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Bahrain Center For Human Rights organizes the international conference “Bahrain: 8 years of Repression Under International Silence”

Beirut, January 16th, 2019_ Human Rights Organizations call for a Radical Change in International Policies Tackling Human Rights Violation in Bahrain

 

An international conference on the human rights situation in Bahrain was held in Beirut, on the 16th of January 2019 with the participation of international human rights organizations, experts, CSOs, activists and researchers. Members of prominent organizations such Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Human Rights First, IFEX, FIDH, Civicus and others have participated in the discussions of the topics of the conference.

All participants have agreed on the emergency of implementing a new international strategy to deal with the ongoing deterioration of the human rights situation that has been happening under the silence of the international community, including the UK and the USA.

Some of the topics discussed revolved around the harassment and prosecution of human rights defenders, the closure of civic and political space, the lack of democratic political pluralism, the ban on the entrance of UN special rapporteurs to Bahrain amongst others.

Among the participants, some of the important statements were:

Joe stork made a comment saying that “the silence we are talking about is not international; it is enforced silence in Bahrain.”

Aya Majzoub, the researcher at Human Rights Watch, declared that “We have 5 joint statements on Bahrain since 2012, last one was in 2015. Part of the reason that we haven’t had another joint statement on Bahrain because no country is willing to take the lead.”

The senior Advisor in Human Rights First, Brian Dooley, said that “for the time in generations, in Washington (US Congress), questions are being asked that haven’t been asked before, this is an opportunity to be used.”

 

Recommendations:

  • Call on international diplomatic missions Bahrain to:

-observe trials of {political} activists, Human Rights Defenders, Freedom of Expression

-Report on due-process violations

  • Raise profile of prominent Rights Defenders publically in the US and UK.
  • Special Rapporteurs on torture to visit Bahrain and linking it to CAT obligations.
  • Scoping missions to assess which countries/businesses/organizations have most leverage on Bahrain.
  • Campaigning ahead of F1 races
  • Messaging: more focus on broader trends of repression in Bahrain, not just prominent Human Rights Defenders, especially in Arabic Media.
  • Use Parliamentary procedures in the UK and the US (US Congress) to raise questions about Bahrain.

 

UN: Press briefing note on Bahrain

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:  Ravina Shamdasani
Location: Geneva 
Date: 4 January 2019
Subject: Bahrain

We call on the Government of Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and to ensure that all Bahrainis are able to exercise their rights to freedom of opinion and expression without fear of arbitrary detention. 

Rajab has been imprisoned since June 2016 for tweeting in 2015 about Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes in Yemen and allegations of torture inside Bahrain’s Jau Prison. One such tweet read as follows: “We have the right to say no to the war in #Yemen and should struggle for peace and security but not bloodshed #Sanaa.” On Monday this week, Bahrain’s highest court – the Court of Cassation – upheld Rajab’s conviction and five-year prison sentence on charges of "spreading false news and rumours in time of war", "insulting foreign countries" and "insulting publicly the interior ministry". The UN Working Group of Arbitrary Detention had last year declared Rajab’s detention to be arbitrary.

Monday’s court decision brings into focus the continued suppression of Government critics in Bahrain through arbitrary arrest and detention, travel bans, harassment, threats, revocation of citizenship and other means. There have been numerous reports of human rights defenders, political activists, journalists and opposition figures being targeted for the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. The UN Secretary-General’s report on reprisals in September 2018 highlighted several specific cases where civil society activists and their families in Bahrain suffered reprisals for seeking to engage with UN human rights mechanisms, including the Human Rights Council. In some of the cases, the activists were accused of terrorism-related offences.

The arrest, detention and imprisonment of individuals for the exercise of their fundamental human rights is in violation of Bahrain’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which it has ratified. We urge the Government of Bahrain to stop criminalising dissenting voices.

UN: Press briefing note on Bahrain

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:  Ravina Shamdasani
Location: Geneva 
Date: 4 January 2019
Subject: Bahrain

We call on the Government of Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and to ensure that all Bahrainis are able to exercise their rights to freedom of opinion and expression without fear of arbitrary detention. 

Rajab has been imprisoned since June 2016 for tweeting in 2015 about Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes in Yemen and allegations of torture inside Bahrain’s Jau Prison. One such tweet read as follows: “We have the right to say no to the war in #Yemen and should struggle for peace and security but not bloodshed #Sanaa.” On Monday this week, Bahrain’s highest court – the Court of Cassation – upheld Rajab’s conviction and five-year prison sentence on charges of "spreading false news and rumours in time of war", "insulting foreign countries" and "insulting publicly the interior ministry". The UN Working Group of Arbitrary Detention had last year declared Rajab’s detention to be arbitrary.

Monday’s court decision brings into focus the continued suppression of Government critics in Bahrain through arbitrary arrest and detention, travel bans, harassment, threats, revocation of citizenship and other means. There have been numerous reports of human rights defenders, political activists, journalists and opposition figures being targeted for the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. The UN Secretary-General’s report on reprisals in September 2018 highlighted several specific cases where civil society activists and their families in Bahrain suffered reprisals for seeking to engage with UN human rights mechanisms, including the Human Rights Council. In some of the cases, the activists were accused of terrorism-related offences.

The arrest, detention and imprisonment of individuals for the exercise of their fundamental human rights is in violation of Bahrain’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which it has ratified. We urge the Government of Bahrain to stop criminalising dissenting voices.

Bahrain: Domestic Workers Freedom of Religion and Worship Rights

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and Bahrain Interfaith condemn the government of Bahrain’s disregard for the growing abuse against female domestic workers in the Kingdom. We call on the governments of Bahrain and of labor-sending countries to ensure religious freedom rights are protected.

This report traces abuse and exploitation to which female domestic workers in Bahrain are subjected by employers, with regards to their rights of worship. The report outlines the rights and international legal standards that apply to workers.

Approximately 460,000 migrant workers, mostly from Asia, make up 77 percent of the country’s private workforce. Due to shortcomings in Bahrain’s legal and regulatory framework and the failure to implement and enforce existing laws, migrant workers, especially female domestic workers, endure serious abuses such as unpaid wages, passport confiscation, unsafe and unhealthy accommodation, excessive work hours, and physical and psychological abuse. They are also being subjected to deprivation of their rights to worship and the absence of religious freedoms. 

Many human rights organizations have expressed concerns over the treatment of female domestic workers in Bahrain, confirming that housekeepers and domestic workers are systematically exposed to discriminatory, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. In a recent report on labor in the Gulf Countries, the number of female domestic workers in Bahrain was estimated to exceed 80,000. The increasing rate of their abuse has raised serious concerns over the absence of strict and well-established legislation and administrative measures that regulate the relationship between these  women and their employers. 

Reports stated that the majority of these maids are practically treated as private property, looking more like a modern day slavery system, wherein the maids are deprived of their basic human rights. Many of these workers are not able to nor allowed to communicate with friends, family and other people besides residents of the house they serve in. Although they are physically and legally not detained or arrested, some of them are forced to live in a state of incommunicado. Many of them do not leave the house and are not allowed to step anywhere near the door. 

Additionally, there is no proper legal framework that preserves the female domestic workers’ religious freedom rights including the right of worship and practicing religious rituals in line with the Articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Female domestic workers are reportedly deprived not only of the freedom to worship their religion but also of portraying their religion or its symbols in any manner or way. Most maids are not allowed, and in reported cases severely punished, to even wear or put up religious symbols like a cross, even though there are no laws prohibiting employees from wearing or carrying religious symbols. BCHR and Bahrain Interfaith documented cases of female domestic workers being subjected to deprivation of their right to freedom of religion.

Despite fear of reprisals, domestic workers told stories of being prevented from practicing their religion. (Their full names are withheld in order to protect them from further abuse.)

Ruwaina (Philippines) told us: “We are three maids at the same house, and two of us are not allowed to wear the cross, because it is haram. We understand that, but the boss doesn’t allow us to go to church also.  One time he saw me pray and punished me……but [another maid] is Muslim, she is also not allowed to go to Mosque.”

Additionally, there are reports that female domestic workers and housekeepers, particularly Hindu, have been victimized and abused severely at a physical and mental level.

Roopa (India) stated: “My boss will not let me go to the temple, because he said that I am a pagan and worship stone.  I cannot live like this anymore!”

Moreover, female domestic workers are repeatedly deprived of taking holidays, even on special religious occasions like: Eid, Christmas, Diwaly, etc.

Julie (Philippines) said: “I told him, deduct from my salary if you want, but please send me to church, at least just for Christmas. He said, “You are Kafir (infidel), I will not help you commit wrong.  Even if you go to the Labor Ministry, or to the embassy, no one can do anything for you.”

Jojah (Indonesian) reported: “Not even once did my employer allow me to attend the prayers or sermons at the mosque, not even during Eid.  Even in the house, I am not given time to perform my daily prayers.  Only at night when the family goes to sleep, I perform my prayers too late.”

"Depriving tens of thousands of maids and domestic workers in Bahrain from their right to attend churches, temples, mosques and religious centers should be loudly denounced by human rights organizations in Bahrain and abroad," Sheikh Maytham Al Salman, the head of Interfaith Organization stated. "The government of Bahrain has miserably failed to protect the religious freedom of domestic workers and maids from abuses committed by state and non-state actors."

Bahrain has claimed that it is committed to improving migrant labor laws and practices; however, the implementation of laws are inconsistent with international labor law standards and the international human rights commitments of the government of Bahrain.

Even though religious freedom rights are not directly denied by the government, it is the government's full responsibility to enforce legislative and administrative measures to protect religious freedom rights of domestic workers.

"These Asian migrants, due to not being able to find appropriate work in their country of residence, take up these jobs in Bahrain to ensure that they sustain their livelihood and that of their families. They left their countries, but they did not leave their religion and beliefs and Bahrain must ensure their protection and rights to worship," a local labor rights activists said.

Bahrain is a member of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and is a state party to relevant international treaties that protect freedom of religion or belief. It is also a signatory since 2006 to the ICCPR,which states in Article 18 that “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his [or her] choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his [or her] religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching. No one shall be subject to coercion, which would impair his [or her] freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his [or her] choice.” The ICCPR establishes an individual’s right to freedom of movement, and Article 7 of the ICESCR recognizes “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of just and favorable conditions of work.”

 

Therefore, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and Bahrain Interfaith call on the government of Bahrain to:

  • Protect the religious freedom and worship rights of all people in Bahrain;
  • Enforce the signing of employment contracts between all domestic workers and their employers, clearly stating in the contracts the number of working hours and their right to a weekend and yearly paid holiday; and
  • Immediately adopt corrective measures to ensure low paid domestic workers are not deprived from enjoying their basic human rights.

Bahrain: Concern about the Increased Application of Death Penalty in Light of Continuing to Ignore Torture Allegations

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is gravely concerned about the Bahraini government continuing to issue death penalty sentences in light of the deteriorating political and human rights situation since February 2011. Since then, Bahrain courts have issued 32 death penalty sentences against 32 detainees arrested on political grounds. Most of them reported that they were exposed to physical and psychological torture to force them to confess. Three of the convicts were executed in January 2017 by firing squad after the murder of a policeman.

Zuhair Ibrahim Jassem, 38, will attend trial on Thursday, November 29, 2018. His family and human rights activists in Bahrain fear that he will be sentenced to death penalty, the most extreme sentence given in similar cases. Zuhair faces charges of joining a terrorist cell operating in Bahrain against police officers, training in the use of weapons, operations against police officers and killing of a policeman.

In details, Zuhair’s family informed the Bahrain Center for Human Rights that civilian forces had stormed their house in the Sutra area on November 2, 2017. They arrested Zuhair after searching the house and confiscated Zuhair's personal belongings without giving the family any information or explanation about the reasons for the arrest or search. Mrs. Hanin Ali, 35, Zuhair’s wife, said that she was beaten by a member of the authorities who broke into their house after her husband was arrested. Moreover, she was threatened with rape. He pointed the gun at her head while interrogating her in an isolated room to give information about her husband Zuhair before his family will be summoned to the criminal investigation unit.

Zuhair was in the Criminal Investigation Building for about 55 days before being transferred to the Dry Dock Prison. Zuhair was brought to his family after severe torture caused by the interrogators who investigated him by stripping him of all his clothes and severely electrocuting and beating him. The interrogators also threatened to kill his family, if he did not confess about the charges against him. Therefore, Zuhair signed the papers of confession about the above-mentioned charges after his arrest on 13 November, as announced by the Bahraini Ministry of Interior, which defamed him and other defendants on Bahrain TV Al-Wasi, on 15 November 2017.

On February 20, 2018, the Public Prosecution ordered that the case was referred to the Grand Criminal Court. Zuhair’s family says that he spoke to the judge about the torture he was subjected to, but the judge did not care. His family also filed a complaint about his torture at the Special Investigation Unit of the Public Prosecutor's Office.

The legal advisor of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Ibrahim Sarhan, said that death sentences are issued in trials that do not have fair trial guarantees. Although there are allegations of victims being tortured and brought before judges, but their legal rights weren’t observed. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) believes that the continued use of this aborted penalty in Bahrain is a violation of international conventions and treaties, especially Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: “Everyone has the right of living, freedom and self-safety”.

Based on this, the BCHR calls upon the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, the European Union, and other allies and international institutions to pressure the Government of Bahrain to:

  1. The release Zuhair Jassem, the suspension of his trial and the dropping of all confessions extracted from him under torture.
  2. Stop using the death penalty.
  3. Abolish previously issued death sentences and investigate allegations of torture of defendants.
  4. Accountability of elements of the security services who prove their involvement in the commission of acts of torture no matter how high their positions are.

Bahrain: Continuous Targeting of Bahraini Opposition Former MPs

Bahrain Center for Human Rights condemns the continuous targeting of former Members of Bahraini Parliament because of their political opinions and criticism of government officials and bodies.

Bahrain Center for Human Rights has monitored the cases of former MPs, both Sunni and Shia Muslims, that have been punished in a variety of ways because of their political opinions. It demonstrates the constraints on freedom of expression and opinion against all citizens, including MPs in Bahrain.

Former MP, Jawad Fairooz, a member of al Wefaq opposition party and president of Bahrain SALAM for Human Rights confirmed that he was threatened during his time as MP from 2006 to 2011. Mr Fairooz was warned by a media personality that the State does not accept his activism and questioning of the government, and revenge against him will be sought “sooner or later”. On 2 May 2011, Mr Fairooz was arrested during the severe national security crackdown against anyone who showed support for the popular national demonstrations in February 2011. He was left in solitary confinement for more than 43 days and was subjected to physical and psychological torture before being released in August 2011 (1).

Mr Fairooz further stated that one of the investigators in the security apparatus said to him: “who do you think yourself to question and hold accountable the ruling family figures, even if they are ministers”.

Mr Fairooz was charged in a military court and was sentenced to imprisonment for 15 months in November 2012 after he was charged for an offence relating to freedom of opinion (2). The sentence coincided with the decision by the Interior Minister to strip 31 Bahrainis of their nationality, which included Mr Fairooz. His house was attacked on numerous occasions with Molotov cocktails and his pension fund has been ceased. His family has been targeted too, with his wife being briefly arrested in 2011, and has been harassed at work. Mr Fairooz was travelling outside of Bahrain when his citizenship was revoked, thus forcing him to seek asylum.

Mr Fairooz was not the only MP that was subjected to arrest and torture in the security crackdown in 2011, as another MP, Matar Matar, was also arrested on 2 May 2011 and was tortured as well according to reports (3). He too was released in August 2011 (4).

In November 2012, former MP Jalal Fairooz had his citizenship revoked whilst he was travelling abroad. His wife was targeted at her workplace and his daughter was expelled from her university as a form of retaliation against him.

In September 2013, former MP Khalil Al-Marzooq, the chairman of al Wefaq in Parliament, was arrested. He was detained for more than a month and was released on 24 October 2013 (5).

Further, in May 2014, Osama Al-Tamimi’s Parliamentary membership was revoked. Mr Al-Tamimi was also prevented from accessing his pension fund (6). He was arrested again in October 2014, charged with abusing police officers, with sentencing against him still on-going. His business place was attacked by armed forces in May 2012 after his criticism of the Prime Minister of Bahrain (7).

In December 2014, former MP Sheikh Ali Salman, Secretary General of al Wefaq and leader of the largest parliamentary opposition, was arrested and remains imprisoned following investigations of charges against his political statements (8). On a previous occasion, a tear-gas canister was directed at him, which caused major injuries to another who received the blow. Sheikh Ali Salman has been called in numerous times for investigations since 2011, and was investigated by the Military Prosecution. His house has been repeatedly hit with tear-gas canisters.

On 25 December 2014, former MP, Khalid Abdil-Aal, was called in for questioning by the Public Prosecution because of criticisms he tweeted in April 2014, charging him with the offence of “slandering the Ministry of Interior” (9).

In addition, on 14 January 2015, former MP, Jameel Kadhim, chariman of the consultative council of al Wefaq, was sentenced to 6 months in prison following the charge of “disrupting elections”. The Justice Minister brought forward the case against Mr Kadhim because of tweets he made where he suggested “political money runs in the election” (10).

As a result of this rhetoric, the Inter-Parliamentary Union has described Bahrain as one of the most dangerous of 7 countries in the middle-east for MPs that are active in human rights (11).

Bahrain Center for Human Rights has expressed its grave concerns regarding the absence of freedoms of expression and opinion in Bahrain, and that Bahraini MPs have paid a hefty price for exercising their rights in this regard. What they are experiencing from arrests and judicial-hounding to imprisonment is seen as revenge against their human rights and political activities.

In light of what has happened, Bahrain Center for Human Rights demands the following from the Bahraini Government: 

1- The prompt release of Sheikh Ali Salman and Jameel Kadhim along with all activists, political or otherwise, that are in Bahraini prisons, aswell as to drop the charges against them.

2- Cease revengeful crackdowns against former opposition MPs, which are being carried out in violation of their right to freedom of expression.

3- Ensure that all MPs are able to exercise their rights and duties in inspecting and questioning senior officials in Parliament without fear of reprisals.

 

[1] http://www.redress.org/case-docket/allegation-letter-concerning-jawad-fairooz

[2] http://www.alwasatnews.com/3714/news/read/714144/1.html

[3] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-14439733

[4] http://www.alwasatnews.com/3322/news/read/600526/1.html

[5] http://www.alwasatnews.com/4310/news/read/898764/1.html

[6]http://www.alhurra.com/content/%D8%A5%D8%B3%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%B7-%D8%B9%D8%B6%D9%88%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%A6%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%AD%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%86%D9%8A-%D8%A3%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A9-%D9%85%D9%87%D9%86%D8%A7-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%B3%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%82%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%AE%D9%8A%D8%A9/250040.html

[7] http://www.bahrainrights.org/ar/node/5282

[8] http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/7215

[9] http://www.alwasatnews.com/4493/news/read/947534/1.html

[10] http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/7229

[11] http://www.ipu.org/press-e/pressrelease201412081.htm

The International Day for Tolerance

    On the occasion of the International Day for Tolerance, the Bahrain Interfaith Center, in cooperation with the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, organized a seminar entitled “Bahrain between a culture of revenge and tolerance.”

The discussion at the seminar focused on evaluating the current situation, the commitments required as declared in the Universal Declaration of Tolerance, possible options, and the responsibility of the state and the civil society institutions to promote tolerance and internal problems facing it.

   The session was attended by a group of activists and human rights workers, where they discussed topics related to the Universal Declaration of Tolerance and the explanatory note, as well as explaining the meaning of tolerance in legal terms. Moreover, the attendees addressed the importance of practicing the value of tolerance and applying it internally in organizations because it reflects the acceptance of these values in society in general and with the state in particular. In this context, the emphasis has been placed on the responsibilities of the State through Article II, the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance, which states that “Tolerance at the State level requires ensuring fairness and impartiality in legislation, law enforcement, and judicial and administrative procedures. Also, it requires providing economic and social opportunities for everyone without any discrimination. Any exclusion or marginalization leads to frustration, aggression, and intolerance. ”

 

    بمناسبة اليوم العالمي للتسامح، نظم "مركز البحرين للحوار والتسامح"  بالتعاون "مركز البحرين لحقوق الإنسان" حلقة نقاشية بعنوان "البحرين بين ثقافة الإنتقام والتسامح". تمحور النقاش في الحلقة، اليوم، حول تقدير موقف الوضع الراهن، الالتزامات المطلوبة وفق ما جاء في الإعلان العالمي للتسامح،  الخيارات الممكنة، ومسؤولية الدولة ومؤسسات المجتمع المدني في تعزيز التسامح والمشاكل الداخلية التي تعترضه.

    وقد حضر الجلسة مجموعة من الناشطين والعاملين في مجال حقوق الإنسان، إذ تم البحث في مواضيع متعلقة بالإعلان العالمي للتسامح والمذكرة التوضيحية بالإضافة إلى شرح معنى التسامح من الناحية القانونية. وتطرق الحاضرون إلى أهمية ممارسة قيمة التسامح وتطبيقها داخلياً في المنظمات ذلك لأنه يعكس تقبل هذه القيم في المجتمع بشكل عام ومع الدولة بالأخص. وفي الإطار تم التركيز على مسؤوليات الدولة من خلال المادة الثانية "إعلان مبادئ بشأن التسامح" والتي تنص على "إن التسامح على مستوى الدولة يقتضي ضمان العدل وعدم التحيز في التشريعات وفي إنفاذ القوانين والإجراءات القضائية والإدارية. وهو يقتضي أيضا إتاحة الفرص الاقتصادية والاجتماعية لكل شخص دون أي تمييز. فكل استبعاد أو تهميش إنما يؤدي إلي الإحباط والعدوانية والتعصب”.

Bahrain: Nabeel Rajab hearing on 17 September 2019

On 17 September 2019, the Court of Appeal will hold a hearing on the application submitted by the legal team defending human rights defender Nabeel Rajab to consider altering the charges against him by community service as stipulated in the Alternative Penal Code.

This is the second request submitted by the defense team after the court rejected the first request on 30 April 2019 submitted by the defense team to ask for the use of the alternative penal code adopted by Bahrain in 2018.

The Bahraini authorities arrested Rajab on 13 June 2016 from his home and he has been detained since then.  On 15 January 15 2018, the Court of Cassation upheld Rajab's two-year prison sentence handed down due to the 2015 television interviews he gave on the human rights situation in Bahrain. In another case, Bahrain's Court of Appeal, on 31 December 2018, upheld the sentencing of Nabeel Rajab to five years in prison on charges related to freedom of expression and tweeting about the war in Yemen.

Rajab is subjected to poor conditions in Jaw Central Prison where he is currently detained. Since he was transferred to Jaw Central Prison after being sentenced, he has been held in isolation from other human rights defenders and politicians, and is being held in a cell with nine other prisoners who have been sentenced in cases related to prostitution, which has affected Rajab's psychological state.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) strongly condemns the conditions under which Nabeel Rajab is being held, conditions which violate the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, in particular rule C concerning detainees and persons in pre-trial detention. BCHR therefore calls on the Government of Bahrain to:

- Drop all charges against human rights Defender Nabeel Rajab and release him

- Let Rajab serve his sentence through community service, as according to the alternative penal code at least.

- Stop isolating Rajab from other human rights and political prisoners.

Bahrain: Nabeel Rajab hearing on 17 September 2019

On 17 September 2019, the Court of Appeal will hold a hearing on the application submitted by the legal team defending human rights defender Nabeel Rajab to consider altering the charges against him by community service as stipulated in the Alternative Penal Code.

This is the second request submitted by the defense team after the court rejected the first request on 30 April 2019 submitted by the defense team to ask for the use of the alternative penal code adopted by Bahrain in 2018.

The Bahraini authorities arrested Rajab on 13 June 2016 from his home and he has been detained since then.  On 15 January 15 2018, the Court of Cassation upheld Rajab's two-year prison sentence handed down due to the 2015 television interviews he gave on the human rights situation in Bahrain. In another case, Bahrain's Court of Appeal, on 31 December 2018, upheld the sentencing of Nabeel Rajab to five years in prison on charges related to freedom of expression and tweeting about the war in Yemen.

Rajab is subjected to poor conditions in Jaw Central Prison where he is currently detained. Since he was transferred to Jaw Central Prison after being sentenced, he has been held in isolation from other human rights defenders and politicians, and is being held in a cell with nine other prisoners who have been sentenced in cases related to prostitution, which has affected Rajab's psychological state.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) strongly condemns the conditions under which Nabeel Rajab is being held, conditions which violate the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, in particular rule C concerning detainees and persons in pre-trial detention. BCHR therefore calls on the Government of Bahrain to:

- Drop all charges against human rights Defender Nabeel Rajab and release him

- Let Rajab serve his sentence through community service, as according to the alternative penal code at least.

- Stop isolating Rajab from other human rights and political prisoners.

URGENT: Authorities in Bahrain execute both victims of torture Ahmed al-Mullali and Ali al-Arab

URGENT: Authorities in Bahrain execute both victims of torture Ahmed al-Mullali and Ali al-Arab 

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) strongly condemns the execution by the Ministry of Interior of both citizens Ahmad al-Mullali and Ali al-Arab, who were executed, a few hours after their relatives visited them in Jau Central Prison. They were detained in relation with the criminal investigation of the assassination of a lieutenant, Hesham al-Hammadi.

The Interior Ministry summoned Mullali’s and Arab’s relatives to an "special visit" on Friday, one of the official holidays in Bahrain and without specifying the number of visitors, which raised fear among both families of imminent execution of their sons. 

On 06 May 2016, the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld the death sentence of detainees Ahmed Issa al-Mullali and Ali Ahmad al-Arab; in addition to life imprisonment for 19 others, as well as sentences of 15 years for 17 detainees, 10 years for 9 detainees and 5 years for 11 detainees including females. The same court decided to revoke the nationality of those sentenced to more than ten years in the same case, who were 47 detainees.

The court largely based its judgment on confessions obtained under conditions of torture of Al-Mullali, Al-Arab and others, where detainees were subjected to ill-treatment and incommunicado detention in circumstances that can be considered as enforced disappearance. BCHR issued, in a previous statement, details about the physical and psychological torture that Al-Mullali and Al-Arab were subjected to in the isolation building in Jau Central Prison, including beating in sensitive places and electrocution, as well as forcing them to stand for long hours.

Amnesty International and HUman Rights Watch both issued urgent appeals to rescue detainees Ali Muhammad al-Arab and Ahmad al-Mullali, noting that they received information about being tortured in Jaw Central Prison, and called on the Bahraini authorities to retry them in accordance with international standards of fair trial, and to stop extracting confessions under torture.

The UN special rapporteur on torture has also reached out to try to save the fate of the two young men. In spite of the efforts from the International Community, the Bahraini authorities still carried out the executions on this day that represents a major stepback in the human rights situation in Bahrain and represents a lack of commitment from the Government of Bahrain to reforms. 

Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) calls for the following:

• Abolish the death penalty and death sentences that have been declared