Bahrain: ARTICLE 19 concerned about the upcoming trial of Bahraini Activists

ARTICLE 19 has been following with concern the cases brought against three Bahraini activists in relation to their publishing activities and speeches about the political situation in Bahrain. Mr. Hasan Mushaima, Mohamed Habib Al-Muqdad and Dr Abdul-Jalil Alsingace are due to appear in court on Monday, February 23 2009, for charges related to violating anti-terrorism and criminal laws.

The three activists, arrested on January 26, 2009, have been charged with several offences under the Bahrain Penal Code (Articles 160 and 165) and Article 6 of the Bahrain Terrorism Code of 2006, that carry a penalty of up to five years and life imprisonment respectively. These are "forming an organisation, outside the provisions of the law, which disrupts the provisions of the Constitution or prevents any of the State enterprises or public authorities from exercising their duties", "provoking hatred of the regime" and "inciting violence and the overthrow of the political system". Mr. Mushaima and Mr. Al-Muqdad are still held in custody, while Dr. Alsingace was released on bail but officially banned from travel out of Bahrain.

ARTICLE 19 is concerned about the vagueness of the provisions of the Penal and Terrorism Codes that are being used as a basis for the prosecution of the three Bahraini activists. On the face of it, these provisions are overbroad and include illegitimate restrictions on the rights of freedom of association and of freedom of expression. The anti-terrorism provisions have also been a subject of criticism by the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.

ARTICLE 19 welcomes Bahrain's commitment to introduce political and democratic reforms in the country and the steps the country has taken in this direction. We call on the Bahraini authorities to further strengthen this commitment by bringing its legislation to compliance with international human rights law and standards on freedom of expression and the right to assembly. We also urge the Bahraini authorities to ensure that the trial of the three activists meets international standards of fairness and transparency, in particular, the right to challenge the lawfulness of the detention, the presumption of innocence, the right to examine or have examined all witnesses and the right to a fair hearing.

Updates the Hasan Mushaima, Mohamed Habib Al-Muqdad and Abdul-Jalil Alsingace cases: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/100645/

MORE INFORMATION:

For further information, contact Hoda Rouhana, MENA Programme Officer, ARTICLE 19, 6-8 Amwell Street, London, EC1R 1UQ, U.K., tel: +44 20 7278 9292, fax: +44 20 7278 7660, e-mail: hoda@article19.org, info@article19.org, Internet: http://www.article19.org

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