime that stifles the voices of intellectuals and advocates of reform and democracy. We, as a nation, are prevented from having ambition, dignity, or even dreams of freedom. Dreams have become crimes in my country of Bahrain, which, on a per capita basis, has more prisoners of conscience than any other country in the world.

I do not want to focus on myself and the suffering that my family and I have gone through, I am just one of the innocent hundreds whose fate is to be behind bars or in exile, simply for speaking or writing about our suffering. Gulf states like Saudi Arabia, are only known for being rich in oil and gas, for possessing the largest arms market in the world and for their wealthy sheikhdoms who hold investments in Western countries. Very few people know or talk about the fact that there are thousands of political detainees and prisoners of conscience in these countries, or that these countries are great violators of human rights.

The reason for the absence of this painful truth is that our authoritarian regimes have profitable economic ties with Western governments. Democracies in the West help whitewash our regimes, in order to obtain a share of their oil wealth. Western politicians choose narrow economic interests over the human rights of millions of oppressed people in the grip of tyranny in Bahrain and beyond.

Dear friends, as you can see we are not just the victims of autocratic regimes,we are also victims of the democratic West, a democratic West that supports and empowers our regimes and equip them with the tools and weapons they need to repress our people.

Regimes like Bahrain are wealthy and very generous in buying the silence of democratic governments and their media outlets in exchange for contracts and investments. The time  to say enough with the silence and hypocrisy has come! The time has come to tell Western governments, do not build your interests and luxury on our people's misery. Please, consider that human rights should be the foundation of any commercial contract or economic interest.

We appreciate the global and Western commitment against militancy, extremism and terrorism, whose greatest ideological, social and financial incubator has been our region. However, we should not ignore the fact that one of the causes that leads to extremism is the absence of human rights, and the deprivation of any space for youth to express their aspiration for freedom, and the suppression of any calls for reform or opposition. Dissent has been crushed to such an extent in Bahrain that the place for our country’s dignitaries and reformers is now prison or exile. We cannot defeat extremism without promoting freedom, having free and open debates, and involving the people in decision-making. If this will not be done, all efforts to combat militant extremism are meaningless.

Dear attendees, you are the most influential people in the world, you are capable of helping us bring to our region the change that we seek. You can make those changes through what you say and what you write, or if you support civil society and human rights groups. Thus, you are in part morally responsible for supporting the human rights movement in my country Bahrain and in the entire Gulf region. I hope you can consider supporting human rights and pro-democracy activists who work day and night in risky and difficult circumstances. We call upon you to pressure Western governments to respect justice and human rights standards -- the same human rights standards that you would work for within your borders.

One excellent example of this kind of support is the way the Norwegian government has sponsored this event. I thank the Norwegian government for giving me a platform to speak, as well as for demanding that my government release me. I also thank Norwegian civil society groups and all of the human rights defenders in the audience that ,from across the world, are in this same struggle.

I hope to meet you all soon.

Nabeel Rajab.

20 May, 2015

Two Men Ordered Deported After Bahraini Citizenship Revoked

20 May 2015 - The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is gravely concerned about the decision issued on 14 May 2015 by the Court to deport two men who had their citizenship revoked on 31 January 2015 together with 70 other people. The two men involved are Professor Masaud Mirza Jaffar Jahromi and Mohammed Hassan Ali Hussain, neither of whom has a second nationality.

The decision to revoke their passports in January 2015 was based on order from the Minister of  Interior and allegations of “damage to the interests of the country and loyalty to the king”. The court issued an order for their deportation and a fine of 100 dinars.

Professor Masaud Mirza Jaffar Jahromi holds a PhD in Telecommunication Networking from the University of Kent at Canterbury in the United Kingdom, and he was the Chairman of the Telecommunication Engineering Department at Ahlia University. In April 2011, he was imprisoned for five months on charges related to the peaceful exercise of his right to free expression and assembly. Professor Jahromi was released on bail on 12 September 2011, pending trial on 2 November 2011 and he remained suspended from the university. In January 2015, Professor Jahromi found himself on the list of Bahraini citizens whose passports were revoked.

Mohammed Hassan Ali Hussain is a member of the Secular Council.

On 28 October 2014, ten Bahrainis, who had their citizenship revoked on 7 November 2012, were also sentenced to deportation and a 100 Bahraini dinar (USD 265) fine. Shaikh Hussain al-Najati has already been forced into exile on 23 April 2014, after the government threatened his family with physical harm if he refused self-deportation.

The revocation of passports by a state and the decision to deport people whose passports were revoked, thus rendering them stateless and without any rights, constitute violations of internationally recognized human rights, as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Bahrain has acceded.

Since November 2012, Bahrain has revoked the citizenship of over 100 persons either through direct statements by the Ministry of Interior or through court orders.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights call on the Government of Bahrain to:

  • Immediately halt the deportation of the two Bahrainis, which is in violation of Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
  • Immediately reinstate the nationality of all those whose citizenship was revoked in January 2015, and;
  • Accede to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.


13 May, 2015

Open Letter to Barack Obama by Human Rights Defender Sayed Yousif AlMahafdah

Dear President Obama,

Martin Luther King linked the fight for freedom, equality, and justice for African-Americans to the struggle of people around the world face: “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Today I write to you about the struggle of my people in Bahrain.

In Bahrain, we have suffered from injustice and inequality for decades, and we’ve been fighting for our rights for even longer. The royal Al Khalifa family and their government target and suppress all voices that express the slightest opposition to their many violations against their people.

The government authorities have constantly and systematically focused on targeting Shia Muslims. The government demolished 38 Shia mosques in 2011, they allow hate speech against Shia to go unchecked in the media, they have imprisoned thousands of Shias and continue to use excessive force against Shia protesters. Shia are not allowed in the army, or to rise to important government positions. We are treated as second-class citizens.

The struggle and sufferings of the people of Bahrain are not unlike the struggles of African-Americans under Jim Crow-era laws, or the struggle of black South Africans under apartheid.

Let me tell you the story of my friends in Jaw Prison, Bahrain’s largest long term sentence prison for men, where the treatment of prisoners reflects the discrimination of Shia outside the prison walls.

On 10 March at Jaw, hundreds of Shia men and children were subjected to collective beatings, torture, and starvation. Prisoners used smuggled phones to upload photos of their torture to social media. Guards attacked the Shia prisoners and mocked their sect. The guards deprived them of practicing their beliefs and performing prayers. Some families have not heard from their imprisoned loved ones for weeks.

In addition, the authorities prosecute anyone who dares to report these crimes. Most recently, they arrested my colleague, prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab. He faces up to 10 years in prison for posting tweets about these and other human rights violations. The torture and abuse is continuing as I write. Unfortunately, no one seems to be able to stop it or even care.

Despite of this discrimination, we aim to achieve equality, freedom, and democracy, which we deserve as much as any other people. We believe in Martin Luther King’s words, “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” To take Dr. King’s words for Bahrain: “Our goal is freedom, [we] believe we are going to get there because however much she strays away from it, the goal of [Bahrain] is freedom.”

We urge you to walk in the steps of US rights champion Martin Luther King and support our struggle. Be the voice of the people of Bahrain when you meet our crown prince.


Sayed Yousif AlMahafdah
Human rights defender and a former political detainee in Bahrain
Vice President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights

12 May, 2015

May Champions for Justice: The Bahrain 13

The Bahrain 13 are a group of opposition leaders, rights activists, bloggers and Shi’a clerics arrested in connection with their role in the February 2011 protests. They played an influential part in the protests including mobilizing the public opinion against the government, organizing protests and shaping legitimate political demands. This month they are featured in the Champions for Justice to shed light on the escalation of prisoner abuse in Bahrain. The Bahrain 13 in particular have been subjected to mistreatment since they were first arrested in 2011, which was well documented by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry. More recently, they have been separated from the rest of the prisoner population and made to wear uniforms designating them as criminal convicts, unlike other political prisoners.

Dr. Abdujalil al-Singace is a mechanical engineer, prominent blogger, and human rights activist who has promoted human rights as a member and leader of multiple political societies. In 2011, Dr. Singace was arrested in the peaceful protest movement. Dr. Singace was subjected to torture and ill-treatment, including forced standing, verbal and sexual assault, beatings, and prolonged solitary confinement. In June 2011, he was sentenced to life in prison for allegedly plotting to topple the government. Dr. Singace continues to face deteriorating health conditions as a result of torture in addition to his previous medical ailments that have only worsened under the minimal care provided while he remains in prison. Since March 2015, he has been on a hunger strike to protest the mistreatment of Jaw prison detainees. As of April 1st, Dr. Singace has been in al-Qala’s hospital and there is serious concern of his deteriorating health.

Abdulhadi al-Khawaja is a leading human rights defender who played a prominent role in Bahrain’s 2011 peaceful protests movement. In April 2011, government forces stormed his daughter’s apartment, severely beat him and arrested him. Al-Khawaja was sentenced by a military court to life in prison based on confessions obtained under torture. Since his arrest, Al-Khawaja has been subject to many instances of abuse from his captors and has engaged in multiple hunger strikes to protest prison conditions. The Government of Bahrain has refused to investigate these allegations and al-Khawaja has been denied adequate care since his detention, despite the fact that he is at risk of further health complications.  

Description: HusainAbdulwahab Hussain is a philosopher and social critic with a long history of activism in Bahrain. Hussain worked as both a teacher and a social worker until he was dismissed from his posts on account of his political activities. He joined many human rights defenders in organizing the 2011 protest movement against the Bahrain government and was subsequently arrested on March 17, 2011. He and his daughter were both beaten during the arrest and Hussain was subjected to torture and mistreatment during his incarceration. Hussain has been consistently denied access to medical care while in prison, despite his suffering from a chronic neurological disorder. 

Description: \\ADHRB3\Users\Public\Documents\ADHRB\Advocacy\Campaigns\2013\Prisoners of Conscience\5. Hassan Mushaima\HASAN_MUSHAIMA PICHassan Mushaima is a Bahraini Political activist, teacher and Secretary General of the al-Haq movement. In 2011, Mushaima was tried in absentia while receiving medical treatment in the UK for allegedly plotting a coup.  The government of Bahrain dropped their previous charges as a concession to the opposition and as a result Mushaima returned to Bahrain. However, in March 2011, in an apparent change of heart, security forces arrested Mushaima. Despite his advanced age and frail health, Mushaima was subjected to all forms of torture and ill-treatment. During his trial, he was not permitted to testify, nor was his lawyer allowed to speak in his defense. He was sentenced to a life in prison by military court. Despite the fact that his medical condition requires immediate attention, he has been denied adequate medical treatment and necessary checkups. In April 2014, Mushaima’s family announced that he was cancer free, but currently still continues to serve his life sentence in prison.

Description: http://birdbh.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Parweez.png Sheikh Abdulhadi al-Mukhodher is a Shia cleric and prominent opposition activist. In March 2011, he was arrested and held in solitary confinement. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges including “plotting to overthrow the government” in a military court trial deemed unjust by many international human rights organizations. Al-Mukhodher was previously arrested for his participation in opposition politics in 2010. During his time in prison, authorities forbade his family from asking him about torture, looking for signs of injury under his clothing or giving him news on the situation outside. In January 2013, his final appeal was rejected, resulting in severe limits on visitations. He went on a hunger strike in February 2013 to protest the ban on visitation and his treatment in prison.

Description: Makhdour Mohammed Hassan Jawad is a well-known, independent human rights activist, who has campaigned specifically for human rights on behalf of detainees and prisoners. He has been arrested multiple times for his relentless criticism of the Bahraini government’s human rights. In 2011, he was arrested after publically condemning the King and calling for the release of several detained human rights defenders. Mohammed has been sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of “conspiring to topple the regime and collaborating with terrorist organizations”. In prison, Mohammed suffers serious health issues as a result of alleged torture, including being hung by his hands and beaten with a hose, electrocution and sexual harassment.  

Description: http://www.islamtimes.org/images/docs/000259/n00259614-b.jpgMohammed Habib al-Miqdad is a prominent Bahraini-Swedish religious leader, scholar, social activist, and president of Al-Zahra Charity Institution for Orphans. He is well-known for speaking out against injustices related to corruption, discrimination, arbitrary detention and torture. After his arrest in April 2011, al-Miqdad claims he was blindfolded, handcuffed, and repeatedly tortured by the son of the Bahraini king, Nasser Bin Hamad. In June 2011, al-Miqdad was sentenced to life in prison for inciting attacks on policemen and plotting to overthrow the Bahraini monarchical government and “establishing a terrorist organization abroad.” In 2013, he was admitted to the hospital due to severe stomach pains which lasted over a year before the Bahraini authorities allowed him treatment. Doctors confirmed that his difficulty ingesting food was a direct result of severe torture and injury to the abdomen.

Description: http://birdbh.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Mahroos.pngSheikh Mirza al-Mahroos is a prominent religious leader and vice president of Al-Zahraa Society of Orphans. Al-Mahroos was violently beaten and arrested during an early morning house raid on 1 April 2011. Over a period of two months in prison, Al-Mahroos was allegedly subjected to daily beatings, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and humiliation. Al-Mahroos also reported that he suffered from severe pain both in his legs and his stomach that the authorities refused to provide adequate medical treatment for. Despite having the proper documentation, Al-Mahroos was not permitted to visit his wife who later died in early 2014 from a chronic disease. Al-Mahroos’ daughter, Zainab, who was born 28 days after his arrest, has been denied a passport without proper justification from the authorities. Al-Mahroos was sentenced to a 15-year prison term on charges of conspiring against the government and plotting to overthrow the regime and is currently serving his sentence in Jaw Prison.

Description: AlkhawajaSalah al-Khawaja, brother to Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, is a well-known political activist. During the uprising in 2011, he sought to document events and contact international media. In March 2011 during his arrest, he was thrown from the roof of the house on the orders of the commanding officer. While in detention, Al-Khawaja was subjected to torture and ill-treatment that included beatings, being doused with cold water, having guards spit in his mouth, as well as being forced to kiss the shoes of his interrogators. In April 2015, he and his brother were prevented from attending the funeral of their eldest brother Abdulaziz, who passed away while they were in prison. He is serving out a 5 year sentence in prison.

Description: SharifIbrahim Sharif is a leading opposition politician and General Secretary of the Wa’ad Party. He is an advocate for peaceful and moderate reforms towards democracy and the rights of the Shia majority in Bahrain. He is known for his ideas and speeches about a range of political issues, and his loyalty to the Arab culture. In prison he has been subjected to torture, beatings, humiliation and verbal abuse. He has been routinely denied contact to his family. Following a series of unfair trials, Ibrahim is now serving five years in prison for his peaceful protests and advocacy for justice, rights, and democracy in Bahrain.

Description: IsmaelMohammed Ali Ismael is a political activist and close relative of Abdulwahab Hussain. He was arrested on 23 March 2011 and detained for two weeks at Al Qa’lah, where was subjected to electrocution during interrogations in an attempt to extract a false confession. The interrogations took place without the presence of any legal counsel. Ismail was tried and sentenced to 15 years in prison by a special military court on charges that included “collusion with a terrorist organization” and “plotting to overthrow the regime.”

Description: AlnooriSheikh Saeed Al-Noori is a religious cleric and member of Al Wafaa. Al-Noori has been known to speak out and criticize the government on human rights violations. He was arrested on 15 August 2010 by the security forces for unspecified activities intended to “undermine security and stability in the country.” Before his arrest, he had participated in the organizing of demonstrations demanding the release of detainees and prisoners. At his hearing before the public prosecutors on 28 August 2010, Al-Noori showed signs of beatings and possible torture on his hands and feet. He stated that he had been hung by his arms, handcuffed, and beaten. Al-Noori was released on 28 February 2011, but was arrested again by security forces on 17 March 2011 during a home raid because the government viewed him as being “closely aligned with those seeking more radical changes in the power structure.” The alleged torture continued even during his second arrest and Al-Noori was sentenced to life in prison.

Description: Muqdad2Sheikh Abduljalil Al-Miqdad is a prominent political leader and the founder of the Al Wafaa, a Shia opposition political group in Bahrain. In 2010, due to his political views, he was prohibited from leading prayers. In March 2011, he was arrested and allegedly subjected to torture including being beaten with belts, being spat on and being drenched in water.  After his arrest, he went through a humiliating three hour interrogation by an individual who identified himself as the personal representative to the King. The authorities then allegedly threatened to rape his wife if he did not apologize for his actions on camera. Sheikh Abduljalil is currently still in prison serving a life sentence.


We call on the Bahrain government to investigate allegations of torture & mistreatment of the Bahrain 13 and all other prisoners. We also urge them to provide adequate medical treatment to all of those suffering from ailments as a result of this alleged mistreatment as well as any pre-existing conditions. Finally, we call for the immediate release of the Bahrain 13 from prison and all prisoners of conscience currently detained in Bahrain.

6 May, 2015

Nabeel Rajab's case update

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights condemns the arrest and detention of Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights defender in the Kingdom of Bahrain. We call on the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Rajab and to drop all charges against him.

An update regarding the latest incidents about Nabeel Rajab’s arrest and detention is shown below.


on May 14, 2015 The court of appeal upheld the six-month imprisonment sentence against Nabeel Rajab. [BCHR Statement]

On May 11, 2015 the Bahraini High Court extended Nabeel Rajab´s detention for 15 days.

On May 4, 2015, the appeal verdict for his previous sentence was once again postponed to May 14, 2015. Meanwhile, on May 11, 2015, Nabeel Rajab is to appear in front of the public prosecution for his current charges, and it will be decided whether his detention should be extended or he will be released.

On April 5, 2015, the Court of Appeals held a hearing in the case against Mr. Rajab concerning “insulting statutory bodies”. Though the appeal proceedings had been closed and the verdict hearing had been scheduled for April 15, 2015, the court informed Mr. Rajab's lawyers on April 4, 2015, that the Court had decided to re-open the case after receiving from the Public Prosecution a “supplementary defense memorandum”. The court handed over a copy of that memo to Mr. Rajab's lawyers and adjourned the appeal to May 4, 2015 in order to receive the reply to the Prosecution's memo. According to Mr. Rajab's lawyers, no new material arguments or grounds would justify the re-opening of the case.

On April 3, 2015, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) regarding two new charges brought against him interrogated Mr. Rajab in the presence of his lawyers. The first charge is “insulting a statutory body” (Article 216 of the Bahraini Criminal Code) referring to the Ministry of Interior in relation to tweets he posted denouncing the torture of detainees at Jaw Prison. The second charge is “disseminating false rumors in time of war” (Article 133 of the Bahraini Criminal Code) in relation to tweets he published about the Saudi-Arabia led coalition air strikes in Yemen. If sentenced on the second charge, Mr. Rajab could be facing up to 10 years imprisonment.

On April 2, 2015, at 4:00 pm, over twenty police cars surrounded Mr. Rajab's house and policemen arrested him on charges of “spreading false news”. The arrest relates to a tweet from Mr. Rajab denouncing the torture of detainees at Jaw Prison. Mr. Rajab was then sent to the General Directorate of Anti Corruption Economic and Electronic Security to be interrogated.


The United States through a statement from the Department of States called on the Bahraini authorities to drop the charges against Nabeel Rajab and to release him immediately.

Nabeel Rajab’s harassment in Bahrain infographic 

Coverage by Media, NGOs and the International Community’s Response and Statements about Nabeel Rajab

16 Apr, 2015

Behind the Rhetoric: Human Rights Abuses in Bahrain Continue Unabated


This report reviews the current human rights situati on in Bahrain, a small but strategically located Gulf kingdom with a population of just under one and a half million, which has been ravaged by internal dissension since 2011.

Amnesty International has monitored human rights developments in Bahrain for many years but never more closely than in the past four years, which have seen widespread violations by government security forces. These have included torture and other ill-treatment of detainees, unfair trials, the imprisonment of prisoners of conscience – persons sentenced to prison terms for peacefully exercising their rights to free speech, association or assembly – and unlawful killings, with those responsible all too frequently escaping accountability. Anti-government elements have also carried out several bomb explosions and other violent acts targeting the security forces.

This report documents many of these human rights violations and recommends a series of measures that the government should take if, as it has repeatedly professed in UN and other fora, it is committed to ending abuses and upholding the rights of all Bahrainis without discrimination, and to ensuring accountability when abuses do occur. As the report shows, although the government has introduced a number of legal and institutional reforms in recent years to improve human rights, these have so far proved inadequate and have failed to ensurean end to serious rights violations, and justice and appropriate redress for the victims of abuses by state forces.

Four years ago, popular protests in Manama, Bahrain’s capital, sparked off a series of events that have polarized Bahraini society and opened deep divisions between the country’s ruling Sunni Muslim minority and an opposition that draws its strength mostly from the Shi’a Muslim majority, who make up some two thirds or more of the Kingdom’s predominantly Muslim population. The government’s heavy handed response to the protests that began in February 2011 as mass protests elsewhere swept aside longstanding Arab rulers in Egypt and Tunisia, saw protesters beaten and shot, a period of martial law, and opposition activists detained, tortured and imprisoned after grossly unfair trials, eliciting an outcry both at home and abroad. To its credit, the government responded by appointing a group of international lawyers and human rights specialists – the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) – to investigate alleged human rights violations, setting it a tight timetable to complete its task. In November 2011, the BICI submitted its report to Bahrain’s King personally, and he publicly committed the government to accepting its findings and implementing its recommendations. In essence, the BICI concluded that security forces had committed torture and other ill-treatment, unlawful killings and that Bahrain’s courts failed to deliver fair trials, and recommended far-reaching legal and institutional reforms to halt and prevent any repetition of such abuses and further investigations to ensure that those responsible for the human rights violations that had occurred were held accountable.

The King’s unconditional acceptance of the BICI findings and his stated commitment to ensure full implementation of the BICI recommendations engendered high hopes but more than three years on, these have all but evaporated and tension within the Kingdom remains critically high. The government has introduced reforms but these have been undermined by its imposition and use of other repressive laws and regulations to imprison peaceful critics, including human rights defenders, and ban peaceful protests in Manama. Meanwhile, compliant courts have sentenced political opposition leaders to lengthy prison terms and continue to jail those who take to the streets to show their defiance on charges of “illegal gathering.”

Bahrain, today, continues to go through a political and human rights crisis. The government proclaims its commitment to real and meaningful reform – indeed, it claims that it has already made improvements that exceed those that the BICI said were urgently needed. In practice, however, serious violations continue to occur and do so on an extensive scale, and the sense of grievance among victims, their families and their community remains acute. To date, Bahrain’s allies - the USA, the UK and other EU states – have generally refrained from publicly criticizing Bahraini human rights violations and have appeared to accept the government’s claimed commitment to reform at face value, perhaps while lending support for institution-building and human rights training. As this report shows, however, such quiet engagement has yet to produce real and sustained improvements in Bahrain and now warrants review. The Bahrain government should be left in no doubt that it cannot continue to count on the support of its allies unless it moves swiftly to institute genuine safeguards for the human rights of all Bahrainis, ensure proper accountability for human rights violationsand comply fully with its obligations under international law and human rights treaties to which it is party.

In order to address the current human rights crisis, the Bahraini authorities must, as a matter of priority, take the following steps:

  • Bring Bahraini laws in line with international law and standards and ensure these are respected and implemented in practice;
  • Release all those detained for lawfully exercising their right to freedom of expression, association or peaceful assembly;
  • Start a full and comprehensive legal reform of the judiciary to ensure its full impartiality and independence from the executive authorities;
  • Ensure thorough investigations, including where necessary re-opening closed investigations, into all cases of torture or other ill-treatment, death in custody and killings committed by the security forces with a view to delivering truth, justice and adequate reparation to the victims and their relatives;
  • Ensure fair retrials of all those convicted after unfair trials and without the use of “confessions” extracted under torture or other ill-treatment.
The international community, in particular the UK, US and EU governments, must:
  • Raise concerns publicly and in private about human rights abuses in Bahrain with a view to ensure full compliance with Bahrain’s international human rights obligations;
  • Push for a more comprehensive and prompt reform of the justice system in order to ensure accountability.

Click here to download the full report

Click here to read the the PDF link