7/31/2011

Front Line registers Bahrain Center for Human Rights activists as Human Rights Defenders

18th July 2011

In an international recognition of the efforts of the human rights defenders in Bahrain, a number of members of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) received certificates from Front Line registering them in the organization as "Human Rights Defenders". The registered members were Sayed Yousif Al Mohafdah (board-member in BCHR) and Lawyer Mohammed Al Jishi (attorney for detainees in political cases).
Front Line is an international foundation operating from Dublin for the protection of human rights defenders globally. According to its definition of "Human Rights Defenders" they are individuals who through peaceful means work for the preservation of rights declared by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and others. Front Line strives to provide rapid and practical support to human rights defenders who are in danger and works to increase their identification and recognition as individuals under threat. Front Line has a Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations [1].
"Human rights defenders are people who make extra-ordinary sacrifices, often putting their lives at risk for the human rights of others. They are usually either on the move or on the run and they are the people who change society - that is why they need and deserve our support and why Front Line is so pleased to welcome this cross party support for human rights defenders today" said Mary Lawlor, Director Front Line [2].
Andrew Anderson said that the foundation granted membership to human rights defenders to encourage them to continue their brave work in shedding the light on human rights abuses in Bahrain and to provide some sort of international cover for them due to the dangers they are faced with. Moreover, the foundation installed a security system on the house of the Head of BCHR Nabeel Rajab which was attacked with tear-gas twice in the past two months.
Registering these human rights defenders is considered a recognition and appreciation of their brave work in defending human rights despite the dangers of assault and arrest faced by them. Particularly with them being constantly targeted such as the attempt to arrest Sayed Yousif Al Muhafdah who became active in recent years as a defender of human rights in Bahrain and a human rights blogger. His house was raided in the early hours of the morning and he was banned from travel and was delayed in other instances. Moreover, Lawyer Mohammed Al Jishi was also previously banned from travel and went through interrogation with other lawyers working in cases that were brought before the Military Prosecution in relation to participation in a lawyers' demonstration at Lulu Roundabout demanding the rule of law on those responsible for the death of many young men in the past February. This comes after a long list of assaults they went through (see BCHR detailed statement [3]) and continued their activities despite them to document the abuses made by the Bahraini regime who took advantage of the "State of National Safety".
Bahrain Center for Human Rights would like to take this opportunity to ask the Bahraini government to stop abuses against human rights defenders across Bahrain, especially since they are receiving international recognition of the workmanship and respect from the international community. Their government should have been the first to recognize and protect them and to uphold its commitments to international treaties particularly the Human Rights Defenders Declaration of 9 December 1998 by the United Nations and in particular article 12.2 of it which states: "The state must make all the necessary arrangements for the protection of individuals, by the respective authorities, alone or with others against any violence, threats, vengeance, hostile discrimination in practice or by law, pressure or any other arbitrary act due to their practice of their legitimate rights mentioned in this Declaration".
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Bahrain/Washington: Nabeel Rajab Awarded the 2011 Ion Ratiu Democracy Award

Published on frontlinedefenders.org

28 July 2011
Nabeel Rajab
, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights has been awarded the Ion Ratiu Democracy Award by the Washington based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Further Information
The History and Public Policy Program of the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars is pleased to announce that the 2011 Ion Ratiu Democracy Award will go to Nabeel Rajab, co-founder of the Bahrain Human Rights Society and president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights because he "has worked tirelessly and at considerable personal peril to advance the cause of democratic freedoms and the civil rights of Bahraini citizens".
The purpose of the Ion Ratiu Democracy Award is to bring visibility and international recognition to the ideas and accomplishments of individuals around the world who are working on behalf of democracy.
The award strives to enrich the intellectual environment in which ideas about democracy and democratic change circulate, both within and beyond Washington. Sponsored in cooperation With the Ratiu Family Charitable Foundation (London, UK) and the Ratiu Center for Democracy (Turda, Romania), the award expresses the deep commitment to democracy ofthe late Ion Ratiu through his contributions as a Romanian politician and.intellectual as well as his interest in democratic change worldwide.
The Ion Ratiu Democracy Award was established in 2005 as a way to recognize the importance of the work carried out by democracy activists around the world. Since 2006, the Award ceremony is hosted at the Woodrow Wilson Center. Previous awardees include Oleg Kozlovsky (Russia, 2010), Adam Michnik (Poland, 2009), Eleonora Cercavschi (Moldova, 2008), Anatoli Mikhailov (Belarus, 2007), Saad Ibrahim (Egypt, 2006), and Sergio Aguayo (Mexico, 2005).

Bahrain Center for Human Rights takes this opportunity to ask the Bahraini government to stop abuses against human rights defenders across Bahrain, especially since they are receiving international recognition of the workmanship and respect from the international community. Their government should have been the first to recognize and protect them and to uphold its commitments to international treaties particularly the Human Rights Defenders Declaration of 9 December 1998 by the United Nations and in particular article 12.2 of it which states: "The state must make all the necessary arrangements for the protection of individuals, by the respective authorities, alone or with others against any violence, threats, vengeance, hostile discrimination in practice or by law, pressure or any other arbitrary act due to their practice of their legitimate rights mentioned in this Declaration".
A Copy of The Letter of Award
More
A summary of Rajab's activism work: Wikipedia
Because of his work as a human rights defender, Nabeel Rajab has become the target of several orchestrated attacks by the regime in Bahrain for years, however those attacks have intensified in recent months:
Nabeel Rajab President of Bahrain Center for Human Rights was beaten, blindfolded and detained - 20 March 2011
IFEX gravely concerned for safety of IFEX member and BCHR President Nabeel Rajab - 11 April 2011
The Observatory: Bahrain Grave Concern For Human Rights Defenders - 11 April 2011
The Arabic Network Condemns The Trial of The Prominent Activist Nabeel Rajab For Publishing Images on Twitter - 11 April 2011
Bahrain's authorities target the president of Bahrain Center for Human Rights and its members. - 17 April 2011
HRW: Bahrain: Attack on Rights Defender's Home - 18 April 2011
Home of the Bahraini activist and President of BCHR Nabeel Rajab is attacked, again - 22 May 2011
The Observatory: Attack against Mr. Nabeel Rajab's house - 23 May 2011
Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) states it concern for the safety of Nabeel Rajab and his family - 28 May 2011
Front Line: Bahrain: UPDATE - Violence, harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders - 1 June 2011
You can follow Nabeel Rajab on
Twitter
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ICG Report: Bahrains Rocky Road to Reform


Manama/Washington/Brussels | 28 Jul 2011
Unless all sides to the conflict agree to an inclusive dialogue in order to reach meaningful reform, Bahrain is heading for prolonged and costly political stalemate.
Popular Protest in North Africa and the Middle East (VIII): Bahrain's Rocky Road to Reform, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines the situation in the island kingdom five months after the outbreak of the mass protest, which was followed by brutal government repression. The spasm of violence further polarised a society already divided along sectarian lines and left hopes for genuine political reform in tatters, raising serious questions about the state's stability.
"While mostly calling for political reform leading to a constitutional monarchy in the uprising's early days, protesters steadily began to embrace the more radical demand for the regime's replacement with a democratic republic", says Joost Hiltermann, Crisis Group's Middle East and North Africa Deputy Program Director. "Feeling threatened, the regime lashed back. This spelled the end of talk about dialogue and reform and weakened dialogue's main protagonists".
In February and March 2011, Bahrain experienced peaceful - predominantly Shiite - mass protests that triggered a severe response from the regime headed by the Sunni Al Khalifa royal family. Under pressure from its Western allies and seeking recovery from the shock to its economy, King Hamad bin Isa lifted the emergency law in June and ordered a "national consensus dialogue". However, while on their face these are positive developments, they appear designed more to placate those same allies than to significantly alter the regime's approach toward its own citizens. Repression has eased but not ended, and none of the worst excesses - the lengthy prison sentences for political offences, job dismissals based on participation in peaceful protests, destruction of Shiite mosques - has been reversed. On a more constructive note, the king agreed to an independent international investigation of the events of February and March.
For a real dialogue to start in earnest and achieve a sustainable solution, the regime should first free those arrested for their participation in peaceful protest. It should also end its stigmatisation of the Shiite community as well as the practice of destroying or damaging Shiite religious structures. Nothing short of such steps could even begin to restore a measure of basic trust, without which no genuine dialogue, much less national reconciliation, can take place. For its part, the opposition should make great effort to reassure the royal family, and the Sunni community that supports it, that it seeks an expansion of political rights, not the monarchy's overthrow.
Western states and notably the U.S. will have to play a key role. Washington, which has enormous assets and interests in the Gulf, including Bahrain, should press the regime to cease its human rights violations and institute meaningful reform.
"There is reason to fear that Bahrain is heading for prolonged political stalemate, enforced by a heavy security presence backed by foreign troops and punctuated by protests when circumstance permits", says Robert Malley, Crisis Group's Middle East and North Africa Program Director. "Further repression and violence will not unlock this complex political equation or defuse this combustible situation. The better alternative is for the parties to find a path to dialogue and inter-communal accommodation".

crisisgroup.org

Bahrain: The Targeting of Employee and Office of "Doctors WithoutBorders/ Médecins Sans Frontières"

July 29th, 2011

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) expresses its concern regarding the targeting of a local employee and the office of Doctors Without Borders' " Médecins Sans Frontières"
On the 27th of July 2011, Mr.Hassan Aleskafi, a protester, was transferred to the office of Doctors Without Borders " Médecins Sans Frontières" with an injury to the head due to being attacked by Riot Police with a canister (possibly teargas) while participating in a peaceful protest. Doctors Without Borders called the ambulance due to the severity of the injury, and he was transferred to the hospital.
On the 28th of July 2011,Security forces stormed the office of Doctors Without Borders, confiscated medicines, surrounded the building and arrested local staff member "Mr.Saeed Ayad".
On the 29th of July 2011,The local employee, from Doctors Without Borders, was charged with: opening of an unlicensed clinic, aiding an injured defendant escape,false reporting of an incident.
byshr.org
Further Information:(MSF) staff member "Saeed Ayad" was previously detained for weeks in Bahrain and was released uncharged on June 11. Neither his lawyer nor family were granted access to him throughout his detention period. On 29th July he was arrested for the second time.
Since March 2011, MSF has seen close to 100 people too afraid to leave their homes to seek care in health facilities. MSF raised concerns about the loss of neutrality of Bahrain's medical facilities, and the related deprivation of care to numerous sick and wounded people in a report issued in April, 2011.
doctorswithoutborders.org

7/30/2011

AWAY FROM SUDAN, SHATTERED DREAMS AND LIVES IN DANGER

2011.07.27 

Two young Eritrean refugees jumped from a truck that was taking them from eastern Sudan as they were being repatriated against their will to Eritrea: one was killed, the other seriously injured. UNHCR has "condemned the deportations of Eritrean asylum-seekers to Sudan" and that it was "concerned by the increasing frequency of such incidents" in contexts that "violate international law and Sudan." According to UNHCR, since last May thirty asylum seekers were deported to Eritrea from Sudan.
"To leave Eritrea before the age of 50, is a crime if not all military obligations have been met, according to the government in Asmara is a crime, so those who are forcibly returned will surely be punished," said to MISNA Don Mussie Zerai, an Eritrean, who heads the Habeshia Agency for co-operation and Development. "Deporting Eritreans asylum seekers to a country where they face heavy retaliation is a clear violation of the law" says Don Zerai, who asks the international community to ensure that such people be given protection.
Authoritarianism, freedom denied, extended militarization are causes of great  frustration for many young Eritreans who feel oppressed by the regime led by Isaias Afeworki, Eritrea's president for 18 years. According to the anti-government information website ‘Assenna', last week some young people committed suicide after learning they were conscripted into the army because of unsatisfactory academic performance. Nine of them died, while the others are now in critical condition. "Unfortunately - said Father Zerai - these events have already happened in the past: they are extreme gestures of despair that can occur when a young man sees his future and his dreams shattered."
2011 MISNA - Missionary International Service News Agency Srl

FROM MOGADISHU TO JUBA, OLD PROBLEMS AND NEW INTERESTS

2011.07.29
The governments of Ethiopia and Uganda have created a joint ministerial commission aiming to "sustain development and stability" in neighboring Southn Sudan and Somalia as reported by ‘The Africa Report' stating that the agreement was reached during a meeting of ministers that took place recently in the Ethiopian capital.
"The challenges that Somalia continues to pose, are a threat to the region's stability," said Foreign Affairs minister Ato Hailemariam Desalegn in Addis Ababa, who added  that "the first agent that needs to be defused for the shared security policy is the' Shebab' movement, backed at one time or another by different actors in the region and abroad."
In the Somali conflict triggered by the fall of the Siad Barre regime in 1991, Ethiopia has engaged in a military intervention between 2007 and 2009; this mission was succeeded by African Union troops (AMISOM) coming from Uganda and Burundi.
"Somalia is surely one of the issues that this Commission will be called to confront," confirmed a joint statement in which the representatives of both governments, who aim to play a leading role in the future of the region also noting their "availability" to support the new independent government of South Sudan.
And across the border in the disputed and oil rich Abyei region between North and South Sudan, the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has already started to deploy 4200 peacekeepers, under UN mandate, who will try to avoid an escalation of the violence while favoring a peaceful settlement of disputes.
But beyond the stormy relations with Khartoum, there are countless interwoven interests, from crude oil and the creation of a new business ties between Uganda, Ethiopia and South Sudan.
As for the future of the new state, and the risks of a "protectorate" imposed by the regional powers, ‘The East African' magazine wonders if ‘the man with the hat' in power in Kampala is willing to accept political decisions unfavorable to him coming from the new state.
"Until now, the relationship with the newly born South Sudan we have essentially acted as babysitters of what threatens to become a rebellious teenager," notes Fanaka Wote Kwa, coordinator of a Ugandan ‘think tank' dealing with regional policy and security, according to which "Kampala should learn from past experiences with the Congo and Rwanda to deal with" more respect" those friendly governments, without trying to interfere in the affairs of the individual countries."
With all the interests which revolve around the reserves and markets of the new state, South Sudan must accelerate the shift from the "poetics of independence, to the prose of governance - the analyst observes - and this will not be an easy task."
2011 MISNA - Missionary International Service News Agency Srl

http://www.bici.org.bh/

2011.07.29 
An independent Commission of Inquiry has been established on 29 June 2011 in the Kingdom of Bahrain pursuant to Royal Order No. 28 by His Majesty, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The Commission has been tasked with investigating and reporting on the events that took place in Bahrain in February and March 2011, and the consequences of the aforementioned events.
To ensure the independence of the Commission of Inquiry, the Royal Order has appointed five, eminent, non-Bahraini individuals who have expertise in the fields of international law and international human rights law to act as commissioners. Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni, holding both Egyptian and American nationalities, has been named the Chair of the Commission. The other four commissioners are: Judge Phillipe Kirsch of Canada and Belgium, Professor Sir Nigel Simon Rodley KBE of the United Kingdom, Dr. Mahnoush Arsanjani of Iran, and Dr. Badria Al-Awadhi of Kuwait.

7/29/2011

Bahrainis to stage anti-US Friday sit-in

2011.07.29
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - The spokesman of the Bahraini movement, Abdul Raouf al-Shayeb, said that the demonstrators intend to voice their opposition on Friday against the US support of the Al Khalifa regime.
The protesters seek to maintain the right to determine their own destiny, al-Shayeb added.
The main Bahraini opposition group, al-Wefaq, has also called for fresh rallies on Friday.
Al-Shayeb's remarks come as Saudi-backed Bahraini regime forces continue cracking down on peaceful demonstrators.
On Wednesday, the regime forces attacked the protesters in the village of Nuwaidrat, according to witnesses.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates deployed their first batch of military forces to Bahrain in mid-March.
On Saturday, Saudi Arabia deployed more forces in Bahrain in an attempt to further help the ruling regime clamp down on anti-regime demonstrators.
In June, a military court in Bahrain tried seven opposition activists including al-Shayeb in absentia for "plotting to overthrow the ruling system." The opposition spokesman was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.
Anti-regime protesters have been holding demonstrations across the country since mid-February, calling on the ruling family to relinquish power.
Scores of protesters have been killed -- many under torture -- and numerous others detained and transferred to unknown locations during the regime's brutal onslaught on protesters.

7/28/2011

Bahrain. Ministry of Human Rights & Social Development comments on theIrish delegations' report

2011.07.28 
Ministry of Human Rights & Social Development comments on the Irish delegations' report published on Medical Times Team's after their visit to Bahrain.
Manama, July 28 -- (BNA) Ministry of Human Rights & Social Development issued a statement regarding incorrect local newspapers' reports pertaining to some questions raised in the aftermath of the Irish delegation's report published on the Irish Medical Times after their visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain.

7/26/2011

HRF: After Oppositions Withdrawal, U.S. Urged to Declare its Positionon N. D. in Bahrain

July 19, 2011

Washington, D.C.-The U.S. government should immediately and publicly declare whether it still supports the Bahraini government's National Dialogue after the country's main opposition party, Al Wefaq, has officially withdrawn, said Human Rights First today.
"A wide range of human rights defenders in Bahrain told us last week the dialogue is cosmetic, and the U.S. government is losing credibility by being associated with it," said Human Rights First's Brian Dooley, who just returned from a fact finding mission in Bahrain. "Even as the dialogue sessions meet, the Bahraini government continues to shoot at civilians, detain opposition members, torture human rights defenders and intimidate all those who speak out."
Last week, Human Rights First released a new report on the continuing human rights crackdown in Bahrain. The report is based on eye-witness testimonies and in-country interviews with human rights defenders, and includes recommendations for the U.S. and Bahraini governments.
The complete report and recommendations can be found here.
"Human rights defenders told us the Bahraini government must rebuild community trust before any dialogue can be real," added Dooley. "They argue that the U.S. government has influence it can use in persuading the Bahraini government to take necessary confidence-building steps. These steps include: stopping all violence against peaceful protesters, ending the abuse and torture of all detainees -and giving them medical attention and visits from their families-and releasing all political detainees and members of the opposition. It's time the U.S. government uses that influence."
The main Shiite opposition group, Al Wefaq, withdrew from the National Dialogue on Sunday, claiming it would not lead to real reforms. The group's spokesperson said that the opposition has been marginalized in the talks, and that their presence has been merely to add credibility to a flawed process.
humanrightsfirst.org

Reuters: Bahrain commission to investigate army, torture claims

By Praveen Menon
MANAMA | Sun Jul 24, 2011
(Reuters) - A commission tasked by Bahrain to investigate weeks of protests that rocked the Gulf island kingdom said Sunday it would look at the role of the security forces in the unrest and examine charges of torture.
At a news conference marking the launch of the five-member panel's investigation, chairman Cherif Bassiouni said his team would look at 30 police officers being investigated by the Interior Ministry for allegedly not following procedures.
He said the army would also be investigated.
"We will investigate the role of the army. The army is not above the law and not beyond the law," Bassiouni said, adding most of the incidents under investigation happened while the military was in charge.
Bahrain's Sunni rulers imposed martial law and crushed weeks of pro-democracy protests led mostly by the Shi'ite majority in March, lifting the state of emergency some four months later.
During the crackdown, hundreds of people were arrested, most of them Shi'ites, and some 2,000 who were sacked.
Tensions are still simmering in the Gulf Arab state, with small protests erupting daily in Shi'ite villages ringing the capital since emergency law ended on June 1.
King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa set up the panel of human rights and legal experts in June after facing international criticism for the crackdown, including from long-time ally the United States, whose strategic Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain.
Panel chief Bassiouni is an Egyptian-American law professor and U.N. war crimes expert who was involved in the formation of the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) and recently headed a U.N. inquiry into events in Libya.
The commission also includes Canadian judge and former ICC president Philippe Kirsch, British human rights lawyer Nigel Rodley, Iranian lawyer Mahnoush Arsanjani and Kuwaiti Islamic law expert Badria al-Awadhi.
TORTURE CLAIMS
Bahrain has said it will give the commission access to official files and allow it to meet witnesses in secret. But opposition groups have argued bias may mar a mission set up by the government.
Bassiouni said the panel was investigating the 33 deaths recorded during the protests and crackdown, as well as 400 cases of injuries. He also said the commission would investigate claims of torture in detention, including of several medical workers.
"(The mandate) also includes a number of allegations of torture including that of the offences which occurred against medical personnel, which are well documented by international human rights groups," Bassiouni told reporters.
Bahrain denies any systematic abuse by police and has said all charges of torture will be investigated.
The government has accused protesters of a sectarian agenda backed by Shi'ite power Iran, just across Gulf waters.
Despite the opposition's denials, such suspicions linger among the Sunni population and highlight sectarian tensions that continue to divide the kingdom.
Bassiouni told reporters the panel would hand over its report to the king in October but said the real task would be to act on the commission's recommendations.
"The risk is that there are too many high expectations of what we may be able to accomplish," he said. "It becomes a matter of internal significance to act on the recommendations ... this crisis had a traumatic effect on the people of Bahrain."
(Writing by Erika Solomon; Editing by Sophie Hares)
reuters.com

Bahrain: Washington and London Endorse Dialogue With Tyrants, WarCriminals and Torturers

 2011.07.25
by Finian Cunningham
Efforts by the US and British-backed Bahraini regime to repair its international image over human rights violations are in tatters with the revelation that senior members of the oil kingdom's royal family have been personally involved in torturing hundreds of civilian detainees, including doctors and nurses.
One of the torturers-in-chief is Captain Nasser Al Khalifa, son of the king. He graduated this year "with honours" from the US Marine Corps University at Qantico, Washington.
This criminal rule by inner-circle members of the House of Al Khalifa also exposes Washington and London's efforts to positively talk up reforms and dialogue by their Persian Gulf ally as a cynical sham. In Libya and Syria, war and sanctions are declared against alleged human rights abusers. But in Bahrain, Washington and London say pro-democracy protesters must embrace the rulers' so-called initiative for national dialogue.
Revelations of royal family brutality in Bahrain also make a mockery of King Hamad's announcement last month of an "independent" human rights probe into violations that took place during the Western-backed Saudi-led military invasion of the oil-rich kingdom earlier this year.
Yet again Washington and London had trumpeted this move as a positive step to reform in the Gulf kingdom, where a minority unelected Sunni elite has ruled over a majority Shia population for 40 years since nominal independence from Britain in 1971.
But how can such a regime be taken seriously for investigating crimes against humanity when the perpetrators of those crimes are senior members of the regime? Since the popular and peaceful uprising against the US and British-backed monarchy began in mid-February, nearly 40 unarmed civilians have been killed by state forces. The head of the armed services is Supreme Commander King Hamad.
The king's other son by his second of four marriages, Shaikh Khalid, is also named as being personally involved in meting out torture to prisoners. Shaikhs Khalid and Nasser are half brothers of Crown Prince Salman, who was greeted in Washington by President Barack Obama last month when he announced Bahrain's "national dialogue" and "political reforms".
The Crown Prince told media then after his White House meeting: "I fully share the President's outlook concerning respect for universal human rights and the continuance of Bahrain's process of meaningful reform."
In stark contrast to such rhetoric about respecting universal human rights, many former Bahraini detainees described to Global Research a litany of brutalities that they endured at the hands of senior members of the Al Khalifa regime. The victims have told how they were punched, kicked and whipped and made to stand for days continuously without sleep. If they fell over from exhaustion, they would be kicked and punched and forced to resume standing.
Prisoners were routinely blindfolded, electrocuted, suspended from ceilings with handcuffs, or trussed like chickens on a metal pole and left to hang for prolonged periods. In many instances, former inmates said they or members of their families were threatened with rape if they did not sign confessions to scripted crimes.
Most of the torture is believed to have taken place in the underground cells of the Ministry of Interior headquarters - al Qala - in the capital, Manama. The king's sons were present during interrogations and were personally involved in torture sessions, according to former detainees in independent testimonies. Other members of the Al Khalifa entourage are accused of participating in gross maltreatment of prisoners. They include high-ranking officers in the Bahrain Defence Forces.
One senior royal family member in particular with blood on her hands is Shaikha Noura Al Khalifa, who is a Ministry of Interior officer. Her precise relation to King Hamad is not clear, but she is one of the regime inner-circle. She is said to have overseen the torture of female detainees, including teachers, students, doctors and nurses.
One released female detainee told how she was blindfolded, beaten on the head and verbally abused. "I was called a dirty Shia whore," she said.
The former detainee said her interrogators would refer deferentially to the torturer-in-chief present in the room by her royal title "shaikha". At one point, the prisoner's blindfold slipped off and she said she recognised the royal.
Other former female prisoners told how they were subjected to similar physical and mental trauma conducted by Shaikha Noura. Bahraini prison sources have told Global Research that the 20-year-old female poet Ayat Al Qurmezi, who was released last week from a one-year sentence, was also subjected to torture by the same royal.
Among the degradations suffered by the young poet were repeated threats of rape and a toilet brush was forced into her mouth - presumably as retribution for a poem recited at a pro-democracy demonstration in February when she criticised the Sunni rulers.
Ever since the US and Britain gave the green light to the Saudi-led invasion of Bahrain on 14 March, over 1,500 civilians - mainly from the majority Shia community - have been detained without trial. Four people have died in custody from torture, including journalist Karim Fakhrawi, according to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights [1].
Other rights groups, such as Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, Front Line Defenders and Human Rights First, have testified that torture of detainees is routine and pervasive.
In a report out this week, Human Rights Watch condemned the Bahraini regime for systematic torture against dozens of medical professionals in particular [2].
More than 70 medics have been arrested; 48 are being prosecuted with charges that can only be described as ludicrous, such as "inciting hatred against the rulers". If found guilty, the medics are facing 20-year prison sentences. The defendants include internationally respected senior surgeons Ali Al Ekri, Ghassan Dhaif and Basim Dhaif. They were trained at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, in Dublin. Disgracefully, the RCSI has remained silent about the violation of their members, owing to its vested financial interests with the Al Khalifa regime [3].
All of the detained medics have been subjected to torture and coerced into signing confessions. The female royal, Shaikha Noura, has overseen and conducted the abuse of female medics as well as other female prisoners, according to prison sources.
King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the head of state, has in recent weeks announced a raft of seeming concessionary initiatives, including: the end of martial law courts along with the end of a state of emergency; a process of national dialogue for reconciliation and reform; and an independent probe into allegations of human rights violations.
The moves by the ruler of the oil-rich kingdom, where the US Navy Fifth Fleet is based, have been enthusiastically endorsed by Washington and London. "We welcome the recent positive developments," said Michael Posner, the US administration's human rights envoy on a visit to Manama last month.
However, evidence that members of the ruling family have been personally involved in torturing detainees, suspected of supporting a peaceful pro-democracy movement, suggests that the regime's initiatives are a cynical public relations exercise.
That Washington and London have both endorsed the Al Khalifas' "dialogue and reform efforts" points to an equally cynical attempt by these Western governments to give cover to their client regime. The question has to be asked: how can pro-democracy parties in Bahrain be seriously expected to have a conversation about reforms with tyrants, criminals and torturers?
Calls for indictments at the International Criminal Court would be more appropriate.
A more pertinent question perhaps over Bahrain is: how can anyone really take Washington or London serious about their avowed commitment to democracy and human rights?
Finian Cunningham is a Global Research Correspondent based in Belfast, Ireland. He was expelled from Bahrain for his critical journalism on 18 June 2011.
cunninghamfin@yahoo.com
Notes
[1] http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/3921
[2] hrw.org/node/100587
[3] globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=24449

globalresearch.ca

7/25/2011

Prof. Bassiouni describes the King's decision to launch BICI as ahistoric and groundbrea king


Manama, July 24 (BNA) -- The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) will go to great lengths to protect the indenities of individuals who report cases of human rights violation.
Prof. Bassiouni described the King's decision to launch the inquiry as ‘' historic'' and groundbreaking since no other Arab government has ever invited foreign experts to probe its domestic affairs.
According to the Royal Decree issued by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the Bassiouni inquiry will have access to officials and official documents.
The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry's official website can be found at while e-mailed testimony can be sent to outreach@bici.org.bh.
Commission head Professor Cherif Bassiouni said a team of six non-Bahrainis would help collect evidence from all parties. "All security measures have been taken related to the website, with the database secured off site (outside the country)," he told a Press conference last night.
He added that the commission is wholly independent of the government and will be responsible for hiring its staff and administering its own budget.
It will have full access to government agencies and people that it deams appropriate. The Commission has the authority to meet witness in secret and to adopt protective measures for witnesses. It has the authority to decide on all matters concerning the scope of its work and its methods of operation.
The government has taken steps to ensure that no person is punished, penalized, harassed in any way for cooperating.
Finally the committee has granted powers to make any recommendations its sees fit in its final report which will be made public.

7/24/2011

HRH Premier : The Government Will Cooperate with Royal Fact-Finding


Manama, July 24. (BNA) - The government will cooperate fully with the Royal Fact-Finding Commission, His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa said, adding that the government will spare no effort for sake of providing suitable conditions in order to ensure the success of its mission.

Bahrain: royal commission undermined on first day working day

 2011.7.24

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - The anti-regime demonstrations took new dimensions when the youth took to the streets in various places. After the Friday prayers hundreds of youth staged their protest in Duraz, Bani Jamra, Barbar, Sitra, Al Ekr and other towns.

They were viciously attacked by the regime's forces. Many of the demonstrators have sustained serious injuries but were unable to get to the hospital for fear of kidnapping and further torture. Children and women were savagely beaten. Tear and chemical gases were extensively used causing extreme forms of nausea and pain. Makeshift clinics were busy treating the wounded.

A case against more than fifty members of the Al Khalifa regime has been lodged at the International Court at the Hague. The international writ has been sponsored by 14 international human rights bodies. Nine international lawyers had prepared its contents ensuring its compliance with the rules and requirements of the court. Among the delegation which presented the case to the Prosecutor's office were Haytham Manna', Dr Loa'i Deeb, Mr Abdul Hameed Dashti, a Kuwaiti lawyer  and Dr Fouad Al Ibrahim. The delegation met the ICC Prosecutor, Moreno Ocampo and discussed the case with his staff. Several media channels were present at the entrance of the Court. There is mounting pressure on the ICC to act against senior members of the regime including the dictator, Hamad, himself.

It has been confirmed that Ali Al Sadeq,  20, from Sanabis was killed by members of the Death Squads operated by the "royal" court". He was detained on 16th March after the vicious attack by the Saudi and Al Khalifa forces on the Pearl Square. He was kidnapped and subjected to horrific forms of torture. His body was mutilated by sharp tools and electric devices. His arms and wrists show that he had been hung and beaten all over his body. His family were warned not to speak about their son. It is only now that the story has begun to leak out.

Another young Bahraini, Jaffar Salman Makki, from Sitra, has lost one of his eyes after being hit with a shotgun. His shrapnel-riddled face and body were evidence to the barbarity of the Al Khalifa and Al Saud occupiers. His widowed wife and two daughters have been badly shaken by this crime. There are at least fifty Baharainis who lost at least one eye as a result of the

 The dictator has refused to investigate these crimes by independent bodies. Instead, he has appointed a group of experts under his command to undertake partial investigation into the events of February and March of this year. Their mandate has excluded the major crimes committed in the following months which were probably more serious than the crimes in the two months. There are many confirmed reports that documents have been intentionally destroyed by the regime's officials to hide any credible evidence of the atrocities committed against the people. Hamad's inquiry, headed by Sharif Bissiouni, has failed its first test today for their noticeable absence from the areas where excessive force was used to repress demonstrators. They should have made the effort to witness those atrocities. Several human rights experts have expressed outrage at the way the royal commission had been formed. The UN Human Rights Commission is urged to dispatch its own independent investigation committee to Bahrain to present a credible testimony to the regime's atrocities. The dictator himself is implicated directly in issuing orders for the major attacks on Barhainis.

Horn of Africa: Poor Attention to forecasts to blame for famine inSomalia

2011.07.23
By Isaiah Esipisu - IPS Africa
The world had an opportunity to save thousands of lives that are being lost in parts of Somalia due to the famine, if only the donor community had paid attention to the early warning systems that predicted it eight months ago."The situation would not have been this bad if there was emergency response for prevention, despite the conflicts in the country," said Anna Ridout, Oxfam's spokesperson.
The United Nations declared a famine in south Somalia on Jul. 20, following the two-year drought in the country, and the high child mortality rate due to the lack of food in the region.
According to the U.N., the southern part of the country hosts 310,000 acutely malnourished children at the moment. At the same time, nearly half of the population in Somalia is threatened with the famine. In some regions, at least six out of 10,000 children under the age of five die daily.
The death rate is three times higher than what the U.N. Children's Fund defines in a famine, which is two people per 10,000 per day.
According to Oxfam, the U.N. announcement, which is the first one in the region this century, should be a wake-up call to the rest of the world.
"There has been a catastrophic breakdown of the world's collective responsibility to act. 3,500 people a day are fleeing Somalia and arriving in parts of Ethiopia and Kenya that are suffering one of the driest years in six decades. Food, water and emergency aid are desperately needed. By the time the U.N. calls it a famine it is already a signal of large scale loss of life," Oxfam said.
The organisation said that emergency aid was vital now to avoid people dying in massive numbers.
"Whenever there is an indicator of such a disaster, we must not only sit and wait for the emergency response. We can conveniently invest the funds by putting irrigation systems in place, vaccinating people, especially children, against anticipated diseases, and creating proper infrastructure to be used in case there is need for food supply," said Ridout.
Speaking from the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, Ridout said that refugees arrive daily and in huge numbers from Somalia. Nearly all the children are malnourished and women are weak and wasted after trekking for days in search of water, food and a chance to live.
"They tell of horrible experiences of children who died along the way, and even adults who drop along the way because they cannot make it to refugee camps, mostly in Kenya or Ethiopia," she said.
The most affected areas in south Somalia include the Lower Shabelle, Middle and Lower Juba, Bay, Bakool, Benadir, Gedo and Hiraan.
The effects of the drought were made worse by the Al Shabaab militia group, which had blocked donor agencies from operating within its territories in 2009 - now the famine zones.
"We are praying that the October rains expected in the East African region do not fail. Or else, we are likely to have a crisis in the area due to the looming drought," said Ridout.
However, despite the drought in northern parts of Kenya, Somali refugees keep arriving at various refugee camps on a daily basis. In June alone, 68,000 Somalis arrived in Kenya and 54,000 in Ethiopia searching for food and livelihood. At the moment, U.N. records indicate that 1,700 and 1,300 Somalis are arriving daily in Ethiopia and Kenya respectively.
According to Mark Bowden, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, 300 million dollars is required to scale up the emergency response for the 3.7 million people in need in the next two months.
One of the biggest setbacks for food aid distribution has been Al Shabaab. However, the extremist group recently lifted its ban on international aid agencies.
"We have security advisors on the ground. But most important, humanitarian organisations in the country are already working closely with local community-based organisations to access people in need," said Bowden.
"We are also involved in dialogue (not negotiation) with all community-based organisations, including groups like Al Shabaab, to ensure that there is cooperation for the aid to reach those who need it," he added.
However, despite the challenges, humanitarian agencies have already put in place response mechanisms. In an effort to reach more children with life-saving interventions, the U.N. and its partners have scaled up emergency nutrition, water and sanitation, and immunisation efforts to combat malnutrition and reduce disease.
"We have already started airlifting urgently-needed medical, nutrition and water supplies into the worst-affected areas," said Bowden.
Compared to previous famines, the current situation in Somalia compares or exceeds those reported during recent years in Niger (2005), Ethiopia (2001), Sudan (1998) and Somalia (1992). However, this is the most severe food security crisis in Africa since the 1991/92 Somalia famine, according to the U.N. Between January and June this year, 300,000 people in Mogadishu were given food assistance by humanitarian agencies on a monthly basis. Approximately 100,000 malnourished children were treated through some 418 nutrition centres in south Somalia from January to May 2011.
The U.N. further reports that 93,000 people received shelter, especially in Mogadishu, where the majority of those displaced by the drought fled to from other parts of the country.
The current crisis in Somalia is expected to have an increasingly devastating effect on other countries in the region. However, generally, the Horn of Africa has 11.5 million people in crisis, including the 3.7 million in Somalia.

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Malawi:18 Die as Army Deployed to Crush Anti-government Protests

 Saturday 23 July 2011
A round up news, compiled by Newsfromafrica staff writers. 
Lilongwe--At least 18 people have died in a wave of anti-government riots that have rocked Malawi in the past two days, with the government deploying the military to counter the protests.
 
The nationwide protests that began on Wednesday were organised by the Human Rights Consultative Committee, an 80 member rights group, to decry against the mismanagement of the economy and an acute shortages of fuel and foreign exchange facing the country, demanding the president to step down.
 
The peaceful protest turned violent resulting in looting and other forms of destructions targeting businesses and buildings belonging to government allies and security forces after security forces decided to use forceful means against protestors.
 
The army has been deployed in the capital, Lilongwe, the biggest city, Blantyre, and Mzuzu in the north. Police authorities said the security forces had opened fire to prevent further looting and damage of property.
President Bingu wa Mutharika in his national address on state radio on Thursday appealed for calm and called for dialogue with his opponents to find solution. He condemned the protests which he vowed to "use any measure I can think of" to put them out.
 
"As leader of the country, I have powers vested in me by the constitution to ensure peace, using every measure I can think of," he said.
In a statement the civil group said Malawi was facing "a series of catastrophes" owing to the current shortages seen to be the worst since independence. They accused the government of failing to listen to concerns of the people, fearing that Malawi was turning into an "autocratic kleptocracy".
The Health ministry has reported 18 deaths in two days violence. Spokesman Henry Chimbali said post mortem is being conducted to determine cause death of victims whose bodies had fractured bones, deep cuts, broken ribs and lots of blood loses.
The current crisis experienced is due to a recent decision by the government to raise taxes following reduced donor funding over governance issues. A serious diplomatic row with Britain has seen both countries withdraw their ambassadors and last week's suspension of $ 30.7 UK budgetary aid to Malawi.
 
Tripoli, Libya
Gaddafi Rules Out on Talks with Rebels
Embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has ruled out on talks with rebels fighting to depose him from power.
 
Col Gaddafi while addressing a crowd of supporters in his home city of Sirte on Thursday said "there will be no talks between me and them [rebels] until judgment day", saying they need to talk with the Libyan people who will respond to them.
 
His statement follows a meeting between US diplomats and his government representatives in Tunisian capital, Tunis last weekend with intentions to "repair relations", but Washington maintains he must exit from power.
 
In another televised speech on the state TV addressing "a meeting of Misrata tribes", Col Gaddafi called for a march on the eastern city to liberate it from the rebels.
 
Meanwhile rebel fighters have captured prominent government commanders following their offensive push for the Zliten town 160km east of Tripoli. General Abdul Nabih Zayed was captured on Thursday during the rebel offense for Zliten town where he was slightly injured but was taken to Hospital in Misrata.
 
Gen Zayed is believed to have coordinated deployment of tankers to Misrata in March which triggered the revolt and his capture is highly regarded, being the most valued prisoners taken by the opposition fighters.
 
On Thursday rebel diplomatic Chief Mahmoud Jibril said that the Gaddafi forces had set bomb traps in the key oil town of Brega so they could be blown up if the town fell to the rebels.
 
The rebel's push for Brega has been hampered by vast quantities of mines planted by retreating Gaddafi forces and lack of proper arms to reclaim the town.
 
Rebel leaders touring France have asked French President Nicolas Sarkozy for military assistance to enable them to march to Tripoli. Sarkozy said after a meeting on Wednesday with the delegation that the rebels believe they can march on Tripoli within "days" with a bit of help from friends such as France.
 
The opposition oil ministry seeks to import fuel into eastern parts in a new supply deals to supplement supplies by Vitol an oil trading firm that has been the opposition's trading partner since the revolt started.
 
The shortages which were even experienced even during peace time are due to lack of sufficient refining capacity which has been compounded by damaging of the oil infrastructure and increased military demand during the fighting.

7/23/2011

Disrupting the Supply Chain for Mass Atrocities

2011.7.22  

How to Stop Third-Party Enablers of Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity

http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/category/publications/
Mass atrocities are organized crimes. Those who commit genocide and crimes against humanity depend on third parties for the goods and services-money, matériel, political support, and a host of other resources-that sustain large-scale violence against civilians. Third parties have supplied military aircraft used by the Sudan Armed Forces against civilians, refined gold and other minerals coming out of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and ensured a steady flow of arms into Rwanda. Governments seeking to prevent atrocities cannot afford a narrow and uncoordinated focus on the perpetrators of such violence. Rather, an effective strategy must include identifying and pressuring third-party enablers-individuals, commercial entities, and countries-in order to interrupt the supply chains that fuel mass violence against civilians.
The first-ever Director of War Crimes, Atrocities, and Civilian Protection on the National Security Staff recently convened a meeting that appears to initiate an interagency structure to coordinate atrocities-prevention initiatives across the government. The Administration has an opportunity in the newly initiated structure to activate all of the U.S. government's resources to institute an atrocities-prevention policy that goes beyond responding to individual crises. This structure should incorporate a systematic approach to disrupting enablers and should ensure that all possible tools are developed and used to counter these complex crimes. The intelligence community and the Department of the Treasury, along with the Departments of State and Defense, are key to successfully tackling third-party enablers of atrocities.
Intelligence collection and analysis are crucial to identifying third parties and tracing supply chains to determine whether and where they can be interrupted. Ensuring timely and comprehensive dissemination of all relevant intelligence is crucial as well, to allow policy makers to develop and use the most effective tools against third-party enablers. The Treasury Department could target enablers of mass atrocities by freezing their assets and isolating them from financial markets-tools already used to combat supporters of terrorism, money launderers, drug traffickers, and some perpetrators of atrocities. Largely through the State Department, the United States can also exert political and diplomatic pressure-at the United Nations and elsewhere-to publicly and privately pressure these enablers.
Human Rights First offers the following recommendations to the U.S. government to identify and thwart third-party enablers and thereby improve its capacity to prevent or mitigate mass atrocities:
  1. The President should publicly announce an interagency structure for preventing and mitigating atrocities, under the leadership of the Director for War Crimes, Atrocities, and Civilian Protection. This structure should be announced by December 2011 to ensure it is implemented in full by the end of the Obama Administration's first term.
  2. The President should highlight the importance of tackling enablers as part of an effective government-wide strategy to prevent and mitigate atrocities by directing all U.S. government agencies engaged in efforts related to the prevention or mitigation of mass atrocities to identify third-party enablers, act to interrupt their enabling activity, and disrupt the supply chains that connect these actors to the perpetrators.
  3. The National Security Staff Director for War Crimes, Atrocities, and Civilian Protection should ensure that identifying and disrupting third-party enablers are included as explicit objectives in the interagency structure being developed to counter mass atrocities, that these objectives are addressed in all interagency discussions on situations where atrocities are threatened or are underway, and that enablers are addressed explicitly in policy measures focused on the situations of concern.
  4. In situations in which atrocities are threatened or are occurring, the relevant parts of the intelligence community should be tasked by the NSS-led interagency structure or the appropriate member thereof with collecting and analyzing intelligence on enablers, and policy makers should ensure that distribution of relevant intelligence is coordinated and comprehensive. The collection, analysis, and distribution of intelligence on enablers should support policy makers' efforts to pressure third-party actors on whom the potential or actual perpetrators depend.
  5. Congress, through legislation granting standing authority, or the President, through an executive order under IEEPA, should give the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control authority to designate for sanctions not only those who perpetrate atrocities, but also enablers of atrocities wherever they occur. Congress and the administration should also ensure that OFAC has adequate resources to thoroughly investigate enablers of atrocities.
  6. The relevant officials on the National Security Staff and at the State Department should, as part of their bilateral and relevant multilateral discussions with other governments, raise concerns about those governments' transfers of arms, ammunition, and other goods to potential or actual perpetrators of atrocities. U.S. officials should be prepared to consider a range of political, economic and other tools that may be effective in pressuring those involved in enabling activities.
  7. The U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations should lead other Security Council members to meet and publicly discuss options for multilateral action, including imposing, expanding, and better enforcing sanctions and other measures, to prevent enablers of atrocities against civilians in Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and other places at high risk for mass atrocities. The discussions should include consideration of enablers identified in relevant U.N. expert panel reports.
  8. Congress, through its oversight of the intelligence community, should express its interest in a third-party enablers strategy and work with the relevant parts of the community to ensure it is sufficiently and effectively collecting, analyzing, and disseminating intelligence on third-party actors on whom the potential or actual perpetrators depend and the connections in their supply chain that may be particularly susceptible to pressure or interruption.
  9. Congress should include a focus on third-party enablers as part of any legislation on genocide prevention.

7/21/2011

SOUTH SUDAN - FIRST OIL EXPORTS HEADING TO CHINA

The first cargo of crude oil exported from m independent South Sudan is heading to China and was purchased by "Chinaoil" said a Ministry of Energy executive, even as he noted the uncertainty arising from the absence of an agreement with Khartoum on conditions for using its pipelines leading to the Red Sea.
According to Arkangel Okwang, Director General of the Department of Energy, yesterday one million barrels of oil were extracted from a deposit in concession to a consortium led by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Malaysia's Petronas were sold. A second batch of crude, 600,000 barrels, said the manager, should be exported Friday.
According to estimates from the "Financial Times", today in the southern regions, are extracted 375,000 bpd out of the approximately 500,000 bpd of crude oil produced in the whole of Sudan. The uncertainty of the recent weeks is tied to the expiry of a compromise deal that would divide oil revenues into equal parts as set by the agreements that, in 2005, put an end to the armed conflict between Khartoum and former rebels now in government in Juba. Before the proclamation of independence on 9 July, Sudan's president Omar Hassan al-Bashir had argued that, in the absence of a satisfactory arrangement, he would have blocked the transit of crude oil south Sudan. Pagan Amum, secretary general of the former guerrilla party now ruling in Juba, reiterated, yesterday, that the new state would defend its interests. The idea rumored in Khartoum of applying a USD 15 tax for every barrel of oil sold would be "foolish"; it should, rather, be set at a rate far closer to the 41 cents expected by "international standards".
© 2011 MISNA - Missionary International Service News Agency Srl - All Right Reserved.

7/20/2011

SOUTH SUDAN - Crime Scene: Evidence of Mass Graves in Kadugli

Safe in Juba, Refugees from South Kordofan Recount Horrors

7/19/11 | Laura Heaton Tags: Crime Scene: Evidence of Mass Graves in Kadugli

JUBA, South Sudan -- The embattled area of the Nuba Mountains is squarely situated in North Sudan, but the recent separation of the South poses new challenges for what in the past two months has become the region's latest deadly front. As the festive mood surrounding the South's independence celebration tapered off, many journalists in town for the big day turned attention - quietly, given the immense sensitivities - toward the conflict unfolding just over the new international border.

Satellite Sentinel News Roundup 7/14

7/14/11 | Mollie Zapata Tags:
Satellite Sentinel Project captures the attention of major media around the world, using satellite imagery and ground-based reporting to focus attention on and promote accountability for mass atrocities in Sudan and South Sudan. Here is a round-up of recent, select media coverage of SSP.

U.N. Report: 'Condemnation is Insufficient' for South Kordofan Atrocities

7/14/11 | Amanda Hsiao Tags:
Since fighting broke out in the volatile Sudanese state of South Kordofan on June 5, accounts trickling out from the largely sealed-off war zone have attested to the Sudanese army, or SAF, and other affiliated government forces killing and committing other acts of violence against its civilians. Information out of the area continues to remain scarce and difficult to confirm.

SSP reveals visual evidence of mass graves in South Kordofan, which corroborates new eyewitness reports, obtained by SSP, of systematic killings and mass burials in this conflict-torn region of Sudan.
credit: DigitalGlobe

7/19/2011

20th Sharing Awareness & De-confliction (SHADE) meeting, Manhama(Bahrain)

   

U.S. Naval Forces Central Command
Combined Maritime Forces

Argomento: 20th Sharing Awareness & De-confliction (SHADE) meeting, Manhama (Bahrain), 28 June 2011 -
Al Manhama, Bahrain, 29 June 2011


  1. Premessa
Lo SHADE è un forum diretto da CMF, NATO ed EU, riconosciuto dalle Nazioni Unite che viene convocato periodicamente (ogni 6/8 settimane) in Bahrain a cui partecipano rappresentanti dell'industria, agenzie internazionali, del Coalition Maritime Forces (CMF), EUNAVFOR, NATO e altri Independent Deployers[1]. L'obiettivo dello SHADE è quello di costituire un gruppo di lavoro in cui confrontare le varie esperienze e scambiare informazioni tra i vari partecipanti che vanno perseguite nelle operazioni di contrasto al fenomeno della pirateria o CPO (Counter Piracy Operations).
  1. Precedenti
L'ultimo SHADE si è tenuto il 28 Giugno 2011 nella medesima località.
Il prossimo SHADE e' stato fissato per il 20 Settembre 2011a chairmanship CMF.
  1. Situazione
  1. Introduzione
La riunione viene organizzata dal CMF solitamente presso il British Club sito nella zona centrale della città di Manhama, a breve distanza dalla base statunitense, sede del Comando in parola. Il chairman di turno era il rappresentante della NATO. Per l'Italia erano presenti il C.F. Massimo Natali IT Senior National Representative (SNR) e Ufficile ai Piani e il CV Giuseppe PERRINI Assistent Chief of Staff Coalition Coordination Centre (ACOS CCC).
Il meeting e' stato presieduto dal Col. (Royal Marines Commandos) Richard Spencer (EUROMARFOR Chief of Staff) assistito dal Chief of Staff CMF, Capt. (US Navy) Chris Chambers e ha visto la partecipazione di circa 90 rappresentanti di 40 nazioni, organizzazioni e agenzie includendo EUNAVFOR, NATO, China, Russia, Japan, India, Saudi Arabia, Brasil, Chile, Maldives (questi ultimi tre partecipanti per la prima volta), Egypt, Yemen, UAE, USMARLO, UKMTO e industry.
I paesi di Bahrain, Seychelles, Finlandia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Ukraine, il rappresenatante di USNAVAF[2], INTERPOL, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) e UNDPKO non hanno partecipato ai lavori.

L'incontro si è aperto con il saluto di benvenuto del Col. (Royal Marines Commandos) Richard Spencer, che ha ringraziato i presenti per il costante crescente impegno internazionale nelle operazioni di contrasto al fenomeno della pirateria. Si e' voluto evidenziare come gli effetti della presenza della comunita' internazionale e delle forze aeronavali di coalizione e dei contributori indipendenti sulle attivita' di anti-piarateria stanno registarndo dei favorevoli successi, anche grazie alla concomitante fase del monsone di SW che riduce molto le operazioni dei pirati in mare,  pur nella consapevolezza che l'attenzione e l'attivita' di presenza in area richiede in generale un incremento di ogni possibile contributo in termini di assetti e risorse.
L'efficace azione derivante dall'implementazione dei piani operativi per il GOA e il SB, nonche' la mirata attivita' condotta da dedicate opearzioni littoral lungo la costa somala hanno dato risultati incoraggianti in termnini di disruptions e disabling actions ai danni delle motherships e Pirates Action Groups (PAG) in generale. Cio' contribuisce ad accrescere la fiducia nelle forze di coalizione che dovranno indirizzare in questo periodo ogni ulteriore azione ai danni dei PAGs ancora attivi, nell'auspicio di neutralizzarne l'efficacia, in vista del sucessivo transition period verso il meno intenso monsone di SE che abbraccera' un significativo periodo temporale da ottobre 2011 a febbraio 2012.

L'IRTC rimane prioritariamente seguita in termini di assetti assegnati ma si e' constatato che, in funzione delle circostanze e' possibile dedicare qualche unita' anche al contrasto in Oceano aperto ai danni delle moterships e PAGs ivi operanti. In tale situazione, la risposta flessibile assicurata permette di portare le azioni di contrasto anche in Oceano aperto ove la presenza dei PAGs si manifesta.
A seguito dell'ingresso del monsone di SW gran parte dell'Ocenao Indiano presenta condizioni meteorologiche fortemente dissusive per le operazioni dei pirati e pertanto l'attenzione di questi ultimi si e' indirizzata in acque piu' protette. In particolare si sta assistendo ad una intensificazione delle attivita' a nord dello Stretto di Bab Al Mande. In tale zona di mare, cruciale obbligato passaggio tra l'Oceano Indiano e il Mar Rosso, l'attivita' di contrasto delle Forze di Coalizione deve fare i conti con il regime dello stretto che rientra nell disponibilita' territoriale dello Yemen ed Eritrea. Sono pertanto possibili azioni di disruption ma non di arresto dei pirati in quanto cio' deve essere garantito dalle autorita' frontiste. Chiaramente, la nota e grave situazione politica in atto nello Yemen e l'anloga situazione complessiva di insicurezza in Eritrea fanno si che la collaborazione diretta di detti Stati per il controllo della fascia costiera e le loro TTW sia praticamente assente. 

L'importante ruolo degli indipendent deployers e' stato ulteriormente evidenziato per valutare la possibilita' di garantire ed auspicabilmente espandere la disponibilita' di assetti e forme di cooperazione comunque disponibili: un interessante possibilita' e' rappresentata dagli assetti MPRA per i quali si stanno valutando forme di tasking[3] non classificate per permettere di gestire la programmazione dei voli e lo scambio delle informazioni su reti non classificate, a beneficio di stati come l'India, il cui contributo puo' rappresentare un addendo veramente importante per le forze della coalizione.

Per l'aspetto logistico collegato alle incrementate distanze delle zone di operazione, sintetizzato dalla necessita' di aumentare il numero di unita' logistiche e rifornitori, e' in fase di studio da parte della US Navy la possibilita' di impiegare vettori commercili equipaggiati con un kit denominato modular fuel delivery system che permetterebbe di utilizzare direttamente tanker commerciali senza la necessita' di apportare costose e importanti modifiche strutturali alla piattaforma. Al fine di utilizzare al meglio le risorse disponibili sono stati anche operati dei lanci sperimentali di materiale (nello specifico sangue per trasfusioni) dagli MPA con positivi risultati che, una volta affinati, permetteranno di impiegare anche questa modalita' di air drop per assicurare l'invio di piccoli carichi alle unita' navali in area.

Discussione
L'agenda è stata sviluppata compiutamente prevedendo l'illustrazione di una serie di punti di interesse (items) ed altrettante presentazioni condotte da una parte delle rappresentanze militari e civili. Si riassumono, di seguito, gli aspetti salienti emersi nel corso della trattazione dei suddetti elementi di discussione.
•(1).         Intervento del TF 465 Commander CDRE (PRT Navy) Alberto CORREIA
L'usuale intervento sulla situazione operativa comune a NATO, EU e CTF 151 ha descritto l'evoluzione della situazione in mare evidenziando una positiva fase per le operazioni militari condotte ai danni delle motherships e PAGs dove, negli ultimi mesi, sono stati neutralizzati nove potenziali cellule pirata (PAGs) operanti nell'area.
Nonostante l'attivita' operativa condotta abbia registarto il successo degli ultimi mesi, le conclusioni tratte dal CTF 465 lasciano aperti punti di discussione e focus futuri molto importanti e sono sintetizzabili nei seguenti punti:
•-          La comunita' internazionale deve mantenere saldo e imprescindibile l'appoggio alle operazioni militari in atto assicurandone il finaziamento e l'adeguata disponibilita' di assetti;
•-          Nella considerazione che lo sforzo economico-militare condotto presenta oneri non trascurabili, va affiancata da una robusta e mirata azione per incrementare le capacita' degli Stati nella regione (Regional Capacity Building programs) di avere autonome organizzazioni (militari e/o di polizia) in grado di integrare le forme di controllo e pattugliamento almeno per le proprie TTWs;
•-           Sul fronte logistico e di supporto da parte degli Stati nella regione, vanno ricercate tutte le possibili sinergie per garantire i processi e l'incarcerazione ai pirati catturati nonche' una migliorata e piu' omogenea cornice di supporto logistico, sopratttutto sul fronte dei combustibili e rifornimenti navali, che attualmente presenta forti difformita' di prezzi nella regione del bacino somalo.
•(2).         Coinvolgimento delle forze aeronavali Indiane
Il rappresentante indiano e' intervenuto sul tema della zona di pericolosita' definita dall'industria nella nuova edizione delle Best Management Practice 4 (BMP4) chiedendo che venga rivista in quanto si estende sino a 078 gradi di longitudine Est inglobando di fatto tutta la costa occidentale indiana. La risposta e' venuta dal Chairman che ha puntualizzato che le BMP sono il frutto degli accordi dell'industria e non coinvolgono i rappresentanti dello SHADE ne tantomeno le organizzazioni militari che vi fanno parte e che pertanto la modifica (in questo caso afferente la definizione geografica della zona di pericolosita') deve essere sostenuta nelle sedi preposte in vista della nuova edizione delle BMP.
Un altro punto di utilita' pratica e' stato l'intervento del Chief Air Control Element (ACE) della CMF che, parlando del livello di copertura degli assetti MPRA, ha richiamato i lavori tenutisi il giorno 28 Giugno 2011 in seno alla riunione pre-SHADE dell'Air Warking Group. In tale riunione vi era l'obiettivo di addivenire a una estesa apertura delle modalita' di air tasking per facilitare e permettere a tutti i provider di mettere a disposizione gli assetti e il conseguente information sharing. Pur non essendo stata formulata una definitiva soluzione, a causa di ulteriori verifiche sulle informazioni classificate a supporto dell'air tasking attuale e loro gestione, l'indirizzo unanimamente espresso dal Chairman e dal Co-Chairman e' stato di orientare la soluzione utilizzando forme divulgative e gestionali non classificate. Se cio' avverra' sara' probabile che le sortite degli MPRA indiani (attualmente una al giorno) siano messe a sistema del despositivo di copertuta CMF/NATO ed EU con innegabile beneficio in termini di flusso di informazioni sull'intera area.


•(1).         Industry Update
Mr. Peter Kelly Senior Marine Manager (INTERTANKO), ha illustrato le novita' introdotte dall'Industria con la prossima edizione delle Best Management Practice 4 che saranno rese diponibili da Luglio 2011.
Nel ricordare che la precedente edizione BMP3 e' stata in vigore dal Gugno 2010 e che il documento e' il risultato della cooperazione industriale in materia, a questa nuova versione hanno collaborato anche EUNAVFOR, il NATO SHIPPING CENTRE, MSCHOA e UKMTO.
Mr. Kelly ha evidenziato come il contributo militare alla nuova edizione sia stato ampio e utile e che il lavoro svolto da tutta la coalizione militare sia ampiamente apprezzato sia dall'INTERTANKO che dall'intera industria.
La nuova versione contine modifice pari a circa il 10% dei contenuti rispetto alla precedente edizione e in particolare sono stati apportati i cambiamenti per:
•·         migliore lettura ed indirizzo basato sui quattro fondametali requirements delle BMP[1];
•·         il grafico per "avoiding being a victim of piracy" sviluppato da EUNAVFOR;
•·         rimodulazione dell'area a rischio con la rimozione del Arabian Gulf;
•·         un nuovo annesso G  "additional advice for leisure Craft including Yaghts";
•·         new pothos;
•·         new section on Prosecution of Pirates in association with INTERPOL.
Il documento sara' altresi' affiancato da un DVD "Piracy, the Menace at sea" prodotto da Steamship Mutual P&I club[2] e sostenuto dall'industria che ha lo scopo di affiancare e supportare i contenuti delle BMP4.
E' stato inoltre sottolineato come l'azione dell'industria indirizzi sempre piu' capillarmente i messaggi di sensibilizzazione alla comunita' mercantile, attraverso MSCHOA[3], nel Monthly Compliance Report to Industry assicurando, tra le altre, un continuo incentivo ad implementare le BMP nella loro piu' ampia accezzione.
In merito ai Private Security Contractors e delineando un quadro che getta i presupposti per una piu' sinergica valutazione di tale servizio, che si sta ritagliando uno spazio sempre maggiore nell'ambito della comunita' mercantile, sono stati illustrati i risultati a cui si e' pervenuti.
In sintesi i lavori per addiverire a una sorta di guidances o code of conduct per tali teams di sicurezza hanno seguito la seguente road map:
•·         nel Maggio 2011 l'industria ha stilato un primo set di guidelines per l'impiego di Private Maritime Security Contractors;
•·         il 10 maggio 2011 tale documento e' stato inviato all'IMO per essere valutato dal Piracy Warking Group;
•·         alla fine di maggio 2011 l'IMO ha emesso due circolari:
l'MSC 1-1405 Interim guidance to ship-owners, ship operators, and shipmasters on the use of privately contracted armed security personnel on board ships in the high risk area.
l'MSC 1-1406 Interim recommendations for flag states regarding the use of privately contracted armed security personnel on board ships in the high risk area.
E' stata infine illustrata l'attivita' di sensibilizzazione e denuncia operata dal sito Save Our Seafares[4] (http://www.saveourseafarers.com) dove sono riportate le attivita' delittuose e criminali perpretate dai piarti ai danni degli equipaggi sequestrati. Si segnala al rigurado la press release rilascita il 20 Gugno 2011.
•(2).         Lavori del WG2 (legal issues related to piracy)
Un update sulle attivita' del Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) WG2 e' stato fatto dal Political Advisor di JFC Lisbon Mr. Hasan Aygun, il quale ha presentato l'intervento dell'Ambasciatore Thomas Winkler, il 22 June 2011 a Copenhagen, nell'ambito del NATO - RUSSIA Council  (NRC) CP Seminar.

Gli aspetti salienti dell'intervento, post lavori, del WG2 hanno determinato che, dal punto di vista legale e legislativo, il framework internazionale dell'"international low" non presenta lacune o carenze ma vi e' la necessita' di una sua comune comprensione ed interpretazione secondo una comune e condivisa visione. Ovviamente il passo sucessivo e' costituto dalla ratifica di tali norme nell'ordinamento nazionale.

Allo scopo e' stato deciso di costituire un cosiddetto legal tool-box, ove siano raccolti academic texts e una raccolta delle leggi internazionali, per accrescere il livello di information sharing e siano messi a disposizione strumenti pratici e di esempio per facilitare la regimazione di comuni standards di trattazione della materia (check lists, nationals counterpiracy legislization, national procecution policies, templates MoUs shipriders, evidence gathering, hand over guide ect).

Cio' premesso, i principali aspetti sui quali e' necessario indirizzare ulteriori sforzi rigurdano:
•-       La prosecuzione del reato dal punto di vista Nazionale con la consapevolezza che la responsabilita' non ricade soltanto in una delle tre categorie potenzialmente in grado di farlo (ovvero lo Stato di chi cattura i pirati, il flag state o uno Stato terzo) ma dovrebbe essere attivata contemporaneamente dotandosi di una giurisdizione internazionale largamente condivisa, stabilire sistemi nazionali per trattare i casi di pirateria, perseguire il reato quando l'evidenza dello stesso e' palese e sostenere gli Stati che perseguono i reati connessi alla pirateria in ambito regionale.
•-          Il trasferimento dei prigionieri verso Stati che accettano di processarli con opportuni accordi (sia permanenti che ad hoc) pur essendo in presenza di ancora molto pochi paesi che offrono tale possibilita'. In tale ambito oltre a incentivare gli Stati che offrono il loro servizio di supporto legale nei processi, vanno migliorate e standardizzate le modalita' di raccolta e presentazione delle prove nonche' le questioni legate al trasferimento post-trial.
•-          Normare e disciplinare l'impiego dei Private Armed Guards a bordo dei mercantili.

 
•(3).         Convoy Coordination Working Group
Per la prima volta durante i lavori del giorno 27 June 2011 (pre-SHADE meetings) si sono riunito i rappresenattanti degli indipendent deployers e di NATO, EU e CMF per discutere e formalizzare una bozza di accordo per meglio gestire il coordinamento dei convogli nel GOA/IRTC.
La questione convogli e' stato un argomento ricorrente sin dalle passate edizioni dello SHADE, per il potenziale aumento di efficenza e chiarezza derivanti dalla sua gestione, a beneficio della comunita' mercantile che puo', in tal modo, utilizzare i convogli con maggiore flessibilita'. Dal punto di vista militare e di sicurezza, ottenere la deconfliction sulla programmazione dei convogli (in tempo e spazio) consente alle forze della coalizione di distribuire le risorse in maniera ottimale su tutta la IRTC e GOA.
Questa prima bozza di accordo ha permesso di mettere tutti gli indipendent deployers attorno a un tavolo e di definire in maniera piu' precisa tutti i punti geografici di inizio e fine dei singoli convogli adottati dai singoli Stati. L'obiettivo da raggiungere sara' quello di avere un calendario univoco e omnicomprensivo di tutti i convogli programmati nel bacino del GOA.

•(4).         Punti aperti:
•-          Il Chairman ha evidenziato come il contenuto dei punti in agenda sottoposti all'attenzione dello SHADE faccia assumere alla riunione una funzione sempre piu' routinaria. In tal senso e' stato proposto di modificare il calendrio di riunione prevedendo, con inizio dal prossimo SHADE, solo quattro riunioni annuali a cadenza trimestrale.
•-          I governi, sul piano politico devono prendere coscienza che se la lotta alla pirateria deve contemplare anche un'efficace prosecuzione del reato, ottenibile attraverso la promozione di un consolidato consenso internazionale per quanto concerne il framework legislativo comune da applicare, la raccolta delle prove e loro presentazioni alla Corte, il sostegno e l'incentivo agli Stati che offrono di ospitare i processi, nonche' gli aspetti legati all'incarcerazione, trasferimento post-trial e il monitoraggio del ciclo legislativo-giuridico-detentivo nel suo insieme,  dedicati sforzi vanno indirizzati verso gli Stati della regione per incrementarne l'adesione e migliorare i servizi associati.
  1. Conclusioni
Lo SHADE ha costituito, come in passato, un valido strumento di aggiornamento e discussione intorno al quale è possibile trovare tutti gli attori internazionali, militari e civili coinvolti nella lotta al fenomeno della pirateria. La partecipazione attiva da parte di numerose rappresentanze della EU, NATO e CMF, ed anche delle c.d. indipendent nations quali Cina, Egitto, Russia e per la prima volata Brasile, Chile e Maldives, testimonia il livello di interesse politico, economico e militare raggiunto da questo tipo operazioni, sempre più tese alla creazione di nuove opportunità di cooperazione.
Rispetto a qualche edizione fa, qualche ulteriore progresso e' stato fatto in settori di difficile approccio e lenta regimazione quali la prosecuzione giuridica del reato della pirateria.
Per quanto concerne la maggiore auspicata integrazione delle marine/assetti delle Nazioni coinvolte si auspica che le soluzioni tecniche adottabili nell'ambito della gestione degli assetti da pattugliamnto marittimo (MPRA) sia foriera di una maggiore e piu' efficace cooperazione con l'India.
Infine, i succesi ottenuti negli ultimi mesi ai danni di molte motherships in Oceano Indiano sono stati possibili grazie all'incremantata incisivita' e determinazione delle forze marittime di condurre azioni ai danni dei pirati, attraverso operazioni dedicate, che hanno permesso di neutralizzare un consistente numero di motherships e PAGs. Tali azioni hanno altresi' evidenziato che una prudente tendenza all'escalation in termini di maggiore "agressivita'" verso gli assetti e azioni dei pirati e' possibile e va attuata ogni qualvolta le condizioni lo permettono per insidiare e colpire la liberta' di azione e movimento dei piarti stessi. In tal senso l'azione dei governi e il supporto politico rimangono preminenti e fondamentali per permettere ai Comandi Militari di operare, con il piu' ampio consenso internazionale, contro una minaccia che sul mare puo' essere certamente indebolita e auspicabilmente neutralizzata in attesa di piu' ampi e complessi interventi all'interno della nazione somala.