[JURIST] Bahraini authorities charged human rights lawyer Mohamed al-Tajer on Thursday with insulting government institutions. In addition, Al-Tajer, who previously defended human rights advocates, is facing two other charges [HRW report]: inciting hatred of a religious sect and misusing a telecommunications appliance. Prosecutors are investigating [Reuters report] a WhatsApp voice message in which al-Tajer accused the Bahraini government of spying on citizens. The trial date has not yet been set, but Al-Tajer could face more than five years in prison if convicted of all three charges.
There has been ongoing criticism of Bahrain’s human rights since the 2011 uprising. In November Amnesty International (AI) declared [JURIST report] Bahrain’s human rights reforms inadequate. In September 2015 the UN Human Rights Council released a report [JURIST report] on Bahrain’s human rights record. AI released a previous report [JURIST report] in April 2015 declaring that reforms had failed to end human rights violations. In February 2015 a Bahraini court found [JURIST report] 11 Shiites guilty of an attack carried out against police in 2013, and three Shiites were sentenced to death. The other eight defendants were sentenced to life in prison, and their citizenship was stripped. Also in February 2015, Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior initiated a criminal investigation into alleged criminal content [JURIST report] posted by the country’s main opposition group, the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.