1) Bahrain Lifts Visa Ban On Bangladesh, Dhaka To Implement Strict Rules On Workers
July 21, 2008 9:11 p.m. EST
Sandeep Singh Grewal - AHN Middle East Correspondent
Manama, Bahrain (AHN) - Bahrain authorities announced on Monday they are lifting a ban on issuing visas to Bangladeshi nationals.
The ban was slapped on May 27 after Bahraini Mohammed Jassim Dossary was killed following an altercation with a Bangladeshi mechanic. The mechanic allegedly cut Dossary's throat using an electric grinder.
The Director of Investigations and Follow-up from the General Directorate for Nationality, Passport and Residence here officially released the news to Bangladesh Embassy Charge d'Affaires Saiful Islam and First Secretary Mohamed Ibrahim in a special meeting on Monday.
The current visa ban was only for Bangladeshi workers while residents and their families were not covered under the decision. Visit visas for businessmen and white collar jobs from Bangladesh were also not stopped.
"Visas will be given to our nationals subject to certain conditions such as clean police records and a conduct certificate attested by the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry," Islam told the AHN.
He further said every Bangladeshi worker would undergo checks by the Dhaka authorities, who would issue a clearance for the issue of passports.
There have been crucial talks and negotiations between embassy officials and concerned government bodies for the past two months about lifting the ban.
"This move shows the tolerant nature of the Kingdom of Bahrain. We would take all possible steps to inform and ensure our countrymen to conform to the laws of the country. We still need to change the image of the Bangladeshis in the country," Islam said.
The good news for the Bangladeshi community here comes at a time when both the countries - Bahrain and Bangladesh - are likely to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU). The MOU plan for workers welfare was submitted to the concerned government body, but was put on hold after Dossary's murder.
The visa ban had been condemned by rights groups, which called the action a racist attack against Bangladesh and its citizens.
Local human rights group such as the now-defunct Bahrain Centre for Human Rights( BCHR), Bahrain Human Rights Society, Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights and the Women Petitions Committee launched a global petition calling on authorities to lift the visa ban on Bangladeshi workers.
Several non-governmental organizations from Bangladesh were signatories of the petition. The petition is also signed by the U.S.-based International Justice Network (IJN) and Solidarity Centre.
The National Democratic Action Society, a leftist political group here, described the visa ban move as tantamount to problems faced by Arabs And Muslims in Europe and the U.S. after a small fanatic Muslim group was behind the 9/11 twin tower attacks in New York and train and bus explosions in Britain and Spain.
Lawmakers here urged the authorities to implement a yearly or quarterly quota for the number of Bangladeshi nationals allowed to work in the country .A similar crackdown decision has also taken place in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, which are reportedly deporting Bangladeshi workers.
Two Bangladeshis, Jasmine Anwar Hussain, 23, and Mohammad Hilaluddin, 33, were convicted separately of murders by the High Criminal Court in Bahrain and were executed in 2006. The executions were condemned by human rights groups such as Amnesty International.
In May this year, Mizan Noor Al Rahman Ayoub Miyah, a cook, faced the firing squad for murdering Bahraini fashion designer Sana Al Jalahama in 2006.
Bangladeshis are the second largest foreign community in the Kingdom with about 100,000 nationals.
2) Bahrain: Sentencing in case of seven detained human rights defenders
Created 2008/07/18 - 17:18
Front Line is deeply concerned following the sentencing of detained human rights defenders Hassan Abdelnabi Hassan, Maytham Badar Jassim Al-Sheikh, Naji Ali Fateel, Mohammed Abdallah Al Singais and Ahmad Jaffar Mohammed Ali to between one and seven years' imprisonment. Hassan Abdelnabi Hassan, Maytham Badar Jassim Am-Sheikh, Ahmad Jaffar Mohammed Ali, members of the Unemployment Committee; Naji Ali Fateel, member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR), and Mohammed Abdullah Al Sengais, head of the Committee to Combat High Prices, were arrested between 21 and 28 December 2007 on charges of participation in an ‘illegal gathering and rioting’ and of ‘theft of a weapon and ammunition and possession of a weapon and ammunition without permission’.
Posted 18/07/2008 On 13 July 2008, the court sentenced Hassan Abdelnabi Hassan to seven years' imprisonment and a fine of 10,000 Bahraini Dinar (approximately US $26,500); Maytham Badar Jassim Al-Sheikh, Naji Ali Fateel, and Mohammed Abdallah Al Singais were all sentenced to five years, and Ahmad Jaffar Mohammed Ali was sentenced to one year in prison. Abdullah Mohsen Abdulah Saleh, head of the Committee to Combat High Prices, and Ebrahim Mohamed Amin-Al-Arab, founding member of the Martyrs and Victims Committee, were cleared of all charges.
Front Line has previously expressed its grave concern regarding the conditions of detention and the reported ill-treatment and torture of the aforementioned human rights defenders in urgent actions on 5 and 16 January 2008, 6 and 13 February 2008, 14 March 2008 and 17 April 2008. In addition to the allegations of torture and ill-treatment received, there have been delays and postponements in the judicial proceedings against the men which have allegedly not been in accordance with due process.
Front Line welcomes the acquittal of Abdullah Mohsen Abdulah Saleh and Ebrahim Mohamed Amin-Al-Arab but reiterates its grave concern that the conviction and sentencing of the aforementioned five human rights defenders is directly related to their legitimate and peaceful activities in defence of human rights in Bahrain. In view of allegations of serious ill-treatment and torture of the human rights defenders while in detention awaiting trial, Front Line is extremely concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of the men during their custodial sentences.