Arbitrary detention of human rights defender Mr Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafdha


Your Excellency,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador for

I came to know about the situation from Front Line ? The International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.

On 2 November 2012, prominent human rights defender Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafdha was arrested in the village of Diraz on charges of rioting and participating in illegal gathering. The charges were brought in connection to a protest that took place the same day in Diraz and to which the human rights defender denied participating. He is currently detained in Hooth Al-Jaff Prison, in the Governorate of Muharraq. Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafdha is the acting vice president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR). BCHR is one of the three shortlisted nominees for the 2012 Martin Ennals Award.

On 2 November 2012, Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafdha went to the village of Diraz following reports of the violent dispersal of a protest by security forces. Once in Diraz, he was arrested outside the home of a man who had sustained injuries during the protest?s dispersal and whose case he intended to document. Following the arrest, Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafdha was questioned at Al-Badee police station about the purpose of his presence there. When fellow human rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja arrived to the police station to collect him, later that day, she was told that he was not permitted to leave yet. He was then informed that he would be held overnight and would be taken to the Public Prosecution office the next morning. On 3 November, the Public Prosecution office ordered his detention for a period of seven days to allow completion of the investigation.

Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafdha?s arrest occurred three days after the BCHR published a report highlighting the climate of impunity for grave human rights violations committed by security officials.

I am concerned about the arrest of Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafdha and believe that his arrest and detention are solely motivated by his peaceful advocacy in defence of the human rights of others in Bahrain.

I urge the authorities in the Bahrain to:

1. Immediately release Mr. Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafdha, as it is believed that his arrest and detention are solely motivated by his legitimate and peaceful human rights work;

2. Ensure that the treatment of Mr. Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafdha, while in detention, adheres to all those conditions set out in the Basic Principles for Treatment of Prisoners, adopted by General Assembly resolution 45/111 of 14 December 1990;

3. Guarantee under all circumstances that all human rights defenders in the Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including arbitrary arrest.

Yours sincerely,

William Nicholas Gomes

Human Rights Ambassador for

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