On Tuesday 20 March, during the 37th session of the UN Human Rights Council, Advocacy Associate Tyler Pry delivered an oral intervention during the Item 8 General Debate on behalf of ADHRB. In his intervention, Pry discussed impunity for crimes committed by the Bahraini government against journalists in the context of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. Pry raised the cases of al-Wasat co-founder Kareem Fakhrawi and videographer Ahmed Ismail Hassan, both of whom were killed by government forces. Click here for a PDF of his intervention.
Alsalam and ADHRB wish to raise our concerns over States’ violations to the VDPA relating to freedom of expression, particularly the targeting of journalists for reprisals and abuse.
For example, in Bahrain, the government has effectively closed off all public spaces and methods for freedom of expression. In June 2017, the government dissolved the last independent newpaper, al-Wasat. Previously, in 2011, the paper’s co-founder Kareem Fakhrawi was tortured to death by Bahrain security officers. The officials responsible were not charged with torture but with lesser crimes and were ultimately sentenced to only three years in prison.
Further, the Bahraini authorities shot and killed 22-year-old videographer Ahmed Ismail Hassan on 31 March 2012. Ahmed was filming a protest against the Formula One Grand Prix in Bahrain when security forces and riot police began firing tear gas and rubber bullets at the protesters. He was shot in the leg and later died from his injuries.
Despite these violations, the Bahraini authorities have failed to prosecute crimes against journalists – rather, the government continues to harass, threaten, and prosecute journalists for speaking out. We therefore call on all States, including Bahrain, to end impunity for crimes against journalists, and to ensure the protection of fundamental human rights like freedom of speech and expression, in line with the VDPA.