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Bahrain: Human rights defenders continue to be banned from travel; Dr. Taha Al-Derazi, freed pending trial while other rights defenders remain jailed

2016-08-25

Bahrain continues to restrict the rights of human rights defenders to travel, including staff of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), according to reports received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR). As well, trials continue for human rights defenders, including Dr. Taha Al-Derazi, who was freed on 23 August 2016 pending trial.

This week two staff from BCHR were prevented from traveling. On 22 August, BCHR reports that Enas Oun, Head of BCHR’s Monitoring and Documentation team, was prevented from flying to a human rights workshop in Tunisia. She was reportedly told it was by order of the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) issued the day before.

Then on 23 August, Hussain Radhi, a member of the BCHR Documentation team, was stopped from traveling at the King Fahd Causeway linking Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Radhi told GCHR, “They have told me at the passport office that the decision to ban [my travel] was issued by the Department of cybercrime at the CID and without showing any reasons for the ban.” Radhi was among two dozen human rights defenders previously banned from travel, including when he attempted to go to Geneva in June to attend the United Nations Human Rights Council session.

In a small piece of good news, Dr. Al-Derazi was freed in the evening of 23 August following an appearance before the 3rd Criminal Court presided over by Judge Hussain Al-Shaikh. His next hearing date will be on Monday, 29 August. Dr. Al-Derazi was charged on 15 August, along with human rights defender Maytham Al-Salman, with “illegal gathering”, following their arrests on 14 August. Al-Salman was already freed. The charges relate to their peaceful assembly in the village of Duraz, which has been blockaded by police since June after large-scale protests began.

While GCHR welcomes the freedom of Dr. Al-Derazi pending trial, we note that other prominent human rights defenders remain in jail, including Nabeel Rajab, GCHR’s Founding Director and BCHR’s President, who was arrested on 13 June over his tweets and remains in jail pending his next hearing on 5 September.

Women’s rights defender, writer and blogger Ghada Jamsheer also remains in jail after she was detained on 12 August upon arrival from London, the United Kingdom at Bahrain’s airport in Manama. It is believed that she is being held in connection to sentences imposed on her for exercising her right to free expression on twitter. As of 25 August 2016, she has not been released from Isa Town Detention Centre for Women. See: http://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1345

These travel bans and trials come after several months of violations of the right to freedom of expression and assembly which has seen all prominent human rights defenders interrogated, jailed or exiled.

GCHR calls on the government of Bahrain to: 

  1. End travel bans and all forms of reprisals against human rights defenders including staff of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and other activists in violation of their rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression;
  2. In particular to drop the charges against Maytham Al-Salman and Dr. Taha Al-Derazi; and
  3. Immediately and unconditionally free Ghada Jamsheer and Nabeel Rajab and drop the charges against them.