Bahrain: Release and dismissal of charges against Mr. Sayed Yousif AlMuhafdhah

16/11/2012
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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), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bahrain.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the release and the dismissal of charges against Mr. Sayed Yousif AlMuhafdhah, Acting Vice President and Head of Documentation Unit of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR).

According to the information received, on November 14, 2012, the Public Prosecution decided to release Mr. Sayed Yousif AlMuhafdhah and drop the charges of “participation in illegal protests” that had been pending against him since November 2, 2012. Mr. AlMuhafdhah had been detained arbitrarily since that day (see background information).

The Observatory welcomes these new developments and thanks all the persons, institutions and organisations who intervened in Mr. Sayed Yousif AlMuhafdhah’s favour. However, the Observatory recalls that two other BCHR members remain in detention, Messrs. Nabeel Rajab, BCHR President, Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and FIDH Deputy Secretary General, and Mr. Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, former BCHR President and former MENA Director at Front Line, and urges the Bahraini authorities to release them immediately and unconditionally, as their detention seems to merely aim at sanctioning and hindering their human rights activities.

Background information:

On November 2, 2012, Mr. AlMuhafdhah was arrested in Duraz while he was documenting the injury of a man who was shot by bird-shot pellets at a protest earlier that day. Mr. AlMuhafdhah was transferred to Budaiya Police Station where he was interrogated about his presence at the injured man’s door.

In the morning of November 3, 2012, Mr. AlMuhafdhah was taken to the public prosecution where he was remanded seven days of detention on charges of “participation in illegal protests”. Mr. Said denied having taken part in the protest and stated that he arrived on the spot after the end of the event in order to document the case of the injured protester.

On November 10, 2012, the public prosecution decided to extend Mr. Sayed Yousif AlMuhafdhah’s detention by seven additional days without providing any grounds or justification for this decision. During the session, Mr. Almuhafdhah denied participating in said protests.

Moreover, on September 23, 2012, Mr. AlMuhafdhah and other Bahraini human rights defenders who cooperated with the United Nations (UN) received threats of reprisals while they were in Geneva to participate in the 21st session of the UN Human Rights Council. The pro-governmental newspaper Al-Watan accused Mr. AlMuhafdhah and other human rights defenders of “defaming Bahrain” and labelled them as “traitors to the country”.

Actions requested:

The Observatory urges the authorities of Bahrain to:

i. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Sayed Yousif AlMuhafdhah, as well as of all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

ii. Put an end to any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. AlMuhafdhah, as well as against all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

iii. Conform in any circumstances with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, 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” ;
- 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”.

iv. 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
· 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

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

***
Paris-Geneva, November 16, 2012

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.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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