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Case History: Mohamed Al-Maskati

Status: 
Acquitted
About the situation

On 7 January 2016, the Court of Appeals acquitted Mr Mohamed Al Maskati. The human rights defender was on trial since 2013, on charges related to his human rights activities in Bahrain. If convicted, he would have faced up to six months in prison.

About Mohamed Al-Maskati

Mohamed Al-MaskatiMohammed Al-Maskati is the founder and former president of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) and an active participant in the activities of the UN Human Rights Council. He is an outspoken critic of human rights abuses in Bahrain.

7 January 2016
Court of Appeals acquits human rights defender Mohamed Al Maskati

On 7 January 2016, the Court of Appeals acquitted Mr Mohamed Al Maskati, digital consultant at Front Line Defenders.

The human rights defender was on trial since 2013, on charges related to his human rights activities in Bahrain. If convicted, he would have faced up to six months in prison.

Mohammed Al-Maskati was summoned and detained on 16 October 2012 by the police and then interrogated on the following day by the public prosecution on charges of 'rioting and participating in an illegal gathering' in relation to his participation in a peaceful demonstration in Manama on 12 October 2012. On 17 October 2012, he was released pending trial.

On 31 December 2014, the Lower Criminal Court in Bahrain sentenced him to six months in prison for illegal assembly.

Mohammed Al-Maskati has been repeatedly subjected to harassment and intimidation in relation to his human rights activism and Front Line Defenders has previously issued a number of urgent appeals on behalf of him. The human rights defender received death threats in 2011 and 2012. On 22 October 2013, the Ministry of Interior accused him of “inciting hatred against the regime” in relation to a speech he made on 8 September 2013 in the city of Jidhafs in which he discussed human rights and international legal mechanisms. He was released on the condition that he sign a declaration stating that he will present himself before the public prosecutor at any time.

21 December 2015
NGOs call to end the judicial harassment of Bahraini HRD Mohammed Al-Maskati

Outspoken Bahraini human rights defender Mohammed Al-Maskati faces six months in prison if an appeals court uphold a sentence handed down one year ago for his human rights activities.

The undersigned organisations call for the verdict to be overturned when his case is heard by the Court of Appeals on 22 December 2015, and call for an end to the more than three years of judicial harassment of Al-Maskati.

Mohammed Al-Maskati is the founder and former president of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) and he is currently a digital security consultant at Front Line Defenders. On 31 December 2014, the Lower Criminal Court in Bahrain sentenced him to six months in prison but he remained free on bail of 100 BHD until the appeal.

On 16 October 2012, Al-Maskati was first summoned for interrogation at Al-Naem police station. He was then arrested and brought the following day before the public prosecution on charges of allegedly “rioting and participating in an illegal gathering.” The charges were in reference to a Friday protest in Manama (on 12 October 2012) entitled “Self-determination”. He was released the following day after interrogation, and brought to trial in June 2013.

Al-Maskati has been active in documenting and reporting violations committed by the Bahraini authorities in recent years. A few weeks before his arrest in October 2012, he had participated in side events at the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva. The undersigned organisations call on the UN and its member states to take action to protect Al-Maskati and all human rights defenders who participate in UN events.

The organisations are gravely concerned that the sentencing of Mohammed Al-Maskati is part of an on-going trend of politically-motivated charges being used against human rights defenders and activists in Bahrain in an effort to stop them from carrying out their legitimate human rights work.

Please add your voice on twitter using the hashtag #DropAlMaskatiCharges and join the call for the Bahraini authorities to end the judicial harassment of Mohammed Al-Maskati and other human rights defenders, for the sentence against him to be overturned, and to refrain from exploiting the judicial system for political purposes. 

This joint appeal was signed by the following organisations:

Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)
Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)
Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR)
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
FIDH, within the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
Front Line Defenders
Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
Maharat Foundation
Social Media Exchange (SMEX)
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

2 January 2015
Human Rights Defender Mohammed Al-Maskati sentenced to 6 months in prison

On 31 December 2014, the Lower Criminal Court in Bahrain sentenced prominent human rights defender Mr Mohammed Al-Maskati to six months in prison for illegal assembly. He is currently out of jail on a 100 BHD (300 US Dollar) bail until the appeal hearing.

Mohammed Al-Maskati was repeatedly subjected to harassment and intimidation in relation to his human rights activism and his active participation in the activities of UN Human Rights Council. Front Line Defenders has previously issued a number of urgent appeals on behalf of Mohammed Al-Maskati. The human rights defender received death threats in 2011 and 2012. On 22 October 2013, the Ministry of Interior accused the human rights defender of “inciting hatred against the regime” in relation to a speech he made on 8 September 2013 in Jidhafs Town in which he discussed human rights as outlined in international legal mechanisms. In order to be released from interrogation he was obliged to sign a declaration stating that he will present himself before the public prosecutor at any time.

23 October 2013
Ongoing campaign against human rights defender, Mohammed Al-Maskati, following visit to United Nations in Geneva

On 22 October 2013, Mohammed Al-Maskati was summoned to Al Khamis Police Station for interrogation, which he attended with his lawyer on the morning of 23 October 2013. The Ministry of Interior has accused the human rights defender of “inciting hatred against the regime”. Mohammed Al-Maskati was released from interrogation today after he signed a declaration stating that he will present himself before the public prosecutor at any time. This pressure tactic effectively curtails Mohammed Al-Maskati's fundamental rights and places him in a vulnerable position while carrying out his human rights activities.

The recent interrogation of Mohammed Al-Maskati related to a speech he made on 8 September 2013 in Jidhafs Town in which he discussed human rights as outlined in international legal mechanisms. In August 2013, Mohammed Al-Maskati visited the Special Rapporteurs affiliated with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and met diplomatic missions in Geneva in coordination with several regional and International Human Rights organisations.

In 2012, Mohammed Al-Maskati also faced repercussions as a result of attending the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva. On 16 October 2012, a few weeks after attending a HRC panel, Al-Masktai was summoned for interrogation at Al-Hoora police station and detained overnight. He was brought before the Public Prosecution office on charges of “rioting and participating in an illegal gathering.” On 17 October 2012, he was released with charges pending. At that time, he also received death threats for supposedly tarnishing “the image of Bahrain in Geneva”, and was the target of a media smear campaign.

The intimidation against Mohammed Al-Maskati relates also to his activities locally. On 19 June 2013, Mohammed Al-Maskati appeared before the Lower Criminal Court on charges of “participation in illegal protests” in relation to his participation in a peaceful demonstration in Manama on 12 October 2012. Further, On 27 November 2007, Mohammed Al-Maskati was summoned to the Fourth Minor Criminal Court on charges of “activating [an] unregistered association before issuing the declaration of registration”.