THE LEVANT – Hussain Jawad, Chairman of the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights EBOHR, appeared today September 4 in court on charges including inciting hatred against the regime and insulting the king. Trial was adjourned to October 7.
Mr. Jawad was arrested on November 24, 2013 at a police station in the central governorate whilst filing a complaint against the government-run newspaper, Akbar al-Khaleej, and the Bahrain Society for Human Rights Watch (a government-organized non-governmental organisation). His complaint referred to defamation, libel, and incitement to harm human rights bloggers and activists, including himself. While filing the complaint, he was arrested on a charge of “inciting hatred against the regime” in a speech he had given in Manama in Ashoora ceremonies (Shiite festival).
On December 9, 2013, having completed 14 days in prison, Mr. Jawad was transferred from Dry Dock Prison to Naim Police Station for interrogation without the presence of a lawyer. His lawyer reported that he was denied approval to speak with Jawad and not informed of the charges until Jawad had been transferred to Naim.
Mr. Jawad served 46 days in Dry Dock Prison where he documented at least 800 cases of other prisoners detained with him in Dry Dock prison and the conditions in which they were held. He was released on January 9, 2014 for 100 dinar bail.
AMNESTY International wrote on 14th of January 2014 in regard: “Bahraini human rights activist Hussain Jawad was released on bail on 9 January, but is still facing trial on charges that relate solely to his exercise of his right to freedom of expression”, and it added “During his speech he called on the Bahraini people to demand their rights, peacefully and without fear, and he also vehemently criticized the authorities. Amnesty International has reviewed a video of the speech and does not believe it contained any incitement to violence”.
The European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR) believes that the government’s targeting of Hussain Jawad is part of a systematic persecution of Bahraini human rights defenders, aimed at institutionalising fear and reducing the activity of human rights organisations working on and in Bahrain. The EBOHR asserts that the continuation of trials and charges against its chairman, Hussain Jawad, is in explicit violation of recommendations issued by the United Nations and the European Union, which have called upon Bahrain to release prisoners of conscience and end its campaigns against human rights defenders.
Despite the government of Bahrain’s continued talk of “reform” and adherence to BICI recommendations, their most recent attacks against HRDs like Hussain Jawad undermine their claims.
EBOHR condemns the targeting of activists, bloggers, and human rights defenders, and calls upon the Bahraini authorities to unconditionally rescind the charges levied against its chairman, Hussain Jawad, since they are related solely to the legitimate exercise of his right to freedom of expression.
EBOHR also urge the Bahraini authorities to respect and protect the rights to freedom of expression and assembly and ensure that all human rights organisations and human rights defenders are able to carry out their work without hindrance, intimidation or harassment.