Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bahrain: UN welcomes Bahrain’s stated commitment to probe threats against rights defenders

UN - The United Nations human rights office today welcomed Bahrain’s statement that it will investigate threats against human rights defenders, but said that the three individuals who have complained of intimidation reported that they continue to receive threatening telephone calls.

Bahrain has written to UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to say that it “condemns and deplores all violent threats made towards any individual and will be investigating the matter accordingly,” OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva.

“We welcome that commitment, and of course stress that it needs to be seen to be – and to be – a transparent, and preferably independent investigation,” said Mr. Colville.

Last week, OHCHR said it had received an allegation that a message was circulating on social networking websites calling for three human rights defenders in Bahrain to be “killed and liquidated.” Their names, addresses, telephone numbers and other personal details, including photographs, had been posted on social networking websites.

The offending social media content was removed after OHCHR spoke to the media about it on Friday. “However, the three individuals report they continued to receive telephone phone calls threatening them. These calls were very similar in content, followed more or less the same pattern, and appear to have been scripted,” said Mr. Colville.

OHCHR echoed concern expressed yesterday by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) under the auspices of the Gulf Cooperation Council have reportedly entered Bahrain, where public protests against the king have led to growing violence.

Mr. Ban said he was troubled that the violence had left many people injured over the past few days, adding that the UN is in touch with all the Bahraini parties, including the Government and key opposition parties who have conveyed their concerns to the Secretary-General on the latest developments.

Mr. Colville said that there were reports that “a very large number” of people were injured during protests in Bahrain on Friday and Sunday.