Bahrain: Right to Defense Denied, Mother of Two Sentenced to Prison in Politically Motivated Trial
01 FEB 2013
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its deep concern regarding judicial system, which lacks independence and fairness. Siddiqa Al-Basri, (25 years old) a mother of two, was arrested from court on the 28th of January after she had her 6 months prison sentence upheld by the Court of Cassation for allegedly insulting a police officer and disobeying orders. Al-Basri was never presented with the opportunity to defend herself at any stage of the trial and appeal process.
Moreover Al-Basri was accused by the military prosecution of illegal gathering, causing a riot, and inciting hatred against regime at the same time. Her ID card was taken by police officers, and she was detained for ten days before she was released and referred to the military court (National Safety Court), which sentenced her on 21 June 2011 to two years of imprisonment in the second session of the trial. This sentence took place in the absence of a lawyer and without hearing her defence. She was released on bail of 200 Bahraini dinars pending appeal.
On 1 March 2012 the court of appeal denied Al-Basri’s right to present an appeal, and proceeded with passing a sentence of six months imprisonment. Her lawyer (Mohsin Al-Alawi) was denied requests to present his defence and question prosecution witnesses, such as the police officer who attacked her. Requests were also denied for the video recording from the Ministry of Interior’s security camera at the checkpoint. The last hope for Al-Basri was the court of cassation, which has, unfortunately, upheld the sentence despite the blatant disregard for due process during the appeal trial. She was immediately rearrested from the court and is due to serve the next 5 months and 20 days in prison.
The Bahraini Constitution states in Article 20, that an accused person is innocent until proved guilty in a legal trial in which he is assured of the necessary guarantees to exercise the right of defence at all stages of the investigation and trial in accordance with the law.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the US, UK, the UN and all other ally governments and international institutions to put pressure on the Government of Bahrain to:
- Immediatly release Siddiqa Al-Basri, review the court's decision, and drop the politicaly motivated charges against her.
- Immediately suspend all politically motivated trials that are still ongoing for hundreds of the Bahraini people who are suspected of supporting or sympathizing with the uprising of February 14.
- Establish an independent judicial system, that is neutral and transparent and that ensures the conditions of a fair trial for all defendants according to international standards.
- Immediately hold accountable those responsible for corruption in the judiciary and in the provisions of unfair and unjust courts.
- Adhere to international and Bahraini law, which provides for the right of the accused to have fair litigation and an adequate defense.
- Enable lawyers to practice their work in defending the accused in the courts free of harassment and targeting.