Bahrain: Acquittal of Mr. Mohammed Al-Maskati

09/02/2016
Urgent Appeal

New Information
BHR 003 / 0613 / OBS 052.3
Acquittal
Bahrain
February 9, 2016

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bahrain.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the acquittal of Mr. Mohammed Al-Maskati, former President of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) and digital security consultant at Front Line Defenders.

According to the information received, on January 31, 2016, the Court of Appeals confirmed the acquittal of Mr. Al-Maskati as it was previously announced on January 7, 2016.

The Observatory recalls that on 31 December 2014, the Lower Criminal Court in Bahrain had sentenced him to six months in prison on charges of “rioting and participating in an illegal gathering” in relation to a protest in Manama on October 12, 2012 (see background information).

While the Observatory welcomes the dismissal of charges against Mr. Al-Maskati, it condemns the judicial harassment he has been subjected to for more than three years, and calls on the Bahraini authorities to put an end to all acts of judicial harassment against any other human rights defender in Bahrain.

The Observatory wishes to thank all individuals and organisations that have been taking action as a response to the urgent appeals. No further action is currently required on your part concerning this case.

Background information:

On October 17, 2012, Mr. Al-Maskati appeared before Bahrain’s public prosecution on charges of “participation in illegal protests” in relation to a peaceful gathering held in Manama on October 12, 2012. He had been summoned the day before to Al Hoora police station, where he had been kept overnight before being referred to the prosecutor’s office. He was released on bail on the same day pending charges. On June 19, 2013, Mr. Al-Maskati appeared before the Lower Criminal Court under these same charges Mr. Al-Maskati’s lawyers asked for the case file, and the judge decided to adjourn the case to July 9, 2013 and then to December 9, 2013.

Previously, on September 23, 2012, Mr. Al-Maskati and other Bahraini human rights defenders who had cooperated with the United Nations (UN) had received threats of reprisals while they were in Geneva to participate in the 21st session of the UN Human Rights Council. Mr. Al-Maskati was notably threatened with death through more than a dozen anonymous phone calls.

In another case, on October 22, 2013, Mr. Al-Maskati was summoned to Al-Khamis Police Station where he was interrogated on charges of “inciting hatred against the regime”, based on a speech he made on September 8, 2013 in Jidhafs Town, where he spoke on the concept of non-violence and the importance of peacefully demanding the respect of rights as well as on the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). He was released only after signing a pledge to appear before the Public Prosecution upon request.

On December 31, 2014, the Lower Criminal Court sentenced Mr. Al-Maskati to six months imprisonment on charges of “rioting and participating in an illegal gathering”. Mr. Al-Maskati was released on bail of BHD 100 (approximately EUR 222). An appeal hearing was scheduled on September 7, 2015 which was postponed to December 22 then January 7, 2016.

Actions requested:

The Observatory urges the authorities of Bahrain to:

i. Refrain from any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Mohamed Al-Maskati and against all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

ii. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Mohamed Al-Maskati and all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

iii. Conform in any circumstances with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular:

- its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” ;
- and its Article 12.2 which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.

iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Bahrain.

Addresses:

· Cheikh Hamad bin Issa AL KHALIFA, King of Bahrain, Fax: +973 176 64 587
· Cheikh Khaled Bin Ahmad AL KHALIFA, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tel: +973 172 27 555; Fax : +973 172 12 6032
· Cheikh Khalid bin Ali AL KHALIFA, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Tel: +973 175 31 333; Fax: +973 175 31 284
· Lt. Gen. Cheikh Rashed bin Abdulla AL KHALIFA, Minister of Interior, Tel: +973 17572222 and +973 17390000. Email: info@interior.gov.bh
· Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United Nations in Geneva, 1 chemin Jacques-Attenville, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, CP 39, 1292 Chambésy, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 22 758 96 50. Email: info@bahrain-mission.ch

Please also write to diplomatic representations of Bahrain in your respective countries.

Paris-Geneva, February 9, 2016

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, an FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
• Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
• Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
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