[JURIST] Independent UN rights experts on Friday called on the government of Bahrain to release human rights activist Maryam Al-Khawaja [press release] due to the absence of evidence against her. Al-Khawaja was arrested in August upon her return to Bahrain [Al Jazeera report] and was charged with insulting the king and assaulting police officers. According to a post on Al-Khawaja’s Twitter account, she has not been permitted to see a lawyer since her arrest [Twitter]. The rights experts expressed concern at the rash of apparent political imprisonment of individuals expressing their freedom of opinion, particularly human rights activists.
Political tensions remain high Bahrain following protests that began in 2011, resulting in what some view as political incarcerations. In April a Bahrain court sentenced eight activists to life in prison [JURIST report] for killing a policeman and participating in anti-regime protests last August. In March a Bahrain court sentenced 13 citizens to life in prison [JURIST report] and one man to 10 years in prison for attempting to kill a police officer and participating in an illegal protest. Also in March Bahrain’s Fourth High Criminal Court convicted 11 defendants [JURIST report] of possessing weapons, ammunition and explosives and of manufacturing bombs for terror purposes, which resulted in 15-year prison sentences for the accused [JURIST report] and significant fines. In late 2013 a judge in Bahrain rejected a request from human rights activist Nabeel Rajab to approve his conditional early release [JURIST report], for which Rajab was eligible under Bahraini law. Psaki commented that the US continues to urge Bahrain to permit all sectors of society to peacefully voice their political views.