23 Jul, 2015

Bahrain NGOs commend UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention decisions on Bahrain

22 July 2015—Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) commend the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) for their decisions released today declaring an additional eight Bahraini prisoners of conscience to be arbitrarily detained. However, we are concerned that, despite the Working Group’s efforts to engage the Bahrain government, the government has not implemented the recommendations of the WGAD.

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is an independent group of human rights experts tasked with adjudicating if cases of detention raised to their attention may be arbitrary in nature. Last week, the group of experts issued a series of official decisions on the Bahrain government’s detention of Jassim al-Hulaibi, Mohamed Sudaif, Abdulaziz Mousa, Ebrahim al-Sharqi, Ahmed Abdulla Ebrahim, Taleb Ali Mohammed, and two unnamed minors. The Group found that these detentions were arbitrary and in contravention of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Bahrain acceded to the ICCPR in 2006. Additionally, the WGAD held that the detention of one of the minors contravened the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Bahrain acceded in 1992.

The Working Group emphasized, “secret and/or incommunicado detention constitutes the most heinous violation of the norm protecting the right to liberty of a human being under customary international law” and noted any individual subject to such detention is “left outside the cloak of any legal protection.” The opinion also pointed out, “Under certain circumstances, widespread or systematic imprisonment or other severe deprivation of liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law may constitute crimes against humanity.” With regard to one of the minors, the WGAD identified that “the present opinion is only one of several opinions in which the Working Groups finds Bahrain in violation of its international human rights obligations.”

Although the Bahrain government has released Mohamed Sudaif and one of the minors, Jassim al Hulaibi, Abdulaziz Mousa, Ebrahim Abdulla, and the other minor remain in detention.

“There is evidence definitively proving that Jassim could not have been involved in the protests for which he was arrested,” stated Sayed Alwadaei, the Director of Advocacy at Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy. “These detainees must be released so they can return to school.”

The WGAD held that an adequate remedy would be for the Bahrain government to release the detainees and provide a means for seeking compensation. Finally, the Working Group referred parts of the cases to the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

We applaud the decisions of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and urges the Government of Bahrain to take immediate action in line with the Working Group’s recommendations. Specifically, we urge the government to immediately release the individuals that are being arbitrarily detained and to provide an adequate means for all the individuals to pursue just compensation for their detention.

“The Working Group’s holdings mark an important step for the full realization of human rights in Bahrain,” said Husain Abdulla, the Executive Director of ADHRB. “Now it is on the government to implement the decision, release the detainees, and provide them with their due and just compensation.”

Please follow the link to download the WGAD Official Statements on Bahrain, July 2015.

17 Jul, 2015

Civil Society Organizations Call for Resolution on Bahrain in Human Rights Council

16 July 2015 – Geneva – Today, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the Bahrain Institute for Rights & Democracy (BIRD) and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), joined together with Amnesty International, the Asian Legal Resources Centre, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Conectas Direitos Humanos, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the International Service for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch to call on the Member states and Observer states of the Human Rights Council to “promote and support the adoption of a resolution expressing concern over and improvements in the human rights situation in Bahrain”. In the letter, CSOs raise concern over the lack of progress in human rights in the country since a joint statement on Bahrain was delivered on behalf of 47 UN Member States during the 26th Session of the Human Rights Council in June 2014.  See the full letter below:  

 

 

To Permanent Representatives of 
Member and Observer states of the
UN Human Rights Council

Geneva, 16 July 2015,

RE: Situation of human rights in Bahrain

Your Excellency,

We urge your delegation to promote and support the adoption of a resolution expressing concern over and calling for improvements in the human rights situation in Bahrain by the Human Rights Council.

It is now over a year since Switzerland delivered the fourth and most recent joint statement on the situation of human rights in Bahrain on behalf of 47 UN member states at the 26th session of the Council.

We are deeply concerned that during this period the Government of Bahrain has made no significant progress towards genuine cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms. To the contrary, the Government of Bahrain has intensified its repression of dissenting voices, including through the arbitrary detentions of high-profile opposition activists and human rights defenders, trials that fail to adhere to international fair trial standards, ill-treatment of detainees, excessive use of force, and restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly that go far beyond those permitted under international law. 

We urge your delegation to resume efforts to address the human rights situation in Bahrain at the upcoming 30th session of the Council and to promote and support a resolution that calls on the Government of Bahrain to:

-          Implement promptly and fully the recommendations of the Bahrain International Commission of Inquiry (BICI) and the recommendations agreed by the Bahrain Government in the context of the 2nd cycle of the Universal Periodic Review, in particular:
 

o   Release  protesters, activists and human rights defenders detained or convicted solely for having exercised their rights to peaceful assembly, association or expression;
 

o   Ensure independent, thorough, and impartial investigations into all allegations of torture and ill-treatment;
 

o   Demonstrate  the effectiveness, impartiality and independence of newly established human rights institutions, including the National Human Rights Institution, the Ombudsman, the Special Investigations Unit and the Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission;
 

o   Revise or repeal laws that unduly restrict freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly and association;
 

o   Engage in comprehensive reform of the legal system to ensure effective independence of the judiciary; and 
 

o   Ensure accountability for the serious human rights violations that took place during and after the 2011 protests, including but not limited to those documented in the BICI report
 

-          Cooperate with Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, including by swiftly providing access to Special Rapporteurs who have outstanding requests for visits to Bahrain, such as the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, and
 

-          Authorise the opening of a country-office of the OHCHR with a full mandate to oversee implementation of the afore-mentioned recommendations and monitor the human rights situation on the ground, with periodic reporting to the Human Rights Council.
 

In light of the continued deterioration in human rights conditions in Bahrain, we urge your delegation to build upon the three earlier joint statements delivered at the Human Rights Council on this issue, and to send a strong message to the Government of Bahrain that it should take urgent, concrete and effective steps to improve the human rights situation in the country. The Government of Bahrain should also allow regular access to Bahrain by independent human rights NGOs to assist in monitoring the human rights situation on the ground.

We look forward to continued collaboration on these issues and we remain available to provide further information as required.

Sincerely,

 

·         Amnesty International

·         Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain

·         Asian Legal Resource Centre

·         Bahrain Center for Human Rights

·         Bahrain Institute for Rights & Democracy (BIRD)

·         Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

·         CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

·         Conectas Direitos Humanos

·         Gulf Centre for Human Rights

·         International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

·         International Service for Human Rights

·         Human Rights Watch

 

Annex: 
Human rights situation in Bahrain

Bahrain’s courts continue to convict and imprison peaceful dissenters. On the rare occasions when authorities have prosecuted police officers or members of the security forces, they have either acquitted them or imposed lenient sentences that do not reflect the gravity of the crimes committed. No senior officials have been held accountable for serious rights violations, including torture.

By contrast, the high rate of convictions of defendants before the courts on vague terrorism charges, the courts’ imposition of long prison sentences in such cases, as well as the  judiciary’s failure – and that of the executive  authorities - to address the security forces