Bahrain: government led consistent attack on Human Rights Defenders

On 24 September 2020, ADHRB has delivered an oral intervention at the United Nation Human Rights Council session 45 during on interactive debate under item 3.

Thank you madam president,

Alsalam foundation would like to bring to the attention of the council the constant repression that civil society organization and human defenders are facing in Bahrain.

The right to free expression, assembly and associations are submitted to extensive restrictions. Many of those restrictions also impacts civil society space and thus undermine the activity of CSOs. CSOs are under the obligation to register with a governmental organ and this registration can be denied. Moreover, field of activity of CSOs is heavily controlled by the government and they can’t engage in any activity interpreted to be political.

Several CSOs were closed and their leader imprisoned because of their actions. This was the case of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and its cofounder Abdulhadi alKhawaja who was arrested for delivering a speech on economic rights that was critical of the prime minister. On 22 June 2011, he was sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of “managing a terrorist organization” and “attempting to overthrow the government by force.

Those restrictions also affect political associations. Many members of those organization are judicially harassed by the authorities. Charges as “illegal assembly” or spreading “false news” are frequently used by the authorities to arrest and interrogate certain members. Human Rights defenders and political protestors also faced those treatments. Najah Yousif was arrested because of her statement against the organization of the F1 race in Bahrain. During her arrest she was raped and forced to sign confession without even reading it.

The restrictions put upon CSOs and the reprisals suffered by their members are clear violations of the right to free expression and assembly by the Bahraini government.

Thank you