On April 26, 2017, Nedal Al-Salman, Bahraini human rights activist and head of International Relations and Women & Children's Rights Advocacy at the civil society organization Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), was charged with participating in an “illegally gathering” in the village of Duraz and placed on a travel ban preventing her from leaving the country.
Al-Salman is among the 18 activists, journalists, lawyers, and human rights defenders to be placed under travel bans in the past week. Human rights organizations suspect travel bans are being used as a way to prevent Al-Salman and her colleagues from attending the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periotic Review (UPR) in Geneva, Switzerland the week of May 1, 2017. The Bahraini human rights defenders were placed under travel bans after being accused of attending an “ongoing peaceful sit-in” in Duraz to protest the government’s decision to revoke the citizenship of Sheikh Isa Qassim, the leader of the country’s largest opposition group Al Wefaq. Since the protests began in June 2016, the government has severely restricted access to the village. Al-Salman and others said they were not present in Duraz at the time in question, and the authorities did not tell them how long their travel bans would remain active.
The Bahraini government frequently uses travel bans as a way to prevent members of civil society from advocating for fundamental freedoms in Bahrain abroad. On August 29, 2016, the Bahraini Public Prosecutor issued a four-month long travel ban on 28 activists, including Al-Salman, which prevented her from attending a meeting about human rights abuses in Bahrain at the Human Rights Council last year.
The World Movement for Democracy urges the government of Bahrain to respect the human rights of its people, and immediately drop all charges and travel bans against human rights defenders. Click here to join us in sharing a solidarity tweet for Al-Salman!