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ICRF Holds 8th Consultative Coordination Meeting on "Coronavirus and Human Rights" in Beirut

2020-12-22 - 8:11 am

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The International Center for Rights and Freedoms (ICRF) held the 8th Consultative Coordination Meeting and 10th training session entitled "Coronavirus Pandemic and Human Rights" over the past two days in Beirut, Lebanon. A number of human rights defenders and representatives of human rights organizations, including the Bahrain Forum for Human Rights and network of human rights defenders in the Gulf Cooperation Council states and other societies took part in the conference.

The first day witnessed a number of sessions about the work of human rights defenders and the risks they face, most notably "How to tweet safely" presented by Kuwaiti activist Hadeel Bou Qurais via "Zoom" application, as well as "Prisoners' Rights in the time of Coronavirus", presented by Bahraini activist Yousef Rabie, in which he discussed the procedures activists should do to protect prisoners in the time of the pandemic, in addition to the procedures the authorities can follow, which will actually improve their reputation in the human rights record.

On the second day of the conference, the sessions focused on "the role of activists in mitigating human rights violations", moderated by ICRF director Mr. Ahmed Omar. Interventions were made by Ghassan Khamis of the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, as well as Ahmed Al-Maskati, Ibtisam Al-Saegh, Hadeel Bou Qurais and Ghassan Khamis.

Journalist and activist Hasan Qambar presented a special session on press freedoms in Arab countries in general, and Bahrain in particular, in which he reviewed statistics and facts highlighting the extent of oppression and repression of freedom of expression. "The Arab countries have turned into a large prison, where bodies are released and mouths are silenced," he said. Qambar spoke about the reality of journalists in Bahrain and the persecution they are subjected to, most recently Mahmoud Al-Jaziri, who faced a charge that has nothing to do with his journalistic work because of his talk about prison in Bahrain. He also spoke about Bahrain's new media law, which according to the Press Association 25% of its articles are penalties, which means more restrictions on journalists. Qambar tackled the issue of electronic monitoring and referred to Freedom House's report on governments' exploitation of the Coronavirus pandemic to monitor and spy on citizens, which the Bahraini authorities are doing through Covid-19 application.

For his part, president of Bahrain Forum for Human Rights Baqer Darwish moderated a special session on the "Universal Periodic Review", in which he presented the reporting mechanisms to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and spoke about the forum's experience over the past years in this area.

Certificates were given to the participants at the end of the conference.

Arabic Version