HRC38 Oral Intervention: Item 2 GD – highlighting the spurious charges facing Bahraini activists

On Tuesday 19 June 2018, at the 38th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) delivered an oral intervention before the Council under the Item 2 General Debate. The intervention thanked the High Commissioner for his repeated highlighting of the spurious charges Nabeel Rajab faces, as well as the ongoing detention of Dr. Abduljalil al-Singace and Sheikh Ali Salman on free expression charges. Click here for a PDF of the intervention.

Mr. High Commissioner,

ADHRB welcomes your report and we thank you for your tireless efforts to highlight the human rights crisis in Bahrain throughout your mandate as High Commissioner. We particularly welcome your final report highlighting the threats faced by civil society in Bahrain.

We in the Bahraini human rights community have greatly welcomed your repeated highlighting of our colleague Nabeel Rajab and the numerous spurious charges against him, including for tweets criticizing torture in Bahraini prisons and the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. We remain concerned that he may face additional prison time for up to 14 other cases, including letters published in the New York Times and Le Monde.

Several other high-profile human rights defenders, activists, and political figures also remain in prison. Among them is Dr. Abduljalil al-Singace, an academic and human rights activist who has long advocated for human rights and political reforms. In 2011, the Bahraini government sentenced him to life in prison due in part to his engagement with UN mechanisms and Special Procedures, institutions with which you noted Bahrain has failed to engage.

In addition, in December 2014, officials arrested al-Wefaq’s Secretary General Sheikh Ali Salman on charges that include “inciting disobedience and hatred in the kingdom,” for speeches he had given. His imprisonment is part of a larger campaign by the Bahraini government to eliminate independent political and civil society.

Mr. High Commissioner, over the past several years, Bahrain has systematically closed civil and political space, dissolving political societies and arresting political leaders and activists. As parliamentary elections approach, Bahrain must immediately release all political prisoners and take steps to ensure that the elections are legitimate, free, and fair.

Thank you.