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BCHR Condemns Bahraini Authorities’ Continued Targeting of Human Rights Defenders

2016-10-06 - 9:26 p

Bahrain Mirror: The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expressed on the International Day of Non-Violence, marked October 2, 2016, its grave concern for the continued targeting of human rights defenders and civil society activists by the Bahraini authorities.

In a statement issued on its website, the BCHR called on the Bahraini government to "end interference with the work of human rights defenders; ensure accountability for those who violate human rights in Bahrain; guarantee freedom of expression and freedom of speech in Bahrain; and end the criminal cases against human rights defenders which aim to punish their work."

The BCHR referred to several cases in which the rights of human rights defenders were violated, among which were that of BCHR President Nabeel Rajab's. "He has been subject to punishment in violation of his rights to freedom of expression and movement. In addition to a travel ban, he has been kept in detention since 13 June for being "offensive to the government" via the social media platform Twitter," the statement said in reference to Rajab.

Moreover, the BCHR highlighted the cases of activist Zainab Al-Khawaja, who has been imprisoned eleven times since the pro-democracy protests in 2011, and was after that forced into exile. Similarly, Zainab's sister activist Maryam Al-Khawaja was forced into exile after being sentenced to one year of imprisonment for allegedly assaulting airport security officers.

In addition, the statement indicated the renowned case if their father Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who is serving a life sentence and was subjected to torture and an unfair trial for his leading role in the 2011 pro-democracy movement.

In addition, BCHR has documented reports of several cases of torture at the infamous Jaw prison. According to an inmate, human rights defender Naji Fateel, who is serving a 15-year prison term, was treated "like an animal."

Also, the BCHR statement went on to state the cases of other activists and human rights defenders.

"Blogger and academic Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace was subjected to torture (...) Hussain Jawad, chairman of the European Bahraini Organization for Human Rights, who was sentenced to two years in prison, subjected to ill-treatment and was eventually forced into exile. Sayed Alwadei, Advocacy Officer of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, was subject to verbal abuse, ill-treatment by the police, deprived of his citizenship and is now exiled to the United Kingdom. BCHR's Vice-President Said Yousef Al-Muhafdha, has been a target of arbitrary arrests before he was forced into exile in Germany. Scholar and Bahrain Interfaith leader Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman was banned from travelling, arrested and charged over "illegal gatherings" for his participation in the Diraz sit-in in June 2016," BCHR stated.

According to BCHR, the imposition of travel bans has become a frequently-used tool by the Bahraini authorities to interfere with the work of human rights defenders and activists. "Among the most recent victims of travel bans are BCHR's Head of International Relations Nedal Al-Salman, teacher and unionist Jalila Al-Salman, activist Ebtisam Al-Saegh, and women's rights defender Ghada Jamsheer (...) Other BCHR members who fell victim to travel bans this year were Enas Oun and Hussain Radhi," the statement added.

Bahrain Center for Human Righst stressed that travel bans on human rights defenders are considered a direct violation of freedom of movement, according to Article 12(1) of the ICCPR. It further referred that "Bahrain is a signatory hereof, the government is violating the Covenant and depriving its citizens of their right to free movement and travel. This is however not the only article of the ICCPR which has been repeatedly violated by the Bahraini authorities. More specifically, freedom of expression, manifested in Article 19 of the ICCPR, has become extremely constrained by the authorities," the BCHR went on to say.

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