ADHRB denounces the arrest of human rights activist Mohammed Al-Maskati and the postponement of an appeals hearing in the case of Nabeel Rajab today. Both actions demonstrate the government of Bahrain’s diminishing capacity to abide by its international human rights obligations.
Arrest of Human Rights Defender Mohammed Al-Maskati
ADHRB strongly condemns the arrest of human rights defender Mohammed Al-Maskati today. Al-Maskati, President of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR), was arrested at a police station after being summoned to answer questions about his role in protests that took place in Manama on Friday. Al-Maskati’s case is expected to be referred to Bahrain’s Public Prosecution Office tomorrow, at which point he could be charged with taking part in an “illegal gathering.”
Al-Maskati reportedly received anonymous death threats while in Geneva recently to participate in Bahrain’s Universal Periodic Review before the UN Human Rights Council, raising concerns about his safety and well-being. Two other well-known human rights defenders—Zainab Al-Khawaja (who Tweets as @angryarabiya) and Nader Abdulemam—were also summoned to the police station today. Abdulemam is expected to respond to the summons tomorrow.
Arrests of human rights defenders in Bahrain have ramped up in recent months. On October 2, several Bahraini medics were arrested after being convicted of trumped-up charges related to their treatment of injured protesters during last year’s conflict. Saidyousif al-Mahdafah, vice president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), was arrested by authorities in August. Zainab Al-Khawaja was also arrested in August after holding a solitary protest in Manama. (She was arrested in April for similar activity.) Zainab’s father, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, former president of BCHR, was arrested in April 2011 after participating in a protest in Manama. Nabeel Rajab, current president of BCHR, was arrested in July over comments he allegedly made on Twitter.
Postponement of Appeals Hearing in Case of Nabeel Rajab
In addition to today’s arrest and summonses, ADHRB also condemns a decision by an appeals court today to postpone a hearing in the case of Nabeel Rajab, who is challenging a 3-year prison sentence for his role in organizing protests. Rajab’s hearing is now expected to be held on November 8. This marks the third time that Rajab’s appeal of his 3-year prison sentence has been postponed.
Trials for human rights defenders in Bahrain have, in recent months, faced continual delays and setbacks, raising doubts about the government of Bahrain’s commitment to rule of law and fair and swift legal proceedings. Since August, at least eight cases involving human rights defenders have been postponed. On average, about one hearing is postponed every ten days, resulting in delayed justice for activists and raising tensions between the government and the opposition.
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