17 Jan 2013

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concern over the continued criminalization of freedom of assembly in Bahrain, as courts continue to pass down prison sentences for charges of protesting at the Pearl Roundabout nearly two years after the February 14 protests.

On 15 January 2012, the Court of Appeals upheld the prison sentence of 15 months against former MP Mr Jawad Fairooz for charges of “participating in illegal protest at the pearl roundabout” and “calling for assemblies without notifying the authorities”. He was acquitted from the charges of “inciting against the regime” and “broadcasting false news”. The court ordered a fine to suspend the prison sentence against Fairooz, who is currently out of the country, and who risks arrest or deportation if he returned to the country as he was one of the 31 citizens stripped of his citizenship last November.

Fairooz was previously detained from 2 May 2011 to 7 August 2011. He was reportedly tortured in detention, and his wife was arrested and beaten last year in an attempt to pressure him further. He stood for trial at the military court but his case was later transferred to the civil court, which passed its first verdict on 7 November 2012. The verdict was made on the same day the Bahraini Interior Ministry revoked his citizenship along, with another 30 citizens, without any prior notice or judicial process, contrary to customary international law.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) believes that the charges against Mr Jawad Fairooz are a violation of his right to exercise of freedom of assembly in accordance with the universal declaration of human rights Article 20, which states“ (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association”.

The BCHR calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and all other close allies to Bahrain and international institutions to place pressure on the Bahraini authorities to:

1. Annul the prison sentence and drop all charges against Mr Jawad Fairooz as it is a violation of the right to freedom of assembly. 2. Reverse the revocation of his citizenship, which stands against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights article that proclaims, "No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of [their] nationality."