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Bahrain: Update- Arrest and detention of human rights defender Mr Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafdha
On 25 December 2012 human rights defender Mr Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafdha was brought before the Public Prosecution in Bahrain where his detention was extended by 15 days. He is reportedly being kept separate from others detained on similar charges and held at Hoora Police station. His continued detention is clearly an attempt to silence reporting on the use of violence by the authorities and there are fears for his treatment.
On 18 December 2012, the Public Prosecution Office ordered human rights defender Mr Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafdha to be detained for a period of seven days following his arrest the previous day after attending a protest in Manama.
Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafdha is the acting vice-president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), one of the three short-listed nominees for the 2012 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders.
On 17 December 2012, Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafdha was arrested in Manama on charges of spreading false information over Twitter. Prior to the arrest he was monitoring and documenting a protest in Manama as it unfolded. The following day, the Public Prosecution Office ordered his detention for seven days pending an investigation. He is currently being held in Hooth Al-Jaff prison in the Governorate of Muharraq.
The arrest took place on the eve of a visit to Bahrain by a delegation of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) with a focus on human rights issues. Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafdha previously attended a round table on the human rights situation in Bahrain at the European Parliament (EP) in Brussels on 4 December 2012. The MEP who hosted the round table was not granted a visa to be part of the EP delegation.
This is the second time the human rights defender has been arrested in the last two months. On 2 November 2012 in the village of Diraz, he was arrested on charges of rioting and participating in an illegal gathering. These charges related to a protest that took place in the village that day and which the human rights defender denied having participated in. He was released without charge on 14 November 2012.
Front Line Defenders is concerned by the arrest and detention of Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafdha and believes these measures are solely motivated by his peaceful advocacy in defence of human rights in Bahrain. Front Line Defenders has previously issued urgent appeals and updates on his situation on a number of occasions including on 5 November 2012 and 15 November 2012