Court Hearing on Bahrain Opposition Group Marks Deepening Human Rights Crisis

Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First said that tomorrow’s court hearing in Bahrain to consider the legality of peaceful opposition group Wa’ad (National Democratic Action Society), as well as prosecutions against human rights activists and civil society leaders, indicates an alarming decline in the protection of human rights in the Kingdom. Tomorrow, a Bahraini court will consider a case brought by authorities in an attempt to outlaw the opposition group Wa’ad. Wa’ad’s leader, Ibrahim Sharif, is currently in prison for his peaceful part in 2011 pro-democracy reform protests.

“Reports of arbitrary arrests and detention, of political groups being targeted, and human rights activists attacked by the criminal justice system are all cause for serious alarm,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “Tomorrow, authorities will attempt to ban the previously tolerated opposition group Wa’ad, a peaceful part of the opposition. If the government is successful in banning groups like Wa’ad, there will be very few moderate voices left.”

This case comes as the Bahraini regime increases its targeting of peaceful activists. Hussain Jawad, head of the European-Bahraini Organization for Human Rights, was in court last week for charges that include insulting the king. Additionally, 57 year-old Khalil Al Halwachi, who had been previously detained in 2011, was taken from his home last week without a warrant and has not been allowed access to his lawyer, according to his family.

On Saturday, the prominent Bahraini human rights defender Maryam Al Khawaja appeared in court and the judge extended her period of detention until at least September 16. Her lawyer also says he wasn’t allowed to speak to her before or during her questioning by the public prosecution.

“After years of false promises of reform we’re left with this – opposition groups targeted, reports of arbitrary arrests and denial of due process of law,” said Dooley. “The U.S. government should rework its approach to Bahrain. Relying primarily on backdoor diplomacy clearly isn’t working.”

Press

Published on September 8, 2014

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