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Government urged to provide adequate protection to all human rights defenders

(BCHR/IFEX) - Beirut, 12 December 2011 - The Gulf Centre for Human Rights and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights express their deep concern regarding the ongoing threats and harassment of some human rights defenders in Bahrain. They are: Ms. Lamis Dhaif, journalist and human rights defender, Mr. Nabeel Rajab, director of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Mr. Mohammed Al-Maskati, president of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, Mr. Yousef Al-Mahafdha, the monitoring and follow-up officer at the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Mr. Yousef Abdulrasool, member the board of directors of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, and Mr. Ahmed Abbas, member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights.

On 5 December 2011, former colonel Adel Fleifel, who is regarded as being very close to the Bahraini government, published on his Twitter account a clear and explicit threat directed towards human rights defenders Lamis Dhaif, Nabeel Rajab, Mohammed Al-Maskati, and Yousef Al-Mahafdha. According to credible reports, Mr. Adel Fleifel leads an armed civilian militia to incite sectarian violence and encourage civilians to carry arms to kill the advocates of reform, democracy and human rights activists. He is taking advantage of the failure of the government to perform their basic duty of protecting citizens and their property and to bring members of these outlawed militias to justice.

On 2 December 2011, Yousef Abdulrasool, member of the board of directors of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, was harassed and interrogated by the security forces at Bahrain International Airport, upon his arrival from Beirut after participating in a training course organized by the Regional Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the UN mechanisms.

In addition, the security forces in Bahrain continuously targeted Ahmed Abbas, member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, during the months of October and November 2011 while he was monitoring and documenting human rights violations in the village of Nuwaidrat, forcing him into hiding until now.

This pattern of violations includes the serious threats which Mr. Adel Fleifel repeats from time to time against human rights activists, the intimidation of peaceful citizens by his armed militias, as well as human rights violations and harassment by the authorities in Bahrain against the human rights defenders - Lamis Dhaif, Nabeel Rajab, Mohammed Al-Maskati, Yousef Al-Mahafdha, Yousef Abdulrasool, and Ahmed Abbas. These are contrary to international human rights laws that focus on the necessity of protecting civil and human rights for all citizens and sharply contrast with what is mentioned in Article 12 of the UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which states that "the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection of the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, adverse discrimination facto or de jure, or pressure, or any other arbitrary action" as a result of the legitimate exercise of their civil and human rights.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights call on the Bahraini government to provide the adequate protection to all human rights defenders to carry out their peaceful activities in defense of human rights. The government of Bahrain should take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of human rights defenders and that of their family members.

It is vital for the government of Bahrain, in particular after the Bassiouni Commission's report, to send a clear and strong message to the international community, that there will be no impunity for alleged perpetrators of human rights related crimes such as Mr. Adel Fleifel. Also, the notorious decree 56 which gave amnesty to people who committed crimes of torture in the 1990s should be recanted. This decree gives people like Mr. Adel Fleifel impunity, and allows the continuation of practices of torture.

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