BHR 001 / 0619 / OBS 048
Threats /
Defamation
Bahrain
June 7, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bahrain.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the threats and defamation against Messrs. Sayed Yousif Almuhadafdha, Vice-president of the NGO Salam for Democracy and Human Rights and Board member of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and Hussein al-Satri, an online activist [1].

According to the information received, on May 19, 2019, the Director General of Anti-corruption and Economic & Electronic Security (Ministry of Interior) announced that an investigation launched into Twitter accounts “that tended to encourage sedition and harm civil peace, social fabric and stability” in Bahrain had shown that most of these accounts were managed by individuals based in Iran, Qatar, Iraq, European countries such as France and Germany, and Australia, and by “fugitives convicted in absentia” [2]. In his statement, the Director General namely accused Messrs. Sayed Yousif Almuhadafdha and Hussein al-Satri of managing an “e-network of accounts providing false information” and said that legal action will be taken against those accounts holders. Following this statement, the King of Bahrain and its Prime Minister also called on those running these Twitter accounts to be held to account.

On May 21, 2019, the media outlet Al Arabiya published a video report about the Ministry of Interior’ statement. The video [3] describes Messrs. Sayed Yousif Almuhadafdha and Hussein al-Satri as “wanted” men. The two defenders have never been consulted by the media to get quotes or their versions of the facts. Mr. Sayed Yousif Almuhadafdha stated he would denounce this act of defamation before courts and considers these threats constitute a reprisal for his human rights work and Tweets denouncing the human rights violations in Bahrain.

The Observatory recalls that Mr. Sayed Yousif Almuhadafdha has already been targeted for information he shared on social media in the past. In December 2012, Mr. Sayed Yousif Almuhadafdha was arrested for allegedly spreading false information on Twitter, following his documentation of a peaceful protest in Manama. He was held in pre-trial detention for one-month and then released on bail on January 17, 2013.

The Observatory is deeply concerned about the threats and acts of defamation against Messrs. Sayed Yousif Almuhadafdha and Hussein al-Satri, and fears the consequences those could have on their family members based in Bahrain. The Observatory believes these threats are only aimed at punishing Messrs. Sayed Yousif Almuhadafdha and Hussein al-Satri for their legitimate human rights activities and exercise of their freedom of expression and opinion, as it has been the case with other human rights defenders in Bahrain, including Mr. Nabeel Rajab [4].

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Bahrain asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Messrs. Sayed Yousif Almuhadafdha, Hussein al-Satri, their family members, and all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

ii. Put an end to all threats and acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Messrs. Sayed Yousif Almuhadafdha, Hussein al-Satri and all the human rights defenders in Bahrain;

iii. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1, 11 and 12;

iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Bahrain.

Read more: https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/bahrain-threats-and-defamation-against-sayed-yousif-almuhadafdha-and