Bahrain: Sentencing and continuing judicial harassment of Ms. Ghada Jamsheer
BHR 002 / 0415 / OBS 030.1
Sentencing / Judicial harassment
June 12, 2015
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bahrain.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the sentencing and continuing judicial harassment of Ms. Ghada Jamsheer, Head of the Women’s Petition Committee, an organisation which campaigns for the rights and dignity of women in the Shari’ah family courts.
According to information received, on June 9, 2015, the Third Lower Criminal Court sentenced Ms. Jamsheer to one year and eight months imprisonment on charges of defamation in connection with messages posted via her Twitter account criticising alleged corruption in the management of King Hamad Hospital in Bahrain, which is run by members of the ruling family. Ms. Jamsheer was arbitrarily detained for more than three months after being arrested on September 14, 2014 on allegations of defamation (see background information).
The Observatory strongly condemns the sentencing and continuous judicial harassment of Ms. Ghada Jamsheer, which seems to merely aim at sanctioning her human rights activities and calls upon the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against her.
Since September 2014, twelve criminal cases have already been brought against Ms. Jamsheer, who is under permanent surveillance with a 24-hour presence of plainclothes Public Security officials of the Ministry of the Interior outside her home and was banned from national media in 2007.
Ms. Jamsheer was arbitrarily detained for more than three months after she was arrested on September 14, 2014 on allegations of defamation. This summons came in connection with messages posted via her Twitter account criticising alleged corruption in the management of King Hamad Hospital in Bahrain, which is run by members of the ruling family.
While, on October 29, 2014, the Third Criminal Court acquitted Ms. Jamsheer and ordered her release on bail regarding this case, she was released on November 27, only to be again rearrested 12 hours later on new charges of “assaulting two police women”. Ms. Jamsheer was again released on December 15, 2014, and further put under house arrest until January 15, 2015. On May 5, 2015, the Bahrain High Criminal Court sentenced Ms. Jamsheer to a one year prison term, suspended for three years on charges of “assaulting a police officer”.
Hearings in the pending cases against Ms. Jamsheer have been regularly adjourned without providing any reason, violating Ms Jamsheer’s right to be tried within a reasonable time. For example, the verdict of the defamation case which was supposed to be given on April 15, 2015, was postponed to June 9, 2015, without providing any reason.
Besides, on December 29, 2014, UN experts urged the government of Bahrain to drop charges against Ms. Jamsheer, as she was sentenced “purely for [her] criticism of government authorities. […] Such criticism is not only fully legitimate according to Bahrain’s obligations under human rights law; it is also essential to the free and public debate necessary for a healthy civil society” they added.
Furthermore, on March 14, 2015, Ms. Jamsheer was denied the right to board on a plane at Bahrain International Airport by the airport’s security office as she attempted to travel to France to receive medical treatment. Ms. Jamsheer who did not receive any prior notification, was not given any reason for the travel ban. Concerning the aforementioned incident, on March 23, 2015, Ms. Jamsheer complained to the Public Prosecutor’s office regarding the travel ban and was informed that she should submit a travel request to the High Criminal Court. The Court reviewed her request on April 12, 2015 and decided to waive the travel ban, stating that there was no solid reason for such a restriction. Nonetheless, on April 15, 2015, the office of the Public Prosecutor was still unable to provide Ms. Jamsheer with a formal authorisation to travel, stating that the file was now in the hand of the immigration office.
Please write to the authorities of Bahrain urging them to:
i. Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Ms. Ghada Jamsheer, as well as against all human rights defenders in Bahrain;
ii. Put an end to any kind of harassment, including at judicial level, against Ms. Ghada Jamsheer and all human rights defenders in Bahrain;
iii. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Ghada Jamsheer;
iv. Guarantee Ms. Ghada Jamsheer’s freedom of movement;
v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular its :
– Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,
– Article 12(1) that provides “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”,
– as well as Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;
vi. Ensure in all circumstances, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Bahrain.
- Cheikh Hamad bin Issa AL KHALIFA, King of Bahrain, Fax: +973 176 64 587
- Cheikh Khaled Bin Ahmad AL KHALIFA, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tel: +973 172 27 555; Fax : 00973 17 21 05 75; firstname.lastname@example.org
- Cheikh Khalid bin Ali AL KHALIFA, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Tel: +973 175 133 00; Fax: +973 175 31 284
- Lt. Gen. Cheikh Rashed bin Abdulla AL KHALIFA, Minister of Interior, Tel: +973 17572222 and +973 17390000. Email: email@example.com
- Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United Nations in Geneva, 1 chemin Jacques-Attenville, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, CP 39, 1292 Chambésy, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 22 758 96 50. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- H.E. Ahmed Mohammed Yousif Aldoseri, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the Kingdom of Belgium, Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Avenue Louise 250, 1050 Brussels, Belgium; Fax: 0032 (0) 26472274; E-mail: Brussels.email@example.com