Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bahrain: the Establishment of a Human Rights Organization is a Crime

Bahrain: the Establishment of a Youth Human Rights Organization is a Charge Punishable by Law

June 14th, 2008

Bahrain: the Establishment of a Youth Human Rights Organization is a Charge Punishable by Law
Maskati under Threat of Prosecution Once Again

Manama- 6th June, 2008

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights has, with regret, been following up on the Ministry of Justices decision, to inform, through an official notification, Mr. Mohammed Al-Maskati, university student, 21 years, President if the BYSHR and a member of the Norwegian Defense International, that he is to be present as a criminal suspect for a court hearing before the 4th Lower Criminal Court on the 6th of November 2008. The charges are related to the working in a Society before it has been officially registered. The Ministry of Social Affairs is behind these allegations and should Mr. Al-Maskati be found guilty, he may be imprisoned for a period of no more than 6 months and/or a fine of 500 Bahraini Dinars.

Case Details:
On the 24th of September 2007, the Bahraini Public Prosecutor’s office, officially transferred the documents related to case number 200621741, charging Mr. Mohammed Al-Maskati, as a representative of the BYSHR of engaging in the activities of an unauthorized society, to the 4th lower Criminal Court.
Consequently, on the 27th of November 2007, Mr. Al-Maskati attending the hearing and the court judge read out the charges filed against him and permitted him to defend himself against these charges. Mr. AL-Maskati stated that it is right of any human being to establish an organization that aims at defending people’s rights and protecting them against violations. Furthermore, he said that the establishment of the society was built upon stipulations of international treaties and conventions that the Bahraini Government had sanctioned which include the right of establishing peaceful organizations. The Court judge postponed the case until the 21st of January 2008.
However, given that on the assigned date of trial there was an official public vacation, the trial was not held. Moreover, Mr. Al-Maskati’s lawyer informed him that the Ministry of Justice had suspended the case and had not reassigned a new trial date.
On the 4th of June 2008, the Ministry of Justice informed Mr. Al-Maskati, through public post that he was to stand before court on the 6th of November 2008 according to case number 200710521, in the 4th lower Criminal Court. According to Mr. Al-Maskati’s lawyer, the charges are similar to the previous case although the case number is different.

Temporary Suspension:
The temporary suspension of Mr. Al-Maskati’s case came as a result of escalating pressure due to the release of many reports by regional and international Human Rights Organizations, condemning the targeting of human rights activists. The government was also seeking international commendation and benefits for its human right record as Bahrain was on the verge of a wholesome review of its human rights record by the Human Rights Council and was nominated for membership.

The BYSHR calls for:

The discontinuation of the trial and the annulment of the charges held against Mr. Mohammed Al-Maskati the BYSHR President. Furthermore, Mr. Al-Maskati must be allowed to engage feely in his work in the society without being targeted or threatened continuously.The Bahraini government to abide by its commitments before the Human Rights Council to protect active human rights defenders.Regional and international organization, engaged in human rights, to address the Bahraini government to protect Mr. Al-Maskati and exert as much pressure as possible to provide legal protection for human rights defenders and to provide them with a safe environment in which they may actively and freely engage in their work in the field of local and regional human rights.