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HRW in Joint NGO Letter: Member States Should Call for Improvements in Human Rights Situation in Bahrain

2017-02-27 - 6:58 am

Bahrain Mirror:  In a joint letter, a number of human rights groups urged the permanent representatives of member and observer states of the UN Human Rights Council to support a joint statement expressing concern over and calling for improvements in the human rights situation in Bahrain at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC).

On its website, Human Rights Watch posted the full text of the joint letter, which stressed that the HRC has largely remained silent on the situation in Bahrain since September 2015, adding that "in the intervening period, and particularly since mid-2016, the situation has worsened significantly."

Referring to the recent execution of political prisoners Sami Mushaima, Ali Al-Singace, and Abbas al-Samie on January 15, the HR groups stressed that these executions have raised concerns that King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa will approve the executions of two Bahrainis, Mohamed Ramadan and Husain Ali Moosa, whose convictions were based almost exclusively on confessions allegedly coerced through torture.

They also highlighted that throughout the last 12 months an orchestrated crackdown on the rights to free expression, assembly and association have badly undermined prospects for a political solution to Bahrain's domestic unrest, mainly the dissolution of the main political opposition group, al-Wifaq, imprisonment of the country's leading human rights defender, Nabeel Rajab, and harassment and persecution of Shia clerics who peacefully protested the arbitrary revocation of the citizenship of al-Wifaq's spiritual leader, Sheikh Isa Qasim.

Concerning torture, the HR organizations noted that "credible reports of torture and mistreatment of detainees continue to emerge from Bahrain and the authorities have made little progress in holding police and security forces accountable."

The joint letter further read that in June and September 2016, arbitrary travel bans prevented numerous human rights activists from attending the 32nd and 33rd session of the HRC.

The joint letter listed the following recommendations:

  • Release protesters, activists and human rights defenders detained or convicted solely for having exercised their rights to peaceful assembly, association or expression;
  • Ensure independent, thorough, and impartial investigations into all allegations of torture and ill-treatment;
  • Demonstrate the effectiveness, impartiality and independence of human rights institutions, including the National Human Rights Institution, the Ombudsman, the Special Investigations Unit and the Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission;
  • Commute the death sentences of Mohammed Ramadan and Husain Ali Moosa;
  • Revise or repeal laws that unduly restrict freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly and association;
  • Engage in comprehensive reform of the legal system to ensure effective independence of the judiciary;
  • Ensure accountability for the serious human rights violations that took place during and after the 2011 protests, including but not limited to those documented in the BICI report;
  • Cooperate with Special Procedures of the HRC, including by swiftly providing access to Special Rapporteurs who have outstanding requests for visits to Bahrain, most notably the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The signatories include Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), ARTICLE 19, Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), CIVICUS, European Centre For Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR), FIDH, Freedom House, Front Line Defenders, Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), Human Rights First (HRF), Human Rights Watch (HRW), International Service For Human Rights (ISHR), PEN International, REDRESS, and Reprieve.




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