Human rights activist from Bahrain: "Women in our position are often followed and bugged".

Nedal Al-Salman discussed the conditions in Bahrain at the annual UN Forum on Responsible Business.

The UN Forum on Business and Human Rights was recently held in Geneva.

The forum represents the largest platform for discussions on human rights in business, bringing together states, companies, and civil society. Over 2500 participants from various sectors of society attended.

This year, the Rafto Foundation co-hosted two side events: "Shared Prosperity and Indigenous Leadership" and "The Responsibility of Businesses in Realizing the Right to Development of Communities Discriminated on Work and Descent."


A larger delegation From the Rafto Foundation, the project coordinator for Future-Proof, Maren Fluge Nordgreen, and the program manager for human rights and business, Therese Jebsen, participated.

In addition, the Rafto Foundation supported the participation of six human rights advocates at the UN Forum. Most of them had key roles in panels or as moderators.

The human rights advocates who participated with the Rafto Foundation were:

  • Nedal Al-Salman, Secretary-General of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR).
  • Saloua Boukhouit from the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.
  • Prabindra Shakya, Director at the Community Empowerment and Social Justice Network in Nepal.
  • Beena Pallical, Secretary-General at the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights in India.
  • Adikanda Singh from the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights in India.
  • Adrian Lasimbang, Director of the Right Energy Partnership.

"It is important to contribute to ensuring that human rights advocates have access to these types of forums, especially with a focus on networking," said Maren Fluge Nordgreen at the Rafto Foundation.

Some of the human rights defenders who participated in the UN Forum. From left: Beena Pallical, Adikanda Singh, Nodjigoto Charbonnel, Saloua Boukhouit, and Nedal Al-Saman.


Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) received the Rafto Prize in 2013 for its longstanding struggle for fundamental human rights in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Secretary-General of BCHR, Nedal Al-Salman, emphasized the value of participating in the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights.

"My attendance was very important from our region. I was given the opportunity to speak on a panel in one of the main events about the role of the women human rights defenders in the the Middle East and North Africa," said Al-Salman.

"I had the Pegasus software used against me, to spy on my phone."

Nedal Al-Salman, Secretary-General of BCHR.

Followed and bugged

Al-Salman pointed out that companies must refrain from assisting states in spying on people defending women's and human rights.

"Women in our position are often followed and bugged. I had the Pegasus software used against me, to spy on my phone. This is common in our professional community."

"We need to end all of this, and through participation in forums such as this, we would like to add towards positive change. Businesses and corportations need to cease helping states spying on people like women human rights defenders," said Al-Salman.


Therese Jebsen

Senior Advisor
Means of contactContact details
Phone:415 11 390
More about Therese Jebsen

Maren Fluge Nordgreen

Project Coordinator, Future-Proof
Means of contactContact details
Phone:47 404 50 930
More about Maren Fluge Nordgreen