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Round table: The Restrictions Imposed on the Freedom of Opinion and Expression-Bahrain

“Bahrain Center for Human Rights” with the cooperation of “Bahrain Interfaith”, “Salam for Democracy and Human Rights”, and “Maharat Foundation” organized a seminar entitled “The Restrictions Imposed on the Freedom of Opinion and Expression-Bahrain”. The seminar discussed the use of regional laws as a mean to limit the freedom of expression in Bahrain. It reviewed the violations and constraints imposed on the citizens, organizations, and civil society that are making use of their right to freedom of expression, through judicial and legislative restrictions.

The legal advisor Ibrahim Sarhan, from SalamDHR, reviewed the legal articles that the government of Bahrain uses to restrict freedom of expression. In the second panel, Hussein Al-Sharif, from “Maharat Foundation” discussed Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that emphasizes the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Additionally, he listed the international legislations protecting this right. In this context, he noted the importance of human rights activists' knowledge of the gaps in internal laws and how these gaps can be used to their advantage.

Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman, from Bahrain Interfaith, commented on the provisions of incitement to hatred in Bahrain, and ways of guaranteeing the right to express one’s opinion through the scrutiny of the Bahraini law, and provided a precise definition of hatred, as well as the adoption of the Rabat Plan of Action. Finally, human rights activist Enas Aoun, from the Bahrain Center for Human Rights participated in a recorded video on the situation of prisoners of opinion and expression in Bahrain. 

Bahrain: The Court of Cassation supports the sentence against Nabeel Rajab for five years in prison.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) condemns the sentence issued by the Court of Cassation on December 31, 2018, against the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab, and his five-year imprisonment, after being convicted of criticizing Bahrain's participation in the Yemen war and his tweets on Twitter testifying about torture at Jaw's Central Prison.

The Grand Criminal Court sentenced Rajab to five years in prison on February 21, 2018. The sentence is added to a previous one of two years in a case involving freedom of expression (FOE). The court convicted Rajab under Article 133 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes "broadcasting false rumors in wartime", article 215 on "insulting a foreign state in public" and article 216 on "insulting official bodies".

Rajab is one of the most courageous defenders of human rights in Bahrain and suffers from constant harassment and ill-treatment in Jaw's Central Prison where he is currently imprisoned.

Maytham Al Salman from the Bahrain Center for Human Rights stated after rejecting the appeal of Nabeel Rajab and the court’s decision to support the sentence against him in the case of criticizing the war on Yemen that : “Nabeel Rajab was sentenced for opposing war in Yemen and calling for a peaceful reconciliation for humanitarian reasons. Today, the United Nations and the international community are advocating Nabeel Rajab’s message and the War in Yemen can possibly end very soon after accepting the exchange of prisoners between parties involved in the conflict.”

He added: “Nabeel Rajab should be rewarded rather than imprisoned for his call to end the war in Yemen for humanitarian reasons.”

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights believes that the continued detention of the activist Nabeel Rajab in prison is a continuation of the punishment imposed by the government against those who carry out their professional and humanitarian duty to advocate for human rights issues. The Government of Bahrain continues to punish human rights activists for their work in exposing human rights violations. The sentence against Nabeel Rajab reveals the persistence of the Government of Bahrain in violating human rights laws and its disregarding of international covenants and conventions ratified by Bahrain, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which states: "No one shall be punished for exercising his right to freedom of expression.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls upon Bahrain's allies to pressure the government of Bahrain to:

- Immediate release of Nabeel Rajab and drop the charges against him

- Stop targeting Human Rights Defenders (HRDs)

- Respect international covenants and conventions, especially those relating to the need to preserve the right to freedom of expression

New Year Not Likely Happy for Leading Gulf Rights Defenders

by Joe Stork 

It’s been a grim 2018 for partisans of free expression in the Gulf. The gruesome murder of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi by henchmen of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman rightly commanded headlines. More bad news looms, though. In these last days of 2018, Nabeel Rajab and Ahmed Mansoor, the leading human rights figures in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates respectively, expect final appeals court rulings on the long prison terms they are serving for speaking out against their highly abusive authoritarian regimes.

Ahmed Mansoor was literally the last activist standing (“the last man talking,” he liked to say) in the UAE when security forces raided his home in March 2017 and held him in an unknown location for more than a year with no access to a lawyer. (The handful of UAE defense lawyers who formerly took the cases of political dissidents are now all in jail or exile.) Mansoor had previously faced physical assaults, death threats, and a sophisticated spyware attack as a consequence of his outspoken promotion of democracy and human rights.

The UAE has engaged rafts of U.S. and UK public relations firms to promote an image of enlightened autocracy. In November, the country sponsored a two-day World Tolerance Summit of government officials, diplomats and academics to “celebrate diversity amongst people from all walks of life, regardless of varying political views . . . .” So long, it seems, as those views contain no reference to the country’s fierce intolerance of peaceful political dissent. In May 2018, the Federal Supreme Court’s State Security Chamber sentenced Mansoor to 10 years in prison for insulting “the status and prestige of the UAE and its symbols” and publishing “false information” on social media “that harm national unity and social harmony and damage the country’s reputation.” On December 30, the Federal Supreme Court will announce its decision in Ahmed Mansoor’s appeal.

Nabeel Rajab’s hearing is one day after Mansoor’s, on December 31. Rajab’s lawyers are expecting that the Cassation Court—the country’s court of final appeal—will rule on his appeal of his February 2018 High Criminal Court conviction for criticizing Bahrain’s participation in the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen (“insulting a neighboring country”) and allegations of torture in Bahrain’s main prison (“offending a statutory body”). In June, the High Criminal Court of Appeal confirmed his five-year sentence in that case.

Rajab, a founder and head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights who has been in jail since mid-June 2016, is currently in the last days of a two-year sentence in a similar but separate case, on charges of “publishing and broadcasting fake news that undermines the prestige of the state.” The offending “news,” conveyed in a TV interview, comprised well-documented facts: that the government bars journalists and rights researchers from visiting Bahrain, that the government recruits foreigners (“mercenaries”) into its security forces, that security forces subject detainees to torture, and that the judiciary lacks independence. As if to confirm the last item, the Court of Cassation in January 2018 upheld this conviction and two-year sentence.

Rajab’s supporters note that the December 31 hearing comes as the two-year sentence expires at the end of December, and fear that the government is determined to keep him behind bars despite its expiry. Over the last year-plus the government has shuttered the country’s one independent newspaper (Al Wasat) and the two leading opposition political groups, Al Wefaq (Shi`a Islamist) and Wa`ad (secular leftist). There is some fear that the court might even increase Rajab’s pending five-year sentence. This is what happened after Al Wefaq leader Sheikh Ali Salman was acquitted on bogus charges of spying for Qatar: the state appealed and the Court of Appeal overturned the acquittal and sentenced Salman to life in prison.

One can find news stories and editorials in the U.S. media about the persecution of rights defenders when the country is China or Venezuela, Iran or Syria, but rarely when the jailer is Bahrain and never when it’s the UAE. Full disclosure: I know both Ahmed and Nabeel, and worked closely with them both when I worked for Human Rights Watch and they were not in jail. What a simple accounting of their convictions and prison sentences fails to convey is the trauma and suffering—of these two individuals, much of the time in solitary confinement and sometimes deteriorating health, but also of their spouses and young children. What we see with Ahmed Mansoor and Nabeel Rajab is not justice or rule of law, but purely punitive state behavior directed at individuals who refuse to be silenced in the face of the abusive ruling families of Bahrain and the UAE.

Joe Stork was until recently the Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division. He serves on the Advisory Board of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights.

Link to article

 

Open letter to Bahraini authorities: Drop all charges and release Nabeel Rajab

NGOs are concerned that, with Nabeel Rajab's appeal hearing scheduled on 31 December, authorities may be planning to increase his sentence under cover of the world's celebrations of the new year.

We the undersigned call on Bahraini authorities to release Nabeel Rajab immediately, to repeal his convictions and sentences, and drop all charges against him. On 31 December 2018 the Court of Cassation in Bahrain may issue its verdict in the appeal of the five-year prison sentence handed to him for peaceful comments posted and retweeted on his Twitter account about the killing of civilians in the Yemen conflict by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, and allegations of torture in Jau prison. 

We are concerned that the authorities intend to increase Rajab's prison sentence unopposed, by setting 31 December as the date for a hearing and possible issuing of a verdict, while most Bahrainis and people around the globe will be focused on year-end celebrations. This is not an idle concern, as, opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman was arrested on 28 December 2014 and subsequently convicted and sentenced to four years in jail following an unfair trial. And last month, in yet another case brought against him on spying charges, the Court of Appeal overturned his initial acquittal and sentenced him instead to life in prison

Rajab has been a tireless champion of human rights for many years, helping to found and run the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, both members of the IFEX network. 

He has been detained since his arrest on 13 June 2016. He was held largely in solitary confinement during the first nine months of his detention, violating UN rules on pre-trial imprisonment, and has been subjected to humiliating treatment. His books, toiletries, and clothes have been confiscated and his cell frequently raided at night. 

Rajab was sentenced to two years in jail in 2017 on charges of “publishing and broadcasting false news that undermines the prestige of the state” during TV interviews he gave in 2015 and 2016 in which he stated that Bahraini authorities bar reporters and human rights workers from entering the country. He was sentenced in 2018 to five years in prison on charges of “disseminating false rumors in times of war” for tweets about torture in Jau Prison and the war in Yemen. 

At its eighty-first session, 17-26 April 2018, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Rajab's “deprivation of liberty constitutes a violation of articles 2 and 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 2 (1) and 26 of the Covenant – on the grounds of discrimination based on political or other opinion, as well as on his status as a human rights defender”. 

We therefore urge Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Nabeel Rajab, quash his convictions and sentences, and drop all charges against him; and undertake a prompt, impartial, independent and effective investigation into his allegations of ill-treatment. The findings of the investigation must be made public and anyone suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice in fair proceedings. 

As this case is part of a pattern of abuse and harassment against human rights defenders and journalists in Bahrain, we also urge the authorities to cease all such actions and ensure that the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press is respected. 

Signed,

Bahrain Center for Human Rights
ActiveWatch – Media Monitoring Agency
Adil Soz - International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC)
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE)
Association of Caribbean Media Workers
Bytes for All (B4A)
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
Foro de Periodismo Argentino
Freedom Forum
Free Media Movement
Globe International Center
Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
Human Rights Watch (HRW)
I'lam Arab Center for Media Freedom Development and Research
Independent Journalism Center (IJC)
Index on Censorship
Initiative for Freedom of Expression - Turkey
International Press Centre (IPC)
Maharat Foundation
Mediacentar Sarajevo 
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
Media Rights Agenda (MRA)
Media Watch
Norwegian PEN
OpenMedia
Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF)
Pacific Islands News Association (PINA)
Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA)
PEN America
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
Social Media Exchange (SMEX)
Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)
South East European Network for Professionalization of Media (SEENPM)
South East Europe Media Organisation 
Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM)
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC)
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

Amnesty International 
Bahrain Institute for Human Rights 
Bahrain Interfaith 
Campaign Against Arms Trade 
CIVICUS 
FIDH under the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders 
Frontline Defenders 
Gulf Institute for Human Rights 
ISHR 
Martin Annals 
MENA Monitoring Group 
OMCT under the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders 
RAFTO 
Salam for Democracy and Human Rights

 

Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman honored in the United Nations

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) congratulates Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman, the head of Bahrain Interfaith and member of the advisory panel for the BCHR, for being honored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights(UNHCHR) for playing a prominent role in defending and promoting human rights in the Middle East and North Africa. Among 30 other human rights activists, including Mr. Ghashir Boujomaa - Algerian lawyer and the former president of the National Association for Human Rights, Mrs. Nahla Haidar - prominent Lebanese human rights activist and a member in the committee resulting from the agreement of eliminating all discrimination forms against women, in addition to Mr. Isam Aroury - the Palestinian human rights activist and the Director-General of Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center, Al Salman has been selected by the commission to be honored. The Commission described the above mentionned human rights activits as “exceptions” in the Middle East and North Africa. They are at the forefront of the defenders of the Universal Declaration of Human rights through their work, dedication and sacrifices, characterized by their their courageous defense of the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This was announced during a ceremony held by the United Nations Office in the Middle East at the occasion of the seventieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in Jamal Abdel Nasser Hall, Beirut. The ceremony began with a speech to help the Secretary-General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmore, on "Countering intimidation from cooperating with the United Nations in the field of human rights". The Regional Representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights - Ruwaida El Hajj, the President of Beirut Arab University - Prof. Amro Jalal El Adawi, Member of the Lebanese Parliament and Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights -MP Michel Moussa, delivered speeches on the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a fundamental turning point in the history of mankind.

The BCHR, headed by the prominent human rights prisoner Nabeel Rajab, seeks to spread the culture of human rights in society, especially in Bahrain. Sheikh Maytham Al Salman, a member of the advisory panel for the Center, has been imprisoned, tortured, denied from traveling during the past years because of his efforts in defending human rights issues.

 

Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the Thai government to release Hakeem Ali Mohamed Ali AlAraibi

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is gravely concerned about the case of Mr. Hakeem Ali Mohamed Ali AlAraibi, a Bahrain-born individual who has since fled Bahrain and now lives as a refugee in Australia. During recent travel, he was detained in Bangkok, Thailand, upon his arrival there on Tuesday 27 November 2018. He had previously been sentenced to ten years in prison in an unfair trial in Bahrain back in 2014 before he fled to Australia, where he has since been recognized as a refugee in 2017. He was informed upon his arrival in Bangkok on Tuesday that he would be handed down to Bahrain, where he almost certainly faces imprisonment and torture.  

Mr. AlAraibi used to be a football player on Bahrain’s national team before he was arrested and tortured in November 2012. He has since publicly spoken about the harsh torture he was subjected to; he was particularly outspoken to the New York Times about Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa’s role in targeting out and torturing football players who participated in demonstrations. Mr. AlAraibi believed that he was partially targeted because of his Shia faith and the fact that his brother was politically active in Bahrain.

On 05 January 2014, Mr. AlAraibi was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in absentia, while he was in Qatar on the charge of vandalizing a police station. Mr. AlAraibi claims that he was playing a match that was shown live on TV when the alleged crime occurred, but when his family reached out to the Bahraini soccer association to confirm his alibi, these requests went unanswered.

On 05 May 2014, Mr. AlAraibi fled to Australia, where he applied for asylum on 02 June 2014 and his request was granted on 30 November 2017. He received a protection visa that expired 30 November 2022. This visa allows Mr. AlAraibi to remain in Australia indefinitely and to travel to and from Australia, as long as he does not travel to the country (Bahrain), which he sought protection from.

On 27 November 2018, Mr. AlAraibi travelled from Melbourne to Bangkok. Upon his arrival to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), he was detained and was informed that the reason for his detention was in conformity with an INTERPOL Red Notice against him, issued upon request of Bahrain on the basis of the criminal conviction against him in 2014. He was also informed that he would be handed down to Bahrain as soon as the immigration authorities could provide assistance.

The Australian embassy in Bangkok advised AlAraibi on 30 November 2018 that his case is cleared with the Thai authorities and that he should book the first flight back to Australia. However, Thai immigration authorities refused to hand him his travel document and insisted for him to book a flight the following night. A few hours before his pre-booked flight to Melbourne, Thai immigration authorities transferred AlAraibi to Suan Plu Immigration Detention Centre in Bangkok, where he is now detained. Thai authorities advised AlAraibi that the case is now between the Australian and the Bahraini Governments, and that the decision is theirs.

INTERPOL had lifted the Red Notice against AlAraibi on 04 December 2018. However Thai authorities continued to detain him following a court order issued on 03 December 2018 to detain AlAraibi for 12 more days.

Head of Thailand’s immigration Police Lieutenant General Surachet Hakparn said, in an interview with BBC Thai on 05 December 2018: "The Bahraini Government knew that he (Hakeem AlAraibi) would be arriving in Thailand (on the 27th of November), so they coordinated with Thailand's permanent secretary of foreign affairs to detain him, pending documents sent from Bahrain."

On 08 December 2018, Bangkok Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against AlAraibi, and he was transferred to a prison in the same night. He said that he would start a hunger strike if he was transferred to the prison.

The Red Notice against Mr. AlAraibi may be inconsistent with the INTERPOL Executive Committee’s formal policy with respect to refugees of June 2014. Further, the maintenance of a Red Notice against Mr. AlAraibi is also likely in violation of INTERPOL’s own regulations. INTERPOL states, in its Constitution, that the organization will operate “in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” The UDHR provides for the right to life, liberty and security of person, the prohibition of torture, the prohibition of arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile, the right to a fair trial, the right to a presumption of innocence, and the right to freedom of movement, among others. The Bahraini government’s conviction of AlAraibi is in violation of these principles. As such, the Red Notice associated with his conviction is in violation of INTERPOL’s own regulations, and should be disregarded.

Further, under international law, it is prohibited to return (“refouler”) an individual to a state or territory when there is a reasonable fear that the individual will be subjected to torture. This is explicit in the Convention Against Torture, implicit in the general prohibition against torture in both the CAT and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is generally considered a non-derogable and mandatory human rights jus cogens norm. In this case, there are reasonable and substantial grounds to assume that Mr. AlAraibi would be subjected to torture if he was returned to Bahrain, considering that he was previously subjected to torture in 2012 and that he has publicly named a high-ranking official and member of the royal family as having knowledge of his torture.

In May 2017, the United Nations Committee Against Torture has addressed the issue of widespread torture in Bahrain. In the Observations, the Committee stated that it was “concerned that there continue to be numerous and consistent allegations of widespread torture and ill-treatment of persons who are deprived of their liberty in all places of detention . . . at the moment of arrest, during pretrial detention and in prisons, in order to extract confessions or as punishment.” The Committee also noted that a “climate of impunity” exists in Bahrain in regards to torture, considering the low number of convictions for torture.

Based on the well-documented pattern of torture in Bahrain, BCHR call on the international organizations to put pressure on the Thai government to:

  • Immediately Release Mr. AlAraibi’s;
  • Take immediate action to prevent his deportation to Bahrain

Bahrain Center for Human Rights: 2018 Is the Year of Death Penalty

Bahrain Center for Human Rights condemns the two death sentences issued today against Zuhair Ibrahim and Mohamed Mahdi. BCHR also deplores the Bahraini judiciary's insistence on issuing death sentences which reached to 35 death sentence sentences from 2011 until today. The judiciary has executed three cases in 2017. BCHR calls upon the Government of Bahrain to withdraw and repeal these provisions and to sign and accede to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the abolition of the death penalty.

BCHR believes that Bahrain's criminal laws and legislations are full of the death penalty, especially in issues related to freedom of opinion and expression and the exercise of political rights that are considered by the Government of Bahrain as crimes leading the victims to malicious accusations against many of the accused victims. The death sentence in this year (2018) was 19. All of these judgments came from unfair trials and did not comply with fair trial guarantees. BCHR documented many of these cases of torture of those sentenced to death.

BCHR finds that Bahrain's legislations and laws contain 81 articles that stipulate the death penalty, and that the Bahraini legislator does not take into account the International laws and principles regarding the reduction of the use of the death penalty.
BCHR recommends on the Government of Bahrain to refrain from implementing the death penalty and calls upon it to accede to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. All measures to abolish the death penalty should be considered as progress in the enjoyment of the right to life.

 

Speech of Sheikh Maytham Al Salman at the inauguration of the Bahrain Report - Elections without Integrity

Held in Beirut - 23 November 2018.

Sheikh Maytham Al Salman, President of the Bahrain Interfaith Cultivating Harmony and Bahrain Center for Human Rights Advisor, participated in the press conference held at the Lancaster Hotel Beirut on Friday, 2018/11/23, to attend the parliamentary elections to be held in Bahrain on Saturday, 24/11/2018.

Salman said that the parliamentary elections, which will take place Saturday, in an atmosphere of non-democratic and repressive environment, can not achieve the aspirations of citizens in Bahrain, in the manufacture of desired sovial and political stability. He added that the insistence of the Authority in Bahrain to move forward with the parliamentary elections without human rights and political reforms, while refusing to adopt the principle of dialogue to reach national consensus, has serious damage to the economic, political and social environment.

Salman pointed out that the international attitudes that have been issued in the past months and weeks, from many parts of the European Union, and its Parliament, the United States and the United Kingdom, confirm Bahrain's need for the logic of dialogue and national reconciliation instead of the logic of repression and the violation of human rights violations. Almost forty deputies in the European Parliament said: they hoped that the upcoming elections would have an opportunity to ease tensions and allow for open dialogue rather than enacting increasingly repressive measures.

He also pointed out that international positions are in line with the popular conviction in Bahrain of all components that the holding of elections in this oppressive and undemocratic environment can not contribute to addressing the human rights and political deterioration in the country. On the contrary, he affirmed that the elections in These bad conditions leave Bahrain far from dialogue and national reconciliation. I fear that the elections will be a gateway to further human rights violations and illegal restrictions on public freedoms.

He added that elections can not succeed, in light of the severe human rights deterioration and the suffocating political environment, and the blocking of the horizon of civil liberties.

At a time when more than 14,000 detainees, including children and women, have been subjected to arbitrary arrests since 2011, the security authorities continue to carry out arbitrary arrests, such as former MP Ali al-Ashiri, He was arrested for disturbing the elections on Tuesday (November 13, 2018) after a tweet at the social networking site Twitter, in which he exercised his legitimate right to freedom of expression and criticized political isolation.

He added that no country in the world can succeed in elections unless it creates political stability. But in the presence of more than 4000 detainees, against the background of the political crisis, hundreds of projected their nationalities, and the prevalence of human rights violations in all joints of the state. Denying the opposition to participate in parliamentary elections makes the entire election a play that can not convince the international community and observers of the claims of democracy.

We have seen this week that some parties have been forced to intimidate the electoral districts. This contravenes legal and constitutional rules. The option of participation or boycott is a right that does not have an obligation in return, and freedom of the individual is free either by participation or boycotts. If the freedom of the citizen is confiscated and forced to participate in the elections, the elections have lost their integrity and have become unreliable.

Constituencies:

Salman pointed out that one of the most important problems facing the electoral process is the existence of an unfair electoral system. The current electoral system does not include fair electoral districts that achieve equality between citizens and the universal principle of elections.

The Riffa area, for example, controls 6 parliamentary seats. This means that Riffa (Southern Governorate) controls 15% of the House of Representatives, while in the Northern Governorate there are 40 districts. Hamad City, which secures only 12 deputies, and the capital province consists of 47 districts and produce only 10 deputies.

It is also evident from the comparison between some of the districts in the following governorates: The tenth district in the southern governorate has 1608 voters, while the seventh constituency of Muharraq Governorate is 15363, which means that one circle represents 10% of another constituency, an electoral equation unparalleled in the world. These elections do not promote the spirit of equal citizenship, and the votes are not equal according to the principle of the voice of every citizen, and this confirms the government's failure to build a fair electoral system.

Al-Salman also pointed out the importance of currency monitoring to highlight the locations of imbalances and legal violations in order to reduce the size of the area, be it legal or human practice of those involved in the electoral administration, and therefore should be independent organizations and institutions, This is not available in the electoral process in Bahrain. It is not permissible to monitor the performance of the party concerned with the organization of the elections, and that the monitoring shall be on the candidate and the voter only.

The Authority also attended international or international media, covering the process of the process and monitoring the elections. Why is the Bahraini government afraid of international observers and the international media?

Salman made the following recommendations:

Second: Recommendations:

  1. Forming an independent committee with the participation of civil society institutions to manage the electoral process.
  2. . Re-distribution of the constituencies in a fair manner, consistent with international standards and achieving balance and equality in the electoral vote among citizens, according to the principle of the voice of every citizen, or make Bahrain a single circle.
  3.  Achieving the principle of separation of powers, enabling the legislative authority to play its role away from the hegemony of the executive branch.
  4.  To seek political consensus, through direct dialogue with all factions of the people, to ensure their participation in the elections, within the framework of the national reconciliation project to achieve comprehensive political reform, and then to provide the United Nations with assistance through its supervision of the elections.
  5.  Abolish the project of political isolation, enable all citizens to participate freely and effectively in the electoral process, cancel the decisions of dissolving political societies and give them real space, the freedom of political action, and the release of political leaders.
  6.  Release all prisoners of conscience, stop violations, put an end to the policy of impunity, and hold accountable those responsible for violations.
  7.  Immediate implementation of the recommendations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry and the Universal Periodic Review in 2012 and 2017.
  8.  Achieve the highest levels of international control over the electoral process.
  9.  To legislate a law guaranteeing the competence of the electoral process, administered by an independent body and allowing international organizations to monitor the elections.
  10.  Abolish all legislation and decisions that restrict public freedoms, violate the rights of citizenship, or undermine freedom of assembly and association.
  11.  Abolish legislation and laws that confiscate the right to vote and run for office.
  12.  Cancellation of public electoral centers.
  13.  Allow the formation of political opposition parties and their work without hindrance.
  14.  Transparent handling of the publication of the list of voters and electoral blocs.
  15.  Suspending the media coverage in the official media and implementing recommendation 1724 in the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry.

Sheikh Maytham Salman

President of Bahrain Interfaith Cultivating Harmony and Bahrain Center for Human Rights Adviso

Report of Bahrain Center revealIng violations against journalists

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights issued a new report entitled "Press in Bahrain: The Usurpation of the Word". The report was published in Arabic and English to highlight the reality of the Bahraini press, documenting the violations committed against journalists and those working in this field. 

In its report, the Center examines Bahrain's laws and legislation restricting the freedom of press work and shows the extent of its non-conformity with the international treaties, covenants and agreements. The report also documents violations of media workers since the popular protests beginning in 2011.

The report concluded with recommendations to the Government of Bahrain urging them to the immediate and unconditioned release to all journalists, detainees and conscience who have been detained for expressing their views or for their work in the field of journalism and information. The report has also recommended canceling laws that do not match the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in the Bahraini Penal Code and Decree-Law No. 47 of 2002, which limits freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

To read the full report click here

Bahraini NGOS Condemning the decision of Germany to deport Bahraini citizen Ahmed Nawar to Bahrain

Five Bahraini human rights organizations, signatories to this joint statement, express their deep concern at the information they received about the intention of the German authorities to deport Bahraini citizen Ahmed Nawar from their territories to Bahrain after examining his asylum application and protection. Nawar, who is a member of a Bahraini targeted political opposition group, has been applying for asylum in Germany since 2015. The signatory organizations fear that Nawar will be at risk if he will be deported to Bahrain, especially with increasing number of cases of activists or detainees who been tortured under interrogation or custody.

Nawar participated in many anti-arbitrary activities in Bahrain during his stay in Germany. He also participated in different media programs, expressed his views on social media, and delivered speeches opposing the Bahraini government's policy. He fears that all these acts will be used against him if he is deported to Bahrain. Nawar has been living with concern since Germany authorities decision to deport him from the court, the local police may implement the decision at any time.

This is not the first time that Bahraini nationals have been deported from countries where they have applied for asylum or taken refuge in order to escape the influence of the security agency in Bahrain. The Dutch authorities deported Bahraini citizen Ali Shuwaikh, who arrived at Bahrain airport late on Saturday 20th October where he was arrested on arrival and transferred to an unknown destination.

In January 2014, Omani authorities handed over Bahraini citizen Sadiq Jafar al-Shaabani, age 31, after being arrested by the Omani intelligence service. According to information obtained by human rights organizations in Bahrain, al-Shaabani was severely tortured in the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) building.

Bahrain National Security Agency responsible for the arrests is considered to be the deadliest body in the country. The results of the investigations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry concluded that this Agency practices torture and physical and psychological ill-treatment like what happens to Abdul Kareem Fakhrawi and Ali Issa Saqr. The fact-finding committee recommended freezing the authorities of this Agency in terms of criminal arrest and investigation and limiting its work to research and investigation. However, the government reintroduced the authority of investigation and re-arrest of this agency since January 2017.

Several international human rights organizations have issued reports confirming the torture and ill-treatment systemically practiced by the security authorities in Bahrain, including Amnesty International, which issued a report in 2017 entitled "No one can protect you", which contained details of claims and complaints of torture, including the case of woman human rights activist Ibtisam al-Sayegh where she been physical tortured and sexual assaulted during interrogation at National Security Agency headquarters in Muharraq in June 2017.   The signatories to this joint statement hold the German authorities responsible for the safety of Bahraini citizen Ahmed Nawar and invite them to reconsider their decision, especially when they tolerates Nawar's torture and inhuman treatment once he deport to Bahrain.

* Bahrain Center for Human Rights * Bahrain Forum for Human Rights * Bahrain German Organization for Human Rights and Democracy * Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights * Salam for Democracy and Human Rights