Travel bans against human rights defenders in Bahrain

Who we wrote to

The king of Bahrain, His Majesty Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

What’s the issue

We’re concerned about the increase of travel bans imposed on human rights defenders and activists in Bahrain.

The list of travel bans imposed on human rights defenders and activists has doubled according to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), with at least 25 cases of travel bans, 23 of which have been imposed since June 2016.

At least five human rights defenders and activists were prevented from flying to Geneva for the 32nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, including:

  • Hussein Radhi, Bahrain Centre for Human Rights
  • Ebtisam Al-Saegh, Salam for Human Rights and Democracy
  • Ebrahim Al-Demistani, trade union member and activist

We understand that the airport authorities withheld Mr Radhi and Ms Al-Saegh's passports on 12 June 2016 before informing them of the travel ban.

The Ministry of the Interior’s Nationality, Passport and Residence Department denied imposing a travel ban. Reports confirm that Mr Radhi and Ms Al-Saegh were stop for up to an hour and told that they could not travel because of a travel ban imposed on them.

We also understand that Jalila al-Salman, a member of the Bahraini Human Rights Observatory (BHRO), was banned from travelling to Oslo on 13 June 2016 to receive an award recognising her commitment to human rights issues.

On 18 June 2016, human rights defender and member of the BHRO, Abdulnabi Al-Ektry, was banned from travelling to Paris via Sharjah without being notified of the reasons for the ban.

We’re also aware that human rights lawyer Mohammed al-Tajer and Sharaf al-Moussawi, head of the Bahrain Transparency Society, were prevented from travelling to Saudi Arabia on 8 July 2016. 

On the same day, BHRO member Zeinab Khamis was allegedly prevented from going to Kuwait.

We’re concerned that these individuals are being targeted due to their activities in defence of human rights, with the intention of silencing the expression of their views and opinions and compromising their abilities to carry out their roles.

What we asked for

We urged the relevant authorities to:

  • lift the travel bans on human rights defenders in Bahrain
  • make sure that lawyers and human rights defenders in Bahrain can carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free from restrictions
  • take measures to ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Bahrain

Timeline

12 June 2016 – Mr Radhi and Ms Al-Saegh had their passports withheld and were prevented from travelling to Geneva, along with Mr Al-Demistani

13 June 2016 – Ms al-Salman was banned from travelling to Oslo

18 June 2016 – Mr Al-Ekry was banned from travelling to Paris via Sharjah

8 July 2016 – Mr al-Tajer and Mr al-Moussawi were prevented from travelling to Saudi Arabia and Ms Khamis was allegedly prevented from going to Kuwait