Document - Bahrain: Amnesty International concerned by latest human rights developments


Public Statement

AI Index: MDE 11/004/2004 (Public)

News Service No: 294

18 November 2004

Bahrain: Amnesty International concerned by latest human rights developments

Amnesty International has written this week to His Majesty Shaikh Hamad bin 'Issa Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain, seeking clarifications regarding the case of human rights activist 'Abdul Hadi al-Khawajaand raising a number of human rights concerns. Specifically, the organization has sought further clarification about the decision taken by the Minister of Labour on 28 September to close the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR).

To the organization's knowledge the legal basis for the closure of the BCHR remains unclear. Concerns were also raised at reports that the third court session of the trial of 'Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja, which took place on 7 November, was held in camera and that he was reportedly beaten while being forcibly transferred from his prison cell to the court.

'Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja is facing charges under the 1976 Penal Code some provisions of which are vague and could be used to clamp down on government critics. Amnesty International urges that the Code be reviewed as soon as possible to ensure full compliance with international human rights standards and reflect Bahrain's positive developments in the field of human rights protection and promotion since 2001.

The organization has also expressed concern about a number of detainees arrested during the demonstrations of 28 October in Manama some of whom are currently on hunger strike.

Amnesty International has informed the King that it is sending a trial observer to Bahrain to attend Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja’s court session on 21 November.

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