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Bahrain: Statement by Front Line Defenders as Final Appeal of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja Rejected
On 7 January 2013 the highest appeal court in Bahrain upheld the sentences of 13 activists, including prominent human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, a former Protection Co-ordinator for Front Line Defenders and former President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR).
It has been reported by the defence lawyers involved that this was the last possibility for these men to overturn their convictions. Those imprisoned are serving sentences ranging from 5 years to life imprisonment on a variety of charges relating to the protest movement that emerged in Bahrain in 2011.
Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who has received the Freedom Award for his work as a human rights defender from Freedom House, is currently serving a life sentence. He was originally sentenced on 22 June 2011 by a military court created under 'national security law' under various charges, including “organising and managing a terrorist organisation”, “attempt to overthrow the Government by force and in liaison with a terrorist organisation working for a foreign country” and “collection of money for a terrorist group”. A civilian retrial was granted following the report issued by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), but some charges were only slightly changed. The torture Abdulhadi suffered in prison has yet to be investigated or punished, and it was not considered during his various hearings.
Front Line Defenders is unsurprised by the decision of the Bahraini court, which has yet to indicate that the recommendations of the BICI for meaningful reform are being taken seriously or implemented by the government. Front Line Defenders remains dismayed by the outrageous imprisonment of this remarkable human rights defender.
For further information on the situation in Bahrain please check our dedicated site here