Amnesty International Report 2005 - Bahrain
|Publication Date||25 May 2005|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2005 - Bahrain , 25 May 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/429b27d72f.html [accessed 23 September 2014]|
Covering events from January - December 2004
Four political associations organized a petition calling for constitutional amendments, which led to the arrest of 17 people. The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights was closed by ministerial order and its executive director arrested. In response, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets. The death sentence against a young Ethiopian woman was commuted.
In April, the first woman government minister was appointed. Nada 'Abbas Haffadh, member of the Supreme Council for Women, became Health Minister. The long-serving Interior Minister Shaikh Muhammad bin Khalifa Al Khalifa was replaced in May by Major General Shaikh Rashid bin 'Abdullah bin Ahmad Al Khalifa.
In October King Hamad bin 'Issa Al Khalifa called for the enactment of laws that would end all forms of discrimination against women.
'Abdul Ra'uf al-Shayeb, a board member of the National Committee for Martyrs and Victims of Torture, was arrested on 30 March. The arrest reportedly related to his entering a house without permission and having an "illicit relationship" with an Indonesian housemaid. However, 'Abdul Ra'uf al-Shayeb's arrest was believed to be connected with his call a few days earlier for a demonstration on behalf of victims of torture to take place on 4 April, the day of the first Formula One Grand Prix to be held in Bahrain. He was released on 3 April. At the end of the year he still faced charges of entering a house without the owner's permission.
Seventeen people, including juveniles, were arrested on 30 April for organizing a public petition calling for constitutional amendments. The petition was said to have been initiated by four political associations: the National Democratic Action Society, the Islamic National Reconciliation Association (al-Wifaq), the National Democratic Society and the Islamic Action Society. By 20 May all detainees had been released by order of the King.
Human rights defender detained
'Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja, a human rights activist and executive director of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), was arrested on 25 September and ordered to be detained for 45 days by the public prosecutor. The day before, he had made a personal attack on the Prime Minister and voiced strong criticisms of the government's economic and human rights record while speaking at a BCHR-convened seminar on poverty. On 28 September the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs ordered the BCHR's closure.
'Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja appeared in court on 16 and 20 October and on 7 November, and was charged under Articles 165 and 168 of the 1976 Penal Code which include the offence of "inciting hatred of the state, defamation, spreading false information designed to destabilize public security". He denied all charges on the basis that the 1976 laws were "unconstitutional". On 21 November he received a one-year prison sentence but was released the same day, having been pardoned by the King. Hundreds of people demonstrated calling for his release, many of whom were arrested and remained in detention until their release also on 21 November by order of the King.
Torture and ill-treatment
- Hasan 'Abd al-Nabi Hassan, an unemployed man from Sitra, was arrested on 20 November by four men in civilian clothes as he stood near the royal palace holding banners, one of which said: "I am a Bahraini citizen and I demand a job". The men, said to be from the Royal Guard, ordered him to get into their car. When he refused three of them reportedly kicked and beat him with batons all over his body. The driver was reported to have deliberately reversed the car into him, hitting him on the side and arm. Hassan 'Abd al-Nabi Hassan lost consciousness and was taken to Rifa'a al-Gharbiya police station. He was handcuffed and put in a cell. When he asked for medical treatment and to see a lawyer, a duty officer beat him with a baton and metal handcuffs. He was released on 21 November and ordered to stop his protests near the palace.
Violence against women
There were reports of domestic violence against female migrant workers and Bahraini women. State inaction and discriminatory legislation left women vulnerable to gender-based violence.
- A Bahraini woman was divorced from her husband after she suffered regular beatings. No action against him was taken despite the availability of medical evidence and complaints. The husband kept custody of the couple's two children.
- In May the Migrant Workers' Group, a local non-governmental organization (NGO) working under the umbrella of the BCHR, rescued Tushari Ramyalatha, a 19-year-old Sri Lankan maid. She was reportedly the victim of regular beatings and sexual harassment by her employer's family who also refused to pay her salary. She returned to Sri Lanka after her sponsor reportedly agreed to pay for her flight and six months' salary.
In August the Shura (advisory) Council announced that it had initiated a draft law to combat violence against women.
In January the Supreme Court commuted the death sentence of Yoshork Dostazudi, a 23-year-old Ethiopian woman, to life imprisonment. She had been found guilty of beating to death her female employer in December 1998.
AI country visits
AI visited Bahrain in August and September to carry out research for the Gulf Stop Violence Against Women project (see Middle East/North Africa Regional Overview 2004) and promote human rights. Workshops were organized and partnerships with local NGOs and human rights activists were established. AI delegates visited a women's prison in 'Issa Town.