Bahrain: Bahrain: Human Rights Defender Ebtisam Al-Sayegh arrested and detained for the second time in two months
On 3 July 2017, Ebtisam Al-Sayegh, monitoring and documentation officer of the Salam Organisation (Peace for Democracy and Human Rights), was arrested during a raid on her home for the second time in less than two months.
Just before midnight, five cars and a mini van arrived at the home of Ebtisam Al-Sayegh and a large group of armed security agents, reportedly belonging to the National Security Agency (NSA) raided her home without a warrant. They took her away from her husband and children and her family has had no contact with her since then. She was seen in Isa Town Women’s Prison but it is thought that she has since been transferred and her current whereabouts remain unknown. There is serious concern for her health and safety.
The incident comes just weeks after Ebtisam Al-Sayegh suffered torture and abuse at the hands of the NSA. On 27 May 2017, she was summoned to Muharraq police station for questioning about her human rights activities. She was immediately arrested and then tortured and sexually abused by members of the NSA. The security officers also threatened to murder her and her children. She was released seven hours later but had to go directly to hospital due to the trauma suffered. For further information see GCHR appeal dated 31 May 2017.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) expresses serious concern at the arrest and detention of Ebtisam Al-Sayegh particularly due to the torture she suffered at the hands of the NSA in May and the fact that her whereabouts remain unknown. The GCHR expresses further concern at the on-going targeting by the NSA of Ebtisam Al-Sayegh and all human rights defenders solely as a direct result of their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities.
The GCHR urges the authorities in Bahrain to:
- Immediately and unconditionally release Ebtisam Al-Sayegh;
- Immediately disclose her whereabouts and ensure that she has contact with her family;
- Guarantee that Ebtisam Al-Sayegh and all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
The GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to to Article 6 (b and c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (b) As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms; (c) 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 to Article 12 (1 and 2): “(1) Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. (2) 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.”