Bahrain carries out numerous arrests ahead of Formula 1 race

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Bahrain
Saturday, 18 April 2015

The Bahraini Authorities carried out wide arrests, some of which have been recognized as arbitrary. The arrests were followed by a statement made by the Minister of Information who said “the Interior Ministry shall face with law any calls or events that attempt to defame the international event and the interests of Bahrain before, during and after the Formula 1 race”. Bahrain is to hold the Formula 1 Grand Prix between the 17th and 19th of April 2015.

The Liberties and Human Rights Department (LHRD) in Al Wefaq National Islamic Society has documented 22 arrests including 9 minors under the age of 18. The arrests were carried out in home raids and streets. One defendant was arrested in court during his hearing in a politically-motivated case. Based on the information obtained by the LHRD, the arrests were carried out without presenting arrest warrants or even informing the arrested persons of the reason of the arrest. Furthermore, the individuals were not told where they are to be taken or which authority is carrying out the arrests. This is considered a breach to Article 9 of the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights.
The arrests campaign also comes while the authority is implementing an unannounced ban on peaceful protest and assembly, a right that is ensured in the constitution and national and international law.

Although the Bahraini Authority lingers about implementing 90% of the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, it blatantly fails to implement recommendations relating to fundamental freedoms. The authority has gone beyond the ban on peaceful protests by using excessive force in unjustifiable circumstances. The LHRD has documented at least 80 cases in which the authorities refused notifications of protests in different areas, since January 2015 until mid-April 2015. Also, during this period, the LHRD was able to record 727 cases of arbitrary arrests. In some cases, the detainee was set free.
The Formula 1 race is seen to be a good opportunity to promote viewpoints by different sides. On one hand, the authority attempts to use the international sports event to hide its appalling record of ongoing human rights violations since the eruption of the pro-democracy movement in February 2011. While on the other hand, the pace of sporadic protests rises significantly as protesters attempt to take the opportunity for their voice to be heard by the world.

These arrests are an indicator of Bahrain’s further tightening of restrictions and suppressive measures against peaceful protests during the period which the race is set. Bahrain is yet failing to respect Article 21 of the ICCPR which sates: “The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others”.
The LHRD is concerned that the Bahraini authorities may perpetrate more violations as the protests are expected to increase in conjunction with the race.

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