Bahrain urged to uphold human rights

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Middle East
Wednesday, 06 October 2010


Bahrain_human_rights1Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Bahrain to uphold international human rights commitments concerning prevention of torture and ensuring due process for detainees.

"Many aspects of the Bahraini criminal law are quite good and not widely out of joint with the international standards," Joe Stork, deputy director of HRW Middle East and North Africa division, said in Bahrain's capital city of Manama late on Tuesday, DPA reported.

More then 250 Shia Muslims have been arrested in Bahrain since mid-August when Manama launched a crackdown against critics and human rights activists who it accuses of links with terrorists and conspiring to overthrow the Bahraini government.

Stork complained that those arrested as ringleaders have not been charged with criminal offenses, but with "charges like spreading false information or having contact with outside organizations" which he insisted "should not be offenses under Bahraini law."

"If the state has evidence that people were involved in a criminal act, it's appropriate for them to apprehend those people, take them into custody, and put them on fair trial. But the (authorities) have to protect the basic rights of those defendants," he urged.

The HRW official said he had raised the US-based advocacy group's concerns with Bahraini officials over access to lawyers, detainees' rights and torture allegations during his fact-finding visit to the Persian Gulf nation.

He said he did not know about Manama's claims of evidence against the detainees, but that "there is plenty of evidence that they (authorities) are not complying with the law."

Stork further pointed out that even before the recent arrests, he had noticed a "constricting space" for civil liberties in Bahrain.

"Since the government proclaimed this emergency in the middle of August, there has been a full-scale assault, in my view, on basic rights like the freedom of association and the freedom of expression," he concluded.

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"So when we see a situation where suspects in security cases are not permitted those rights, it is a serious violation of international standards and Bahraini law," he added.

More then 250 Shia Muslims have been arrested in Bahrain since mid-August when Manama launched a crackdown against critics and human rights activists who it accuses of links with terrorists and conspiring to overthrow the Bahraini government.

Stork complained that those arrested as ringleaders have not been charged with criminal offenses, but with "charges like spreading false information or having contact with outside organizations" which he insisted "should not be offenses under Bahraini law."

"If the state has evidence that people were involved in a criminal act, it's appropriate for them to apprehend those people, take them into custody, and put them on fair trial. But the (authorities) have to protect the basic rights of those defendants," he urged.

The HRW official said he had raised the US-based advocacy group's concerns with Bahraini officials over access to lawyers, detainees' rights and torture allegations during his fact-finding visit to the Persian Gulf nation.

He said he did not know about Manama's claims of evidence against the detainees, but that "there is plenty of evidence that they (authorities) are not complying with the law."

Stork further pointed out that even before the recent arrests, he had noticed a "constricting space" for civil liberties in Bahrain.

"Since the government proclaimed this emergency in the middle of August, there has been a full-scale assault, in my view, on basic rights like the freedom of association and the freedom of expression," he concluded.

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