Bahrain: Harassment of women’s human rights defender, Ghada Jamsheer

Front Line reported, on 17 January 2009, that Ghada Jamsheer, a woman human rights defender in Bahrain, had become the target of a harassment campaign. Ghada Jamsheer and her family have received threats, including many threatening text messages, and have been followed in a car.
State security agents in civilian clothes have been sent to Ghada Jamsheer's house to shout at her using abusive language. She has been accused of attacking officers performing their duties and has been prevented from accessing the media.

Ghada Jamsheer is the president of the Women's Petition Committee, an organisation which campaigns for the rights and dignity of women in the shari'ah family courts.

While Ghada Jamsheer was attending the AWID (Association for Women's Rights in Development) conference in South Africa between 14 and 17 November 2008, her home was reportedly entered by a state security agent and detailed photographs were taken. Her house phone, mobile phone, and email account are reportedly under surveillance and received many threatening SMS. Ghada Jamsheer and her family have also been threatened and followed in a car, while members of security in civilian clothes have been sent to her house to shout at her with abusive language.

Finally, she has been accused of attacking officers performing their duties and has been prevented from accessing the media. Front Line is concerned that the harassment campaign and the media ban on Ms. Ghada Jamsheer is directly related to her legitimate work in defence of human rights, in particular women's rights in Bahrain, and that it may form part of an ongoing campaign against human rights defenders in the country.

Front Line is seriously concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Ghada Jamsheer, as well as that of her family.

Front Line urges the authorities in Bahrain to:

1. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the harassment against Ghada Jamsheer and her family, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;

2. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological security and integrity of Ghada Jamsheer and the members of her family;

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

Front Line respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 9 (3-c):

“everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, inter alia: (/c) To offer and provide professionally qualified legal assistance or other relevant advice and assistance in defending human rights and fundamental freedoms”, and to Article 12 (1 and 2): “(1) Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms; (2) The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threat, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any > other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”

17 January 2009

Source: Front Line - The International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.

In October 2007, Bahraini authorities imposed an unprecedented media blockade on women's rights activist Ghada Jamsheer. The president of the Women's Petition (WP), the Bahraini activist Ms Ghada Jamsheer revealed the existence of a formal decision preventing her from appearing in any of the Bahraini media. (WLUML networkers)

In a statement to Aafaq, she stated that in addition to the official media of radio and television, newspapers, whether state or nearby, were also included in the blockade campaign.

Press sources in the capital Manama mentioned to Aafaq that the blockade resolution came directly from the Royal Court, through its Minister- Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, who gave a direct instruction to newspapers preventing publication any article or news related to Jamsheer. The sources believed that the blockade came as a result of Ghada Jamsheer's letter in April 2007 addressed to the King, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, in which she called for resolving the Supreme Council for Women, chaired by the King's wife Sheikha Sabika Bint Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, because of its failure in promoting the rights of women and consecrating political loyalty to the Government.

For more details, see: www.wluml.org/english/newsfulltxt.shtml?cmd[157]=x-157-557461

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