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UN Special Rapporteur: Manama Adopting Drastic Measures to Curb Dissent

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Local Editor

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, called on Manama to end its use of torture, combat impunity and ensure that its anti-terrorism legislation conforms to international standards.


In his latest report on the specific cases that his mandate took action on and the replies received from governments, Forst expressed serious concerns over the "general crackdown and mounting pressure exerted on human rights defenders in Bahrain".

"Bahraini authorities seem to have resorted to drastic measures to curb dissenting opinions, including reprisals directed against defenders for cooperating with the United Nations, and in particular the Human Rights Council and the OHCHR," the report read.

Forst also articulated deep concerns over allegations of torture and ill-treatment that human rights defenders, including women, are being subjected to by the kingdom's security apparatus.

He criticized Manama's failure to respond to very specific allegations involving the use of torture, expressing his "dismay" over the regime's denials.

Furthermore, the report highlights last year's detention, torture and trumped up charges against one of Bahrain's leading human rights defenders Ebtisam Al-Saegh.

"The Special Rapporteur notes that her case is under investigation and reiterates his concerns at the use of counter-terrorism laws to impede the legitimate activities of human rights defenders and retaliate against their families," the report noted.

Forst explained that "the overly broad definitions of terrorism and other state security related crimes carry the potential for deliberate misuse and unintended human rights abuses."

Calling on Manama to ensure that statements extracted under torture are not used as evidence in legal proceedings, Forst also urged Bahrain's rulers to take urgent and effective steps to enable all human rights defenders to operate "without fear of harassment, stigmatization or criminalization of any kind."

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team