Rights group writes to UN Special Rapporteurs

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The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) has written to two UN Special Rapporteurs raising serious concerns about current events and urging them to visit the country in the in wake of the National Assembly recommendations and the escalating crackdown. The letters were sent to the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism.
The letters read in part:

From letter sent to Mr. Ben Emmerson, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism
The recommendations [from the National Assembly] included extensive powers to the Executive Authority and especially the Security Forces, and they were presented in the context of ‘counter-terrorism’ in Bahrain. The Legislative Authority gave extensive powers to conduct wide-ranging amendments to Law (58) of the year 2006 regarding terrorism.

In July 2006, the former Special Rapporteur Mr Martin Scheinin addressed a letter to the Bahraini Authorities in which he criticized the law, and he expressed his concern regarding the broad definition of terrorism, and that some actions are not considered terrorist, and that some articles hold the person accountable according to intention, and that some actions do not cause the death or harm to anyone, in addition to that the law restricts freedom of establishing associations and assembly, and that the law lends itself to criminalizing peaceful demonstrations which are considered one of the rights of civil society.

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The Bahraini Ministry of Interior announced a number of security incidents during the past months – bombings, finding stores that contain homemade bombs and weapons – and within few hours the Ministry arrests the suspects, as it indicates in its press statements, however the Ministry of Interior does not allow independent and unbiased investigation in these security incidents, and it did not present any real evidence other than the press statements.

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights-BYSHR had documented dozens of cases where the Public Prosecution uses the Terrorism Law, where the presence of a lawyer is not permitted during the preliminary investigation, in addition to the torture allegations in the Criminal Investigation Department.

Read full letter.


From letter sent to Mr. Frank La Rue, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
Among these recommendations ‘direct the relevant state bodies to activate the necessary legal action those who use social networks in an illegal way and toughening penalties against those who use those networks to disseminate false information to foreign sides which plot against the country’s security and stability’, as it gives extensive powers in order to control social media users and especially ‘twitter’ and this restricts the individual’s freedom of opinion and expression and contributes in restricting freedom of information.

On 1 August 2013, Fawaz bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa – Minister of Communication Affairs – issued a decision to establish a special office to track social media users, and this office is run in affiliation with the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Information and other panels. The minister had requested from the social media users to report anyone who broadcasts ‘false information about Bahrain’ and who spreads ‘violence and terrorism’ by calling the hotline designated for tracking them. (Ministry of Communication Affairs’ statement: http://www.bna.bh/portal/en/news/573594)

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On 25 June 2013, Fawaz bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa – Minister of Communication Affairs – issued a statement emphasizing that the Bahraini Authorities will restrict the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service, and this includes the programs that use this service; censoring these services is considered a violation of international conventions in relation to the individual’s correspondence as well as freedom of information. (BYSHR statement in this matter: http://byshr.org/?p=1426)

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The BYSHR asks you to demand the Bahraini Authorities to stop using extraordinary laws and procedures to restrict freedom of opinion and expression and which contribute in restricting freedom and violate the individual’s privacy of correspondence. It also asks you to visit Bahrain in order to see what is going on.

Read full letter.

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