UN human rights office welcomes conditional release of Bahraini rights defender

19 September 2014

The United Nations Human Rights Office today welcomed the conditional release of Bahraini human rights defender Maryam Al-Khawaja, who had been in detention since her arrest at Manama airport on 30 August.

At a press briefing in Geneva, Rupert Colville spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said his office will be closely watching the results of the judicial hearing on her case, which is scheduled to take place at the High Court of Bahrain on 1 October.

Mr. Colville said OHCHR is concerned that Ms. Al-Khawaja's detention was related to her work to promote human rights in Bahrain through the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, of which she is co-director.

The Office has been in touch with the authorities to raise its concerns on the case, and on other cases where individuals may have been detained for the peaceful exercise of their rights.

Ms. Al-Khawaja was detained while travelling to Bahrain on her Danish passport to visit her father, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2011 and whose health condition is reportedly deteriorating.

Ms. Al-Khawaja was detained at the airport, apparently because her Bahraini passport had expired. She was then transferred to a women’s prison on charges of assaulting a police officer.

Earlier this month, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders Michel Forst expressed concern at the human rights violations faced by defenders in Bahrain, recalling that the Government had accepted recommendations to abandon restrictions on rights defenders.


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