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Bahrain: Trial of human rights defender, Mohamed Abdul Nabi Al-Maskati, adjourned until 15 January 2009
The trial of Bahraini human rights defender Mohamed Abdul Nabi Al-Maskati for “running an unlicenced association” has been adjourned until 15 January 2009. Mohamed Abdul Nabi Al-Maskati is the founder of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR), which organises training workshops, monitors and documents human rights violations and participates in forming a regional network for young human rights activists in eight Arab countries. Front Line previously wrote to you on in relation with this case.
Posted 04/10/2008 On 27 November 2007, Mohamed Abdul Nabi Al-Maskati was called to present himself at the Fourth Minor Criminal Court on charges of “activating [...an...] unregistered association before issuing the declaration of registration,” a charge with bears a punishment of a maximum of six months imprisonment and/ or a fine of 500 Bahrainian Dinars (approximately 1,000 Euros). The trial of Mohamed Abdul Al-Maskati was then postponed until 21 January 2008 which was a public holiday. No further action was subsequently taken until he was served with another warrant in June 2008 under a different case number requesting his presence in court on 6 November 2008. His trial was then adjourned until 15 January 2009.
The BYSHR originally applied for registration as a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in June 2005, but has never received an official response from the Bahraini government. Prior to the arrest of Mohamed Abdul Nabi Al-Maskati, the BYSHR received notification from the Ministry of Social Affairs that the organisation's leader would be prosecuted if they did not cease their activities. Such charges are made under the Bahraini Penal Code of 1976 and the Association Law of 1989, which require NGOs to register with the authorities. In practice, this legislation affords the authorities the opportunity to impede the activities of human rights organisations and civil society movements.
Front Line is concerned that Mohamed Abdul Nabi Al-Maskati has been targeted as a result of his legitimate work in the defence of human rights and fears that this trial may form part of an ongoing campaign against civil society organisations and human rights defenders in Bahrain.