18 Dec, 2009

Expanding the red lines of criticism in the press

The unspoken rules imposed on journalist and self-censorship

The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights expresses its grave concern over the recent clampdown on freedom of opinion and expression in Bahrain and the expansion of issues that are effective “red lines” in the media defining the scope of the unspoken and unwritten rules of censorship that journalists must observe when discussing certain institutions and people. Often these red lines that limit any criticism are implemented through direct influence of the editors of newspapers. Based on this policy, BCHR has come to learn that the management and editorial board of Albilaad newspaper has informed its journalists and staff by telephone not to address any criticism of the following bodies: the Economic Development Board (EDB), Mumtalakat (sovereign wealth fund) and other organizations related to it, any projects and initiatives governed by the King and his son the Crown Prince.

This comes a month after the reputable journalist, Ali Saleh was stopped from writing for Albilaad newspaper by direct order from the Royal court due to a series of articles he had written discussing the so-called reform process by the King of Bahrain. This seems to have set a dangerous precedent in the newspaper whereby it has threatened to apply the rule across journalists urging them to follow a more positive tone when addressing the King and his son’s projects to appease the watchful eyes of the Royal Court and to avoid angering them in the future.

What is worrying is the increase in the number of articles and journalists that are being censored directly by officials and or are exercising self-censorship. This level of coercion and control on the media through the blocking of websites and the restriction of the press has lead to the regression of Bahrain’s position on international freedom rankings.

Besides the usual methods of restricting media freedom through legal actions and removing articles from the press and preventing journalists the opportunity to continue writing locally, it is also common practice that journalists are threatened or blackmailed directly or indirectly by members of authority in such places as the Royal Court, the Prime Minister’s Court, or the Foreign media department in the Information Ministry. Journalists that breach the red line rule often get sidelined, do not receive invitations to cover big events and occasions, or their respective newspapers are punished by reducing the government advertising that they receive.

Albilaad newspaper is one of the newest in Bahrain and is suspected to be owned by the Prime Minister, Khalifa bin Salman Alkhalifa, and the newspaper’s Chairman, Abdulnabi Al-Shi’ila, is a former minister and current advisor to the PM. The majority of newspapers in Bahrain are in some way controlled by either the King or the PM, either through direct funding or through indirect means of influencing its editorial agenda.

This policy of censorship in Bahrain is in conflict with the principles of freedom of opinion and expression of international treaties and conventions that Bahrain has signed up to, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, wherein article 19 states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

As a result of these ongoing practices to repress journalistic freedom, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights demands that the red lines on journalism are removed, that all practices of authoritarian coercion and control using carrot and stick policies are stopped, and policies that support old and new media’s access to information, freedom independence are allowed and encouraged. These measures would protect the principles of a basic democratic state and their absence and use of propaganda will continue to taint the Bahraini government’s international and domestic reputation.

THE BCHR also calls for the return of Ali Saleh to his previous post in Albilaad newspaper and condemns his use as a scapegoat in the battle of influence and control by the political factions of the ruling family that seek to dominate the press. BCHR urges other journalists to stand in solidarity and support with their colleague, and hopes that the Bahrain’s Society of Journalists takes the appropriate measures necessary to ensure that basic principles of objective journalism and journalist rights are protected, and that the Society supports all cases where journalists are pressured and threatened when writing the truth or exposing corruption being perpetrated by certain political parties and individuals in Bahrain. The Society may not agree with what a journalist says, but it must support their right to say it.

BHRC also urges the government to focus on policies that build an independent and transparent free press, rather their recent attacks and criticism of human rights activists that seek to deliver their regular reports on the human rights situation in the country to international NGOs much to official disdain.

Date : 18 - 12- 2009 Bahrain Centre For Human Rights

15 Dec, 2009

Women Migrant Workers

  • Click here to give Migrant Domacratic Workers a weekly Day Off
  • Human Rights for Domestic Workers Date: 14/12/2009 - 15:59 Women Migrant Workers CARAM Asia a regional network of 34 NGOs and trade unions across 17 countries in Asia makes the call to governments across the globe to respect the rights and dignity of migrant workers especially domestic workers.

    We urge governments especially host countries that employ migrant labour to amend restrictive legislation to include provisions and minimum labour standards for domestic workers.

    We further call upon all employers, as important non state actors, to recognize that the time has come to put all poor practices aside and accord migrant workers, especially domestic workers (MDWs) a weekly paid day off from work.

    The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that there are more than a million women who engage in domestic work worldwide. There are over 300,000 MDWs in Malaysia, about 70,000 in Bahrain, and the more than 200,000 respectively in Singapore, Thailand and Lebanon.

    The statistics continue to alarm us. In the past 5 months, three Indonesian migrant workers were tortured to death by their Malaysian employers. In Lebanon, at least 10 women have died, either by hanging themselves or by falling from tall buildings over the past two months, in desperation to escape.

    CARAM Asia’s member in Singapore, the Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (H.O.M.E.) respond to more than 3000 calls in a year on their helpline for migrant workers. All the MDWs in those cases suffer from some form of mental abuse. They are overworked without any rest days, employers breach contractual obligations and placed them on debt bondage. Such complaints usually result in repatriation without any form of compensation for the exploited worker.

    A weekly paid day off for MDWs will not only prevent suicides, and gender based violence and torture, most importantly it will grant an opportunity for tortured MDWs to escape abuse or exploitation.

    Such a move will act as a progression in line with international labour and human rights standards. 186 countries have adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and therefore bound by its terms. The General Comment 26 of the CEDAW Convention acknowledges that domestic work should be protected by labour laws and entitled to holiday and vocation leave regulations.

    Next year, the International Labour Organization (ILO) will start working on the process of adopting a new minimum labour standard for domestic workers that could possibly lead to a new specific Domestic Workers Convention. With the international community moving towards acknowledging the labour rights of domestic workers, we urge governments of host countries, to develop minimum standards of human rights for these workers, and strongly urge employers across the Asian continuum to move away from the slavery practice of binding workers to work without a day off.

    Referenced contacts:

    15 Dec, 2009

    'Truth' commission launched

    'Truth' commission launched By REBECCA TORR AN independent commission that aims to document the accounts of victims of alleged gross human rights violations was launched at National Democratic Action Society (NDAS) last night.

    The Truth Commission has been set up by a coalition of political and human rights societies to help bring justice and reconciliation to victims of abuse, particularly former inmates who allegedly suffered while in prison.

    The body will be tasked with collecting prison files and testimonies of victims of gross human rights violations.

    Perpetrators of violence will also be encouraged to give their testimonies.

    A documentation centre will be set up and each testimony will be taken in the presence of witnesses.

    The commission will be assisted by various human rights organisations, including International Centre for Transitional Justice.

    The commission's board and action plan will be decided and announced at subsequent meetings.

    "All countries, like South Africa, that have gone through torture go through a truth and reconciliation process," NDAS secretary-general Ebrahim Sharif Al Sayed told the GDN.

    "All countries that went through a dark time have to go through this," he said.

    "There are thousands in Bahrain that went through prisons in the 1990s and before and they went through a lot of pain.

    "Thousands of others were also in exile," he said.

    Mr Al Sayed said various human rights and political groups had been urging the government to set up a truth and reconciliation commission since 2001, but nothing had been done.

    He said while the government had given amnesty to exiles, prisoners and perpetrators, this was not enough and there needed to be reconciliation and compensation.

    Victims were not asking for revenge, but if wounds were to be closed the truth needed to come out, he added.

    "People that committed these crimes need to tell their stories and say sorry," said Mr Al Sayed.

    "People are willing to forgive, they won't forget, but they can forgive if they receive an apology.

    "We had been pushing the government to form a truth and reconciliation committee headed by a prominent figure.

    "However, the government refused so instead we started the first part which is a truth commission.

    "It won't be a substitute for a government/non-governmental organisation commission but at least we will be able to document the alleged atrocities of the last 30 years or more before some of the victims die," he added.

    "So whenever the government acknowledges their testimonies and sets up a truth and reconciliation commission, even if it's in 20 years, they will have all the information." becky@gdn.com.bh

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    © Gulf Daily News

    http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/Print.aspx?storyid=266561

    12 Dec, 2009

    Women in Bahrain : Victims of Political Agenda and Propaganda

    Banned in Bahrain from publication in the local newspapers Women in Bahrain; Victims of Political Agenda and Propaganda A Screen Report of Some Violations Against Women in Bahrain

    Women’s Petition Committee - BAHRAIN 10 December 2009 International Human Rights Day

    The Bahraini Authorities stepped up the political propaganda built on the exploitation of women for promotional purposes, without a real evolution of women’s legal, civil, political, economical, social or cultural rights.

    While authorities are promoting the involvement of women in the political scene and presenting the program as a proof of progress and reforms, in reality, the program is limited in practice by employing a limited number of women in high positions selected on the basis of political and sectarian affiliation, and not on sound career qualifications, a process which discriminates against thousands of qualified women due to their gender, sectarian and tribal affiliation. As for participation in the democratic process, the government is over-promoting training programs that aims at preparing tens of women to participate in the municipality and parliamentary elections. However in reality, the councils do not have real power, and the election of women or men to these councils does not entitle them to effective decision making capabilities, a function which continues to be controlled by the ruling elite from outside these councils.

    In terms of social and economical rights, Bahraini women suffer from a decline in living standards, especially in the case of women with lower educational qualifications which are obliged to accept low-paid jobs. Other women were deprived from social protection, such as divorcees, widows, abandoned women, and orphans, forcing them into prostitution under the watch of authorities. Yet others reverted to demining jobs and work as house maids, which weakens the family structure and ultimately forces the children into delinquent behavior. In fact, the prevalence of human trafficking crimes coupled with the authorities’ complacency in combating these crimes, contributed to the spread of such social disorders in the society.

    At a time when the voices are raising in support of (and against) the issuance of a family law that protects families and underprivileged women (divorcees, widows and orphans) from the grasp of certain members of the society, and from the corrupted, mismanaged and incompetent Sharia Court judges, the Authorities, lead by the Royal Court, continue to exploit the issue of the law as a pressure tool to achieve political agenda and blackmail the religious forces in the country, without consideration for the lives of hundreds of women and children suffering as a result. This occurs as the ruling party continues to appoint judges in the Sharia Courts on the basis of their political affiliation rather than competence and integrity.

    Various civil society organizations are playing a vital role in defending women’s rights, yet the legal constraints and practical harassments from authorities, limit the effectiveness of these organizations. Furthermore, the role of the civil society organizations is further weakened by governmental organizations (GONGOS) that pretend to operate under the cover of the law and in organizational format, such as the Supreme Council for Women, which is merely a political propaganda tool for the ruling party and the wives of the top officials in the country. The Women’s Petition Committee calls upon the authorities in Bahrain to refrain from politicizing woman rights and manipulating her rights for the political agenda for the ruling elite. The committee calls upon the authorities to embrace upon a series of reforms that will give women their rights and obligations as citizens of the country. This encompasses overcoming all difficulties and obstacles that prevent maintenance of these rights by filling the short legislative vacuum being at the forefront of these issues.

    Justice, Judges and the Court

    By the end of 2008, there were more than 900 unsolved divorce cases at the Sharia Courts, in comparison to 600 cases in 2001, an increase of 50%, i.e. an increase of 50 cases per year. This downfall in the performance of the courts is not primarily due to the legislative vacuum in relation to family affairs, but also, because of the poor performance and efficiency of the unqualified judges and judicial enforcement bodies. In fact, the selection process for judges in Bahrain does not depend upon the criteria of professionalism, competency, and required qualifications of objectivity, education, integrity and independence; rather, it is based upon political and tribal affiliation, and the degree of the judge’s compliance and loyalty to the Royal Court.

    Moreover, the judicial system lacks oversight bodies that monitor the performance of judges to ensure their compliance and prevent violations. The local courts are also characterized by widespread ethical and administrative corruption in the judicial process, and its submission to guidance and influence beyond the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice. Such authorities intervene in the judicial process and its rulings to achieve personal gains.

    In fact, Bahraini women suffered to large extent from corruption in the judicial and executive bodies, as well as from playing with the existing Sharia rulings which was the primary reason for the formation of the Women’s Petition Committee. Many of the cases of violations were documented in "The Executioner and the Victim in Sharia Courts", a book issued by the Women’s Petition Committee. As a result of numerous activities performed by the Committee, some judges implicated in suspicious cases in the aforementioned document, were dismissed.

    The judicial system continues to lack objectivity and independence criteria due to the absence of oversight mechanisms that regulate the selection process in the judicial system. Moreover, it is short of serious and effective training programs and promotion regulations as per the well-known international standards.

    The social status of women: Human trafficking

    Despite the appeals by various parties, the local Authorities continue to ignore flagrant violations of women’s rights in Bahrain. Presented under the cover of tourism and promotion of investments, the Authorities are tolerating the revival of an underground prostitution mafia, taking advantage of the economical situation and the distressed financial needs of women. According to 2006 statistics, there are more than 117 hotels and 40 tourist buildings in Bahrain, which include furnished apartments rented out on hourly or daily basis. These premises provide connections and dance halls that hosts females, as ‘entertainers’, who dance in sexually seductive outfits and nurture a legalized environment of vice and prostitution. Reports confirm that 90% of those female ‘entertainers’ have never engaged in artistic entertainment before. Research suggests that they were lured into the country to work as waitresses, but later forced into prostitution as ‘artists and entertainers.

    International reports and local media coverage forced the Authorities to close a number of these halls, which became widely known as centers for prostitution and human trafficking. As a result, approximately 190 defendants were charged with various offenses related to the facilitation and promotion of prostitution. Moreover, 3 hotels and 9 furnished apartment buildings were closed down due to their involvement in the crimes. However, owners of these doomed hotels filled the front pages of newspapers in protest of the closures, and tapped into their networks of influence. Soon after, the campaign to combat prostitution and human trafficking came to a halt. Evidently it was clear that the human trafficking mafia in Bahrain is well connected with high state actors. Shortly after that, the media were ordered to seize coverage of the topic, and soon after that, the doomed hotels reopened their doors.

    The other aspect of human trafficking market is centered in the furnished apartments. There are more than 60 buildings having apartments which are rented out on a daily or hourly basis, without permission and in the absence of any governmental supervision. Illegal residents (run-away workers, holders of temporary visas who do not wish to leave the country after the expiration of their visa obtained in certain special occasion like Formula I and others) occupy furnished apartments working on satisfying the demands of those seeking ‘sexual pleasure’, with the assistance of brokers who tour hotels and dance halls referred to previously. These apartments became refuge for ‘free visa’ migrant workers who are brought to the country by influential and corrupt figures, exploiting their contacts with officials in the Government, and allowed to work freely in return for BD 300-400 per month without any form of job assurance or accommodation security.

    In these apartments, also, unknown number of underprivileged Bahraini women, such as divorcees, widows as well as those bearing responsibility for their children, work as prostitutes. This includes minors, exploited or lured to work in prostitution, a money-making business, in order to meet for their needs. In fact, a study published by the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights revealed that there are more than 50 websites promoting and establishing contacts with prostitutes of different nationalities based in Bahrain. The report stated that at a particular moment, there were more than 13,500 requests for prostitution in Bahrain alone.

    The legislations and legal protection

    The Authorities have been investing in getting applauses for allowing women to participate in the political arena, a constitutional right of all Bahraini women as citizens of the country. ‘Women’ coated slogans have been exploited to gain regional and international admiration, particularly following the appointment of women in several key positions including: a ministerial position in the executive branch, an ambassador in the diplomatic service, and a judge in the judicial system. Irrespective of the public relations and activities abroad to promote for the Bahrain ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women ‘CEDAW’, the truth remains that human rights women status, specially the legislative and practical aspects, continue to suffer, regardless of the women right campaigns and other social activities demanding the betterment of women’s legislative status.

    Among legislations which Bahraini women are calling for or demanding their modifications in accordance with their human rights are:

    1. Family-Personal Status- law: (The Sunni version of the law was passed, leaving behind the Shiite version, which violates the country’s constitution as more than half of the population will be excluded from this judicial process and deepens the sectarian division in the country(

    Passing this law is no longer considered an option, rather a necessity, as it has been proven to everybody the wide spread shortcomings, corruption and negligence in Sharia Courts, as well as the manipulative acts exercised by their judges, many of whom are unqualified, incompetent, and misuse their positions for personal gains. Although there were numerous calls to pass the law, while the convection to its need exists, the Authorities exploited the reservation of some religious positions on some of its articulations, its legislative issuance mechanism and future amendments, to exert pressure in the interest of specific political agendas. This is done on the expense of those women who continued to suffer from the absence of the law. It is to be mentioned that the Family Law went through periods of ebb tide and flow controlled by the Authorities whenever the opportunity to exert pressure on religious groups rises. The latest attempt was in February 2009 when an official resolution was issued to withdraw the draft law as a result of a controversy imposed on by religious and social powers who went into deliberations and bargains to achieve some political gains. The Royal Court was the key player in the manipulation of this right, through its contacts with these religious powers and by controlling the exposure of the subject media and societal wise, whenever the political need rises.

    2. Revise the Nationality Law (a draft law is not yet released):

    The current Nationality Law of 1963 deprives the children of Bahraini women from their right to hold a Bahraini citizenship, even if the father is stateless. This law has severe repercussions on the Bahraini mother and treat her children, including the minors, as foreigners, and are required by law to obtain a residency permit (visa) through a legal guardian. Moreover, these children are denied other basic rights such as public housing, free health care, free education and scholarships, as offered to other citizens. To add to the calamity of the situation, should the Bahraini mother separates, divorces, or is widowed, she is then required to provide the legal residency for her children to stay with her since they are considered by law as non-Bahrainis.

    Although a resolution was recently issued by the ruler of Bahrain to grant the children of the Bahraini women, married from a non-Bahraini, the right to citizenship, this should be integrated into a law that protects the rights of women and their children, rather than subjecting it to gestures and interventions which aim to achieve political gains. In conclusion, the Nationality Law must be amended to eliminate the shortcoming in woman rights and secure equality for her as a citizen similar to the man.

    3. Law for the protection from domestic violence (Currently, there is no law that serves this purpose):

    Courts are mounting with cases of domestic abuse by a member of the family against the other like the father, the mother, or others. For one reason or another, currently there is a legal vacuum leaving families unprotected from the ill-treatment of fathers, let alone sexual or ethical molestations on members of the family. The absence of deterrent measures to abusive behavior by the head of the family results in physiological damages to victims and unbound in family ties as well as expose the mother and her children to physical and psychological pressures ending up in forcing members of the family into deviant social behavior.

    4. Law of Social security and care to those of special needs

    Due to family disintegration caused by death of its caretaker, divorce or abandonment, there is a great need for a social security code that could minimize the effects of that breakdown and prevent its deterioration to the rest of the society through behaviors of children deprived from family care. In local society, the family is heavily dependent on the father financially and as the primary caretaker, and in his absence, the family’s source of finance is disrupted. Children also miss the role of the father as care taker devoted to their well being. In such instance, mother , and due to the financial pressure, is compelled to seek a source of financial income and get employed in jobs which take most of her time from her family. In other adverse opportunities, she could be lured, or consider unethical professions, such as prostitution, as a quick way to secure financial needs.

    Moreover, and particularly in divorce cases, the divorcee is usually forced to seek shelter by returning to her father's house if it exists. Otherwise, the divorced mother and her children are compelled to turn to the street, as it happened to Safiah Ahmed who suffered for 5 years after divorce, looking for a shelter for her and her children. Safiah had no resort but to protest with her daughter in front of the Ministry of Housing in demand of a place to stay with her daughter. In another choice, the divorcee is obliged to accept any form of shelter for her and her children, even if it is a room, as it happened to Mrs. ‘Um Ali’, a divorcee who stayed for more than 8 years living in a house extension along with her 6 children.

    On the other hand, there is a legislative vacuum to sponsor women of special needs. In addition to the deprivation of the rights to remarry, because of the social constraints, those with special needs receive less attention, such as those requiring special and proper medical treatment and care, as well as suitable recruitment. Such retardation towards treating women in need of special services leaves them with utter isolation and seclusion.

    5. Absence of procedures and provisions deterrent to human trafficking and exploitation of minors

    Unless the Authorities take on preemptive steps and serious measures to combat and prevent human trafficking, women suffering will augment, as figures are staggering and flagrant in this direction. The initial attempts, which were disrupted and discontinued as a result of intervention by persons of influence, the prosecutions against offenders of human trafficking and other charges which include prostitution, illegal residence and abuse of minors were diluted to sentences of imprisonment of 6 to 12 months. Such retribution does not reflect the seriousness of the crimes, and reaffirms the collusion of criminals of and violators of women's rights and certain figureheads in the authority.

    Women’s Organizations

    Despite the establishment of a number of social organizations specialized in women and children issues, but because of the legalized constraints on such entities, their role has been limited to a narrow range of issues ranging from social, cultural and informational, rather than dedicating their resources and capabilities to achieve genuine reforms for women. According to the internationally denounced Civic Societies Decree of 1989, these organizations are forbidden from dealing with all public affairs issues, as stipulated in article 18 of that law.

    The other reason for the ineffectiveness of these organizations is the lack of logistical and financial support, directly from the Government or though the international funding programs. Moreover, any contacts between the local societies with the international NGO's, seeking funding, strengthening relationships, exchange of expertise and representation, without the prior approval and consent of the Social Affairs Ministry, are considered violation of the law, exposing these organizations to punishment and dissolution.

    Local women organizations also lack administrative, technical and legislative developmental capabilities, obtainable only though training programs and workshops. This is obvious due to the inavailability of direct and indirect means of funding and financial support.

    In this context, reference is made to two main organizations:

    The Women's Union - an umbrella for certain women's associations in Bahrain, known of its affiliation to some political organizations. According to the Women’s Union bylaw, no women, irrespective of her activities or capabilities, to join the Union unless she joins one of those associations. Consequently, this elite Union is deprived from representing large segments of Bahraini women or play a genuine and influential role in the maintenance of and defending women’s rights.

    Furthermore, the Bahraini Authorities ensured that area of maneuverability of this elite Union is curtailed, regardless of the dedication of its members who represent specific and limited women societies in Bahrain. Unless the Union opens its door to all women, regardless of their ideological affiliation, and obtains proper funding to support its activities to play more effective role in community support, cultural and social security reforms, the Union will continue to be ineffective and incapable of reforming the status quo, or in preventing the infliction of harm on women. Instead, the Union will add to the official establishment another "color" to improve its image among the international community.

    The Supreme Council for Women (SCW), the other organization, established to represent women of Bahrain, but ended up manipulating women’s affairs to promote and complement the interests of the regime at the expense of reforming women’s rights. The SCW was established on 22 August 2001 according to an Amiri Decree no 44 of 2001, modified in the same year by Decree no 55, the Amiri Order no 2 of 2002, and the Royal Order no. 36 of 2004. It is an official entity reporting directly to the King and not a social organization. According to the forming decrees, the SCW is a reference to all official bodies in the country with regards to women’s affairs, and specializes on presenting advise as well as decision on matters related to the status of women. The SCW is chaired by Sheikha Sabika bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, the wife of the King of Bahrain, who owns the decision to choose her deputy. The Council consists of 16 female figures, appointed by a Royal decree for renewable term of 3 years.

    Since its establishment and the repetition of key figures in the composition of the SCW, it is evident that the Council operates under the strict control of women from the ruling family, in addition to other women from both tribal families and those loyal to the regime in exchange for personal gains.

    The Council is effectively managed by Lulwa Al- Awadi, the Council’s General Secretary at the rank of a minister. Lulwa is a lawyer by profession and to ensure her sole loyalty and allegiance, a decree was dedicated to exonerate her from the commitments of the Lawyers law, which bans law practitioners from taking any official posts while running their law firms. The SCW deputy chair is Maryam Hasan Al-Khalifa, the former president of the University of Bahrain who contributed in setting out sectarian divisions and the principles of partisanship and loyalty in appointments and promotions on the expense of academic norms. The SCW contains members like Wessal Al Khalifa, wife of Khalid Ahmed Al Khalifa, the Foreign Affairs Minister, and Hessa Al Khalifa, wife of Abdullah Ben Hamad Al Khalifa, the King’s son and Governor of the Southern Governorate. Other members of the Council are vesting their time into fulfilling their personal and family gains.

    Despite the passage of eight years on the establishment of the SCW, which announced that it would be a champion of women's rights in Bahrain, yet the reality remains that the Council plays a role in manipulating the country’s resources, in the form of promotional programs and activities for women inside and outside Bahrain. This came also in the form of the appointments of incompetent officials in the Council, chosen on the basis of their tribal and utilitarian loyalty. In fact, although the Council claims to be a defender of women’s rights, it undertook an essential role in fulfilling the agenda of the Royal Court through the utilization of certain legislations, particularly the Family and Nationality laws, as political bargaining tools to gain political preeminence

    Moreover, the role of the Council was previously described in the report of Dr. Salah Al Bandar, a former advisor to the Government of Bahrain, which focused on the manipulation of votes, resulting in the unanimous election of Latifa Al-Quood in the House of Representatives, representing the uninhabited island of Hawar. This nomination came as a result of an agreement between the Royal Court and the Council, where the SCW played a vital role. Another role played by the SCW and mentioned in the said Al Bandar report, is fortifying the spirit of conspiracy and sectarianism against women in Bahrain, by limiting the role of certain social organizations and penetrating the leadership ranks of others. To fulfill this objective, the Council utilized the authoritative support offered by the Royal Court, in addition to unlimited media and financial assistance.

    Demands

    The Women’s Petition Committee expresses its deep concern regarding the deteriorating status of women’s legislative rights throughout the past ten years, and remains greatly troubled by the unrealistic depiction of women’s status and the peculiar reflection of legislative rights in Bahrain in the country’s political propaganda.

    Throughout the years, women suffered greatly due to legislative and social restrictions, yet instead of dedicating the necessary state resources to improve their social and economical rights, they are continued to be manipulated to suit certain political agendas. Although some women were chosen to key positions in the political forefront, the selection process was not based on their professional qualification, but rather on standards set by the Royal Court that include tribal affiliations, sectarianism and loyalty, and to work as media promotion to achieve political gains.

    As a result, the Women’s Petition Committee demands the following:

    1. To acknowledge women rights in Bahrain, as citizens of the country, cease the use of feminist slogans as part of political propaganda, and to abolish all organizations established to work along these deceptive agenda, the Supreme Council for Women being at the forefront of such organizations.

    2. Introduce or enact legislations that protects the rights of women:

    a. A family law suited for all religious sectors, to protect the rights of women in line with international women rights doctrines, and applied upon all women in Bahrain including members of the royal family. b. The revision of the Nationality Law to ensure that the children of Bahraini women have the right to gain citizenship of their mothers. c. A law that protects against violence within the family d. A social security law for unprivileged women and those handicapped, disabled and of special needs. e. A law that criminalizes human trafficking including all forms of discrimination against women, abuse of minors, and extortion of the underprivileged.

    3. Cease all forms of discrimination against women at work in all official, legislative and social organizations. This includes developing a mechanism to implement the principles of CEDAW, and end all forms of career advancements on the basis of sectarian or tribal loyalties.

    4. To give real chance for independent women’s organizations to exercise its activities and provide them with the financial and logistical support, as well as eliminate all obstacles that impede their effectiveness and independence

    For further information:

    Ghada Yousif Jamsheer

    Head of Women's Petition Committee Kingdom of Bahrain

    Email: ghadajamsheer@hotmail.com Blog: www.bahrain-eve.blogspot.com TEL: 00973-3968-0807 FAX: 00973-1769-4422

    12 Dec, 2009

    Lord Avebury invite you for seminar on Bahrain human rights

    Lord Avebury, the Vice-Chairman of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group

    Cordially invites you to a seminar on

    Bahrain: New testimonies of repression and torture

    How compatible are human rights violations with democracy? Come and listen to first hand experiences of repression. Show your support to victims in the kingdom of torture

    11.00 AM, Wednesday 16th December 2009

    Committee Room 4A, House of Lords, London SW1A 0PW

    For further information please contact: Lord Avebury: 020 7274 4617, Email: ericavebury@gmail.com

    10 Dec, 2009

    Bahrain: King Should Halt Execution

    .Bahrain: King Should Halt Execution Nation Has Resumed Using Death Penalty After Decades Without It December 9, 2009 Other Material: Bahrain: Migrant Workers Denied Pay, Right to Travel Bahrain: Labor Reforms a Major Advance ."In law and practice, a growing majority of countries have rejected capital punishment, even for the most serious offenses...For a long time, Bahrain appeared to be part of this consensus, but this sentence, following the executions in 2006, calls that into question." .Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director .(New York) -Bahrain's king, Shaikh Hamad Bin Isa al-Khalifa, should halt plans to execute a man for a 2005 killing, Human Rights Watch said today. For many years, Bahrain observed a de facto moratorium on the death penalty. However, with three executions in 2006 and the pending sentence for Jassim Abdulmanan, Bahrain appears to be moving against the international trend away from capital punishment.

    In January 2007, Bahrain's High Criminal Court sentenced Abdulmanan, a citizen of Bangladesh, to death by firing squad for the 2005 murder. The sentence was upheld on three appeals, including a final ruling on November by the Court of Cassation. The only hope of overturning the sentence lies with Shaikh Hamad, who must ratify all execution orders. Should Shaikh Hamad approve Abdulmanan's sentence, he could face execution within a week, according to Bahraini human rights activists.

    "In law and practice, a growing majority of countries have rejected capital punishment, even for the most serious offenses," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "For a long time, Bahrain appeared to be part of this consensus, but this sentence, following the executions in 2006, calls that into question."

    Two other Bangladeshi men were convicted of taking part in the same murder but received life sentences that the Supreme Appeals Court later reduced to 15-year prison terms.

    From 1977 to 2006, Bahrain had not executed anyone, except for a single execution in 1996, a time of great political turmoil. But in December 2006, the government executed three other foreign citizens -- a Bangladeshi man and woman, and a Pakistani man convicted in two separate murder cases. According to the Rome based organization Hands Off Cain, which monitors death penalty cases globally, three inmates are on death row in Bahrain.

    Internationally, 94 countries have abolished the death penalty in law and only a small number of countries - 25 in 2008 - continue to carry out executions.

    Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all cases as a violation of the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment.

    "With his authority to reject this death sentence, Shaikh Hamad has an opportunity to show the Arab region and the world that Bahrain respects fundamental rights and human dignity," Stork said. "If Bahrain executes Abdulmanan, it will be a setback to efforts to bring Arab countries and Iran into the ranks of the many states that no longer tolerate capital punishment."

    http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/12/09/bahrain-king-should-halt-execution

    9 Dec, 2009

    2009 Report on Human Rights in the Arab World: Bastion of Impunity, Mirage of Reform | 08/12/2009

    In Bahrain, the systematic discrimination against the Shiite majority was accompanied by more repression of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Human rights defenders increasingly became targets for arrest, trial, and smear campaigns. Some human rights defenders were even subjected by government agents to threats and intimidation while in Europe.

    2009 Report on Human Rights in the Arab World: Bastion of Impunity, Mirage of Reform | 08/12/2009

    "Embrace diversity, end discrimination" Human Rights Day 2009

    "A man spends his first years learning how to speak and the Arab regimes teach him silence for the rest of his life" Algerian writer Ahlem Mosteghanemi, Memory in the Flesh

    Bastion of Impunity, Mirage of Reform 2009 Report on Human Rights in the Arab Region

    Press Release

    Today the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies released its second annual report on the state of human rights in the Arab world for the year 2009. The report, entitled Bastion of Impunity, Mirage of Reform, concludes that the human rights situation in the Arab region has deteriorated throughout the region over the last year.

    The report reviews the most significant developments in human rights during 2009 in 12 Arab countries: Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen. It also devotes separate chapters to the Arab League and an analysis of the performance of Arab governments in UN human rights institutions. Another chapter addresses the stance of Arab governments concerning women’s rights, the limited progress made to advance gender equality, and how Arab governments use the issue of women’s rights to burnish their image before the international community while simultaneously evading democratic and human rights reform measures required to ensure dignity and equality for all of their citizens. .

    The report observes the grave and ongoing Israeli violations of Palestinian rights, particularly the collective punishment of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip through the ongoing blockade and the brutal invasion of Gaza at the beginning of 2009 which resulted in the killing of more than 1,400 Palestinians, 83 percent of them civilians not taking part in hostilities. The report notes that the plight of the Palestinian people has been exacerbated by the Fatah-Hamas conflict, which has turned universal rights and liberties into favors granted on the basis of political affiliation. Both parties have committed grave abuses against their opponents, including arbitrary detention, lethal torture, and extrajudicial killings.

    The deterioration in Yemeni affairs may presage the collapse of what remains of the central state structure due to policies that give priority to the monopolization of power and wealth, corruption that runs rampant, and a regime that continues to deal with opponents using solely military and security means. As such, Yemen is now the site of a war in the northern region of Saada, a bloody crackdown in the south, and social and political unrest throughout the country. Moreover, independent press and human rights defenders who expose abuses in both the north and south are targets of increasingly harsh repression.

    In its blatant contempt for justice, the Sudanese regime is the exemplar for impunity and the lack of accountability. President Bashir has refused to appear before the International Criminal Court in connection with war crimes in Darfur. Instead, his regime is hunting down anyone in the country who openly rejects impunity for war crimes, imprisoning and torturing them and shutting down rights organizations. Meanwhile the government’s policy of collective punishment against the population of Darfur continues, as well as its evasion of responsibilities under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the north and south, making secession a more likely scenario, which may once again drag the country into a bloody civil war.

    In Lebanon, the threat of civil war that loomed last year has receded, but the country still suffers from an entrenched two-tier power structure in which Hizbullah’s superior military capabilities give the opposition an effective veto. As a result, the state’s constitutional institutions have been paralyzed.

    In this context it took several months for the clear winner in the parliamentary elections to form a government. Now, even after the formation of a government, the unequal military balance of power between the government and the opposition will prevent serious measures to guarantee all parties accountable before the law, and greatly undermine the possibility of delivering justice for the many crimes and abuses experienced by the Lebanese people over the last several years.

    Although Iraq is still the largest arena of violence and civilian deaths, it witnessed a relative improvement in some areas, though these gains remain fragile. The death toll has dropped and threats against journalists are less frequent. In addition, some of the major warring factions have indicated they are prepared to renounce violence and engage in the political process.

    In Egypt, as the state of emergency approaches the end of its third decade, the broad immunity given to the security apparatus has resulted in the killing of dozens of undocumented migrants, the use of lethal force in the pursuit of criminal suspects, and routine torture. Other signs of deterioration were visible in 2009: the emergency law was applied broadly to repress freedom of expression, including detaining or abducting bloggers. Moreover, the Egyptian police state is increasingly acquiring certain theocratic features, which have reduced some religious freedoms, and have lead to an unprecedented expansion of sectarian violence within the country.

    In Tunisia, the authoritarian police state continued its unrestrained attacks on political activists, journalists, human rights defenders, trade unionists, and others involved in social protest. At the same time, the political stage was prepared for the reelection of President Ben Ali through the introduction of constitutional amendments that disqualified any serious contenders.

    In Algeria, the emergency law, the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation, and the application of counterterrorism measures entrenched policies of impunity, grave police abuses, and the undermining of accountability and freedom of expression. Constitutional amendments paved the way for the installment of President Bouteflika as president for life amid elections that were contested on many levels, despite the lack of real political competition.

    Morocco, unfortunately, has seen a tangible erosion of the human rights gains achieved by Moroccans over the last decade. A fact most clearly seen in the failure if the government to adopt a set of institutional reforms within the security and judicial sectors intended to prevent impunity for crimes. Morocco’s relatively improved status was also undermined by the intolerance shown for freedom of expression, particularly for expression touching on the king or the royal family, or instances of institutional corruption. Protests against the status of the Moroccan-administered Western Sahara region were also repressed and several Sahrawi activists were referred to a military tribunal for the first time in 14 years.

    As Syria entered its 47th year of emergency law, it continued to be distinguished by its readiness to destroy all manner of political opposition, even the most limited manifestations of independent expression. The Kurdish minority was kept in check by institutionalized discrimination, and human rights defenders were targets for successive attacks. Muhannad al-Hassani, the president of the Sawasiyah human rights organization, was arrested and tried, and his attorney, Haitham al-Maleh, the former chair of the Syrian Human Rights Association, was referred to a military tribunal. The offices of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression were shut down, and Syrian prisons still hold dozens of prisoners of conscience and democracy advocates.

    In Bahrain, the systematic discrimination against the Shiite majority was accompanied by more repression of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Human rights defenders increasingly became targets for arrest, trial, and smear campaigns. Some human rights defenders were even subjected by government agents to threats and intimidation while in Europe.

    In Saudi Arabia, the report notes that the Monarch’s speeches urging religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue abroad have not been applied inside the Kingdom, where the religious police continue to clamp down on personal freedom. Indeed, repression of religious freedoms is endemic, and the Shiite minority continues to face systematic discrimination. Counterterrorism policies were used to justify long-term arbitrary detention, and political activists advocating reform were tortured. These policies also undermined judicial standards, as witnessed by the prosecution of hundreds of people in semi-secret trials over the last year.

    In tandem with these grave abuses and the widespread lack of accountability for such crimes within Arab countries, the report notes that various Arab governments and members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference have been working in concert within UN institutions to undermine international mechanisms and standards for the protection of human rights. On this level, Arab governments have sought to undercut provisions that bring governments to account or seriously assess and monitor human rights. This is most clearly illustrated by the broad attack on independent UN human rights experts and NGOs working within the UN, as well as attempts to legalize international restrictions on freedom of expression through the pretext of prohibiting “defamation of religions.”

    In the same vein, the Arab League and its summit forums offered ongoing support for the Bashir regime in Sudan despite charges of war crimes, and members of the organization used the principle of national sovereignty as a pretext to remain silent about or even collaborate on grave violations in several Arab states. Little hope should be invested in the Arab League as a protector of human rights regionally. Indeed, the Arab Commission on Human Rights, created by the Arab Charter on Human Rights (a weak document compared to other regional charters), is partially composed of government officials, and the secretariat of the Arab League has begun to take measures to weaken the Commission, including obstructing the inclusion of NGOs in its work, intentionally undermining its ability to engage in independent action, even within the stifling constraints laid out by the charter.

    http://www.cihrs.org/english/newssystem/details.aspx?id=2522

    7 Dec, 2009

    The Special Forces Excessively Use Live Ammunition to Suppress the Demonstrators

    Injuries and Victims among them Children The Special Forces Excessively Use Live Ammunition to Suppress the Demonstrators

    7 December 2009

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its deep concern for the grave escalation that the Bahrain authorities are pursuing, represented in its policy in shooting live ammunition (shotgun) when facing the public protests that demand releasing the detainees whose majority were arrested for participating in the demonstrations and events witnessed in the various areas of Bahrain, due to the government's persistence in its policy of changing and manipulating the demography through the continued political naturalization process and the systematic discrimination against the Shiite community at all levels, and in marginalizing their villages and districts, and in the return of the systematic torture in the Bahraini prisons since 2006, and for bringing, exploiting and training the foreign mercenary men[1] to face the protests witnessed in the towns and villages of Bahrain, and which are brought by the security apparatuses to participate in the Special Forces of the National Security or the civil militias affiliated with it.

    What distinguishes this period is that it was inaugurated with a statement by the Director-General of the Police Directorate of the Northern Governorate, which was sent to the press, stating: "The Ministry of Interior will not relent in dealing firmly and strongly with the outlaws, against those criminal acts that target the life and security of the citizens, and that the security men have legal powers that allow them to use firearm in facing that astray and outlaw group whenever necessary. However, they still abide by the restraint policy despite the continuous attacks on them." In another statement of the Director-General of the Police Directorate of Muharraq Governorate that, "The security men shot several warning shots in the evening of the day before yesterday – Monday 16 November – in Der area, due to a group of troublemakers and vandals, after gathering, setting fire in tires and garbage containers which obstructed traffic, indicating the demonstrators who used Molotov Cocktails, stones and steel skewers, which necessitated the intervention of the forces of order to maintain security and to stop and prevent these acts that lead to putting lives and properties at risk." These statements were accompanied by a violent campaign marked by excessive use of force and the use of live ammo after a interruption that lasted several months, besides the use of rubber bullets against the demonstrators whose ages range between 12 to 25 years old, as well as using the means of collective punishment against the Shiite villages and areas, such as crashing parked cars or beating the by passers[2] in those protesting areas, and drowning them with teargases. Usually these Special Forces, behind these collective punishments, aim at pressurizing the notable figures and dwellers of these villages and areas to prompt them to stop these protest acts.

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights documented several cases where live ammo ( fission bullets), which are usually used in hunting birds and small animals, and some of these villages and areas are Karzakan, Bilad-Al-Qadeem, Sitra, Der in the north of Muharraq, Duraz, Karana, Abu-Saibaa, and they are all Shiite villages. Participating in this security campaign are individuals wearing civilian clothes and driving civilian cars (militias), roaming the various villages and areas and shooting live ammo at the demonstrators, normally these civilians are of the same groups that the security panels bring in to work as mercenaries in the lines of the Special Forces. Bahrain still refuses to sign the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries. In the evening of Thursday 19 November 2009, one of the citizens confirmed to the BCHR that he witnessed one of the members of those groups in a civilian car (White Pickup Toyota – the BCHR is keeping record of its plate number), it parks beside Costa coffee shop at the Abu-Saibaa village roundabout – shooting live ammo at the protestors and demonstrators from inside the car, at a time when some of the demonstrators were setting fire to tires or garbage containers, in a situation that does not necessitate opening fire due to the lack of any real danger to the lives of these individuals. Several eyewitnesses confirmed that the Special Forces turned to using (Shoguns) bullets to disperse the demonstrators in a number of villages and areas in Bahrain, which resulted in several injuries.

    The BCHR fears that the use of foreigners as mercenaries to suppress the protests will lead to the growing feeling of hatred towards all foreigners, especially whilst the authority is going to extremes in its policy in granting them the Bahraini citizenship, and the BCHR also fears that the cover-up used against the demonstrators by using civilian cars to raid the villages by individuals wearing civilian clothes may put many innocent civilians at risk, due to the reactions of the demonstrators towards these Forces which might be marred by error or inaccurate identification which may lead to the injury of citizens who have nothing to do with the almost daily confrontations.

    The shootings in last March against four children by the same security groups received press coverage in one of the local newspapers; it however received a flow of criticism and pressures by the authority or newspapers and writers in alliance with it as a result of that coverage. That played a negative role in the local newspapers declining to cover the live shootings against the demonstrators that are happening these days in fear of the authority's reaction.

    Due to the fear that haunts the victims of the shootings of arrests and security prosecutions, the majority of them were hesitant in turning to the hospitals to receive proper treatment, and is only at content with the home healings or some folk treatments, which constitutes a major threat to their lives or future health. Worthy of mentioning, that local hospitals have orders of the need to inform the security apparatuses before proceeding to treat any injured in the protest demonstrations – the BCHR holds the Bahraini authorities full responsibility of the fall of victims and reminds them of the dozens killed as a result of the live shootings during the nineties in the confrontations that demanded reforms. Yet it failed to bring those protests to a halt, and that the reform promises of the country's King during that period played a role in putting off that uprising. Based on that, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights believes that the excessive use of force will only lead to more escalation and violent acts which will have a role in aggravating and complicating the general state of affairs instead of finding solutions to it.

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights presents some cases that were documented of some victims of the live ammo shootings, and without revealing their identities or details of some victims according to their or their families' wish. The BCHR is however ready to provide their identities or any other details not mentioned here to any local or international legal body for any independent investigation.

    The village of Der witnessed demonstrations and protests in the evening of Monday 16 November that ended with the shootings of live ammo at the demonstrators by the Special Forces affiliated with the National Security Apparatuses, which resulted in numerous injuries, among the known ones was the child Kumail Al-Ghanamy (15 years old) who was arrested with his wounds and put to jail in the dawn of Tuesday 17 November, when the Special Forces stormed his house to arrest him with three other youngsters from that village and they were taken to unknown areas, after that photos of him spread on the internet clarifying the large number of injuries from shotgun bullets in different parts of his body. Der: the youngster Kumail Al-Ghanamy (15 years old) and heavy injuries with shotgun bullets in many parts of his body

    There are many other injuries that have fallen in the same area or other areas of the Bahraini villages and areas during the same period. Their victims still suffer from the wounds but dread to be treated in hospitals in fear of being arrested.

    Last October, and due to the continued detention of the Karzakan detainees which lasted almost 18 months, the Western Area, especially in villages such as Karzakan, Demestan and Hamala, was marked with almost daily protests that only stopped after the release of the remaining ones on 13 October after acquitting 19 of them on the charge of killing a security force member in April 2008. The security authorities deliberately suppressed those protest which accompanied the excessive violent arrests and detentions and caused the injury of several young men from the area with live ammo (shuzen). All those injuries are being documented and photos published for the first time due to the earlier mentioned apprehensions, and the following photos of some those injuries have been treated in a traditional manner behind closed doors.

    Last March, amid the several protests witnessed in the various areas of the country that demand the release of the detainees, the Bahraini (Al-Wasat) newspaper had followed up with the injury of four children, their ages range between 11 and 14 years old, the Special Forces had shot them while being in different parts of Sanabes area, which led to transferring them to hospital and performing surgeries to remove some small metal clusters that pierced different parts of their bodies. According to that newspaper issued on 3 April 2009, "the doctors decided not to perform the surgery to extract the <<23 metal clusters>> from the body of the injured Akbar Ali (14 years old) to avoid its effect on his future health.

    Sanabes: the injured Ali Akbar (14 years old) wounded with 23 Shotgun splinters in different parts of his body

    The father of the injured stated that the doctors informed him that there is currently no use of performing any surgery to his son to remove the splinters he was wounded with, and that the splinters pierced and rested in deep parts of his body where it has become difficult and dangerous to attempt to remove them due to the possibility of nerve damage". Elsewhere in the same newspaper, "As to the injured Hussein Talib (11 years old) and Yousif Abbas (13 years old) who were shot with (Shuzen) bullets in what was known as Sanabes incident, the doctors removed 9 splinters from the former and two from the latter." The child's father mentioned to <> that he saw one of the splinters being removed from one of the children (11 and 13 year olds) who were injured with his son after removing some splinters from them in the surgery performed to them two days ago, indicating that that it was <> and not circular, and that it is very small. Reports indicate that the Special Forces shot shotgun bullets on Ali Akbar (14 years old) in his back when he was returning home in the village of Belad-Al-Qadeem, after he finished playing football with his friends in Sanabes. As to Hussein Talib (11 years old), the Forces shot the shotgun bullets in his back and leg when he was leaving the mosque after performing the Maghreb and Isha prayers. Another child (13 years old) was also injured with bullets from the shotgun, and which hit him in the leg and back. Abdullah Suwar (12 year old) was shot as well with shotgun bullets in various parts of his body and he was transmitted to the hospital as a result of that. The Public Prosecution charged the boys, who were shot with shotgun bullets in Sanabes, with crowding and riot and ordered their release.

    Last mid March, in protest against the government's acquisition of lands on the grounds that they were expropriated for "military purposes", demonstrations broke out in the village of Muhaza in Sitra Island demanding the halt of the burials of the north coast of Sitra. Those demonstrations resulted in injuries among the demonstrators; many of them were due to the direct use of shotgun bullets on their bodies.

    Sitra: a young man (22 years old) injured with shotgun bullets in his legs and another injured near his left eye

    Because the security apparatuses arrested some activists from Duraz area, the people gathered by the village's roundabout in a peaceful protest on 15 March 2009. However the Special Forces attacked them by using live ammo (shuzen), in addition to the use of rubber bullets and tear gas. This attack led to the injury of several demonstrators.[3]

    Duraz: a traditional removal of the shotgun bullets from the bodies of three injured

    The BCHR believes that the use of excessive force and live ammo against the demonstrators reflects the intolerance of the authority towards those that criticize its policy, and its failure in dealing with the legal public demands which it can set solutions to in a more peaceful and civilized manner. It is required to deal more seriously in solving those outstanding issues that are causing all these protests instead of suppressing them. Some of the main reasons that are driving those protests and which demand the authority's attention is its policy in practicing systematic discrimination – on all levels – against the people of the country from the Shiite sect and their areas of residence, and which finds (meaning the discrimination) care and adaptation by the governing authority, as well as the political naturalization which aims at changing the social and cultural fabric of the country's population and to make its citizens – Sunnis and Shiites – a minority, and the escalation of systematic torture in the prisons of the security forces and the continuous arrests of the peaceful protestors and demonstrators, and the prevention of peaceful demonstrations, sit-ins and forums that are against the authority's policy.

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights recommends the following:

    1. To stop the use of all types of firearms and to stop the use of excessive force against the civilians.

    2. To stop bringing and training foreign mercenaries to work in the lines of the security apparatuses.

    3. To dissolve the National Security Apparatus and the Special Security Forces affiliated with it, and return its powers to the regular security institutions.

    4. To stop the use of civilian cars or individuals in civilian clothing to suppress the protests.

    5. To initiate an actual dialogue with the pillars of the community to resolve the roots of the crisis the country is going through, and to stop retreating to security solutions.

    6. To stop the motives that causes those protests such as the sectarian discrimination, political naturalization, systematic torture and continuous arrests and others.

    Contact information of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights: Email: info@bahrainrights.org Fax: +973 – 17795170 Electronic Websites:

    · www.bahrainrights.org

    · www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=50727622539

    · www.twitter.com/bahrainrighs

    · bahrainrights.blogspot.com

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    [1] The Bahraini authorities continuous use of mercenaries to face the public demand movements leads to the growing hostility against foreigners http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/2893

    [2] Photos clarifying the assault of the Riot Forces against a citizen after forcing him to step down from his car http://bahraninet.net/showthread.php?t=42161

    [3] http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/2811

    4 Dec, 2009

    Bahrain: Bangladeshi man faces rare execution

    Bahrain: Bangladeshi man faces rare execution Posted: 03 December 2009

    Amnesty International is appealing to the King of Bahrain to stop the execution of a Bangladeshi man, currently facing what would be a rare execution in the country.

    Jassim Abdulmanan, is facing death by firing squad unless the Bahraini king, Shaikh Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa, opts to prevent the killing.

    In Bahrain the king ratifies death sentences and if he does so Mr Abdulmanan could be executed within weeks. Amnesty International has issued an 'urgent action' appeal, meaning its supporters are contacting the Bahraini king and the Bahraini embassy in London.

    Amnesty International UK anti-death penalty campaigner Kim Manning Cooper said:

    'Amnesty opposes the death penalty in all instances, but it's especially disappointing when a country that rarely carries out executions reverts to this cruel and unnecessary punishment.

    'We are not seeking to minimise the impact of a serious crime like murder but King Khalifa should exercise mercy and prevent this judicial killing.'

    Mr Abdulmanan was originally sentenced to death by the country's High Criminal Court in January 2007, after being found guilty of the murder in October 2005 of another Bangladeshi called Ridar Mian. Two other Bangladeshi nationals were sentenced to life imprisonment in the same case.

    After all three men lodged an appeal in April this year, the country's Supreme Appeal Court reduced the two life sentences to 15 years' imprisonment but upheld the death sentence against Jassim Abdulmanan. On 16 November 2009, the Court of Cassation in Bahrain upheld the death penalty against Abdulmanan, leaving only the king to decide his fate.

    The death penalty is rarely used in Bahrain. In the last five years it is believed that only six people have been sentenced to death. In December 2006 three Bangladeshi nationals were executed, the first people to be put to death in Bahrain since 1996. Amnesty fears that the death penalty in Bahrain is disproportionately used against foreign nationals.

    In December last year the Bahraini government abstained in the vote for a United Nations resolution calling for a moratorium on executions globally. The resolution was passed by a vote of 106 in favour to 46 against, with 34 abstentions. http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=18531

    4 Dec, 2009

    BAHRAIN: SMEAR CAMPAIGN AGAINST FREE EXPRESSION

    REPORTS AND PUBLICATIONS 8. BAHRAIN: SMEAR CAMPAIGN AGAINST FREE EXPRESSION

    A large number of fake human rights and civil society organisations havesprung to life in Bahrain, when in reality they are fronts for greatergovernment control, says a new report by the Bahrain Centre for HumanRights (BCHR). These mock rights institutions are extensions of the Royal Court, the PrimeMinister's Court or the Interior Ministry, among other branches of state,says BCHR. As far back as 2006, 100 legitimate human rights groups, as wellas political and professional figures, sent a letter to the King of Bahrainexpressing concern about this secret network. "One of the aims of this network is smearing the reputation of theindependent human rights defenders and opposition's political activists,and creating fictitious and fake civil society institutions and attemptingto penetrate the independent ones," says the report. In fact, BCHR explains, this scheme of false rights groups was a reactionto an acceleration of human rights violations being documented - sectariandiscrimination, torture, violations of freedom of expression, humantrafficking - and passed on to international rights groups. In parallel to this phenomenon, legitimate rights defenders have beenharassed and slandered, including through the use of the government media.Recently, Nabeel Rajab, President of BCHR, has been targeted in the mediaafter he was elected as a Board member of a regional network in Asia, theGulf and the Middle East. For more information, please see the full report:Presenting documents that reveal the "GONGOs" organisations in Bahrain:http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/2983