NGOs Applaud New Joint Communications Report from UN Special Procedures

NGOs Applaud New Joint Communications Report from UN Special Procedures

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy applaud the reporting of the United Nations Special Procedures, especially the human rights experts who monitor these countries, in investigating the alleged violations of human rights in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

 BIRD

We call on the countries in question to immediately and impartially investigate any and all allegations raised by the Special Procedures, with the goal of remedying any victims found to have suffered abuse and holding accountable any persons found to have perpetrated human rights violations.

The Special Procedures of the United Nations are a body of independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to report and to advise on human rights issues. Through these experts, abused persons are afforded a means of bringing alleged human rights violations to the international community’s attention to be investigated. Since 2011, the Special Procedures have published joint communications reports at each session of the Human Rights Council summarizing allegations of human rights violations.

In the June 2015 joint communications report, human rights experts filed eleven communications regarding the alleged violations of human rights in the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Find below the summaries of the communications.

Bahrain

  1. Maryam Al-Khawaja is the Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights. On 1 December 2014, a Bahraini court sentenced Maryam in absentia to one year of imprisonment for allegedly assaulting security officers in connection to her peaceful advocacy for human rights. Maryam’s communication is signed by the mandates concerning Arbitrary Detention; Freedom of Expression; Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association; and Human Rights Defenders.
  2. Zainab Al-Khawaja is a human rights activist. On 4 December 2014, a Bahraini court sentenced Zainab to three years of imprisonment and an additional 16 months for destroying government property when she tore up a photograph of the Bahraini king. Zainab’s communication is signed by the mandates concerning Arbitrary Detention; Freedom of Expression; Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association; and Human Rights Defenders.
  3. Ghada Jamhseer is the Head of Women’s Petition Committee, a human rights defenders network. On 15 September 2014, Bahraini security forces arrested Ghada and charged her with defamation in connection to her online posts alleging corruption within the King Hamad Hospital. Bahraini security forces released Ghada after one month of detainment, then arrested her again on alleged assault charges. Ghada’s communication is signed by the mandates concerning Arbitrary Detention; Freedom of Expression; Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association; and Human Rights Defenders.
  4. Sheikh Ali al-Salman is the Secretary-General of Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, the main opposition political party in Bahrain. On 26 December 2014, Bahraini security forces arrested Sheikh the day after his re-election then charged him with inciting a change of government by non-peaceful means and insulting the Ministry of Interior. Sheikh’s communication is signed by the mandates concerning Arbitrary Detention; Freedom of Expression; Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association; Freedom of Religion; Human Rights Defenders; and Independence of Judges and Lawyers.

Saudi Arabia

  1. Mikhlif bin Daham al-Shammari is a human rights defender. On 5 March 2014, the Specialized Criminal Court of Saudi Arabia sentenced Mikhlif to five years of imprisonment, a ten-year travel ban, and a ban from appearing in the media. In a separate case, the Specialized Criminal Court also sentenced Mikhlif to two years of imprisonment and 200 lashes. Mikhlif’s communication is signed by the mandates concerning Freedom of Expression; Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association; and Human Rights Defenders.
  2. Waleed Abu al-Khair is a human rights defender. On 6 July 2014, the Specialised Criminal Court of Saudi Arabia sentenced Waleed to 15 years of imprisonment, a 15-year travel ban, and a fine of 200,000 Saudi Arabian riyals. Waleed’s communication is signed by the mandates concerning Freedom of Expression; Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association; and Human Rights Defenders.
  3. Samar Badawai is a human rights defender. On 16 September 2014, Samar delivered a statement to the Human Rights Council. She criticized the treatment of Saudi political prisoners, including her husband Waleed Abu al-Khair, a human rights lawyer currently serving a 15-year sentence of imprisonment. Afterwards, Saudi security forces prevented Samar from boarding a plane and banned her from traveling for an indefinite period of time. It is alleged that Saudi authorities imposed a travel ban on Samar in reprisal for her cooperation with the Human Rights Council. Samar’s communication is signed by the mandates concerning the Freedom of Expression and Human Rights Defender.
  4. Fadhel Maki al-Manasif is a human rights defender. On 9 September 2014, the Specialised Criminal Court of Saudi Arabia reduced Fadhel’s sentence to 14 years of imprisonment, a 14-year travel ban, and a fine of 100,000 Saudi Riyals. Fadhel’s communication is signed by the mandates concerning Freedom of Expression; Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association; and Human Rights Defenders.
  5. Saudi security forces arrested Loujain al-Hathlou and Maysaa al-Amoudi for driving their cars into Saudi Arabia in violation of the ban on women driving. It is alleged that Saudi security forces ordered Loujain and Maysaa to enter Saudi territory and to make a U-turn, which would return them to the United Arab Emirates. However, Saudi security forces arrested Loujain and Maysaa as soon as they crossed into Saudi territory. It is also alleged that Saudi security forces arrested both women in an attempt by the Saudi government to suppress women’s right to freedom of opinion and expression. Loujain and Maysaa’s communication is signed by the mandates concerning Arbitrary Detention; Discrimination against Women; Freedom of Expression; and Human Rights Defenders.
  6. Raef Badawi is a Saudi human rights defender. Saudi security forces arrested Raef in relation to materials he published on his blog. A Saudi court convicted Raef of founding a liberal website, adopting liberal thought, and for insulting Islam. On 9 January 2015, Saudi security forces subjected Raef to to 50 lashes outside of a mosque. Raef is due to receive 950 more lashes in weekly batches of 50. A doctor concluded that Raef’s wounds from the first flogging had not healed and that he would not be able to withstand another round of lashes. It is alleged that the Saudi government is attempting to silence human rights activists in the country by arbitrarily arresting, detaining, and convicting Raef. Raef’s communication is signed by the mandates concerning Arbitrary Detention; Freedom of Expression; Freedom of Religion; Human Rights Defenders; and Torture.
  7. On 15 October 2014, the Specialized Criminal Court in Saudi Arabia convicted Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr of disobeying the ruler, inciting sectarian strife, and encouraging, leading, and participating in demonstrations. The Specialised Criminal Court sentenced Sheikh al-Nimr to death. It is alleged that Sheikh al-Nimr’s trial did not comply with the most stringent due process and fair trail guarantees. It is also alleged that Saudi authorities denied Sheikh al-Nimr medical treatment while detaining him. Sheikh al-Nimr’s communication is signed by the mandates concerning Arbitrary Detention; Freedom of Religion; Health; Independence of Judges and Lawyers; Minority Issues; and Summary Executions.
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