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Bahrain: Human rights defender Mohammed Al-Maskati faces prison if his sentence is upheld in December; NGOs call for his sentence to be overturned

Outspoken Bahraini human rights defender Mohammed Al-Maskati faces six months in prison if an appeals court upholds a sentence handed down one year ago for his human rights activities. The undersigned organisations call for the verdict to be overturned when his case is heard by the Court of Appeals on 22 December 2015, and call for an end to the more than three years of judicial harassment of Al-Maskati.

Al-Maskati is the founder and former president of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) who is currently a digital security consultant at Front Line Defenders. On 31 December 2014, the Lower Criminal Court in Bahrain sentenced him to six months in prison but he remained free on bail of 100 BHD until the appeal.

On 16 October 2012, Al-Maskati was first summoned for interrogation at Al-Naem police station. He was then arrested and brought the following day before the public prosecution on charges of allegedly “rioting and participating in an illegal gathering.” The charges were in reference to a Friday protest in Manama (on 12 October 2012) entitled “Self-determination”. He was released the following day after interrogation, and brought to trial in June 2013. For more on his case, see: https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/MohammedAl-Maskati

Al-Maskati has been active in documenting and reporting violations committed by the Bahraini authorities in recent years. A few weeks before his arrest in October 2012, he had participated in side events at the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva. The undersigned organisations call on the UN and its member states to take action to protect Al-Maskati and all human rights defenders who participate in UN events.

The organisations are gravely concerned that the sentencing of Mohammed Al-Maskati is part of an on-going trend of politically-motivated charges being used against human rights defenders and activists in Bahrain in an effort to stop them from carrying out their legitimate human rights work.

Please add your voice on twitter using the hashtag #DropAlMaskatiCharges and join the call for the Bahraini authorities to end the judicial harassment of Mohammed Al-Maskati and other human rights defenders, for the sentence against him to be overturned, and to refrain from exploiting the judicial system for political purposes. 

 

Signed,

Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)
Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)
Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR)
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
FIDH, within the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
Front Line Defenders
Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
Maharat Foundation
Social Media Exchange (SMEX)
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

Web Conference: Bahrain, Between the Obligation and Implementation: 4 Years since UPR Recomendations

An Appeal from Human Rights organizations to drop the death sentences based on confessions extracted under torture

Human Rights Organizations(Bahrain Forum for Human Rights;European Bahraini Organizations for Human Rights;Salam for Democracy and Human Rights; Justice Human Rights Organization;  Lualua Center for Human Rights ;Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights;Bahrain Center for Human Rights; Bahrain Human Rights Observatory; exprress a great  concern regarding  the support of the death penalty sentence of  two young men whom were exposed  to a brutally tortured to extract a confession of having committed the murder of a policeman in the Dar village near the Bahrain International Airport area.

The Court of Cassation  had issued on November 16, 2015 its decision to uphold the death sentence against both: Mr. Mohamed Ramadan, and Mr. Hussein Ali Moussa, on the basis of evidence extracted under torture, and from the judicial institution that has been criticized international from human rights organizations for not implementing any radical reforms which will lead to their autonomy and an end to the  impunity policy, as well as the rest of the violations against the terms of a fair trial.

These provisions come at a time when authorities did not allow until now the Special Rapporteur of the UN / special Rapporteur on torture, "Mr.Juan Méndez" to visit Bahrain in addition to the rapporteurs and the non-implementation of the Bassiouni recommendations, especially those related to the torture, which supports the views of activists and human rights in that power of abuse use of the judiciary as a tool to persecute dissidents and reprisals against them.

This harsh sentence against two of the prisoners of conscience and five citizens are still waiting for the final decision to the Court of Cassation, in addition to all unfair trials held against hundreds of all citizens reflect a fundamental flaw in the judicial system in Bahrain and penalizing those who exercise their right to express opinion.

Based on the foregoing, the organizations signing this statement calls for the following:

- Drop the death sentences immediately
- Release of all detainees who have been detained because of their opinions or because of the political situation in the country
- Hold everyone and those responsible for torture.

The undersigned organizations also called on international human rights organizations to put pressure on the government of Bahrain in order to immediately cease all violations and full commitment to the UN Bill of Human Rights and implementation of the above demands and begin to implement the recommendations of the Independent Fact-Finding Commission and the recommendations of the Human Rights Council.

Read this statement in French

NGOs Condemn Imprisonment and Nationality Revocation of Photographer Sayed Ahmed al-Mousawi

25 November 2015 – Award-winning photographer Sayed Ahmed al-Mousawi was sentenced on Monday to 10 years in prison and had his nationality revoked, along with 12 others, after covering a series of demonstrations in early 2014. Security forces detained Al-Mousawi for over a year without trial or official charges, accused him of being a part of a terrorist cell and subjected him to torture. The undersigned NGOs condemn the government’s continued attacks on independent journalism, policy of media censorship and severe restrictions on freedom of expression in Bahrain.

Sayed Ahmed al-Mousawi, a winner of 127 international photography awards, has been incarcerated since his arrest on 10 February 2014, when security forces raided his home in Duraz village. According to al-Mousawi’s father, a group of plainclothes masked policemen arrested Sayed Ahmed and his brother. The police provided no arrest warrant and confiscated al-Mousawi’s cameras and electronic devices. Al-Mousawi alleges that he was tortured during his detention and interrogation.

Al-Mousawi’s torture follows a pattern of abuse Human Rights Watch documented in a new report released on 24 November on the ongoing use of torture in Bahraini police detention and prison. Police disappeared and tortured al-Mousawi for five days, subjecting him to severe beatings on his genitals, electrocution and hanging from a door. For the duration of his disappearance, he was stripped naked and forced to stand for long periods of time. Officers did not allow a lawyer to accompany al-Mousawi when they transferred him to the Public Prosecutor. Courts renewed al-Mousawi’s pre-trial detention six times, and he spent over a year in prison without formal charges.

“Sayed al-Mousawi’s torture took place at a time when the UK has been increasing its spending on a ‘reform programme’ for Bahrain to bolster its institutions,” said Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy at BIRD. “It is becoming increasingly clear that this programme has failed. Torture is still systematic and unrelenting and the government has broken all promises of reform.”

During his extended detention, al-Mousawi continued to win international awards for his photography. In spite of this, the government accused him of giving SIM cards to “terrorist” demonstrators and taking photos of anti-government protests. As a result, Bahrain tried al-Mousawi under Bahrain’s vague anti-terrorism legislation. A judge later accused him and his brother of membership in a terrorist cell, which al-Mousawi continues to deny.

“Al-Mousawi’s case exposes Bahrain’s continued misapplication of its counterterrorism law to hide evidence of its human rights abuses,” said Husain Abdulla the Executive Director of ADHRB. “Taking photos of peaceful protestors is not a crime and Bahrain’s overreaction shows just how fearful the Bahraini government is of its own people.”

Bahrain’s continued arrest of journalists and photographers, who expose human rights violations, reflects a systematic campaign by the authorities to quell freedom of expression and the press. Bahrain is ranked 163 out of 180 in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index according to Reporters Without Borders. Last year, a Bahraini court also convicted another renowned photojournalist, Ahmed al-Humaidan to 10 years in prison under similar charges. Bahrain has revoked the citizenship of more than 130 individuals since 2012.

"Yet again the Bahraini government has wielded citizenship as a weapon of censorship against journalists," said CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, Sherif Mansour. "We call on the Bahraini judiciary to overturn this disturbing sentence, recognize al-Mousawi's citizenship, and free him immediately."

We, the undersigned NGOs, call for the immediate release of Sayed Ahmed al-Mousawi, and on Bahrain to end the criminalization of free speech and press. We also call on the UK government to suspend its spending on technical assistance to Bahrain, and on the US government to reinstate the ban on arms sales to the country, until systematic torture has been eradicated and restrictions on the enjoyment of internationally-codified human rights are lifted

Sincerely,

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)

Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)

Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

Index on Censorship

 

HRW report: Bahrain: Detainees Tortured, Abused

(Beirut, November 23, 2015) – Bahraini security forces are torturing detainees during interrogation, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Institutions set up after 2011 to receive and investigate complaints lack independence and transparency.

The 84-page report, “The Blood of People Who Don’t Cooperate: Continuing Torture and Mistreatment of Detainees in Bahrain,” concludes that security forces have continued the same abuses the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) documented in its November 2011 report. The commission was established after the fierce repression of pro-democracy demonstrators in February and March of that year. Bahraini authorities have failed to implement effectively the commission’s recommendations relating to torture, Human Rights Watch found.

“The claims of Bahrain and its allies that authorities have ended torture in detention are simply not credible,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “All the available evidence supports the conclusion that these new institutions have not effectively tackled what the BICI report described as a ‘culture of impunity’ among security forces.” 

The United Kingdom has taken the lead internationally in arguing that Bahrain has reformed its security forces and accountability mechanisms, as the BICI mandated, but Human Rights Watch found the operations of those mechanisms seriously flawed.

In 2012 and again in 2013, Bahrain postponed indefinitely the scheduled visit to the country of the United Nations special rapporteur on torture.

Human Rights Watch interviewed 10 detainees who said they endured coercive interrogations at the Interior Ministry’s Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) and in police stations since 2012, and four former inmates of Jaw prison, who said authorities had tortured them in March 2015.  

All said security officers had physically assaulted them. Several described being subjected to electric shocks; suspension in painful positions, including by their wrists while handcuffed; forced standing; extreme cold; and sexual abuse. Six said that the CID interrogators boasted of their reputation for inflicting pain on detainees.

“I’ll show you why Wifaq [Bahrain’s leading opposition party] calls Bahrain the capital of torture,” a former detainee quoted an interrogator as telling him. Another said a CID officer held something to his nose and told him it was “the blood of people who don’t cooperate.”

BICI investigators in 2011, and Human Rights Watch researchers in 2010, documented similar torture methods.

King Hamad appointed the BICI in July 2011 in response to international criticism of the security forces’ violent and disproportionate response to largely peaceful anti-government protests that began in February 2011. The BICI concluded in its report, released on November 23, 2011, that the National Security Agency and the Interior Ministry “followed a systematic practice of physical and psychological mistreatment, which in many cases amounted to torture, with respect to a large number of detainees in their custody.”

The BICI’s recommendations led the government to establish three bodies since 2012 – the Office of the Ombudsman in the Interior Ministry, a Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in the Office of the General Prosecutor, and the Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission (PDRC) – with a collective mandate to end torture in interrogation and detention facilities.

Human Rights Watch found, though, that little information is available from those bodies about complaints, investigations, and prosecutions. Since Bahrain announced the institutional reforms in early 2012 there has been only one prosecution for torture and none relating to detentions associated with Bahrain’s political unrest.

The use of the techniques detainees described to Human Rights Watch violate Bahrain’s own laws as well as its obligations as a state party to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention against Torture) and other international treaties.

Bahrain should issue an immediate and open invitation to the UN special rapporteur on torture to conduct a country visit and allow unfettered access to detainees and all places of detention, Human Rights Watch said. Bahrain should ensure the independence of the Office of the Ombudsman and the PDRC by removing them from the Ministry of Interior and taking steps to guarantee the independence of the SIU from the Office of the Public Prosecutor, which has until now failed to establish a record of holding perpetrators of torture accountable.

Human Rights Watch further recommended that the government set up a civilian oversight committee, including well-regarded independent experts, to scrutinize the work of the SIU and ensure its independence from the Interior Ministry and public prosecution.

“Since the peaceful anti-government protests of 2011, which the authorities responded to with brutal and lethal force, the Bahrain government has overseen a campaign of incarceration that has decimated its pro-democracy movement,” Stork said. “Bahrain can’t claim any progress on torture while its anti-torture institutions lack independence and transparency and until it takes some serious steps to address the complete lack of accountability for the abuse of detainees.”

During the embargo period, “The Blood of People Who Don’t Cooperate: Continuing Torture and Mistreatment of Detainees in Bahrain” is available at:
http://hrw.org/embargo/283352/a6982d7e818ad4f8474102f30054bf55

Upon release, it will be available at:
http://hrw.org/node/283352

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Bahrain, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/middle-eastn-africa/bahrain

For more information, please contact:
In London, Nicholas McGeehan (English): +44-751-395-6155 (mobile); or mcgeehn@hrw.org. Twitter: @Ncgeehan
In London, Nadim Houry (Arabic, French, English): +961-3-639-244 (mobile); or houryn@hrw.org. Twitter: @nadimhoury

In London, David Mepham (English): +44-757-260-3995 (mobile); or mephamd@hrw.org. Twitter: @Ncgeehan

In Washington, DC, Ahmed Benchemsi (English, French, Arabic): +1-929-343-7973 (mobile); or benchea@hrw.org. Twitter: @AhmedBenchemsi

Opposition Leader Majeed Milad Sentenced to Prison Term

The Bahraini government last week sentenced opposition politician Majeed Milad to two years’ imprisonment for acts related to his exercise of free speech. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the Bahrain Center for Rights and Democracy (BCHR), and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) condemn the criminal prosecution of peaceful political dissidents, and demand that the Government of Bahrain release all those currently incarcerated for their peaceful acts of free expression.

Majeed Milad is a member of Al Wefaq, the largest political society in Bahrain, and the former president of the Capital Governorate Municipal Council. Police arrested Milad on 1 July 2015, just two days after he gave a speech in Ma’ameer in which he criticized the ruling family for “seizing the national wealth,” and making decisions “without involving the Bahraini people.” The government charged and convicted him of “inciting non-compliance with the law.”

“The trial of Majeed Milad was a sham,” said Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, the Advocacy Director of BIRD. “If due process truly existed in Bahrain, Milad would never have been arrested. He should be at the negotiating table, not in chains.”

In addition to sentencing Milad to two years in prison, the government also postponed its trials against Sheikh Ali Salman, the imprisoned Secretary-General of Al Wefaq, and Ebrahim Sharif, the former president of Wa’ad. Sheikh Ali Salman is currently appealing a four-year sentence for inciting public disobedience and insulting the government; his next trial date is scheduled for 14 December. Ebrahim Sharif, who had his next trial date postponed to 15 December, stands accused of “inciting hatred” and “encouraging the overthrow of the regime.” Last week, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) released a decision in which it ruled that Sheikh Ali Salman’s imprisonment is arbitrary and stands in violation of international human rights law.

“The detention of Sheikh Ali Salman, Ebrahim Sharif, and Majeed Milad only adds to the monumental number of political detainees in Bahrain,” said Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of ADHRB. “With the majority of the opposition now behind bars, Bahrain has rejected reconciliation and reform in favor of silence.”

Read this statement in French. 

Bahrain: The authorities Violate the Rights of Hundreds of Children Against the Convention on the Right of the Child

Bahrain authorities violate the rights of hundreds of children violating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
 
The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, Bahrain Human Rights Observatory, The European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights, Salam for Human Rights and Democracy, The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights Justice Human Rights Organisation, the Pearl Centre for Human Rights, the Bahrain Society for Human Rights, and the Bahrain Forum for Human Rights express deep concern about the continuing violations by Bahraini authorities against hundreds of children and the violation of its commitments to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
 
Since 2011 until today, the authorities in Bahrain have violated children's right to security by killing more than 10 children under 18, and the right to freedom by arresting more than 1500 children some of which are still in detention facing charges under the Terrorism Act. Dozens of children are denied the right of citizenship by the authorities including those whose parents were arrested because of the political situation or the children of those whose nationalities were arbitrarily revoked. Hundreds of children were denied to the right of education because of detention, especially as the schools claimed by the authorities in the juvenile prison are not specialised and do not meet children's educational needs.
 
Mr. Nabeel Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, thinks that this violation of children's rights is only a reprisal against juveniles whose only crime is living in a country that does not recongnise the rights of the child, living in an area with ongoing protests or being members of a family well-known for its political activity.
 
Mr. Youssif Rabi'a, the president of Bahrain Forum for Human Rights, has seen that children in Bahrain are exposed to the risk of ongoing violations up to losing the right to live.
 
Mr. Hussain Barweez, the president of the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights, considered children's rights as high human rights that should be respected by Bahrain as long-standing democracies have been doing. No progress could be made without respecting children's rights.
 
"Bahrain joined the UN convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992 and thus be fully responsible for all violations committed after its entry into force. Therefore, Bahraini authorities must stop violating children's rights and amend its laws to ensure full compliance with the international standards", said Ms. Jaleela Al-Salman, the representative of the Bahrain Human Rights Observatory.
 
Mr. Jawad Fairooz said that all these grave violations against children in Bahrain including killing with live ammunition, detention, torture, long-term sentences and denial of education are all indications to Bahrain's indifference to its local legislations and international conventions and treaties.
 
Ahmed Al-Hujairi stressed that although twenty-six years have passed since the UN convention on the Rights of the Child has been issued and fifteen years on the two Protocols thereto, we still see dozens of children under 18 being exposed to violations which result in psychological troubles that may lead to violent acts and laws opposition.
 
Mr. Nader Al-Salatna expressed his regret as Bahraini authorities continues to try children under 18 before court under Terrorism Act and the Bahraini Children Law 2012 which considers children under 15.
 
Accordingly, NGO's signing this statement call Bahrain allies and international organisations to put pressure on the government for:
 
- Immediate release of all children unconditionally.
 
- Stopping denial of children's right to freedom and reprisals due to the political situation in the country.
 
- ensuring children's rights in accordance with the international treaties and conventions ratified by Bahrain.
 
- amendment of Bahraini Law to raise the child age to 18 instead of 15.
 
Read the statement in French here. 

Bahraini Court Approves Capital Punishment of Torture Victims

16 November 2015 – London – Bahrain’s Court of Cassation today rejected the final appeal of death row inmates and torture victims Mohammed Ramadan and Husain Moosa. The decision finalizes their convictions; absent a royal pardon, the government may carry out their execution at any time. Both defendants allege that they were tortured into confessing the crimes. The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), and the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) condemn the final decision to execute Ramadan and Moosa, and express serious concern that the Bahraini courts have allowed the government to execute defendants that confess under duress. We call on King Hamad to commute their sentences.

The government arrested Husain Ali Moosa in February  2014, where Moosa states that security officers subjected him to torture until he confessed to carrying out a bombing attack. According to Moosa, government agents hung him from the ceiling for three days and took turns beating him with police batons. He additionally states that they threatened to harm his relatives, on several occasions claiming that they would rape his sisters. Moosa confessed as a result of the torture, but later recanted his confession in front of the public prosecutor. After he recanted, security forces tortured him further.

Bahraini security forces arrested Mohammed Ramadan on 20 March 2014 without a warrant. During his initial detention, Ramadan alleges that security officers tortured him, violently beating him on his hands, feet, body, neck, and head. In order to stop the torture, Mohammed agreed to “confess to anything.” When Mohamed told a judge that he had been tortured into confessing, security officers tortured him further, placing him in solitary confinement and subjecting him to further beatings.

On 29 December, a Bahraini criminal court sentenced Mohammed Ramadan and Husain Ali Moosa to death for their alleged involvement in a bomb explosion in al-Dair in February 2014. They were sentenced alongside ten other defendants, nine of whom received six years’ incarceration and the last receiving life in prison. The defendants state that the court relied substantially upon the confessions obtained through torture, casting significant doubt on the veracity of their convictions.

At the time of their initial sentencing, Ramadan’s lawyer, Mohammed al-Tajer, stated, “Although the defendants emphatically claim that their confessions were extracted under torture, Bahrain’s courts failed to consider their claims or even open an investigation. Instead, the Bahraini judicial system utilized its anti-terrorism law to justify the death penalty in a case with no concrete evidence of their guilt, but abundant evidence of ill-treatment, torture, and politically motivated charges.”

“Not only did government agents torture Mohammed Ramadan and Husain Ali Moosa, but the prosecutor and the judge did not investigate. The criminal justice system has altogether failed these men.” said Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain. “The King must commute their sentences.”

Earlier this year, five UN human rights experts, including the Special Rapporteur on Torture, expressed serious concerns that both Ramadan and Moosa had confessed under duress. The European Union found that Bahrain’s use of the death penalty had expanded to politically-motivated cases in an urgency resolution over the summer, and called for Bahrain to immediately ratify and implement international treaties banning the use of capital punishment.

“For a strong ally of the United Kingdom and United States to take these actions is appalling,” Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy at BIRD. “The international community must act to demonstrate that abuse can never lead to convictions, that torture cannot be the gateway to execution.”

 

Bahraini upholds death sentence for torture victim

16 November 2015 – Washington, DC - Bahrain’s Court of Cassation today rejected the final appeal of death row inmates and torture victims Mohammed Ramadan and Husain Moosa. The decision finalizes their convictions; absent a royal pardon, the government may carry out their execution at any time. Both defendants allege that they were tortured into confessing the crimes. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) condemn the final decision to execute Ramadan and Moosa and call for the government to commute their sentences, and express serious concern that the Bahraini courts have allowed the government to execute defendants that confess under duress.

The government arrested Husain Ali Moosa in February  2014, where Moosa states that security officers subjected him to torture until he confessed to carrying out a bombing attack. According to Moosa, government agents hung him from the ceiling for three days and took turns beating him with police batons. He additionally states that they threatened to harm his relatives, on several occasions claiming that they would rape his sisters. Moosa confessed as a result of the torture, but later recanted his confession in front of the public prosecutor. After he recanted, security forces tortured him further.

Bahraini security forces arrested Mohammed Ramadan on 20 March 2014 without a warrant. During his initial detention, Ramadan alleges that security officers tortured him, violently beating him on his hands, feet, body, neck, and head. In order to stop the torture, Mohammed agreed to “confess to anything.” When Mohamed told a judge that he had been tortured into confessing, security officers tortured him further, placing him in solitary confinement and subjecting him to further beatings.

On 29 December, a Bahraini criminal court sentenced Mohammed Ramadan and Husain Ali Moosa to death for their alleged involvement in a bomb explosion in al-Dair in February 2014. They were sentenced alongside ten other defendants, nine of whom received six years’ incarceration and the last receiving life in prison. The defendants state that the court relied substantially upon the confessions obtained through torture, casting significant doubt on the veracity of their convictions.

At the time of their initial sentencing, Ramadan’s lawyer, Mohammed al-Tajer, stated, “Although the defendants emphatically claim that their confessions were extracted under torture, Bahrain’s courts failed to consider their claims or even open an investigation. Instead, the Bahraini judicial system utilized its anti-terrorism law to justify the death penalty in a case with no concrete evidence of their guilt, but abundant evidence of ill-treatment, torture, and politically motivated charges.”

“Not only did government agents torture Mohammed Ramadan and Husain Ali Moosa, but the prosecutor and the judge did not investigate, ” said Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain. “The criminal justice system has altogether failed these men.”

Earlier this year, five UN human rights experts, including the Special Rapporteur on Torture, expressed serious concerns that both Ramadan and Moosa had confessed under duress. The European Union found that Bahrain’s use of the death penalty had expanded to politically-motivated cases in an urgency resolution over the summer, and called for Bahrain to immediately ratify and implement international treaties banning the use of capital punishment.

"For a strong ally of the United Kingdom and United States to take these actions is appalling," Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. “The international community must act to demonstrate that abuse can never lead to convictions, that torture cannot be the gateway to execution.”

Read the French version of this statement.

Shattering the Facade: A Report on Bahrain's Implementation of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) Four Years On

16 November 2015 – Washington, DC – The Bahraini government has only fully implemented two, and has not made any progress on eight of the 26 recommendations made by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) in 2011, finds a new report released today by Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR).

In Shattering the Façade: A Report on Bahrain’s Implementation of the BICI Recommendations Four Years On, ADHRB, BIRD, and BCHR provide recommendation- by-recommendation analysis of the Government of Bahrain’s implementation of the recommendations made by the BICI in 2011. Despite government rhetoric to the contrary, the report finds that some of the most fundamental abuses addressed by the BICI continue unabated in Bahrain.

Despite the government’s claim that it has fully implemented 19, partially implemented six, and one recommendation remains inapplicable, Shattering the Façade finds that the government has fully implemented only two of the BICI’s recommendations, with 16 remaining partially implemented and eight having not been implemented at all. The eight recommendations the government has not implemented represent some of the BICI’s most vital components, including recommendations to decriminalize free speech and relax censorship, integrate government security forces and implement extensive human rights training to end human rights abuses, avoid arbitrary and incommunicado detentions, and undertake measures to prevent incitement to sectarianism.

Instead, the government has specifically acted to undermine many of these recommendations, undertaking a mass campaign of arbitrary detention to silence dissent, criminalizing free speech and assembly in public and private forums, and holding security forces largely unaccountable for the torture and excessive force that continues to this day.

“The government’s claims to have fully implemented the BICI couldn’t be farther from the truth,” said Sayed Ahmed, Director of Advocacy at BIRD. “Instead, it has actively worked to impede implementation of some of the BICI’s most important reforms, while the human rights situation in Bahrain continues to deteriorate as any sense of urgency the government may have once felt to implement reforms has dissipated.”

The Bahraini government’s piecemeal approach to reform is partially due to a lack of consistent international pressure. Despite Bahrain’s backsliding on reform, the international community only voices its concern over Bahrain’s lack of progress from time to time, insisting that Bahrain must be recognized and rewarded for the steps that it has taken towards reform and reconciliation. However, this report shows that rhetoric from Bahrain’s international allies has made little impact towards pushing Manama to make meaningful progress on reform and reconciliation.

“The Government of Bahrain continues to point to the same cosmetic reforms that have not actually impacted the conditions that led to the events of 2011 or the issues that continue preventing Bahrain from achieving actual progress,” said Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of ADHRB. “Instead of using its significant leverage to push for the release of the country’s thousands of political prisoners, the international community, including the US and UK, has continued to laude cosmetic reforms rather than push for initiatives that could actually contribute to national reconciliation and bolster human rights.”

Four years on, as the government continues to claim that the BICI’s recommendations are no longer relevant, it is even more critical that international allies concerned with Bahrain’s long-term stability and security, particularly the US and UK, push for reform in action. Without the Government of Bahrain’s full commitment to transparently implementing the BICI recommendations, holding security forces and government officials accountable for ongoing human rights abuses, releasing political prisoners, and engaging in a meaningful dialogue with the entire opposition, Bahrain’s persistent unrest will continue and the hope created by the BICI in 2011 may be lost.

“The government must refocus its efforts on promoting human rights in the country if it wants to see lasting change and peace,” added Nabeel Rajab, president of BCHR. “When the government respects human rights, the people will respect the government.”

 

For the full report, click here.