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Bahrain: UN expert alarmed by prolonged detention of human rights defenders

GENEVA (22 June 2021) – A UN expert called on Bahrain to immediately release three human rights defenders suffering long term detention as a result of their legitimate promotion and protection of human rights in the country.

Human rights defenders Mr. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, whose detention was declared arbitrary by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and Mr. Abduljalil Al-Singace, were sentenced to life imprisonment on terrorism related charges in 2011. Another defender, Mr. Naji Fateel was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2013 for "forming illegal organizations". Reportedly, these organizations worked to promote and protect human rights in the country. 

Mary Lawlor, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, said she had received reports that Mr. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja had suffered facial fractures, while Mr. Naji Fateel and Mr. Abduljalil Al-Singace had been placed in solitary confinement and denied basic medical care and their right to practice their religion. It was also reported that Mr. Abduljalil Al-Singace had been forced to make confessions and his religious books were taken away.

"The fact that their health continues to deteriorate in prison is very concerning," she said. "I urge the State to conduct an impartial and independent investigation into the allegations of torture while in prison."

 

Other human rights defenders such as Abbas al Omran and Ali Abdulemam were tried in absentia and sentenced to 15 years in prison for forming an illegal organization and spreading false information. They have been granted asylum and currently reside outside of the country. In 2012 and 2015, Bahraini authorities revoked their citizenship.

"The criminalization of human rights defenders in retaliation for their legitimate and peaceful efforts to advocate for the rights of others in Bahrain is concerning not only for the detrimental impact on the lives of those individuals and their families, but for the chilling effect it creates on civic space in the country," Lawlor said.

The expert is in contact with the authorities on this matter.

Lawlor's comments have been endorsed by Ms. Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right to physical and mental health; Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

 

ENDS

GENEVA (22 June 2021) – A UN expert called on Bahrain to immediately release three human rights defenders suffering long term detention as a result of their legitimate promotion and protection of human rights in the country.

Human rights defenders Mr. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, whose detention was declared arbitrary by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and Mr. Abduljalil Al-Singace, were sentenced to life imprisonment on terrorism related charges in 2011. Another defender, Mr. Naji Fateel was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2013 for "forming illegal organizations". Reportedly, these organizations worked to promote and protect human rights in the country.

Mary Lawlor, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, said she had received reports that Mr. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja had suffered facial fractures, while Mr. Naji Fateel and Mr. Abduljalil Al-Singace had been placed in solitary confinement and denied basic medical care and their right to practice their religion. It was also reported that Mr. Abduljalil Al-Singace had been forced to make confessions and his religious books were taken away.

"The fact that their health continues to deteriorate in prison is very concerning," she said. "I urge the State to conduct an impartial and independent investigation into the allegations of torture while in prison."

Other human rights defenders such as Abbas al Omran and Ali Abdulemam were tried in absentia and sentenced to 15 years in prison for forming an illegal organization and spreading false information. They have been granted asylum and currently reside outside of the country. In 2012 and 2015, Bahraini authorities revoked their citizenship.

"The criminalization of human rights defenders in retaliation for their legitimate and peaceful efforts to advocate for the rights of others in Bahrain is concerning not only for the detrimental impact on the lives of those individuals and their families, but for the chilling effect it creates on civic space in the country," Lawlor said.

The expert is in contact with the authorities on this matter.

Lawlor's comments have been endorsed by Ms. Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right to physical and mental health; Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

ENDS

Ms Mary Lawlor, (Ireland) is the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. She is currently an Adjunct Professor of Business and Human Rights in Trinity College Dublin. She was the founder of Front Line Defenders - the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders. As Executive Director from 2001-2016, she represented Front Line Defenders and had a key role in its development. Ms. Lawlor was previously Director of the Irish Office of Amnesty International from 1988 to 2000, after becoming a member of the Board of Directors 1975 and being elected its President from 1983 to 1987.

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures' experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page -Bahrain

For more information and media requests please contact Orsolya Toth (+41 22 917 9913 /ototh@ohchr.org) or write to defenders@ohchr.org

For media enquiries regarding other UN independent experts, please contact Renato de Souza ( +41 22 928 9855 / rrosariodesouza@ohchr.org).

Follow news related to the UN's independent human rights experts on Twitter@UN_SPExperts.

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