ADHRB at HRC40: Bahrain’s detention of Human Rights Defenders

13 March 2019 – Today, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain’s Advocacy Officer delivered an oral intervention during the Item 4 General Debate oat the 40th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. The intervention raised concerns around Bahrain’s continued detention of human rights defenders, including Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, Nabeel Rajab, and Dr. Abduljalil al-Singace, and Naji Fateel. ADHRB called for the release of all human rights defenders in Bahrain, especially now that Bahrain is a member of the Human Rights Council. Continue reading for a text of the intervention, or click here for a PDF of the remarks.

Mr. President,

Alsalam and ADHRB would like to draw the attention of the Council to the continued imprisonment of human rights defenders in Bahrain.

At the end of last year, Bahrain’s highest court upheld a five-year prison sentence against prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab on charges relating to free expression. Nabeel has now exhausted all legal remedies and will remain in prison until 2023.

Other Bahraini human rights defenders have also been serving lengthy prison sentences in relation to their activism, including Dr. Abduljalil AlSingace and Abdulhadi AlKhawaja, who are serving life sentences for their involvement in the 2011 peaceful protests. Both Dr. AlSingace and AlKhawja were tortured and have been denied adequate medical treatment by prison authorities.

Naji Fateel has been detained, harassed, forcibly disappeared, and tortured repeatedly for his decade-long peaceful human rights activism. In 2013, he was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment. Fateel continues to speak out against abuse in prison, recently ending a hunger strike over prison conditions.

These cases are emblematic of a much larger trend of the Bahraini government’s suppression of dissent and harassment of human rights defenders.

We therefore call on Bahrain, as a member of the Council, to adhere to human rights law and principles, and release all political prisoners and human rights defenders. We further call on all members of this Council to hold Bahrain to account, and to end the culture of impunity in Bahrain.

Thank you.