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Bahrain’s Final Kiss Goodbye to Pretense of the Rule of Law, Brian Dooley

2017-02-28 - 5:01 am

Bahrain Mirror: The human rights community raised serious concerns after Bahrain's Council of Representatives last week approved an amendment to Bahrain's Constitution that would enable military courts to try civilians, in violation of international fair trial standards.

In an article published on The Huffington Post, Contributor and Human Rights Defenders Director at Human Rights First, Brian Dooley, noted that a similar move was made in 2011 during a six-month state of emergency, when hundreds of civilians were tried by the military, and when tortured prisoners were convicted without real evidence and sentenced to long terms in jail.

He further stated that it was an appalling yet temporary system. However, on Tuesday (February 21, 2017) Bahrain's puppet parliament voted overwhelmingly to remove limits in the country's constitution on who can be tried by the military, adding that the final rubber stamping is only weeks away. "This year is likely to see military judges again convict and sentence civilians in Bahrain," stressed Dooley.

The human rights activist; however, pointed out that Bahrain's civilian courts do not exactly have any legal credibility, but a decision allowing civilians to be tried in military courts "is the final kiss goodbye to any pretense of the rule of law."

Dooley noted that among those tried and convicted by Bahrain's military courts in 2011 were leading peaceful dissidents and human rights defenders, including Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, Ibrahim Sharif, Mahdi Abu Deeb and Jalila Al Salman. He added that 20 medics were also targeted for treating injured protestors and telling international media the truth about the weapons used on them.

"Medic Rula Al Saffar [...] was one of those convicted by the military court in September 2011 and sentenced to 15 years in prison after being tortured in jail. She was acquitted on appeal in a civilian court nine months later," he said.

The HR campaigner further highlighted that Bahrain's military courts were widely condemned by international human rights organizations and by the independent inquiry commissioned by Bahrain's regime. "I was ejected from the military courtroom before a hearing of prominent dissidents in May 2011," he said, adding that he and other independent observers "know the courts were used as an obviously political tool to silence peaceful dissent, convicting political opposition leaders and human rights activists of trumped-up charges of terrorism."

Concluding his article, Brian Dooley stressed that "the State Department should publicly state its opposition to this latest move to rig the judicial system against dissidents, and tell Bahrain that more unfair trials will lead to more unrest."


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