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UN Calls For The Release Of 3 Human Rights Defenders In Bahrain And An Investigation Into Their Allegations Of Torture

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News briefing: 

Translation and Editing by: Committee for Justice 

Geneva: June 22, 2021 

A UN expert has called on Bahrain to immediately release three human rights defenders, who are suffering from prolonged detention as a result of their legitimate promotion and protection of human rights in the country. 

Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, said she had received reports that Mr. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja had suffered facial fractures, while Mr. Naji Fateel and Mr. Abduljalil Al-Singace had been placed in solitary confinement, and had been denied basic medical care, as well as their right to practice their religion. It was also reported that Mr. Abduljalil Al-Singace was forced to confess and his religious books were stolen. 

“The fact that their health continues to deteriorate in prison is deeply disturbing,” Lawlor said, urging Bahrain to conduct an impartial and independent investigation into their allegations of torture while in prison. 

The UN expert pointed out that “The criminalization of human rights defenders in retaliation for their legitimate and peaceful efforts to advocate for the rights of others in Bahrain is concerning not only for the detrimental impact on the lives of those individuals and their families, but for the chilling effect it creates on civic space in the country.” 

Bahrain had sentenced human rights defenders Mr. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, whose detention was declared arbitrary by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and Mr. Abduljalil Al-Singace, to life imprisonment on terrorism-related charges in 2011. 

Another human rights defender, Mr. Naji Fateel, was also sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2013, on charges of “forming illegal organizations”, and these organizations have reportedly worked to promote and protect human rights in the country. 

Other human rights defenders have been prosecuted, such as Abbas Al-Omran and Ali Abdul-Imam, and were sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison for forming an illegal organization and spreading false information. They were granted asylum and are currently residing outside the country. In 2012 and 2015, the Bahraini authorities revoked their citizenship. 

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