Ahead of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 26th Session, ten free speech and human rights organisations have made a renewed call for the release of Bahraini journalists Hussain Hubail and Qassim Zain Aldeen.
Hussain Hubail, an award-winning photographer, and cameraman Qassim Zain Aldeen have been held in detention since the summer of 2013, whilst blogger Mohammed Hassan was released on bail. During his detention, Mr Hubail has faced interrogation and torture at the Bahraini Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID). Mr Hubail has been refused medical treatment for his heart condition. Mr Zain Aldeen has been hospitalised following beatings he received in prison from police officials. Mr Hassan fled to the United Kingdom upon his release on bail, and is facing revival of charges against him, torture and an unfair trial if he is returned to Bahrain.
Both Mr Hassan and Mr Hubail are charged with calling for illegal gatherings, inciting hatred against the regime, inciting people to ignore the law and misuse of social media. Mr Zain Aldeen is charged with participating in an illegal gathering and vandalism in prison. All three have been critical in their reporting on the Bahraini government, covering protests and demonstrations against the authorities for both local and international media and publishing on human rights issues. Their arrest and detention is part of a broader campaign of repression of journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders carried out by the authorities of Bahrain and violates international human rights law.
On 4 June 2014, the Media Legal Defence Initiative, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada, PEN International and Reporters Without Borders issued a renewed call for action to the UN Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression and on torture as well as the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. The organisations requested these UN experts to intervene urgently to secure the immediate release of the journalists and insist that they are not subjected to further torture or ill-treatment.