4 January, 2016 – In the wake of Saudi Arabia’s mass execution of 46 individuals, and opposition cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqer al-Nimr on 2 January 2016, mass protests erupted in Bahrain in solidarity with the fallen cleric. Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior (MOI) affirmed Saudi Arabia’s right to take all necessary security measures to “safeguard” the security of the state. In addition, the MOI said the Bahraini government will take “all necessary legal procedures against whoever ridicules or negatively handles, through a statement or announcement, the court verdicts issued in Saudi Arabia, or criticizes its legal system in this regard in a way that causes sedition and sows discord, and threatens the peace of the country and people.” In taking this position, the Interior Ministry cites Articles 215 and 168 of the Criminal Law, which calls for imprisonment, or the levying of fines for undermining the Bahraini government or spreading false information.

The MOI’s warning and subsequent detaining of peaceful protestors over the weekend is the latest example of government action seeking to silence free speech and dissent in the kingdom. This represents a serious infringement of the universal human rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, and could potentially serve to deepen the ongoing civil unrest in Bahrain.

Tyler Pry is an Advocacy Intern at ADHRB.

Photo courtesy of AFP