SEP 93

SEPTEMBER 1993 AOHR: Bahrain Violated Human Rights The Cairo-based Arab Organisation for Human Rights (AOHR) published its annual report on human rights in the Arab World. Bahrain, under the Al-Khalifa, maintained its position as a major abuser of human rights. AOHR reported that calls for political reform havc intensified and demands were made for the return or thc dissolved 1975 parliament. After long wail, the official response was the forma lion of an appointcd consultative council and nrnneeelnne limited “pardons” by the Amir (ruler) granted for some cxiles and political prisoners. In the mcan time restrictions on individual and collec ive frcedom continued to be in place. AOHR detailed the current constitutional and Icgal frameworks. Articles43 to 83 together whh Articlc 108 of the constitution are still suspended. At the same time laws that were issucd in contradiction with the constitution continued to bc in place. Amongst the laws are the Slatc Sccurity Law of 1974, Gatherings and Processions Law of 1973, General Penal Codc (If 1976 and its modifications in 1982, Supreme Court of Appcal Law of 1976, Trails B ases Law, Bar Law of 19X7, Nationality Law of 1989, Prcss Law of l 979, Clubs and Association Law Of 1t989 and many other laws violating human nghls and thc constitution of the country. Bahrain rcfused to sign the international conventions on human rights. The State Securi ly Law cmpowers the interior ministry to detain po ical suspects for three years without trial. According to Articlc 195 of thc Penal Code, the Suprcmc Courl of Appeal is the only coun bcforc which stale security cascs can bc heard. AOHR was alarmed by the cxtent of violations to basic human rights in Bahrain. Several people were arrested or barred from writing for sometime after delivering a talk, participating in a seminar or writing in newspapers about democracy and political reforms. Amongst them are lDr. Abdul Latif AlMamood, Ahmed Al-Sharnlan, Ibrahim B ashrni, and other. Many Shia preachers were harassed after participating in religious gatherings or In 1992 the Amir issued two “pardons” for the return of 57 and 64 exiles. These were allowed to return under restriction and humiliating conditions. More than 400 are still in exile. Many who attempted to return were turned away. AOHR reminded the Bahrain government that preventing national from returning to their home and deporting others contravene Article 1 7,C of the constitution and intemational conventions. Discrimination in Bahrain is wide-spread. Many thousands of people are still without citizenship despite the fact that them and their fathers were born in Bahrain. Locally known as Al-Ajjam, this community suffer from deprivation of all civil rights and are prevented from travel and further educ ation abroad . Many were forced to change their names and deny their origins to escape harassments. On 20 December 1992, the Amir appointed a Consultative Council of 30 members. The appointed council has no mandate for debating government policies or questioning ministers. Its role is limited to un-binding consultations to the cabinet on issues passed to them by the cabinct itsclf. This appointed council was not received warmly, since it takes Bahrain one step backward to what it was in 1973. In re sponse a petition signed by hundreds of person alities was submitted to the Amir demanding the return of elected parliamentary life and re activation of the Constitution. Article 65 of the Constitution clearly specifies that under no circumstances the country may remain without a parliament for more than 2 months. Article rz 108 firmly states that article of the Constitution may be suspended only during martial law. When these Articles were suspended, the coun try was not under martial law. AOHR conclud ed that the formation of an appointed council fall short of meeting the minimum level of

acceptable political reform.

Ibrohim Al-Khalifa versus Henderson Last month it was announced that Ibrahirn Al-Khalifa was appointed as under-secretary for the interior ministry. His fate hanged in the balance after the retirement, last December, of the British Director General of Public Security Jim Bill. Then, Ibrahim was deputy to Jim Bill. When Henderson was announced as acting for the Director General (in addition to his other position as intelligence chief) Ibrahim found himself ousted and had to disappear for some months. Later, a settlement was reached. Ibrahim was appointed as under-secretary (largely ceremonial) and Henderson’s way was cleared from competition. It is worth noting that the intelligence service has always been headed by a British since its formation in 1957. Premier Quarrels With The Hilton Hotel Rahrain’s primc minister wants the Hillon (inlcrnational) or Bahrain. The reason being Mal the land over which the Hilton stands hclong,s to Khalifa (so hc claims). The problem stems from an interpretation of a clause in thc agrcemcnl bclwcvn the owners of Hillon in Bahrain and the primc ministcr’s lawyers. Accurding lo informed sourscs, thc clause states that onginally the land agrccmcnl was for 25 years al the end of the 25th year, thc agrecment bccolncs subject lo renewal. As it stands, one would tcnd to side with the prime minister beó:ausc he has the right not to rcnew . Howevers LhC law was wntten to mean that the Icssee or Hilton is Lhc onc who decides; and it is was assumed that both Hilton and Khalifa havc inlcrcsl in renewing the (;ontracL Currently, Hilton is totally interested in rcncwing thc soon-to-end c(Jnlract. Following dzc sccond cxpiry (or should thc lessee decided lo discontinue), thc land, and more importantly LhC slruclurc, become part of Khalifa’s subslantial cmpirc. To a common Bahraini, thc overall agreement seems unacceptable if only because thC wholc building would be lost. Incidently, Hilton constructed the first building in loday’s diplomatic area, thc new city centrc of Bahrain. Thcre are several such cases involving mom bcrs of Al Khalifa. As of the date, Hilton is 80% owned by Ebrahim Isha4 (in his early fifties but recently marned lo a young local following the death of his first wife). Ishaq is a prominent figure in Bahrain businesses; in hotel, airline and real estate. Hilton is a five-star concem, an honour provided to four other hotels only. The prime minister continues to receive monthly rent for the land from Hilton. In order to solve the case, [he two sides agreed to allow their respective lawycrs present their arguments before a court. The outcome is not clear; still, the regime (but not necessarily the prime minister) may lose from either decision. If the court votes for the prime minister, then the outcome would affect the business community. This will be interpreted as a fiasco but done through legal channels. The regime is aware that business leaders have many complaints of the authorities’ bad performance in many fields. The new case will only add salt to the injury. Still, this unique litigation would set a standard for future cases if only there are various other such matters. For example, the structure of the ncwly built Samiramis hotel in the stylish Exhibition Road has a similar clause. Worse yet, the Sarniramis agreement is for 15 years only but then renewable As if this is not cnough, the land owner is this time is Sheik Mohammed, younger brother of the Amir and the prime minister. Sheik Mohammed does not give a darnn to the court system in Bahrain or the Amir. In the case Khali fa fails to w in court verdict, the regime may regard the matter as a blow. This is not acceptable to Al Khalifa who consider themselves above laws, even those put by them. It must be mentioned that this court case involving Khalifa is unique as it is not the practice of Al Khalifa to settle their disputes in courts; often they resolve problems by force. However, the current case involves a very rich person with strong market connections Ishaq’s family is quite famous among the Bahrain sunni population. Many merchants are siding with Ishaq. The prime minister himself does not like the case be the talk of the town, hence agreed to settle it in the courter In fact, Khalifa totally distances himself from such matters; the job is reserved for the lawyers. Still, Khalifa owns 20% of Hilton. But he likes total ownership. Tortured for TheirSlogans Mahdi and laafer Sahwan are two brothers who are frequently arrested and tortured. In the past ten years, they spent many years in jail. Last month on 10 and 11 August, they were arrested and tortured severely. The charge is their participation in a religious procession on 9 August by chanting slogans against Iraqi president (Saddam), denouncing Israeli aggression on Lebanorl and criticising Saudi royal family. Furthermore, they were threatened of handing over to Saudi Arabia for “punishment”* Their passports were confiscated.

Show More

Related Articles

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.