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Press briefings notes on Qatar and Bahrain


Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Cécile Pouilly
Location: Geneva
Date: 08 January 2013
Subjects:
1) Bahrain
2) Qatar

1) Bahrain
We regret that Bahrain’s highest court on Monday upheld the convictions of 13 activists for their role in pro-democracy demonstrations, after two years of trials and despite the conclusions of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry and the appeals by the international community concerning the judicial procedure and allegations of torture,

These persons are political and human rights activists and we are concerned they may have been wrongly convicted for legitimate activities. We are also concerned by the extreme harshness of some of the sentences, including imprisonment for life.

In a separate development, we condemn the continued arbitrary detention of Mr. Said Yousif Al-Muhafdhah, the Vice President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), who was arrested on 17 December 2012 while monitoring a protest in Manama, tweeting about attacks on protesters and posting a picture of a demonstrator wounded during the protest.

His case is expected to be reviewed by the Public Prosecution Office on 9 January. We call on the Bahraini authorities to release him immediately.

2) Qatar

We are extremely concerned about Mohammed al Ajami (also known as Ibn al Dheeb), a well-known Qatari poet who was sentenced to life in prison on 29 November 2012 by a Qatari court for a poem considered to be insulting the nation’s symbols and encouraging the overthrow of its ruling system.

We are concerned by the fairness of his trial, including the right to counsel. The trial has been marred by a number of procedural irregularities and several of the sessions were held in camera. The initial statement of the defendant was allegedly tampered with to wrongly incriminate him for reciting his poem in public.

We are also concerned that Mr. al Ajami has apparently spent many months in solitary confinement and remains there despite a court order during his first instance trial to place him under normal conditions.

We understand that the second appeal is scheduled for January 27 and we continue to monitor the situation closely.

ENDS

For more information or media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Cécile Pouilly (+ 41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org)

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