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Urgent Interventions

Ongoing incommunicado and arbitrary detention of Mr. Abdulhadi Al Khawaja


BHR 004 / 0411 / OBS 070

Arbitrary detention /Judicial harassment /

Fear of ill-treatments


April 21, 2011

The Observatory for the Protection of HumanRights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for HumanRights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has receivednew information and requests your urgent intervention in the followingsituation in Bahrain.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoingincommunicado and arbitrary detention of Mr. Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, formerRegional Protection Coordinator at Front Line and former President of the BahrainCentre for Human Rights (BCHR).

On April 20, 2011, Mr. Abdulhadi Al Khawaja wasallowed to make a one-minute phone call to his wife. He informed her that hewas supposed to appear on April 21, at 8.00 am before the military court.Before this call, Mr. Alkhawaja's daughter received a call from the militaryasking her to bring clothes for him.

When his lawyers presented themselves before themilitary court, they were advised that the hearing will not take place on thatdate. They could not get any further information nor have access to theirclient.

The Observatory recalls that Mr. Abdulhadi AlKhawaja is being detained incommunicado since his brutal arrest on April 9,2011 and that the charges pending against him remain unknown.

The Observatory firmly denounces the violationof his right to due process and fair trial by the Bahraini authorities, his arbitrarydetention and the judicial harassment against him which seem to merely aim atsanctioning his human rights activities. The Observatory is also deeplyconcerned for his physical and psychological integrity.

The Observatory urges the Bahraini authoritiesto take the necessary measures to guarantee the safety of Mr. Abdulhadi AlKhawaja and all human rights defenders in Bahrain and, more generally, tocomply with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted onDecember 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, the UniversalDeclaration of Human Rights as well as international and regional human rightsinstruments ratified by Bahrain, including the International InternationalCovenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Background information:

On April 9, 2011, Mr. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who hasbeen organising peaceful awareness-raising and human rights educationactivities for protesters in the recent weeks, was arrested at his daughter’shouse, along with two of his sons-in-law, Messrs. Wafi Almajid and HusseinAhmed, by masked policemen who forced entry to the building. The threemen, and Mr. Al-Khawaja in particular, were severely beaten up before beingtaken to an unknown destination. Moreover, Mr. Mohammad Al-Maskati,another Mr. Al-Khawaja’s son-in-law as well as President of the Bahrain YouthSociety for Human Rights (BYHRS), who has been monitoring human rightsviolations committed since the protest movement began, and who was also presentin the house, was severely beaten during the raid but not arrested.

On April 10, the Bahraini authorities wrote ontwitter: “Al-Khawaja was arrested for charges to be brought against himlegally. He violently resisted the arrest and had to be subdued” ; the twitthen continues as “(Al-Khawaja) is not a reformer (...) He called for theoverthrow of the legitimate regime”. To date, no information has been givento the family of Messrs. Al-Khawaja, Almajid and Ahmed neither on theirwhereabouts nor regarding any charges pending against them.

According to the information received by theObservatory about 600 people, includinghuman rights defenders, political leaders, trade unionists, doctors andparamedics and clerics have been arrested since February 2011. The whereaboutsof a significant number of them, including prominent human rights defenderAbdulhadi Al Khawaja, remain unknown and access to them, including by theirlawyers, is not guaranteed for the majority of these detainees. Concern aboutthe physical integrity and life of those arrested are high, in particular afterfour people arrested during the protests died in custody between April 3 and12, 2011.

Actions requested:

The Observatory urges the authorities of Bahrain to:

i. Immediately disclose the whereabouts of Mr.Abdulhadi Al Khawaja and all above-mentionned human rights defenders and ensuretheir access to their lawyers and families;

ii. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Abdulhadi AlKhawaja and all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

iii. Put an end to any acts of harassment, including at the judicial andadministrative level, against Mr. Abdulhadi Al Khawaja and against all humanrights defenders in Bahrain;

iv. Conform in any circumstances with the provisions of the Declaration onHuman Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United NationsGeneral Assembly, in particular :

· its Article 1,which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association withothers, to promote the protection and realization of human rights andfundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” ;

· its Article 6(c) which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in associationwith others to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, bothin law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and,through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to thosematters” ;

· its Article9.3 which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and inassociation with others, inter alia […] to attend public hearings, proceedingsand trials so as to form an opinion on their compliance with national law andapplicable international obligations and commitments; and to offer and provideprofessionally qualified legal assistance or other relevant advice andassistance in defending human rights and fundamental freedoms” ;

· its Article 10which provides that “no one shall participate, by act or by failure to actwhere required, in violating human rights and fundamental freedoms and no oneshall be subjected to punishment or adverse action of any kind for refusing todo so”;

· and itsArticle 12.2 which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures toensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individuallyand in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, defacto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary actionas a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to inthe present Declaration”.

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamentalfreedoms in accordance with international human rights standards andinternational instruments ratified by Bahrain.


- Cheikh Hamad bin Issa ALKHALIFA, King of Bahrain, Fax: +973 176 64 587

- Cheikh Khaled Bin AhmadAL KHALIFA, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tel: +973 172 27 555; Fax : +973 172 12 6032

- Cheikh Khalid bin Ali AL KHALIFA, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs,Tel: +973 175 31 333; Fax: +973 175 31 284

- Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United Nations in Geneva, 1 cheminJacques-Attenville, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, CP 39, 1292 Chambésy, Switzerland.Fax: + 41 22 758 96 50. Email:

Please also write to diplomatic representations of Bahrain in your respectivecountries.

Paris-Geneva, April 21, 2011

Kindly inform us of any action undertakenquoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, isdedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer themconcrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergencyline:

  • Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
  • Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
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