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Index - Bahrain: Trial of Nabeel Rajab postponed until 15 December

The trial of prominent Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab – president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights – has been postponed for a fourth consecutive time to enable the country’s high criminal court to hire a cybercrime expert to verify who manages his Twitter account.

A new trial date has been set for 15 December.

Read the full article here.

Bahrain activist's trial postponed to Dec. 15

Bahrain on Monday postponed until Dec. 15 the trial of prominent democracy activist Nabeel Rajab to permit more investigation of a Twitter account he is accused of using to publish criticism of the government, his human rights group said.

Rajab's Bahrain Centre for Human Rights said the High Criminal Court postponed the trial for a fourth time to enable it to hire a cyber crime expert to verify that the Twitter handle in question was managed by him.

Read the full article here

Urgent Appeal Letter about Ghada Jamsheer's case by the Observatory

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information about the case of Ghada Jamsheer and her upcoming trial. 

The Observatory has been informed by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) about the continued arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Ms. Ghada Jamsheer, a writer and blogger, Head of the Women's Petition Committee, an organisation which campaigns for the rights and dignity of women in the Shari'ah family courts.

According to information received, on November 7, 2016, Ms. Ghada Jamsheer will appear before Manama’s High Criminal Court of Appeal, on charges of defamation related to messages posted via her Twitter account criticising corruption in the management of King Hamad Hospital in Bahrain, which is run by members of the ruling family.

Read the full letter here

Letter from Jailed Bahrain Activist Nabeel Rajab to US Congress Lantos Commission

Leading Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab is due a court verdict on Monday after a sham trial.

Rajab wrote the following letter from jail to the co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the U.S. Congress, Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Joseph Pitts (R-PA). The commission has held a series of hearings on Bahrain in recent years, most recently in September 2016, when I testified about Nabeel Rajab’s case.

Read the letter here.

Nabeel Rajab’s unlawful detention continues: trial postponed, investigations reopened

31 October 2016 - Today, the High Criminal Court postponed the trial of prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) to 15 December 2016. We, the undersigned NGOs, condemn the arbitrary and baseless detention of Rajab and call for his immediate and unconditional release.

The High Criminal Court postponed the trial of Rajab for the fourth time in a row since the commencement of the trial on 11 July 2016. The reason for the postponement is to hire an expert from the Cyber Crime Unit to verify that the Twitter handle in question is managed by him. The reopening of his case throws a light on the lack of evidence of any wrongdoing.

Rajab is being prosecuted in relation to tweets and retweets about torture in Jau Prison and the human rights violations in the war on Yemen. The prosecution of Rajab is based on  Articles 133, 215, and 216 of Bahrain’s Penal Code over charges of “false or malicious news, statements, or rumours,” “offending a foreign country” (Saudi Arabia), and “offending a statutory body” - for which he may be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. All these charges relate to Rajab’s exercise of his free expression.

In September, Bahrain’s prosecution brought new charges against him for “undermining the prestige of the state” after the New York Times published his opinion piece, Letter from a Bahraini Jail. This charge could carry an additional year. In his letter, Rajab criticized his country for being one “that punishes its people for thinking, that prevents its citizens from exercising their basic rights.”

Rajab has spent 140 days in detention since his arrest on 13 June 2016. We are deeply concerned about Rajab still being detained considering his deteriorating health condition. Rajab’s family believes that the unhygienic condition in his cell is possibly the reason for worsening of his health condition.

In the week before Rajab’s hearing on 31 October, members of the European Parliament have voiced their concerns over the case of Rajab and the overall human rights situation in Bahrain. MEPs Beatriz Becerra, Julie Ward, Javier Nart, Mark Demesmaeker, Ignazio Corrao and Ana Gomes called for the release of human rights defender Nabeel Rajab.

Rajab’s case has attracted the attention of several other prominent figures, including government officials, the spokesperson of the US Department of State, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and members of the EU Parliament. His case has been discussed at the 33rd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, and in a letter from 34 human rights organizations calling on the King of Bahrain to release Rajab.

Friday last week the US Department of State repeated its calls for Rajab’s immediate release and rejected all charges against him.

We believe that the prosecution of Rajab for the peaceful exercise goes against Bahrain’s international human rights commitment, and raises concerns over its willingness to safeguard the rights of its citizens.

The undersigned NGOs call on the Bahraini government to:

  • Immediately and unconditionally release Nabeel Rajab and all political prisoners detained for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of speech and expression;
  • Drop all charges against Nabeel Rajab, which are related to his right to freedom of expression and freedom of speech; and
  • Abide by international legislation upholding the right to freedom of expression, without any restrictions or arbitrary legal procedures;
  • Provide compensation for his arbitrary imprisonment.
 

Signed,

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain

Bahrain Center for Human Rights

Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy

European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights

 

America should use its leverage with Bahrain

The Oct. 27 editorial “ ‘Is this the kind of ally America wants?’ ” highlighted the Obama administration’s myopic policy on Bahrain. The smallest country in the Middle East has manipulated its relationship with Washington for years, continuing to receive political support and military assistance from the United States while rejecting meaningful reform. The State Department has too often appeared paralyzed in the face of the regime’s attacks on moderate opposition and human rights activists, unwilling or unable to effectively respond. This inaction has only encouraged further violations, with all political dissent now effectively strangled.

Read the full article here.

Bahrain prevents family of dissident from flying to London to join him

Officials in Bahrain have prevented the wife and infant son of a London-based dissident from leaving the country to join him.

It is the latest example of a crackdown by the Gulf state, which has been criticised by human rights groups for imposing travel bans and arresting its opponents.

Duaa Alwadaei was prevented by Bahraini immigration officers from boarding a London-bound flight on Wednesday. The move came hours after her husband, Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (Bird), protested against a visit by the king of Bahrain to Downing Street.

Alwadaei claims that during a seven-hour interrogation, a senior official told his wife she was being questioned and subjected to a travel ban because of his work. On the same day his wife was detained, Alwadaei had attended the protest outside No 10 against the visit of the king of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa. Two protesters were briefly held by police.

Read the full article here.

Bahrain opposition group appeals against dissolution

Bahrain’s main Shiite opposition group has appealed against a court ruling that it should be dissolved over terrorism-related charges, a judicial official said on Sunday.

"Al Wefaq has filed an appeal to the Court of Cassation" against its dissolution and the seizure of its assets.

A court ordered the group’s dissolution in July for "harbouring terrorism", inciting violence and encouraging demonstrations which threatened to spark sectarian strife.

The decision, upheld by an appeals court in September, drew strong criticism from UN chief Ban Ki-moon

Read the full article here.

Freedom of the Press Report 2016

Press freedom declined to its lowest point in 12 years in 2015, as political, criminal, and terrorist forces sought to co-opt or silence the media in their broader struggle for power.

Bahrain (read country specific report here), ranked 186 in the study that included 199 countries, scored among the lowest ranks in the annual report issued by Freedom House organization, after putting the country under the "Not Free" category on the level of freedom of press, and freedom of the internet. 

Read the full report here

Extract from the report on Bahrain: Although the constitution guarantees freedoms of expression and the press, the government uses the 2002 Press Law to restrict the rights of the media. The Press Law allows up to five years’ imprisonment for publishing criticism of Islam or the king, inciting actions that undermine state security, or advocating a change in government. Journalists may be fined up to 2,000 Bahraini dinars ($5,300) for a list of 14 other offenses. Libel, slander, and “divulging secrets” are criminal offenses punishable by terms of no more than two years in prison or a fine of no more than 200 Bahraini dinars ($530). The government also uses counterterrorism legislation to curtail the activities of opposition groups and restrict freedom of expression. In 2014, the government amended the penal code to specify a prison sentence of one to seven years and a fine of up to 10,000 Bahraini dinars ($26,500) for anyone who publicly insults Bahrain’s king, flag, or national emblem.

Al-Wefaq Deputy Secretary General Calls for Dealing with Society’s Dissolution as One of “Authorities’ Failures”

Deputy Secretary General of the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society Sheikh Hussein Al-Daihi called on the people of Bahrain and Al-Wefaq supporters to deal with Al-Wefaq suspension as "a point of failure by the authorities" and "use it to serve the interest of our national project, for the sake of shifting towards justice and democracy".

Read the full article here