Cameron should tell Bahraini king that UK 'will not stand idly by' as dissidents are jailed
As the UK Prime Minister David Cameron prepares to meet Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa at Downing Street today, Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
“There’s been a façade of supposed reform in Bahrain in recent months, but the reality is that the country’s courts have been jailing human rights defenders and peaceful protesters.
“We want Mr Cameron to make it crystal clear that the UK will not stand idly by while Bahrain proceeds to lock up its dissidents.
“In particular, the prime minister should raise the cases of Nabeel Rajab and Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, leading dissidents who’ve been jailed for voicing their opposition to widespread human rights abuses by the Bahraini authorities.
“We know that international pressure on the Bahraini authorities can make a difference - without it last year’s major inquiry into human rights abuses during the crackdown almost certainly wouldn’t have happened.”
Last week Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, was sentenced to three years in prison after being found guilty of taking part in an “illegal gathering” and other charges related to a protest in the Bahraini capital Manama in February. Amnesty described his jailing as “dark day for justice in Bahrain”.
Meanwhile, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja is one of 13 Bahraini activists sentenced by a military court in June 2011 to between two years and life in prison on charges including “setting up terror groups to topple the royal regime and change the constitution”. All of the 13 maintain their innocence and Amnesty considers them to be prisoners of conscience, held solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
Earlier this month Bahrain’s High Criminal Court of Appeal postponed to 4 September the final verdict on an appeal from the 13, a delay that Amnesty described as the authorities “toying with defendants … prolonging their ordeal and that of their families.”