BHRM Welcomes allowing access to detainees,
and condemns the expulsion of journalists

In a statement issued on 27 September 2010, the Bahrain Human Rights Monitor (BHRM) welcomed the decision of the Office of Public Prosecution to allow visits to the detainees pending investigations into some security cases. According to press statements attributed to the Attorney-General Dr. Ali bin Fadul Al Buainain, he pointed out that every accused has the right to a visit per a week. BHRM said in a statement that allowing access to detainees is a step forward, stressing the need to ensure the right of every accused to a fair trial during arrest, investigation, trial by an independent and competent court established by law and until a final decision is announced.

BHRM explained that the permission to visit the detainees came late, i.e. after more than a month after arrest, and visiting detainees could have taken place a little bit early. BHRM said that the delay is not supported by the Bahraini law, not accepted by international laws whatever the rationale, and cannot be seen as serving the interest of the investigation.

BHRM called upon the competent authorities to provide all guarantees of fair trial for the accused, including the right to meet with lawyers of their choice, or to provide lawyers to defend them. BHRM also urged the authorities to expedite the investigations, bring any accused before an independent court if any evidence is furnished against him, and the release of any one if evidence is not available against them.

On the other hand, BHRM expressed concern and regret over the harassment suffered by a number of journalists for being expelled from the headquarters of the National Democratic Action Society (Waad) during an open meeting on 24 September 2010. The meeting was attended by a representative of the Human Rights Watch and the families of a number of detainees. A similar incident took place on 28 August 2010 at the headquarters of the Bahrain Human Rights Society.

BHRM expressed solidarity with the journalists who will not be able to perform their mission unless they attend public meetings, and have access to sufficient information so that they perform their duty professionally and objectively, without exposure to political pressure from any party. The BHRM said that the limitation on freedom of expression is unacceptable, especially when it comes from civil society institutions that are supposed to be keener than others to support the press and expand the margin of freedom of journalists.