Newsletter #138

Bahrain | Updates from the Ground | News & Opinion

Saudi Arabia | Other Gulf States | UN Complaint Program


Dispatch: Bahrain Newspapers Sign Restrictive “Charter of Press Ethics”

On 2 December 2015, the Government of Bahrain announced that the editors-in-chief of Bahrain’s six daily newspapers had reviewed and agreed to a new Charter of Press Ethics with the Ministry of Information Affairs Authority (IAA). Spearheaded by the Information and Parliamentary Affairs (IPA) Ministry, IPA Minister Isa bin Abdulrahman Al Hammadi stressed that the charter seeks to uphold press freedom and the press ethics of “honesty and objectivity.” Furthermore, it represents a “pledge” to ensure Bahrain’s daily newspapers are upholding the “highest interests of the nation and the citizens…while rejecting division, fanaticism and hatred calls.” King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa lauded the charter as playing a “crucial role” in “enlightening” public opinion of the social, political, and economic issues facing the country.

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More from ADHRB

Rebuild the Pearl Roundabout in Washington!

NGOs Condemn Death Sentences in Bahrain After Record Year

Champions for Justice: Victims of Government Reprisals

Updates from the Ground

  • Authorities arrested 42 individuals, including 5 children.
  • A court postponed the trial of Wa’ad opposition leader Ebrahim Sharif until January 24.
  • Criminal and appeals courts issued sentences of more than 103 years in prison to 9 people, and acquitted at least 2.
  • Authorities summoned and detained Dr. Saeed Samaheeji, along with many others, for allegedly inciting disobedience of the law on social media websites and insulting a neighboring country over reported criticism of Sheikh Nimr’s execution in Saudi Arabia.
  • The courts postponed the trials of 38 individuals.
  • Security forces suppressed dozens of demonstrations with excessive force using tear gas and shotgun pellets.

Click here for the full report.

News and Opinion

Bahrain: 2-Year Prison Term Handed Down to Policeman over Torturing Detainees & 5 Others Acquitted
A court sentenced a police officer to two years in prison for torturing detainees and acquitted five other officers who were also on trial for torture. 40 complaints were received by Bahrain’s Special Investigation Unit detailing varied allegations of police brutality during December 2015 alone. During that month, the SIU listened to more than 51 witnesses and interrogated 56 defendants and suspects from the Public Security Forces, but did not announce any indictments. Read More

Bahrain Charges Al-Wasat Journalist with Terrorism
After his arbitrary arrest on 28 December, the Bahraini Interior Ministry named journalist Mahmood al-Jazeeri, a reporter for Al-Wasat News, as among those arrested for allegedly plotting terrorist attacks funded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah, the veracity of which has been questioned by experts. On 31 December, al-Jazeeri’s lawyer told al-Wasat, “prosecutors had not produced any evidence against her client.” His latest report, in which he covered one of the Shura Council’s member’s demand to remove the housing unit of those who have had their citizenship revoked by the authorities, was considered politically sensitive. Read More

Concern for Activist Fadhel Radhi if He Is Sent Back to Bahrain
Bahrain has demanded that the International Criminal Police Commission take steps to extradite activist Fadhel Radhi back to Bahrain. Armenian authorities detained Radhi on 1 January 2016 following his escape from Bahrain, where he was sentenced to seven years in prison for “political and arbitrary” reasons. A number of human rights organizations issued a statement expressing serious concern over Bahrain’s attempt to extradite Radhi. They assert that Bahrain has a clear history of detaining and sentencing activists on unfounded charges and extracting false confessions through torture.  Read More

Arabic Sources

245 Stateless Bahrainis By End of 2015

Click here for a PDF of this article in English

Saudi Arabia

Nimr al-Nimr: Britain and the U.S. must condemn ‘reckless’ Saudi Arabia over cleric’s execution

ADHRB’s Husain Abdulla writes in IBTimes that “Saudi authorities were not always so rash. A governing elite that for decades prided itself on caution and keeping a low profile has, with the execution of popular cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, embraced a posture of bellicose irresponsibility. When Saudi officials carried out his death sentence on 2 January, they knew that their beleaguered Shia population would take to the streets. They knew that they were undermining the viability of a recently opened embassy in Baghdad. They knew that diplomatic relations with Iran, already at their most fragile, would devolve, and possibly be suspended entirely. They knew that they were heightening tensions in the region’s developing cold war.”

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News and Opinion

State Dept Continues to Express “Concern” Over Saudi Arabia’s Mass Execution but Signals No Direct Action
US Department of State spokesperson John Kirby responded to a series of tough questions from the DC press corps concerning the execution of Sheikh Nimr, both in terms of the US government’s muted reaction to it and the diplomatic fallout which resulted from it. Read More

REVEALED: Juvenile prisoners and Mentally Ill Killed in Saudi Executions
The Government of Saudi Arabia releases the list of executed persons. Among the list of people executed include individuals who supposedly were mentally ill in some cases, and in another case include someone who was imprisoned at the age of 13. Of the list, only two of the 43 suspected Al-Qaeda members had any prior media/press coverage that connected them to the terrorist organization. Read More

Saudi Arabia Invests Millions to Improve Its Public Image
The government of Saudi Arabia plans to invest millions of dollars on lobbyists and public relations firms in Washington to improve the kingdom’s reputation in the west. The Foreign Agent Registration Action (FARA) submitted by Saudi contractors reveals the expensive PR plans of the Saudi government. PR firms listed in the report include: DLA Piper, Targeted Victory, Qorvis/MSLGroup, Pillsbury Winthrop, Hogan Lovells, and the Podesta Group. Amounts for some agencies are as expensive as $240,000 monthly. Read More

Other Gulf States

Prisoner Profile: Sultan bin Kayed al-Qasimi

Sultan bin Kayed al-Qasimi is a member of the ruling family of the Ras al-Khaimah emirate and a leader of al-Islah (The Reform), a political association in the UAE. On April 2012, armed men dressed in civilian clothes arrested al-Qasimi at his home and detained him at his the palace of his cousin Saud bin Saqr al-Qasimi, the emir of Ras al-Khaimah. Roughly a year after his original arrest, the authorities transferred al-Qasimi to al-Razeen Prison Abu Dhabi ahead of his trial as part of the “UAE 94.” The court sentenced al-Qasimi to 10 years in prison. He is currently serving his time at al-Razeen, where the authorities have reportedly subjected him to severe mistreatment and poor living conditions.

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News and Opinion

UN Human Rights Chief Urges Yemen to Rethink Exclusion of Country Official
The UN human rights chief urges Yemen to reverse its decision declaring his representative there persona non grata, maintaining that this move will hamper the UN’s work there and jeopardize its staff’s safety. The Yemeni Foreign Ministry accused the representative of not impartially assessing the human rights situation, but has reportedly reversed the decision although there has been no official statement. Meanwhile, another Doctors without Borders hospital was destroyed by an ordnance in north Yemen, killing four and wounding at least 10. Read More

Former MP Calls on Canadian Government to Help Free Citizen Held in U.A.E.
Salim al-Aradi, a dual Libyan-Canadian citizen, was arrested and held without charge 17 months ago in the U.A.E. Dan McTeague, a former MP, calls for stronger advocacy from the Canadian government, which was recently accused of failing to act after receiving knowledge of al-Aradi’s torture while in custody.  Read More

Qatar’s World Cup Ambitions Cannot Overshadow Migrant’s Rights Issues
While Qatar signs on world class player Xavi Hernandez to try to boost its World Cup image, the rights of migrant workers remain a serious issue, with many of them not able to change jobs or return home.  Read More

Are you a victim of a human rights abuse in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia or other GCC states?

Document your case with the Special Procedures of the United Nations through ADHRB’s UN Complaint Program.

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