Front Line News Archive

Bahrain/Dublin: Professor Eoin O'Brien writes in todays Irish Examiner on the findings of the recent humanitarian mission to Bahrain posted on: 2011/08/02

Professor Eoin O'Brien writes in todays Irish Examiner on the findings of the recent humanitarian mission to Bahrain to offer support to imprisoned Bahraini doctors and their families.Three of the imprisoned doctors, Dr Ali Al Ekri, Dr Basim Daif and Dr Ghassan Daif studied in the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin.


The delegation was led by Professor Damian McCormac, who was also joined by Ms Averil Power TD (member of the Irish Parliament). Ms Marion Harken MEP, Mr David Andrews former Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Front Line representatives Andrew Anderson and Khalid Ibrahim. The full text of the article is published below.

"I went home from my work as usual following a day of work as an oncologist at the Salymaniya Medical Centre. I was awoken from sleep at 3 a.m. when the door of my apartment was kicked open and I was pulled form my bed by two men who then ransacked the flat, shook and searched my four-year old child, packed my personal papers and computer, and then dragged me from my flat to an a van surrounded by police cars. I protested that my child was alone and young and was told she would be looked after.

Bahrain/Washington: Nabeel Rajab Awarded the 2011 Ion Ratiu Democracy Award by the Washington based Woodrow Wilson Intemational Center for Scholarsposted on: 2011/07/28

Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights has been awarded the Ion Ratiu Democracy Award by the Washington based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Further Information

The History and Public Policy Program of the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars is pleased to announce that the 2011 Ion Ratiu Democracy Award will go to Nabeel Rajab, co-founder of the Bahrain Human Rights Society and president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights because he "has worked tirelessly and at considerable personal peril to advance the cause of democratic freedoms and the civil rights of Bahraini citizens".

The purpose of the Ion Ratiu Democracy Award is to bring visibility and international recognition to the ideas and accomplishments of individuals around the world who are working on behalf of democracy.

The award strives to enrich the intellectual environment in which ideas about democracy and democratic change circulate, both within and beyond Washington.

UAE: UPDATE - Trial of five human rights defenders continuesposted on: 2011/07/27

On 25 July 2011, the third session of the trial of human rights defenders, Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith, and Messrs Ahmed Mansoor, Fahad Salim Dalk Al-Shehhi, Ahmed Abdulkhaleq and Hassan Ali Hassan Al-Khamis, was held before the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi.

Further Information

The hearing was held in private however it is believed that two of the eight witnesses for the prosecution provided testimonies before the court and were examined by the prosecution's legal team. The lawyers of the aforementioned human rights defenders were present in court.

The trial was adjourned until 26 September 2011 when more witnesses will be brought before the court.

See here the previous item on this case

Geneva: United Nations Special Rapporteur Margaret Sekaggya launched her essential guide to the right to defend human rightsposted on: 2011/07/27

Today, United Nations Special Rapporteur Margaret Sekaggya launched her essential guide to the right to defend human rights,a key document aimed at supporting those who stand for our rights by increasing understanding of the UN Declaration on human rights defenders and awareness on the dangers they face.“It is not easy being a human rights defender; in too many countries it is dangerous, plain dangerous.” She said.

Essential guide to the right to defend human rights

GENEVA – “It is not easy being a human rights defender; in too many countries it is dangerous, plain dangerous,” said United Nations Special Rapporteur Margaret Sekaggya launching her essential guide to the right to defend human rights*, a key document aimed at supporting those who stand for our rights by increasing understanding of the UN Declaration on human rights defenders and awareness on the dangers they face.

“Despite the efforts to implement the Declaration, human rights defenders continue to face numerous violations,” Ms. Sekaggya said.

Bahrain: UPDATE - 46 doctors nurses and other health professionals still in detention or facing trialposted on: 2011/07/26

While Front Line initially welcomed the appointment of the Royal Independent Investigation Committee and the decision to refer all remaining trials to civilian courts the organisation is concerned at the continued detention of 12 doctors, nurses and other health professionals and the situation of a further 34 who still have charges pending despite being released on bail.

Further Information

According to reports received today, 12 doctors, nurses and health professionals remain in detention, 34 have been released on bail but are still facing charges and 12 have been released without charge.

UAE: End Trial of Activists Charged with Insulting Officialsposted on: 2011/07/21

UAE authorities should drop charges against five human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists arrested after they called for democratic reforms, four international human rights organizations said today. The call comes as the activists’ trial for “publicly insulting” the UAE president and other top officials re-opens on 18 July in Abu Dhabi's Federal Supreme Court, against the backdrop of a wider clampdown on dissent in the UAE. The four rights groups - Amnesty International, the Arabic Network For Human Rights Information (ANHRI), Front Line Defenders and Human Rights Watch - jointly called on the UAE authorities to abandon the trial and release the men immediately.

Further Information

In the UAE, the penal code allows the government to jail people simply for expressing their peaceful views, in contravention of clear international human rights guarantees of free speech.

"The UAE government is using defamation as a pretext to prosecute activists for peacefully expressing their beliefs about the way their country should be run," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

Colombia: End the killings - End the impunityposted on: 2011/07/19

Since the inauguration of President Juan Manuel Santos on 7 August 2010 it has been reported that 107 human rights defenders have been killed, meaning that one person is killed every 3 days.

Further Information

Following his June 2009 visit the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, noted that human rights defenders and victims' relatives are frequently intimidated and threatened and sometimes killed. Alston specifically cited stigmatisation of HRDs as guerrillas and terrorists by senior officials as a contributing factor.

Front Line is extremely concerned at the continued targeting of human rights defenders in Colombia. Front Line calls for an immediate end to the persecution of human rights defenders and for the Government of Colombia to guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Colombia are able to carry out their legitimate and peaceful human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

Israel: Anti-boycott law violates human rights and further undermines Israeli democracyposted on: 2011/07/18

EU must unequivocally condemn the law

APRODEV, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN), Front Line Defenders, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders - a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) - and the Quaker Council for European Affairs are extremely concerned about the 'Law for Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel through Boycott – 2011' (anti-boycott law). This new law, which was adopted by the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) by a majority of 47 to 38 votes on 11 July 2011 constitutes another attack against freedom of expression and association in Israel.

The anti-boycott law prohibits calls for a “boycott of the state of Israel” by Israeli citizens and organisations, and, in some cases, agreement to participate in a boycott.

Journalist harassed after press briefing in Bahrainposted on: 2011/07/17

Following a press briefing organised by the Irish delegation of medical, political and human rights figures at the end of their visit to Bahrain on 14 July 2011 the journalist Ms Reem Khalifa was surrounded by pro-Government protesters and abused and harassed. The protesters then called the police and claimed one of their number had been struck on the jaw. Eye witnesses to the encounter have testified that no person was struck and that it was Ms Reem Khalifa who was the victim of harassment and that she then walked away from the confrontation in the hotel lobby.

Further Information

The Irish delegation press briefing had been disrupted by a small group of women who shouted repeatedly. Delegation members were interviewed by a number of journalists including Reem Khalifa at the end of the briefing. When Reem Khalifa went to exit through the lobby of the Ramada Palace Hotel she was surrounded by a small group of women who shouted abuse at her, seemingly because she had been undertaking her legitimate journalistic activity and interviewing members of the delegation.

Bahrain: Press Release - New hope for Irish-trained medics imprisoned in Bahrain as Irish delegation concludes visitposted on: 2011/07/15

The Bahraini Minister for Health has told an Irish delegation that she will appeal to King Hamad to release on bail the 14 medics who remain in prison following anti-government protests last March.

The delegation included former Minister for Foreign Affairs David Andrews, Marian Harkin MEP, Senator Averil Power, Professor Eoin O'Brien, Andrew Anderson and Khalid Ibrahim of Front Line and freelance photo journalist Conor McCabe. It was led by Professor Damian McCormack who had worked with two of the imprisoned medics when they trained in Dublin.

Further Information

Over the course of two days, the delegation met a wide range of groups. Doctors who had previously been in custody recounted how they had been subjected to torture and degradation. The families of those still in prison expressed concern about their loved ones. Meetings were also held with the Minister for Health, the Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs and representatives of the public prosecution service.

Russia: Fully Investigate Estemirova’s Murderposted on: 2011/07/14

Little Progress on Second Anniversary of Prominent Chechen Activist’s Killing

(Moscow, July 14, 2011) – The Russian authorities have made little attempt to effectively investigate possible involvement by local officials in the July 2009 murder of the prominent human rights advocate Natalia Estemirova, Human Rights Watch, Civil Rights Defenders, Front Line Defenders, Amnesty International and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee said today, on the second anniversary of her death.

Further Information

The organizations, citing a new independent report detailing severe problems with the government’s inquiry, reiterated their call for a thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation and the prosecution of those responsible.

“Two years after Estemirova’s murder, there are more questions than answers about the circumstances surrounding her killing,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

Sri Lanka:UPDATE - Arrest of chief suspect in the disappearance of human rights defender Mr Pattani Razeek posted on: 2011/07/12

On 8 July 2011, the Colombo Crimes Division formally arrested Mr Shahabdeen Nowshaadh, for his alleged involvement in the disappearance of Mr Pattani Razeek. Mr Nowshaadh, who is the chief suspect in the case, remains in custody but has not been officially charged. It is reported that the aforementioned arrest is linked to evidence which suggests that phone calls were made from Mr Nowshaadh's mobile phone using Mr Razeek's sim card shortly after his disappearance.

Uganda: UPDATE - Human rights defender Mr Samwel Mohochi initiates legal proceedings against the Government of Ugandaposted on: 2011/07/06

Further to a Front Line urgent appeal dated 14 April 2011, Front Line has been informed of the following new information regarding the situation of human rights defender and lawyer, Mr. Samwel Mohochi:

It is reported that Mr Mohochi, a lawyer and trustee of the Kenya National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, has begun legal proceedings against the Government of Uganda at the East African Court of Justice following his deportation from Entebbe International Airport on 13 April 2011.

Further Information

Mr Mohochi is reportedly suing the Government of Uganda under Articles 6 (d) and 7 (2) of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community, for failing to allow him access to due process of the law or any legal or administrative process before being deported.

Mr Mohochi is allegedly seeking a declaration from the Court stating that the decision to deny him entry to Uganda was illegal on the grounds that he is a citizen of a Kenya, a member state of the East African Community.

Bahrain : letter from Bahrain thanking doctors who signed the open letter to the King of Bahrainposted on: 2011/07/01

Dear Stephanie, Michelle and all the noble Irish doctors and human rights defenders,

I want to thank you for all the support and good work you have done to defend us, the Bahraini doctors. Your emails my sister fwds me brings tears to my eyes every time I read them. You cannot imagine how grateful I am for all you have done and continue to do to ensure our release and to rescue us from these unjust trials.

I hold Ireland close to my heart. It was the first European country I visited in 1993 to sit for my DCH in RCSI. My last visit was last July when I was so impressed with the developments. I also, work part-time with wonderful people in RCSI-MUB Bahrain as a facilitator for the Masters Degree in Healthcare Management.

Thank you all again and I am forever indebted you.

Yours sincerely,

Dunia Al Hashimi, MBBS, DCH (Irl), CABP, MSc(Hons) HCM
Pediatric Emergency Consultant
Released on May 4th 2011

Lithuania: International Consortium Launches NGO Assistance Fund posted on: 2011/07/01

Front Line took part in the launch of an international consortium on 1 July 2011 in Vilnius to provide support to human rights defenders under threat around the world. The Embattled NGO Assistance Fund will help civil society activists withstand crackdowns and pressure, enabling them to continue their work to defend citizens’ rights and freedoms. Speaking at the launch Secretary of State Clinton described the NGO Assistance Fund as "an idea whose time had come". Both she and Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt highlighted the current crackdown on human rights defenders in Burma, Belarus and Bahrain as a cause of concern.