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Bahraini rights defender denied the right to a fair trial

Said Yousif at a peaceful demonstration in Bahrain after BCHR President Nabeel Rajab was arrested and jailed in August 2012
Said Yousif at a peaceful demonstration in Bahrain after BCHR President Nabeel Rajab was arrested and jailed in August 2012

BCHR

(BCHR/IFEX) - Our organizations, ASF Network (Lawyers Without Borders), the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), the Gulf Centre for Human Right (GCHR), and IFEX (the global network defending free expression of which BCHR is a member), express deepest concerns about the situation of human rights defender Said Yousif Al-Muhafdah, Vice-President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and the circumstances of his trial in Manama.

After Al-Muhafdah was arrested on 17 December 2012 on charges of "spreading false information on Twitter", the Court postponed his hearings on several occasions, prolonging his detention. After paying 100BD (198 Euros) he was released temporarily on 17 January; all charges, however, remained against him. On 29 January 2013 his case was adjourned until 4 March 2013 for the defence – but a request to bring defense witnesses was rejected. Finally, at the hearing on 4 March 2013, the Court denied the request to hear evidence from the defense witnesses and postponed the case to 11 March 2013 for a verdict.

This short notice does not allow international organizations such as ours to engage a lawyer to observe the verdict, nor to receive permission from the authorities to send a lawyer to Bahrain, which requires advance notice.

The successive postponements and the refusal to hear witnesses for the defense represent violations of rights of defense and of the right to a fair trial as provided in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by Bahrain on 20 September 2006.

Due to the inconsistency of the accusations and the violation of the defendant's rights, our organizations call on authorities in Bahrain to cease all legal claims and drop all charges against Said Yousif Al-Muhafdah. We believe he is being prosecuted in an attempt to silence him and prevent him in engaging from his peaceful human rights activities.

Respectfully yours,

ASF Network: Anne Lutun

BCHR: Maryam Al-Khawaja, Acting President

GCHR: Khalid Ibrahim

IFEX: Annie Game, Executive Director

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