Bahrain and human rights: contrasting views

May 23, 2013

Bahrain‘s Human Rights Minister during a visit to Morocco on 22 May stated: “Bahrain Has Presented Itself as a Model in Implementing BICI’s Recommendations

He said that despite the regretful incidents that happened in 2011, the kingdom of Bahrain has presented itself as a model in its wise dealing with those events, highlighting Bahrain’s bold steps in this regard, including the establishment of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), led by international eminent judges, the acceptance of the recommendations featuring in BICI’s final report and the political leadership’s commitment to implementing them, out of its belief in the importance of protecting human rights.

In this context, he noted that the Public Prosecutor established a Special Investigation Unit (SIU) which is authorised to investigate claims of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, according to international standards and the Istanbul Protocol’s Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, adding that SIU investigated all cases of death and allegations of ill-treatment and torture associated with the 2011 events independently, noting that the Public Prosecution had reviewed all cases examined by the National Safety Courts and dropped all charges related to the exercise of freedom of opinion and expression (and a total of 332 suspects benefited and had their charges dropped).

this was from, ..guess..the state’s news agency: http://www.bna.bh/portal/en/news/561916

Contrast this with Front Line Defenders‘ Update on Bahrain from the same day reporting that Bahraini courts sentenced, in separate proceedings, human rights defenders Ms  Zainab Al-Khawaja and Mr Naji Fateel.Zainab Al-Khawaja was sentenced to three months in jail on charges of taking part in an illegal gathering and insulting a police officer. The human rights defender was arrested on 27 February 2013, during a peaceful sit-in to protest authorities’ refusal to hand over the body of a man who was killed during a demonstration on 14 February 2013. Zainab Al-Khawaja had been serving two sentences on charges of alleged participation in an unauthorised demonstration and unlawful entry to Pearl Roundabout and was due to be released this month. The latest sentencing means she will be in detention until the end of August. [Zainab Al-Khawaja is a prominent human rights defender and blogger who has been active in calling for political reform and democracy in Bahrain. She is currently in detention in Hoora Detention Centre. For more information on her arrest and trial please see the urgent appeal https://frontlinedefenders.org/node/21842]In a separate trial, Naji Fateel was sentenced to six months imprisonment on charges of attending illegal gatherings. He had initially been charged with the establishment of a group for the purpose of disabling the constitution under article 6 of the controversial Terrorism Act. The human rights defender was arrested on 2 May 2013 and held incommunicado for three days, during which time it is reported that he was tortured. [Naji Fateel is a board member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR), and a blogger who has been active in reporting human rights violations in Bahrain. See the urgent appeal at https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/22613].

or with the expression of concern by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) over the removal of detained Nabeel Rajab from his cell http://gc4hr.org/news/view/416 :

Nabeel Rajab called his wife on 14 May 2013, telling her that he had witnessed the torture of young political prisoners at the hands of prison guards at Jaw prison. He raised his voice telling them to stop, and when they realized that he had witnessed what was happening, they quickly left. Nabeel Rajab asked his wife to request that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visit him in prison so he can give them his testimony of what he had witnessed. Rajab’s wife received a phone call that evening informing her that Nabeel was reportedly removed from his cell that night by prison guards and was not returned. The BCHR and GCHR are very concerned that due to what Nabeel Rajab witnessed he is being silenced by being moved to solitary confinement. There is a serious concern of ill-treatment if he is moved to solitary confinement where he loses communication with his family and lawyer. The GCHR had previously launched an appeal about allowing Nabeel Rajab access to adequate medical care: http://gc4hr.org/news/view/394

Who do you believe?

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