Bahrain Continues to Drag Feet Along Pathway to Reform
Washington, DC – Today’s postponement of the an appeal hearing for the prominent dissidents known as the Bahrain 13 marks another missed chance for the Kingdom’s authorities to start making real human rights progress, said Human Rights First. The appeal hearing was postponed until January 7, 2013. “The constant delays in court hearings only adds to the perception that Bahrain authorities are dragging their feet along the path to reform,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “These men were given a sham trial in military court last year and today’s decision just further postpones justice in this case.” Last week, a Bahraini court ruled in the appeal of nine members of the political society Amal. Four of the men had their original sentences reduced from 10 to five years in prison, while the other five were released. Those still in jail are Sheikh Mohammed Ali Almahfoodh, Talal Abdulhamid, Sheikh Jasim Aldimistani, and Sayed Mahdi Almusawi . “The delay to release the Amal people means a delay in reaching any solution in Bahrain,” a close observer of the case in Bahraini told Human Rights First. “The charges against them do not even meet the standards of official charges, and till now, there is no real evidence against them in court.” The Amal Society, also known as the Islamic Action Society, was one of the groups prominent in the protests in Bahrain early last year. During the crackdown following the February and March protests the government closed its headquarters and de-registered Amal as a political society. This week a four-member UN human rights team is in Bahrain to assess the human rights crisis and next week, on December 11, leading human rights defender and President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) Nabeel Rajab is due to hear his verdict in his appeal against a three-year prison term for taking part in illegal gatherings. Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino recently traveled to Bahrain, where she witness court proceedings in the case of 28 medics prosecuted after treating injured protestors during the democratic uprising last year. Her account of that trip was featured in an opinion piece published today by The Washington Post.