The Bahrain Center for Human Rights: The ongoing targeting of lawyers

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses its concern with the harassment, threats, unfair trials, violations and fabrication of malicious cases against lawyers in Bahrain. The most notable case was the one of the lawyer and human rights defender Abdulla Hashim. BCHR demands that his trial be halted and the charges against him be dropped.

In details, the authorities in Bahrain accused Hashem of spreading false news by expressing his opinion via Twitter on some social issues. On Monday, 10 August, the court postponed the hearing of the case until 24 January.

Therefore, the head of BCHR, Nedal Al-Salman, calls on the Bahraini authorities to “stop the intimidation, threats and prosecution of human rights defenders and lawyers who express their views that are far from violence and incitement”. “They only tackle living issues that are respected by international laws and treaties”, she added.

This is not the first case that targets lawyers, as the Board of Disciplinary Appeals issued a decision, on 28 July last year, to amend the punishment that had been sentenced to lawyer Abdullah Al-Shamlawi. The amendment changed the ban on practicing the profession from 3 months to one month. And this was on the background of a comment he posted on Twitter on a religious issue, and another subject related to his expression of his opinion about a photo published in a local newspaper.

The authorities previously targeted a prominent lawyer and human rights defender, Muhammad al-Tajer, and filed charges that violate his right to expression in November 2016, based on a voice message he sent via WhatsApp. He was banned from traveling, and this decision met with strong criticism from the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. The authorities deported the lawyer Taymour Karimi to Iraq on 26 June, 2016, after the appeals court upheld a ruling to deport him after his nationality was revoked in 2012.

Therefore, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) calls on the authorities in Bahrain to:

  • Suspend the trial of lawyer Abdullah Hashem and drop the charges against him with respect;
  • Ensure freedom of opinion and expression;
  • Stop targeting human rights activists and, particularly, lawyers.