Bahrain: Judicial harassment and restrictions to freedom of movement Mr. Maytham Al Salman

18/08/2015
Urgent Appeal

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY
BHR 003 / 0815 / OBS 068
Judicial harassment / Travel ban
Bahrain
August 18, 2015

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bahrain.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the judicial harassment and restrictions to freedom of movement of Mr. Maytham Al Salman, a human rights defender well known for his work promoting peaceful inter-faith dialogue, freedom of expression and countering incitement to violence and discrimination. He is also an adviser to the Columbia University’s project “Global Freedom of Expression” [1].

According to information received, on August 8, 2015, Mr. Maytham Al Salman was arrested in Manama airport upon his return to Bahrain after attending a United Nations (UN) conference on hate-speech. He was held at the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID), EconomicCrimes Unit, for 12 hours, from where he was allowed to call his family, but was denied access to a lawyer. He was charged with “inciting hatred against the regime” (art. 165 of the Penal Code) and “disseminating false news” (art. 168 of the Penal Code), and a travel ban was issued against him. He was released later on the same day.

The charges against Mr. Al Salman are believed to be related to some tweets that were published in Al Wasat newspaper on August 2, calling on fighting all forms of discrimination and denouncing violence and extremism in Bahrain [2].

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about the judicial harassment and restrictions to freedom of movement against Mr. Maytham Al Salman, which seem to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities.

The Observatory calls for the unequivocal lift of his travel ban, the dropping of all charges against him, and the end of all harassment against him as well as against all human rights defenders in the country.

The Observatory more generally recalls that similar charges and travel bans have been widely used to target human rights defenders in Bahrain [3].

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Bahrain urging them to:

i. Immediately drop all charges against Mr. Maytham Al Salman, as well as against all criminalised human rights defenders in Bahrain;

ii. Immediately revoke the travel ban against Mr. Maytham Al Salman, in order to guarantee his freedom of movement;

iii.Put an end to any kind of harassment, including at judicial level,against Mr. Maytham Al Salman and all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

iv. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Maytham Al Salman;

v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular its:

- Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;

- Article 6.c, which stipulates that everyone has the right [...] “to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”;

- as well as Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Bahrain.

Addresses:

• Cheikh Hamad bin Issa AL KHALIFA, King of Bahrain, Fax: +973 176 64 587

• Cheikh Khaled Bin Ahmad AL KHALIFA, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tel: +973 172 27 555; Fax : 00973 17 21 05 75; ofd@mofa.gov.bh

• Cheikh Khalid bin Ali AL KHALIFA, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Tel: +973 175 133 00; Fax: +973 175 31 284

• Lt. Gen. Cheikh Rashed bin Abdulla AL KHALIFA, Minister of Interior, Tel: +973 17572222 and +973 17390000. Email: info@interior.gov.bh

• Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United Nations in Geneva, 1 chemin Jacques-Attenville, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, CP 39, 1292 Chambésy, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 22 758 96 50. Email: info@bahrain-mission.ch

• H.E. Ahmed Mohammed Yousif Aldoseri, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the Kingdom of Belgium, Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Avenue Louise 250, 1050 Brussels, Belgium; Fax: 0032 (0) 26472274; E-mail: Brussels.mission@mofa.gov.bh

***
Paris-Geneva, August 18, 2015

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

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