Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Sunday urged Bahrain's court of appeals to overturn [press release] the conviction of human right advocate Nabeel Rajab [JURIST news archive]. Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BHCR) [advocacy website], was arrested in June and sentenced to three years in prison [JURIST reports] on charges of participating in illegal activities and inciting marches through social media sites. HRW contends that there is no evidence of Rajab participating in violence and that his conviction is a violation of his right to peaceful assembly. Rajab is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday to appeal his conviction.
Bahrain has faced international criticism for its crackdown against dissidents since anti-government protests began last year. Earlier this month the Bahrain Court of Cassation upheld jail sentences [JURIST report] for nine medics convicted for their involvement in Bahrain's pro-democracy uprisingAccording to BNA, the medics were working at Salmaniya Medical Complex [official website], and, during the time of the uprising, "took over the complex, detained and imprisoned kidnapped persons, and transformed the hospital to a place of illegal gathering and strikes, in violation of laws." According to Physicians for Human Rights, at least 95 health workers were arrested in Bahrain only after some medics treated those hurt by security forces and spoke out against the crackdown against protesters, which included firing upon ambulances. Last month government officials pledged to fulfill [JURIST report] the 158 recommendations included in the UN Universal Periodic Review [materials] regarding human rights abuses against political opposition. HRW called on Bahrain to follow through with their promises, but raised doubts as to whether the government is fully committed to reform.