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End judicial harassment of human rights defender and blogger Ghada Jamsheer

Human rights defender and blogger Ghada Jamsheer faces a sentence of 1 year imprisonment for "assaulting a policewoman"

The trial against human rights defender Ms Ghada Jamsheer is due to resume on 22 June 2016 before the Bahrain High Criminal Court of Appeal. She is facing several charges including criticism of alleged corruption by the management of King Hamad hospital, run by the ruling family in Bahrain, on social media.

Ghada Jamsheer is a Bahraini human rights defender and the Head of the Women's Petition Committee, a network of Bahraini women human rights defenders who campaign for the codification of Bahrain's family laws and their reform. She is a writer and blogger and has been banned from Bahrain national media since 2005. Her online blog Bahrain-eve has been blocked in Bahrain since at least 2009. The human rights defender published a book in 2005, entitled “The Executioner and the Victim in Sharia Courts” issued by the Women's Petition Committee where she documented cases of women who had been victims of abuse before Sharia courts.

On 26 November 2015, the Bahrain High Court of Appeal upheld the sentence to one year imprisonment, suspended for three years, issued in May 2015 against Ghada Jamsheer, on the charge of allegedly “assaulting a policewoman”, which she denies. Prosecutors alleged the event to have taken place during her time in detention in September 2014. No sufficient evidence that she attacked the policewoman has been presented in support of the claim, and the accusation is refuted by her lawyer.

The human rights defender additionally faces the charge of “insulting a policewoman”, also related to her time in detention, and appeared before the Lower Criminal Court on 1 October 2015. Her trial was postponed to 11 November 2015, and again to 28 December 2015.

On 9 June 2015, the Third Lower Criminal Court sentenced Ghada Jamsheer to one year and eight months imprisonment over charges of insulting the management of a public institution following criticisms she posted on social media about corruption cases at King Hamad hospital.

On 14 March 2015, the human rights defender was prevented from leaving Bahrain via Bahrain International Airport by security authorities, following an order of the Prosecutor General. She has not received any written notification about the ban.

Ghada Jamsheer was originally arrested on 14 September 2014 on the basis of ten complaints filed against her by different individuals. She served three months and two days in prison before being released under house arrest on 15 December 2014. A court hearing related to these charges was scheduled for 22 December 2015, which was further adjourned.

In a speech in 2010 on World Press Freedom Day, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa declared that during his ruling regime he would not jail anyone expressing their opinion or any journalists, “nor close down a newspaper or any media organisation because of the exercise of the constitutional right to express their opinion.”

We express our concern about the ongoing trial against human rights defender Ghada Jamsheer, and view this act as part of an ongoing crackdown against civil society and human rights defenders in Bahrain.

The authorities in Bahrain must immediately:

1. Quash the sentence and drop all charges against Ghada Jamsheer, and lift the travel ban imposed on her, as it is believed that they are solely motivated by her peaceful and legitimate work in the defence of human rights;
2. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders, bloggers and journalists in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

Reporters Without Borders

Front Line Defenders

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