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British PM’s Gulf visit: Bahrain upholds death sentences for tortured men

A Bahraini court has upheld the death sentences of three men who were tortured into ‘confessions’, and who have faced abuses in a prison where the UK has trained guards. The decision, announced yesterday, comes as the UK Prime Minister prepares to meet Bahraini leaders in the Kingdom tomorrow (6th).

Abbas al-Samea, Sami Mushaima, and Ali al-Singace were sentenced to death in February 2015. All three were tortured into signing false ‘confessions’ that were used against them in court. Mr al-Samea was abused so badly that he was admitted to hospital for surgery. Mr Mushaima was forced to sign documents despite being illiterate.


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Democratic lawmakers slam Trump over Bahrain reception

Bahrain is hosting its 45th National Day bash at Donald Trump's new Washington, DC, hotel on Dec. 7, but the president-elect is the one who could get stuck with the hangover. 

Trump spent much of the presidential campaign accusing his opponent Hillary Clinton of "pay-to-play" politics by accepting foreign government's donations to her family's foundation. Now Democrats are more than happy to turn the tables on Trump amid growing complaints that his eponymous business interests are creating massive conflicts of interest even before he's sworn in.

"The American people deserve a president and White House that will act solely in our country’s interests, not those of any foreign government or business. Your private commercial dealings with repressive governments endanger this fundamental expectation of the president and deeply trouble many who care about human rights,” Rep. James McGovern, co-chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, wrote in a letter to Trump on Monday. “I urge you to immediately and completely end your business dealings with the Bahraini and other foreign governments.”


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Theresa May urged to raise human rights concerns on Gulf visit

Theresa May has been urged to confirm she will put human rights reform on her agenda when she meets Saudi and Bahraini leaders on Tuesday, after announcements on her two-day trip to the Gulf were squarely focused on trade and security. 

Rights campaigners in Bahrain argue that although the UK has been assisting Bahrain with judicial and police reform since 2012, current levels of UK engagement on rights issues have not prevented crackdowns on journalists and pro-democracy activists. 

May said: “I think the UK has always had the position, and we continue to have the position, that where there are issues raised about human rights, where there are concerns, we will rightly raise those.


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Theresa May should ‘speak out’ on human rights during Gulf trip

Prime minister’s trip to Bahrain comes soon after Prince Charles’ visit
‘We need to see some measurable sign that the UK’s “engagement” with the Gulf is actually helping human rights activists who are very much at risk of torture and imprisonment’ - Polly Truscott
Ahead of Prime Minister Theresa May’s attendance at the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in the Bahraini capital Manama this week (6-7 December), Amnesty International has urged the prime minister to publicly raise human rights issues.
Human rights are absent from the agenda at the annual meeting of the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - but Amnesty is calling on Mrs May to use her visit to speak out about the need to for countries in the region to seriously improve their human rights performances. 
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The appalling human rights records of states in the Gulf must not be swept under the carpet when member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) gather in the Bahraini capital, Manama, this week (6-7 December) for their annual summit, said Amnesty International today.

Human rights will be notably absent from the agenda at the annual meeting when the six GCC states - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - come together to discuss trade and security cooperation, with no mention of the widespread crackdown witnessed across the region on the grounds of security.

“In recent years across the Gulf we have seen human rights activists, peaceful political opponents and government critics systematically targeted in the name of security. Hundreds have been harassed, unlawfully prosecuted, stripped of their nationality, arbitrarily detained or in some cases imprisoned or even sentenced to death after unfair trials, as part of a concerted effort to intimidate people into silence,” said Randa Habib, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.


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Bahrain upholds death penalties over bomb attack on police

A Bahraini court on Sunday upheld three death sentences and seven life terms against a "terrorist" group convicted of killing police including an Emirati officer in a bomb attack, a judicial source said.

The court of cassation in October ordered a retrial in the case of the 10 defendants found guilty of planting a bomb in March 2014 in a Shia-majority village west of Manama, which killed an Emirati officer and two Bahraini policemen.

An appeals court had upheld the three death sentences and life terms for the other seven defendants, who were also stripped of their citizenships.


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May acknowledges human rights issues in seeking Gulf trade deal

Theresa May has said the UK must not “turn our back” on the human rights abuses of foreign countries as she prepares to court Gulf states over a post-Brexit trade deal on a trip to Bahrain.

The prime minister has been urged by campaigners not to set aside human rights concerns in pursuit of a potentially lucrative free-trade arrangement with Middle-Eastern countries.

But May, who will become the first British leader and the first woman to attend the annual gathering of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) annual summit, said on Sunday that the UK must seek to “transform the way we do business” with the region.


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Attacks on Civil Society - BCHR Event in Berlin on 8 December

On 8 December the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), would like to invite you to an event organized together with FIDH and Human Rights Watch (HRW), named “Attacks on Civil Society”.

During the event, which will be held at the House of Democracy and Human Rights in Berlin, from 1pm, representatives from the three NGOs will discuss about the ongoing crackdown on civil society and opposition in Bahrain.
Sayed Yusuf al-Muhafdha, BCHR vice-president, will present the latest cases of freedoms' suppression and the clamp down on the opposition.
Jean Marie Rogue, EU Liaison Officer at FIDH, will focus on travel bans imposed on human rights defenders and other activists in Bahrain, and will highlight the case of Nabeel Rajab, currently detained on charges related to freedom of expression.
Wolfgang Büttner, press officer and associate advocate at Human Rights Watch, will present HRW's latest campaign on the crackdown on social media activism in the Gulf region.
Moderator of the event will be Elena Mocanu, BCHR advocacy officer based in Copenhagen, who will introduce BCHR and its recently released report Digital Rights Derailed in Bahrain.

The event will be live-streamed by London-based Bahraini opposition satellite TV station LuaLua TV.


Sports journalist jailed for three months in Bahrain over a tweet

A Bahraini criminal court has sentenced a sports journalist to three months in prison for a tweet that allegedly defamed the Sunni sect of Islam.

Faisal Hayyat was arrested on 9 October, but it was unclear about the specific nature of his offence. A few days earlier, he posted an open letter on Facebook to Bahrain’s interior minister in which he referred to the conditions in which he was detained, and tortured, in 2011. He referred to government corruption and urged for an end to restrictions on civil and political freedoms.

Hayyat’s conviction has been condemned by the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) as a violation of Hayyat’s right to free speech.

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Bahrain: Human Rights Lawyer Charged

(Beirut) – Bahraini authorities have charged a prominent human rights lawyer with offenses that violate his right to free expression.

Mohamed al-Tajer, who has defended opposition figures and rights activists, told Human Rights Watch that a public prosecutor brought three charges against him on November 10, 2016: insulting government institutions, inciting hatred of a religious sect, and misusing a telecommunications appliance. In a private WhatsApp voice message that public prosecutors cited in support of the charges, al-Tajer says, “It’s clear that there’s a team in the public prosecution and Cybercrimes division whose only job is to sit at computers and intercept every word about Sunnis, Saudi Arabia, hatred of the regime, or insults against the king.”

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