Arrest of Mr. Mohamed Issa Al Tajer and continued arbitrary detention of Mr. Abdulhadi Al Khawaja - BHR 003 / 0411 / OBS 065

16/04/2011
Urgent Appeal

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 that well-known lawyer Mr. Mohamed Issa Al Tajer had been arrested on April 16, 2011 at 00.30 am, in his house.

At around 11 pm on April 15, a group of more than 20 masked and armed plain-clothes men, belonging to security forces, entered the house where Mr. Al Tajer was present with his wife and young children. After thoroughly searching the house, the office, and taking computers and mobile phones, the men arrested Mr. Al Tajer and took him to an unknown destination.

According to his wife, Mr. Al Tajer was not beaten up or mistreated in the house, nevertheless, his young children were traumatised by this episode. Ms. Al Tajer, a medical doctor, fears she might be arrested herself, like many other doctors in Bahrain, for having provided injured protesters with medical assistance.

The Observatory believes that the authorities are attempting to put pressure on those who provide legal and medical assistance to protesters. The Observatory condemns this crackdown which seems to merely aim at sanctioning their peaceful and legitimate activities for the respect of protesters’ basic rights.

According to the information received by the Observatory about 600 people, including human rights defenders, political leaders, trade unionists, doctors and paramedics and clerics have been arrested since February 2011. The whereabouts of a significant number of them, including prominent rights defender Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, remain unknown and access to them, including by their lawyers, is not guaranteed for the majority of these detainees. Concern about the physical integrity and life of those arrested are high, in particular after four people arrested during the protests died in custody between April 3 and 12, 2011.

The Observatory urges the Bahraini authorities to take the necessary measures to guarantee the protection of all human rights defenders in Bahrain and, more generally, to comply with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Bahrain, including the International International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Actions requested:

The Observatory urges the authorities of Bahrain to:

i. Immediately disclose the whereabouts of Messrs. Mohamed Issa Al Tajer, Abdulhadi Al Khawaja and ensure their access to their lawyers and families ;

ii. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Mohamed Issa Al Tajer and Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, and all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

iii. Put an end to any acts of harassment, including at the judicial and administrative level, against Messrs. Mohamed Issa Al Tajer and Abdulhadi Al Khawaja and against all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

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

· its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” ;

· its Article 6 (c) which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others 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” ;

· its Article 9.3 which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, inter alia […] to attend public hearings, proceedings and trials so as to form an opinion on their compliance with national law and applicable international obligations and commitments; and to offer and provide professionally qualified legal assistance or other relevant advice and assistance in defending human rights and fundamental freedoms” ;

· its Article 10 which provides that “no one shall participate, by act or by failure to act where required, in violating human rights and fundamental freedoms and no one shall be subjected to punishment or adverse action of any kind for refusing to do so”;

· and its Article 12.2 which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and 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”.

v. 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 : +973 172 12 6032

· Cheikh Khalid bin Ali AL KHALIFA, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Tel: +973 175 31 333; Fax: +973 175 31 284

· 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

Please also write to diplomatic representations of Bahrain in your respective countries.

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