UN Rejects Bahrain’s Legal Justifications for Arresting and Trying Sheikh Ali Salman

2015-06-12 - 11:28 م

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Documents published by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) revealed that the United Nations had called on Bahrain to answer questions regarding the legal justifications for the arrest of Bahrain's opposition leader, Secretary-General of Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society Sheikh Ali Salman and received a written response from the Bahraini Public Prosecution in this regard.

This comes almost a week after the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville delivered a statement reiterating the UN's call for the immediate release of Sheikh Ali Salman, officially rejecting all the justifications given by the Bahraini authorities to the UN for arresting and trying Sheikh Ali Salman.

Experts: Salman was arrested because he called for a democratic regime. The prosecution created a hostile public opinion against him

Six UN experts, including five special rapporteurs, demanded in a letter addressed to the Bahraini government on January 16, 2015 and unveiled by the commissioner's office this week, Bahrain to "provide information concerning the legal grounds for the arrest and the detention of Sheikh Ali Al-Salman and how these measures are compatible with international norms and standards as stated, inter alia, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."

The letter stated: "In view of the urgency of the matter, we would appreciate a response on the initial steps taken by your Excellency's Government to safeguard the rights of Sheikh Ali Al-Salman in compliance with international instruments. As it is our responsibility, under the mandates provided to us by the Human Rights Council, to seek to clarify all cases brought to our attention, we would be grateful for your observations on the following matters."

Mads Andenas, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Heiner Bielefeldt, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and Gabriela Knaul, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers signed this letter.

The experts expressed their concern about Sheikh Ali Salman's arrest, highlighting that: "It is alleged that he is being targeted by the authorities on the basis of the public expression of his political views and opinions. Sheikh Ali Salman has reportedly called for the establishment of a democratic regime and the accountability of the Government before the Parliament."

They further stated that the Public Prosecution has allegedly issued a number of incriminating public statements condemning Sheikh Ali Salman, including false testimonies, which has reportedly resulted in the creation of a hostile public opinion against him as evidenced by reports in the local media.

"Concern is expressed at the alleged undue restrictions on the rights to freedom of association and freedom of opinion and expression and at the alleged arbitrary arrest and prosecution of Sheikh Ali Al-Salman," they stressed.

Bahraini Authorities respond to the UN

According to the communications documented and posted on the OHCHR's website, Bahrain's public prosecution sent a response to the UN experts' letter after almost a month and justified the charges it raised against Sheikh Ali Salman by claiming that in his speeches which were delivered in public, he "permitted the use of force against state authorities and detonation of explosives, stated the possibility of resorting to the military option to achieve political demands, incited hatred against naturalized citizens and threatened them, and publically called for breaking the law with regards to organizing protests..."

The prosecution also defended its press releases against Sheikh Salman and said that they were issued to clarify "the legal grounds" for his arrest, and that they included the charges raised against him and the evidence thereof.

The UN rejects Bahrain's justifications

Despite this response that was given four months ago, the OHCHR had once again called for the immediate release of Bahrain's opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman last week (June 5, 2015), voicing its concern about the expected sentence to be issued against him in a few days.

The spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, declared: "We are particularly concerned about two individuals currently in detention in Bahrain, namely Sheikh Ali al-Salman, the Secretary General of al-Wefaq political party and Nabeel Rajab, one of Bahrain's most prominent and respected human rights defenders."

Colville also pointed out that "Al-Salman and his lawyers say they have consistently been prevented by the court from presenting oral arguments. It is further reported that Al-Salman and his legal representatives have not been provided with any meaningful opportunity to examine the evidence."

"Back in January, as you may remember, the UN, including the UN Human Rights Office, called for his immediate release. We repeat that call today," he further stated.

The Arabic Issue 

التعليقات المنشورة لا تعبر بالضرورة عن رأي الموقع

comments powered by Disqus