Human rights violations

The Bahraini regime retaliates against a prominent lawyer for defending political opponents

The Bahraini regime authorities continue to prosecute a prominent Bahraini lawyer for defending human rights supporters and opposition figures.

Lawyer Abdullah Al-Shamlawi defended prominent opposition figures, including the imprisoned Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of Al-Wefaq, the largest political opposition association in Bahrain.

In retaliation, the Minister of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments, Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa, filed a disciplinary case against this lawyer with the Lawyers Disciplinary Board.

In the petition, the Minister of Justice said that it decided to refer lawyer Al-Shamlawi to the Lawyers Disciplinary Board because he violated Article 43 of the Lawyers’ Law.

According to Human Rights Watch, the human rights situation in Bahrain did not improve during the past year 2020.

In a recent report, the organization indicated that the regime’s authorities continue to arrest human rights defenders, journalists and opposition leaders.

Four penalties

The Bahraini Minister of Justice did not specify in the disciplinary appeal the violation made by Al-Shamlawi.

However, he may be subject to one of 4 disciplinary sanctions, based on Text 43.

These are warning, blaming, preventing him from practising the profession for a period not exceeding three years, and permanently deleting the name from the table.

The head of the High Criminal Courts Unit, Youssef El-Naar, has set February 8 as the date for hearing the disciplinary case.

Last year, lawyer Al-Shamlawi was subjected to a malicious retaliatory trial in two cases brought against him.

After in the first case, he expressed his perspective on Twitter discussing a religious issue related to fasting on Ashura.

The second is related to a tweet in which he criticized the distribution of housing units to newly naturalized Asians, known as the “Kumar” case.

On June 30, 2020, Al-Shamlawi was sentenced to eight months in prison, six months for the first charge, two months for the second charge, and a two-hundred-dinar bail to stop the execution.

Accusations of treason

At the end of July 2020, Bahrain’s Lawyers’ Appeals Disciplinary Board decided to ban Al-Shamlawi from practising the profession for a month.

Regime authorities usually classify any criticism of the government or human rights record under treason, terrorism and anti-country.

Two human rights organizations said earlier that the prosecution of Al-Shamlawi reflects a pattern of official harassment of lawyers critical of the government.

“The government should not retaliate against lawyers who defend dissidents or indignant defendants,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of the Middle East division at Human Rights Watch.

He added, “Bahrain should stop using broad legal provisions to harass and prosecute lawyers who defend opposition activists and human rights.”

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