ADHRB Calls on Bahrain to End Widespread Reprisals against Activists Ahead of UPR
2017-04-29 - 3:58 am
Bahrain Mirror: Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) and a number of human rights groups strongly condemned in a statement the judicial harassment of political activists, human rights defenders, and other civil society actors, and called on the Government of Bahrain to immediately lift all restrictions on civil society actors attempting to attend international human rights mechanisms such as the UPR.
In a joint statement, ADHRB stressed that the Bahraini authorities have initiated a new campaign of reprisals against human rights activists ahead of the kingdom's third cycle of the United Nations Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) beginning on 1 May 2017. The human rights group noted that the Bahraini government has targeted, over the last week, at least 32 activists, human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, and other members of civil society for reprisal, including criminal summons, interrogations, and travel bans.
The HR organization further stated that the bans have come in the weeks ahead of Bahrain's UPR, which begins on 1 May in Geneva, Switzerland, at the UN, adding that the Government of Bahrain has refused to formally engage with independent civil organizations in the UPR consultation process. ADHRB also highlighted that the authorities have outright banned domestic human rights groups like BCHR and declined to cooperate with international organizations like ADHRB and BIRD.
ADHRB said that it directly contacted the government requesting to participate in the national consultation process, and was rejected; meanwhile, the authorities claim to have consulted with several "associations concerned with human rights," but they have not disclosed these organizations or if they included government-organized NGOs (GONGOs), which are funded and/or sponsored by the state and that do not face the same restrictions as independent groups.
"This new wave of summons and travel bans exhibits the Bahraini government's contempt towards civil society and the international community," said Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy at BIRD. "The authorities have invested huge resources in establishing hollow accountability mechanisms, creating fake ‘non-governmental' organizations, and destroying what remains of the country's legitimate civil and political space."
"The Bahraini government has almost entirely failed to fulfill its commitments under the UPR, including its obligation to consult with civil society organizations and facilitate their participation in the process," said Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of ADHRB. "Now the authorities are - yet again - actively preventing activists from leaving the country in order to maintain the illusion that there's been progress on Bahrain's human rights situation. This wave of reprisals itself demonstrates that there hasn't."
"Bahrain should allow the free participation of civil society in the UPR Process without fear of reprisal or intimidation," said Said Yousif Al-Muhafdha, BCHR's Vice-President.
Concluding their statement, the signatories called on the Government of Bahrain to lift all travel bans and end any other form of interference in the work of independent civil society actors, specifically urging the authorities to facilitate the attendance of these actors at the upcoming UPR in May and to genuinely commit to the UPR reform process.
The signatories include Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, and the European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights.
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