AIUSA Israel, UAE, Bahrain letter to Trump

September 15, 2020

President Donald J. Trump

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington DC 20500

 

Re: Amnesty International urges President Trump to raise human rights concerns in meetings with Bahrain Foreign Minister Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayan, UAE’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

 

Dear President Trump,

On behalf of Amnesty International USA (“AIUSA”), and Amnesty International’s more than seven million members and supporters worldwide, I am writing to urge you and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to raise the following human rights issues during meetings you may have with Bahrain Foreign Minister Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayan, the United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and the Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

 

Bahrain

Bahrain’s suppression of freedom of expression on political issues remains widespread. Public protests are still officially banned in the capital. Bahraini prisons continue to be characterized by arbitrary punitive action, degrading treatment of prisoners, and withholding and/or unjustifiable delay of medical care. Migrant workers’ rights remain limited, leaving them open to exploitation and other abuses. Women face discrimination in law and in practice. Bahrain continues to issue death sentences, the last execution took place in 2019. The country remains closed to independent outside observers, including Amnesty International.

The anti-terrorism law of 2006 and its 2014 amendment undermine human rights protection in the country and are too broadly worded. Royal decrees introduced in 2013 ban demonstrations in the capital Manama indefinitely and increase punishment for those convicted of insulting the king. Online forums, the last remaining space where Bahrainis could criticize the government, are targeted.

Government critics face arbitrary arrest and detention following trials falling short of international fair trial standards. Use of unfair mass trials continues both for people facing terrorism-related charges and protesters.

Bahrain resumed executions in 2017. On 13 July 2020, the Court of Cassation confirmed death sentences handed down to Mohamed Ramadhan Husain and Husain Ali (Moosa) Mohamed in spite of evidence of grossly unfair trials, including admission of “confessions” extracted under torture.

All opposition parties have been dissolved and many high-profile dissidents imprisoned on speech-related charges, including opposition activists Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, Hassan Mshaima, Abdelwahab Hussain, Dr Abdel-Jalil al-Singace, Mohammad Habib al-Miqdad, Abdel-Jalil al-Miqdad, Saeed Mirza al-Nuri, Mohammad Hassan Jawwad, Mohammad Ali Ridha Isma’il, Abdullah al-Mahroos Abdul-Hadi Abdullah Hassan al-Mukhodher, Sheikh Ali Salman and Naji Fateel. They are currently serving prison sentences for charges related to exercising their legitimate right to peaceful political and human rights activism.

Prison conditions remain poor and in many cases amount to degrading and inhuman treatment.  Denial of access to medical care is of particular concern. Due to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, Bahrain released large numbers of prisoners in March 2020, including at least 901 who received royal pardons on “humanitarian grounds.” However the releases so far have excluded opposition leaders, activists, journalists and human rights defenders – many of whom are older and/or suffer from underlying medical conditions. Such prisoners are at high risk of serious illness if they contract COVID-19, and thus ought to be prioritized for release.

NGOs continue to operate under very restrictive conditions, and political and human rights activists face judicial harassment, forcing some of them into exile for fear of imprisonment.

 

United Arab Emirates

The UAE authorities, particularly the State Security Agency (SSA), has subjected detainees, including foreign nationals, to arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and enforced disappearance. Their trials followed established patterns of unfairness, including through convictions based on confessions extracted under torture or other ill-treatment. The authorities continue to restrict freedom of expression. Prisoners of conscience, including Ahmed Mansoor, Dr Nasser bin Ghaith, Dr Mohammed al-Roken and others detained with him following the UAE 94 mass trial continue to be held, some even after they had served their full sentences.

Migrant workers’ rights remain limited, leaving them open to exploitation and other abuses. Women face discrimination in law and in practice.

The UAE continues to co-lead the coalition in the armed conflict in Yemen, a coalition that is implicated in war crimes and other serious violations of international law often by using arms made in the United States. The UAE also illicitly diverted weapons and military equipment to militias in Yemen, causing grave human rights violations for everyday Yemenis. In Libya, another country the UAE is involved in, the UAE supports the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA), which committed serious violations of international law in Libya. The UAE also provided arms to the LNA and operated drones on its behalf, in violation of a UN arms embargo.

 

Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

AIUSA is also concerned about any actions taken by the United States or the State of Israel that violate international law and further destabilize the region which inevitably leads to violations of international human rights and humanitarian law and threatens the safety of both Palestinians and Israelis.

These normalization initiatives do not change the legal obligations of Israel, as the occupying power under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, to not deprive Palestinians of their rights and protections guaranteed under international law.

Unfortunately, these deals also do not include Israel completely abandoning plans for further illegal annexation of the occupied West Bank, and come at a time when Israel continues to build illegal settlements and systematically abuse Palestinian human rights there.

Any process aimed at a just and sustainable peace in Israel/Palestine must include dismantling of illegal Israeli settlements, an end to systematic human rights abuses, accountability and reparation for victims of crimes under international law.

Thank you for your consideration of these pressing human rights issues. For more information or any questions you may have, please contact Philippe Nassif, Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, at 202-768-5547 or [email protected].

 

Joanne Lin

National Director

Advocacy and Government Affairs

Amnesty International USA

Philippe Nassif

Advocacy Director

Middle East and North Africa

Amnesty International USA

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