Bahrain: Bahrain: Co-Director of the GCHR detained and not permitted entry to her country Bahrain


On 30 August 2014, human rights defender and co-director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), Maryam Al-Khawaja  was refused entry to her country Bahrain and detained at the immigration area. Authorities confiscated her Danish passport and told her not to use her telephone in addition to not giving her access to her lawyer or family.

Maryam Al-Khawaja decided to fly to Bahrain to be beside her father, prominent human rights defender, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja who is in prison and on his 6th day of a hunger strike demanding his immediate release. For more information kindly see the following link:

Maryam Al-Khawaja having witnessed on her arrival that her rights have been violated by authorities in Bahrain declared:

“I have decided to launch a water-only hunger strike and to refuse to leave the Bahraini airport. I will continue the hunger strike until I am allowed in to Bahrain to see my father. I want to make it clear that I refuse any and all food or treatment during my hunger strike.”

Latest reports received by the GCHR suggested that Maryam Al-Khawaja is refusing to leave Bahrain voluntarily. However, authorities are insisting that they will deport her in a clear violation of international human rights law.

The GCHR condemns both not giving Maryam Al-Khawaja entry to her country Bahrain and also her detention at Bahrain international airport. The GCHR believes that this forms part of an ongoing trend of systematic targeting of human rights defenders by the government of Bahrain.

The GCHR calls on the US administration, as well as other governments that have influence in Bahrain including the UK government, the EU and leading human rights organizations, to put pressure on the government of Bahrain to:

  1. Immediately and without any condition give human rights defender Maryam Al-Khawaja the right to enter her country;
  2. Release all detained human rights defenders including Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja;
  3. Stop the ongoing daily human rights violations as well as the escalated attacks against human rights defenders;
  4. Guarantee in all circumstances that 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.

We respectfully remind the government of Bahrain about the General Comment No. 27: Freedom of movement (Art.12) on the The International Covenant On Civil And Political Rights which Bahrain has signed on and committed to respect:

"21. In no case may a person be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his or her own country. The reference to the concept of arbitrariness in this context is intended to emphasize that it applies to all State action, legislative, administrative and judicial; it guarantees that even interference provided for by law should be in accordance with the provisions, aims and objectives of the Covenant and should be, in any event, reasonable in the particular circumstances. The Committee considers that there are few, if any, circumstances in which deprivation of the right to enter one's own country could be reasonable. A State party must not, by stripping a person of nationality or by expelling an individual to a third country, arbitrarily prevent this person from returning to his or her own country."