Front Line welcomes the release of Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja following a pardon by the King of Bahrain on 21st November 2004. Unusually, the royal decree came just hours after the human rights defender had been sentenced to one year in prison, on charges relating to articles 165 and 168 of the penal code. In a public statement on behalf of the King, it was announced that “the imprisonment (of Abdul Hadi Al-Khawaja) should be limited to the period preceding the publication of this decree”.
Front Line remains deeply concerned that no action appears to have been taken to overturn the decision of the Labour and Social Affairs Minister on 29 September 2004 to dissolve the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR). The BCHR was reportedly closed for “activities contravening the Associations Law of 1989”. Front Line is calling on the authorities to revoke this arbitrary decision and remove any obstacles which prevent human rights defenders in Bahrain from carrying out their legitimate and important work of defending and promoting human rights in accordance with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.