UNITED NATIONS

006/95/Add.5 6 Marc 2006 COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS Report submitted by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders, Hina Jilani * The reason for the late submission of this report is the need to reflect the latest information. As it considerably exceeds the word limitation, this report is circulated as received in the languages of submission only. GE.06-12253 (E) 240506 Compilation of developments in the area of human rights defenders E/CN.4/2006/95/Add.5

Introduction 1. The purpose of this report is to identify the main areas of progress and the remaining challenges that need to be addressed in relation to the implementation of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (hereinafter, the Declaration). Eight years after its adoption by the United Nations General Assembly and on the occasion of her final report to the Commission on Human Rights as first mandate holder, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders, finds it important to offer her assessment on the progress made by States in meeting their obligations under the Declaration. She trusts that this report will also provide a clear basis for action by he successor. In order to complete her research and findings and to provide a systematic analysis of developments, the Special Representative sent a questionnaire to all Governments, United Nations Residents Coordinators, relevant intergovernmental organizations, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI) and local and international human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs). This questionnaire is attached in the Annex. The Special Representative would like to note that the following should be considered the first step towards a thorough revolving analysis of the situation for human rights defenders and the implementation of the Declaration globally, which will evolve as further information is received and as situations change. The aim is to provide a regular update of such information, and the Special Representative therefore asks that the present document be regarded as a work in progress. 2. The report contains a compilation of the developments to the situation of human rights defenders and the implementation of the Declaration in 118 countries over the past six years.The countries included in the report are for the most part countries to which the Special Representative has addressed communications on individual cases over the past six years. The assessment also includes countries for which, despite not having been the object of communications, consistent and reliable information has been received in response to her questionnaire. The level of detail provided in the analysis is a reflection of the information available to the Special Representative. 3. The country assessments are primarily based on the responses received by the Special Representative to her questionnaire. In this connection, she is very grateful to the 31 Governments, the 25 United Nations offices in the field and the 13 National Human Rights Institutions that have formally replied to her request for information. She is also very grateful to national, regional and international NGOs who have provided her with specific information on 45 countries. She is very pleased that in some cases, she received information from the Government, United Nations partners, the NHRI and NGOs which allowed her to prepare more comprehensive assessments. She also commends United Nations offices that have organized consultations with relevant United Nations agencies based in the field and local civil society with a view to prepare their input to this report. Such consultations contribute to strengthening cooperation between different stakeholders and to the dissemination of the Declaration. 4. For the purpose of adequately assessing the situation in individual countries, the Special Representative also relied on information received over the course of her mandate. This includes the allegations included in her communications to the Governments and the responses received; reports submitted by States to the United Nations treaty-bodies and the concluding observationsof the latter; findings of other Special Procedures of the Commission on Human Rights; reports of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and other relevant United Nations programmes and agencies and reports of relevant international and regional intergovernmental organizations. The assessment of this information is seen as the first step towards a more comprehensive assessment of the situation for human rights defenders and the implementation of the Declaration on a global scale. 5. Each country assessment is divided into four sections. Firstly, the Special Representative offers a description of the national human rights community: number of NGOs, their respective area of expertise, the local networks, the main challenges they are facing, their relationship withthe authorities, and so on. In this section, she also gives a brief account of the evolution of the human rights situation in the country as well as other factors of social, political and economic background of the country in question that contribute to shaping the environment in which human rights defenders operate and which determines their role and status. 6.The second section consists of an analysis of the international legal framework and the body of ratified conventions, which together with national laws form the juridical framework within which defenders can carry out their activities in the country in question. The Special Representative gives an overview of the main international human rights commitments of the State. According to her, ratification of the core international human rights instruments and 1 relevant regional human rights instruments by the States is an encouraging sign of the country’s commitment to human rights. It is essential to ensure the effective implementation of these treaties in domestic law as well as their application by domestic courts, in particular, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees key rights for human rights defenders. In this section, the Special Representative also outlines the domestic legislation with direct impact on the freedom of defenders, as guaranteed by the Declaration, to conduct their activities. This means looking at the protection of the rights of, amongst other things, freedom of expression, access to information, freedom of assembly and freedom of association. 7. In the third section, the Special Representative further examines specific measures taken at the country level to ensure the implementation of the Declaration. She includes initiatives taken by the Government, including National Human Rights Commissions, and by civil society. She also reports on the cooperation projects from regional and international organizations. 8. In the last section, the Special Representative looks at the communications she has sent to the relevant Government during the past six years, the responses received, and additional information received and from this indicates the main trends that emerge from the information 1 The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its two optional protocols, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its optional protocol, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and its optional protocol, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two optional protocols, and theInternational Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.received. From this she makes an assessment of the main concerns she has in relation to the situation for defenders in the country and how it has developed since the beginning of her mandate. She gives an overview of the categories of defenders that are most included in her communications, the types of work they are involved in to promote and protect human rights, and the kinds of violations they have reportedly been subjected to. She also in this section gives the number of individual cases sent on women human rights defenders and on violations against defenders of women’s rights. Additionally she looks at who the main violators against defenders are alleged to be and she links her main concerns to the relevant provisions of the Declaration where the concerns are serious. 9. In this regard the Special Representative would like to point out that in many cases the information available did not allow her to make a fully comprehensive assessment of trends in the situation for human rights defenders in each country or region. There are several factors that might impact on whether the number and types of communications are high or low, increasing or decreasing from a particular country. These factors include the relative openness of the country in terms of flow of information, the extent to which defenders are worried about retributions from state or non-state actors if they transmit information about the situation in the country, and the extent to which the Declaration and the Special Procedures mechanism are known todefenders in the country. Likewise, an increase or decrease in the communications sent to a specific country might be a result of changes in the above factors rather than changes in the actual situation for defenders in the country. 10. The Special Representative would like to emphasise again that she considers this study to be a first step towards the compiling of an even more comprehensive assessment. The purpose of drawing attention to difficulties and concerns in the following is to identify areas in which there is a need for constructive dialogue and meaningful initiatives to improve the situation. As stated in numerous of the sections, the Special Representative would appreciate receiving additional and updated information from Governments, non-governmental sources, both national and international, on the country-specific situations and the developments in terms of the situation for human rights defenders and the implementation of the Declaration.

Bahrain 150. The Special Representative acknowledges the response from non governmental sources to the questionnaire transmitted for this report. She regrets that she has not received a response from the Government to the questionnaire. The human rights defenders community 151. Bahrain was under Emergency Legislation from 1976 until 1999 when the present King succeeded his father and started liberalizing the country’s political system. The National Action Charter was approved in February 2001, by a referendum. This Charter is to be considered the cornerstone of the Bahrain’s political liberalization program. In October 2002, Bahrainis elected the members of the lower house of Bahrain’s reconstituted bicameral legislature, the National Assembly. Political parties are currently prohibited in Bahrain, however “politically oriented societies” are allowed. The Government has informed the Special Representative that legislation is currently under consideration in the National Assembly which would allow for the full establishment of political parties. 152. According to the information received from non-governmental sources, there are some ten organizations working within the field of human rights in Bahrain. The Bahrain Human Rights Society, established in 2001, produces an annual report with recommendations to the Government on measures to be taken to improve the human rights situation in Bahrain. The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights was active until it was closed by the Government in 2004. These organizations were established with the aim of raising awareness on human rights principles through workshops, seminars and conferences. There are also issue-oriented organizations, such as the Bahrain Women Society, working specifically on the rights of women and children. 153. As of today, Bahrain does not have a national human rights institution and nor a parliamentary human rights committee. In 2004, the efforts of a Shura Council member led tothe establishment of the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society, which reportedly planned tomonitor and report on the human rights situation in the country. The Special Representative would welcome further information on this initiative. Legal framework 154. Bahrain is a State party to a number of international human rights instruments including the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The Special Representative welcomes indications that Bahrain is in the final stages of ratifying the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The latter is a key instrument for the implementation of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders as it guarantees those rights enshrined in the 1998 Declaration on Human Rights Defenders rights essential for defenders to carry out their work in particular freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association. Freedom of expression and access to information 155. The Constitution provides for the freedom of speech and freedom of the press, albeit with certain restrictions. In practice, these rights are limited in particular in relation to the media. Freedom of assembly and freedom of movement 156. While the Constitution provides for the right to free assembly, the law prohibits unauthorized public gatherings of more than five persons and public gatherings or demonstrations must be notified to the Ministry of Interior 24 hours before they take place. The Constitution prohibits restrictions on freedom of movement, except as provided by law and judicial supervision. Freedom of association 157. The Constitution provides for the freedom of association. However, the formation of political parties is not allowed, although the Government has permitted some political societies to run candidates. From 2001, human rights societies were allowed to be formed. The Societies Law No. 21 of 1989 prohibits any activity by an unlicensed society and the Ministry of Labourand Social Affairs, reportedly, has the right to reject the registration of any society whose services are not deemed necessary to society, are already provided by another society, are contrary to state security or are aimed at reviving a previously dissolved society. The Ministry also has the right to appoint management of the societies and to close down any society temporarily. However, the Government has informed the Special Representative that these organizations have registered with the Ministry of Justice after having been denied registration with the Ministry of Social Affairs. 158. Despite some positive developments in terms of establishment and registration of human rights organizations over the past six years, there have been reports that several organizations working on human rights issues have been denied registration. Article 29 of the Constitution requires that only duly constituted organizations and corporate bodies may address public authorities collectively, and has, reportedly, been used to hinder public petition campaigns. 159. As a whole, Bahrain’s international commitments and the domestic legal framework are too inadequate to remove policies and practices that have adverse effects on the work of human rights defenders. Measures taken at national level for the implementation of the Declaration 160. The Special Representative acknowledges the information received from the Government that the National Assembly is currently studying the establishment of a human rights committee. 161. Although she has not yet been able to confirm the trend, the Special Representative has received statements indicating that Bahrain has taken measures in the past years to improve the human rights situation on issues such as torture and arbitrary detention. Fewer steps have, reportedly, been taken to protect human rights defenders and to create an enabling environment for them to work in. 162. The Government has informed the Special Representative that Bahrain is currently in the process of establishing a national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles. Communications and concerns 163. From the establishment of her mandate to 1 December 2005, the Special Representative has sent six communications to the Government on seven individual defenders. Some communications sent concerned the closure of an NGO and most cases related to detention of or accusation against human rights defenders based on reportedly false or unfounded charges of “encouraging hatred of the State” and “distributing falsehoods and rumours”. The Special Representative acknowledges the response from the Government to most of the communications. 164. The Special Representative notes that several defenders were brought to trial for violating articles 165 and 168 of the Bahraini Penal Code for “encouraging hatred of the State” and “distributing falsehoods and rumours”. She is concerned that allegation such as these, frequently imply the risk of suppressing legitimate free speech. The Special Representative would like to remind the Government that she has already communicated her concern over detentions and trials of defenders on the basis of such allegations. 165. She also reiterates her concern voiced in one of her communication at the closing of an organization working to protect and promote human rights. On 28 September 2004, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) was reportedly closed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The official reason stated for the closure was that it was shut down in accordance with the Societies Law No. 21 of 1989. The Government stated that the BCHR had long been operating in violation of this law despite warnings. Prior to the organizations’ closure, the executive director of the centre had been taken into custody and accused, under articles 165 and 168 of the Bahraini Penal Code of “encouraging hatred of the State” and “distributing falsehoods and rumours”. In relation to this case, the Special Representative would like to remind the Government of article 5 of the Declaration which states that “for the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right […] to form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups”. 166. The Special Representative would like to recall the concluding remarks of the Committee Against Torture, stating concern over information received regarding limits on human rights non-governmental organizations to conduct their work, in particular regarding activities relevant to the Convention [against torture], within the country and abroad (CAT/C/CR/34/BHR). 167. The Special Representative emphasizes the importance of implementing legislation protecting freedom of association and freedom of speech in order to provide defenders with the appropriate space to carry out their activity. She reiterates her views that genuine freedom of speech plays a pivotal role in the achievement of the goals that the Bahraini Government has set for itself in relation to human rights. She once again invites the Government to review the relevant regulations, to make sure that Bahrain’s legislation adequately protects the right of persons freely to organize in order to protect human rights.