UN / Geneva: NPWJ supports campaign to free prisoners of conscience in Bahrain

16 Sep, 2014 | Press Releases

27th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Geneva, 16 September 2014

On the occasion of the 27th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, No Peace Without Justice supported the launch of the campaign to Free Bahrain Prisoners of Conscience, which was held on 16 September 2014 during a side event organized by the Arab NGO Network for Development, the Bahrain Human Rights ObservatoryAmericans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy.

Panelists of the meeting included Niccolò Figà-Talamanca, Secretary-General, NPWJ, Farida Gulam, BHRO Member and Bahrain13 Prisoners of Conscience, Michael Payne, ADHRB Advocacy Associate, Jaleela Al-Salman, BHRO Member & Vice President Bahrain Teachers’ Society, and Mohamed al Tajer, Lawyer and General Coordinator of BHRO. The meeting also benefited from the presence of Nabeel Rajab, prominent Bahraini human rights activist and president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, which was released from prison on 24 May 2014 after spending nearly two years behind bars.

The meeting provided an opportunity to highlight the ongoing deteriorated human rights situation in Bahrain. Three years after its violent response to citizens’ rallies demanding political reform and despite repeated pledges made before the UN Human Rights Council, the regime in Bahrain has failed to deliver any concrete and serious plans for reform, let alone any reform itself. Worse, it continues to suppress peaceful dissent and denies a majority of Bahrainis their fundamental rights on a daily basis. Civil society activists and human rights defenders, including minors, are still routinely subjected to harassment, arbitrary detention and imprisonment, ill-treatment and unfair and politically-motivated trials for having participated in peaceful demonstrations or criticised officials.

If the Government of Bahrain is sincere about reform, it must,  first and foremost, release all remaining prisoners of conscience and human rights defenders in detention for exercising their right to free expression and peaceful assembly be released without further delay. The Government of Bahrain must also establish credible and impartial accountability mechanisms to address past violations and to prevent continuing abuses, as recommended by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report and the UPR mechanism. Bahraini authorities should also cooperate fully with the human rights monitoring mechanisms of the United Nations and its Special Rapporteurs, in order to allow for an independent assessment of human rights conditions, particularly on freedom of association and assembly, on the situation of human rights defenders, torture and free trial.

The international community should take action to demand the respect of international conventions and universal human rights by the Bahraini authorities. A truly democratic transition in Bahrain will be achieved only if all those who are committed to peaceful and nonviolent dialogue are free to contribute fully to the political process.


Press coverage:

  • UK MP joins Bahrain side event at UN Human Rights Council, ABNA News Agency, 17 September 2014

NPWJ Bahrain Project
No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) supports Bahraini human rights organisations and activists in their efforts to promote a democratic and nonviolent political reform in Bahrain. It focuses on assisting human rights defenders and human rights advocates to secure effective and genuine accountability for past and ongoing violations of human rights, including through outreach, monitoring and documentation.

For further information, please contact: Gianluca Eramo, MENA Democracy Program Coordinator, email: geramo@npwj.org, phone: +32 2 548 39 12 or Nicola Giovannini on ngiovannini@npwj.org or +32 2 548 39 15.