Bahrain Center for Human Rights: No freedom in Bahrain through the cyberspace

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) condemns the verdict against prominent human rights lawyer Abdallah Al-Shamlawi. The Court of Appeal in Bahrain issued an eight-month prison sentence and a fine of 200 BD to halt the execution, on two cases filed against the lawyer related to two posts on his Twitter account that he uses to express his personal opinions.

The Center believes that the verdict itself is a violation of the right to the freedom of opinion and expression, as the court issued a sentence of 6 months in prison and a fine of 100 BD to halt the execution on the first case. The case was filed after he published a tweet in which he gave his opinion on fasting in the days of Ashura, knowing that he deleted it and apologized to everyone who was annoyed.

As for the second case, it was on the background of a tweet published in 2018, after one of the naturalized citizens obtained a housing unit. Al-Shamlawi was congratulating the citizen which is not an offense, and the case was known as the “Komar” case.

The President of BCHR, Nedal Al-Salman, calls on the Bahraini authorities to “not consider the expression of opinion on social networking sites a cybercrime, as most of them do not include any abuse or harm to the rights of others.” She additionally calls on the international community to “support human rights defenders in order to obtain a space of freedom of opinion in the country, especially in the cyberspace.” Nedal al-Salman recalls the case of prominent human rights defender and lawyer Nabeel Rajab, who “spent years in prison because of a Twitter post”.

Furthermore, Al-Shamlawi is considered one of the most prominent lawyers defending human rights, prisoners of opinion and expression, political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, most notably Sheikh Ali Al-Salman. His case was transferred to the Department of Cybercrime, and 15 attorneys were present at his trial.