Posts Tagged ‘Gulf Center for Human Rights’

What Human Rights Day means in Bahrain and how the EU made it worse

December 11, 2014

On 9 December, on the eve of Human Rights Day, Zainab Al-Khawaja was sentenced to 4 years and 4 months in two separate court hearings in Bahrain. Front Line, Human Rights First and others have reported extensively on this courageous human rights defenders [see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/zainab-al-khawaja/] .

She was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment for “sabotaging properties belonging to the Ministry of Interior” and “insulting a public official” to three months’ imprisonment and fined 3,000 Bahraini Dinar (approx. 6,400 Euro) for “tearing up a photograph of the King”.

Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped also shockingly reports that on the same day as her sentencing, the European Union presented a human rights award to Bahrain’s National Institution for Human Rights and the Ombudsman of the Ministry of the Interior! Although this concerns a relatively unknown regional award (the Chaillot Prize is presented annually by the Delegation of the European Union in Riyadh http://www.ambafrance-bh.org/Press-release-Delegation-of-the.) the state press has been making the best of it [http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/NewsDetails.aspx?storyid=391213] and it is hard to see this as in line with the EU policy on Human Rights Defenders.

Why Maryam Al-Khawaja boycotted the Bahraini court on 1 December

December 1, 2014

The leading human rights defender Maryam Al-Khawaja explains her reasons for boycotting the court hearing in Bahrain that on Monday 1 December saw her sentenced to one year in prison. This impressive statement was originally posted on the website of the Gulf Center for Human Rights on 30 November 2014. For more posts on Maryam Al-Khawaja see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/maryam-al-khawaja/

Maryam-e1409582320645

As a human rights defender, I, Maryam Al-Khawaja, Director of Advocacy at the Gulf Center for Human Rights, have decided to boycott my court hearing on the 1 December 2014. During this hearing I am due to be sentenced on trumped up charges of assaulting two policewomen at the Bahrain International Airport. (Update: Al-Khawaja was sentenced to one year imprisonment on 1 December)

The decision to boycott the court was reached based on several grounds:

  • The lack of independence and due process in the Bahrain judiciary system:

It has become evidently clear that it is not possible to have a fair and independent trial in Bahraini courts as they stand. The judicial system in Bahrain is highly flawed, and is overrun with egregious human rights violations which usually start during the arrest, and continue throughout what is supposed to be a legal process. I was personally subjected to numerous human rights violations since the moment of arriving in Bahrain and until I was able to leave the country as can be read in my testimony here.

There are medical reports about the injuries I sustained during the assault I was subjected to, for which I continue to need physiotherapy. My case was sped up, and quickly turned for sentencing with complete disregard to legal procedures.

  • The lack of independency and neutrality of the judge himself:

The presiding judge, Mohammed Ali Alkhalifa, in the case brought against me is a member of the ruling family, and has been himself, as well as members of his family, identified previously during my advocacy campaigns as implicated in human rights violations. This makes his presiding over the case a clear case of conflict of interest given the personal grievances he may have against me. This judge in particular, it is important to note, has been involved in the sentencing of numerous human rights defenders including Nabeel Rajab and Naji Fateel in unfair trials.

  • The cooperation of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) with the Ministry of Interior:

During my imprisonment I met with the SIU, headed by Nawaf Hamza, to submit a complaint against the three policewomen and the first lieutenant who assaulted me at the airport. The prosecutor, Mohammed Al-Hazaa, rewrote my statement in his own words, attempting to implicate me in violations, and refused to correct what he had misquoted. This resulted in my refusal to sign the papers and filing of a complaint against the prosecutor. One day before the sentencing, namely on the 30th of November 2014, and due to almost daily follow up by my lawyer, the public prosecution notified him that the complaint case had been revoked. Despite my complaint about the assault since the beginning of my arrest, it was only one day before the sentencing that my lawyer was finally able to get a statement from the public prosecution that my complaint case had been revoked, at a time when the trumped up assault charges against myself were speedily processed and turned for sentencing.

  • The violation of my rights by the public prosecution:

During the interrogation I was subjected to, I was refused access to my lawyer by the prosecutor dealing with my case. During my imprisonment my lawyer was not given any visits, nor was the Danish embassy. The way that the public prosecution deals with politically motivated cases is it uses all aspects of the government to provide impunity for the perpetrators of violations.

Based on the reasons stated above, I find any and all cooperation with the court or attendance of the hearings by myself as a problematic legitimisation of an unfair and biased court. Therefore I have decided to boycott the hearings, and have asked my lawyer to do the same.

It is important to note here, if I, as a human rights defender, whose case receives international media and diplomatic attention is handled in this way; it is gravely concerning how cases not receiving attention are handled by the authorities in Bahrain.

Maryam Al-Khawaja
Director of Advocacy
Gulf Center for Human Rights
30th November 2014

Maryam Al-Khawaja: Why I am boycotting my date with Bahraini justice – Index on Censorship | Index on Censorship.

Human Rights Foundation intervenes for two prominent Human Rights Defenders

September 6, 2014

On 5 September 2014) the Human Rights Foundation issued a statement condemning the arbitrary arrests of two outstanding human rights defenders: Maryam al-Khawaja, co-director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR), and Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, president of the Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (APRODH), and calls on the governments of Bahrain and Burundi to release them immediately.Al-Khawaja was detained last week by Bahraini authorities as she arrived to the island kingdom to visit her father, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, a political prisoner currently on hunger strike.see:  https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/human-rights-defender-maryam-al-khawaja-stopped-at-bahrain-airport-may-appear-in-court-tomorrow/Mbonimpa – 2007 Laureate of the MEA – was jailed in May as part of a pre-election crackdown after criticizing Burundi’s ruling party on a radio program. see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/alert-mea-laureate-2007-pierre-claver-mbonimpa-arrested-in-burundi/

To see and hear the HRDs speak at the the 2011 and 2010 Oslo Freedom Forums, click the link below:

HRF Calls for the Immediate Release of Two Prominent Oslo Freedom Forum Speakers | News | The Human Rights Foundation.

One of Bahrain’s most prominent human rights defenders, Nabeel Rajab, released today

May 24, 2014

Nabeel Rajab, Final Nominee MEA 2012

Nabeel Rajab, Final Nominee MEA 2012

According to AhlulBayt News Agency prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab has been released in Bahrain today, 24 May 2014.  The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) welcome back their – respectively – President of the BCHR and General Secretary of the GCHR, free after a detention that lasted approximately two years. The two organisations warn that thousands of others continue to be imprisoned including BCHR and GCHR founder Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and Naji Fateel. It is to be noted that Nabeel Rajab is being released because he served the full length of his arbitrary detention sentence.

Nabeel Rajab was initially sentenced on 16 August 2012, to three years in prison for advocating peaceful demonstrations to defend the civil and human rights of all the citizens in the country. On 11 December 2012, the Court of Appeal reduced the sentences to two years in prison. During his detention, he faced dire conditions and was subjected to ill-treatment and torture. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) found that Nabeel’s detention was arbitrary as it resulted from the exercise of his universally recognized human rights. Despite this decision by the WGAD, all requests submitted to the authorities for an early release were summarily rejected.

Bahrain prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab to be released after two years – AhlulBayt News Agency – ABNA – Shia News.

For the older posts that tell the story more in detail see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/nabeel-rajab/

Trial Observation lawyer denied entry into Bahrain for trial of Naji Fateel starting tomorrow

November 17, 2013

While the appeal of human right defender Naji Fateel in Bahrain is due to start tomorrow, 18 November, a group of five human rights NGOs regrets the lack of cooperation by Bahraini authorities to allow access to the country for a trial observation mission. The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Front Line Defenders, the Gulf Center for Human Rights, and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights – and the World Organisation Against Torture), had mandated – with support from IFEX  – a lawyer to observe the trial, but their request remains unanswered.

[Naji Fateel, co-founder of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights and a blogger, was sentenced on September 29, 2013 to 15 years in prison for “the establishment of a group for the purpose of disabling the constitution” under Article 6 of the Terrorism Act.]

via Bahrain: Lawyer mandated by international human rights NGOs denied entry to Bahrain to observe the trial of human rights defender Naji Fateel / November 15, 2013 / Urgent Interventions / Human rights defenders / OMCT.