Female Postal Unionist Suspended for Voicing out Official Harassments

Date: 13 February 2008

Person(s): Najeya Abdulghaffar Target(s): human rights worker(s) The latest episode of punishing unionists for expressing themselves was two days ago by the Bahraini Postal Directorate of the Ministry of Transport which suspended postal unionist Mrs Najeya Abdulghaffar for ten days without pay, on the allegations that she disclosed "job secrets". Mrs Abdulghaffar, vice- president of the "unauthorized" Postal Union (PU), approached the General Federation of Workers Trade Unions in Bahrain (GFWTUB) and made an official complaint regarding "harassing her, marginalizing her duties and set-up plots to dismiss her on the grounds that she disclosed Governmental Secrets". The Postal Directorate considers the communication of Mrs Abdulghaffar with the media as being disclosure, without permission, of official secret information. This is not the first suspension for Mrs Abdulghaffar or other public sector unionists. In January 2007, she was suspended for similar charges. Mr Jamal Ateeq, President of PU, was suspended last December for five days, while in 2005, he was suspended for three days, for the same reason; communicating with media. Other unionists, Kathom Ebrahim Al-Mushkab and Juma Abdulla Abdul-latif, were exposed to similar treatment by the Postal Directorate Authorities in the past period. Making statements to media about violations of labour rights was considered defaming to the employer and its officials, as stated in the penalty measure statement issued by the Civil Service Bureau (CSB) to Mr Ateeq. The punishment considered against Mrs Abdulghaffar is based on administrative order by the CSB banning the formation of Governmental unions, in direct violation to Decree Code no 33 of 2002, and thus considering PU unauthorized and illegal. The BCHR expresses its concern about the suspension of Mrs Najeya Abdulghaffar which appears to be to silence her and daunt other unionist and rights activists. Penalizing Mrs Abdulghaffar and other unionists for expressing themselves violates Article 19 of ICCPR as well as to local legislatures, and affirms the systematic attack on all forms of expression in Bahrain. RECOMMENDED ACTION: Send appeals to the Bahraini Authorities: - calling for an end to Mrs Najeya Abdulghaffar's suspension - urging that no further measures be taken against her in reprisal for expressing her views - requesting legislative changes to guarantee the right of public employees to freely express their views APPEAL and TAKE ACTION TO: · His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa Al-khalifa- King of Bahrain Riffa – Bahrain · His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa Cabinet Prime Minister Manama- Bahrain

Fax: +97 3 1 721 1363 Please copy appeals to the source if possible. MORE INFORMATION:

For further information contact Nabeel Rajab, Vice-President, BCHR, Manama, Bahrain, tel: +973 3963 3399 / 3940 0720, fax: +973 1779 5170, e-mail: nabeel.rajab@bahrainrights.org, info@bahrainrights.org, Internet: http://www.bahrainrights.org