Bahrain court delays appeal of imprisoned human rights activist

[JURIST] The Bahrain Court of Cassation on Monday delayed an appeal hearing for human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], who is serving a life sentence for terrorism-related charges. The court was to issue a decision Monday but set the appeal hearing for April 30 [AP report]. Al-Khawaja is among 21 individuals tried before the Bahrain military National Safety Court in June 2011 and found guilty [JURIST report] of terrorism-related charges, including several tried in absentia. Al-Khawaja has been on a hunger strike for the past 11 weeks and will now have to wait another week before his hearing. Bahrain officials insist Al-Khawaja is in good health, but his family says his health is deteriorating. Rights groups and many western governments have called for al-Khajawa's release.

Four independent human rights experts called for the immediate release [JURIST report] of Al-Khawaja last week. Earlier this month, Amnesty International reported that human rights violations continue [JURIST report] in Bahrain despite reported reforms. Al-Khawaja's lawyers and members of the Bahrain opposition appealed his conviction and UN experts' called for his release after international concern arose over his health due to repeated hunger strikes, which at that point had passed 50 days [JURIST reports]. Last May, Special Rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez [official profile] condemned the Bahraini government for failing to adhere to the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners [text] regarding Al-Khawaja physical and mental integrity. He was allegedly physically mistreated and perhaps tortured [JURIST report] while in custody, displaying visible physical signs of abuse at trial.

 

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