Category Archives: Amnesty International
A year has passed since the killing of a peaceful demonstrator in February 2011 by the security forces as a result of the use of excessive force against peaceful protesters in Bahrain. Despite several announcements on positive steps being taken by the government to ensure accountability, we have not seen any outcome of reported government investigations into allegations of torture and it is unclear how many people involved in human rights abuses have been brought to justice.
Hundreds of people are still facing criminal charges in Bahrain for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly. Meanwhile, many others, dismissed from their work place or university for exercising these very rights have yet to be reinstated.
This Amnesty International video features interviews with Bahrain poet Ayat al-Qarmezi and Doctors Zahra al Sammak and Ghassan Dhaif.
- Bahrain Promises Weekday Visas to Rights Group (abcnews.go.com)
- Amnesty: Tear gas used on Bahrain protesters kills (worldnews.msnbc.msn.com)
BAHRAINI MEDICS’ APPEAL RESUMES
The trial of 20 health professionals resumed on 8 March 2012. Their travel bans have not been lifted and their allegations of torture still have not been independently investigated. Their lawyers are complaining about the difficulty of mounting an adequate defense.
The appeal hearing of 20 health professionals resumed in Bahrain on 8 March 2012 before the civilian High Criminal Court of Appeal, following three previous hearings on 9 January, 28 February and 4 March. During the 8 March hearing five prosecution witnesses were called to testify. The next hearing is scheduled on 15 March, when defense witnesses should testify.
The court did not accept the defense lawyers’ request to lift the travel ban imposed on the health professionals. They had been referred in previous sessions for forensic examination by a medical team made up of representatives from the Public Prosecution Office, the Ministry of Health and the Gulf University. The defense lawyers have complained about the lack of impartiality of this team, arguing that the Public Prosecution Office and the Ministry of Health are not independent. They added that until now the defendants have not been examined by this body because it has not been fully formed. The defense lawyers reiterated their request made in previous sessions to include the reports of torture and the forensic examinations included in the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report in the case file. Although this request had been accepted in a previous session, the reports have not yet been included.
Following remarks made by the Public Prosecutor on 5 March implying the lawyers were not carrying out their duties properly and “continued to adopt delaying tactics in the case to advance agendas that should have no place in the courtroom,” the defense lawyers have rejected this accusation and have complained that they are not given enough time to prepare to cross-examine witnesses.
Please write immediately in Arabic or English :
Urge the Bahraini authorities to ensure the appeal proceedings comply with international standards for fair trial, allow the defence lawyers to call any relevant witnesses, and give them adequate time to prepare the defense of their clients;
Express concern that if jailed, the defendants would be prisoners of conscience imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly;
Urge them to launch an independent and impartial investigation into the defendants’ allegations of torture and other ill-treatment, and ensure that an independent forensic body examines the defendants’ claims.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 20 APRIL 2012 TO :
HM Shaikh Hamad bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa
Office of His Majesty the King
P.O. Box 555
Fax: +973 176 64 587
Salutation: Your Majesty
Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa
Office of the Prime Minister
P.O. Box 1000
Fax: +973 175 33 033
Salutation: Your Highness
Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs
Shaikh Khalid bin Ali bin Abdullah Al Khalifa
Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs
P.O. Box 13
Fax: +973 175 31 284
Salutation: Your Excellency
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.
Ms. Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo
Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain
Bahrain Embassy – Washington, DC
3502 International Drive, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
BAHRAINI MEDICS’ APPEAL RESUMES
These 20 defendants are among 48 health professionals from the Salmaniya Medical Complex who were arrested in March and April 2011. Some of them had been vocal in giving interviews to foreign journalists and accusing the government of abuses against protesters. All were held incommunicado for several weeks. In most cases their families did not know their whereabouts for most of this time and were only allowed to see them during the first session of their trial before the National Safety Court of First Instance, a military court, which started on 6 June. The 48 were split into two groups on 13 June: 20 of them were accused of felonies while the rest were accused of misdemeanors. Many of them went on hunger strike in protest at their detention and trial and were gradually released on bail in August and September 2011.
On 29 June, the King decreed that all cases linked to the February-March 2011 protests would be transferred to ordinary civilian courts; he then issued a further decree on 18 August (Decree 28/20011) ordering that the National Safety Court of First Instance continue to deal with felony cases, while misdemeanour cases would be referred to civilian courts. In early October trials before military courts stopped and since then all trials have been heard before civilian courts. On 29 September the National Safety Court of First Instance sentenced the 20 health professionals to between five and 15 years in prison. Thirteen of the medics – ‘Ali ‘Esa Mansoor al-‘Ekri, Nader Mohammed Hassan Dewani, Ahmed ‘Abdulaziz Omran Hassan, Mahmood Asghar ‘Abdulwahab, ‘Abdulkhaleq ‘Ali Hussain al-‘Oraibi, Ghassan Ahmed ‘Ali Dhaif, Bassim Ahmed ‘Ali Dhaif, Ebrahim ‘Abdullah Ebrahim, Sayed Marhoon Majid al-Wedaei, Roula Jassim Mohammed al-Saffar, Nada Sa’eed ‘Abdelnabi Dhaif , ‘Ali Hassan al-Sadadi and Qassim Mohammad ‘Omran – were sentenced to 15 years in prison. Hassan Mohammed Sa’eed Nasser and Sa’eed Mothaher Habib Al Samahiji were sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. Fatima Salman Hassan Haji , Dhia Ibrahim Ja’far , Najah Khalil Ibrahim Hassan, Zahra Mahdi al-Sammak and Mohammed Faeq ‘Ali Al Shehab were sentenced to five years in prison. All of them have since been released on bail.
On 23 October the health professionals’ apppeal hearing started before a civilian court and three charges were dropped: “Spreading false news in detriment to public security”, “Public instigation of hate against the system of government” and “Instigating public employees in Salmaniya Hospital to violate laws and refrain from performing their work duties.”
Other charges remain including: “Illegal possession of firearms for a terrorist purpose”, “Attempting to occupy a public hospital using force” and “Attempting to topple the system of government by force ”
The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) was established by Royal Decree on 29 June to investigate abuses during the March/February protests and other abuses in the following months. The full report was published on 23 November. Hundreds of cases were covered in the BICI report on the February-March 2011 protests, including beatings of protesters by the security forces, mass arbitrary arrests of mainly Shi’a opposition activists and widespread torture, with five deaths resulting from torture in custody. In all, at least 46 people have died in connection with the protests, including five security forces personnel. The report urged the government to immediately establish an independent body made up of representatives of civil society, the opposition and the government; to oversee the implementation of the BICI’s recommendations; to usher in legislative reforms to ensure laws are in line with international human rights standards; and to bring to account those responsible for abuses.
Names: ‘Ali ‘Esa Mansoor al-‘Ekri (m), Nader Mohammed Hassan Dewani (m), Ahmed ‘Abdulaziz Omran Hassan (m),
Mahmood Asghar ‘Abdulwahab (m), ‘Abdulkhaleq ‘Ali Hussain al-‘Oraibi (m), Ghassan Ahmed ‘Ali Dhaif (m), Bassim Ahmed ‘Ali
Dhaif (m), Ebrahim ‘Abdullah Ebrahim (m);, Sayed Marhoon Majid al-Wedaei (m); Roula Jassim Mohammed al-Saffar (f), Nada
Sa’eed ‘Abdelnabi Dhaif (f) , ‘Ali Hassan al-Sadadi (m), Qassim Mohammad ‘Omran (m) Hassan Mohammed Sa’eed Nasser
(m), Sa’eed Mothaher Habib Al Samahiji (m), Fatima Salman Hassan Haji (f), Dhia Ibrahim Ja’far (f), Najah Khalil Ibrahim
Hassan (f), Zahra Mahdi al-Sammak (f) and Mohammed Faeq ‘Ali Al Shehab (m)
- Mass protest near Bahrain capital (bbc.co.uk)
- A US double-standard for Bahrain? – CBS News (cbsnews.com)
Representatives from Amnesty International, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, and Physicians for Human Rights will not be visiting Bahrain, as planned, a decision they made because of constrictions placed on how long they may stay.
Here is the text of their letter, which explains their objections:
2 March 2012
Her Excellency Fatima al-Balooshi
Minister of Human Rights and Social Development
We, the undersigned human rights organizations, would like to thank you for your 28 February 2012 letters and your offer of assistance with arranging our upcoming visits to the Kingdom of Bahrain.
At the same time, we must object to the conditions placed on our visits, in particular the extremely short timeframe. The five-business-day limit appears to be arbitrary and will greatly impede our ability to monitor and research human rights developments.
In addition, while we greatly appreciate your willingness to arrange meetings for our organizations with relevant government officials, it is critical for us to know which meetings you are suggesting, with whom and at what time, as we need to be able to schedule a variety of additional meetings with community leaders, organizations, and other individuals who may have
pertinent information about recent events in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
We consider the limit imposed on the duration of our stay in Bahrain to contradict the oral commitments you and other officials made in meetings with our representatives, and to the United Nations, regarding access for international human rights organizations. In addition, informing us of these constraints so close to our planned departure dates calls further into
question the King’s commitment to interact with us on a constructive basis.
We therefore respectfully request that you reconsider these limitations and respond positively to our requests to visit for more than five days.
We thank you again for your invitation and look forward to your response to this request.
Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui
Director, Human Rights Defenders
Human Rights First
Sara Leah Whitson
Human Rights Watch
Physicians for Human Rights
cc: Khalifa Al Khalifa Director, Human Rights Organizations
- HRF’s Brian Dooley refused entry into Bahrain (thoolen.wordpress.com)
- Congressmen Confront Bahrain Over Recent NGO Visa Restrictions (huffingtonpost.com)