Bahrain: NPWJ strongly condemns sham trial and life sentences against prominent opposition leaders

5 Nov, 2018 | Comunicati Stampa

Brussels – Rome, 5 November 2018

The Appeals Court of Bahrain yesterday handed down a sentence of life imprisonment against Sheikh Ali Salman, Secretary General of Al Wefaq, the major opposition party that was dissolved in 2016, overturning his previous acquittal over charges of colluding with Qatar to topple the regime in Bahrain. Sheikh Salman, who is currently serving a 4-year prison sentence, was due to be released in December.  Two other senior representatives of Al Wefaq, Ali Alaswad and Sheikh Hassan Sultan, were found guilty of similar charges in absentia and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Statement by Niccolò Figà-Talamanca, Secretary-General of No Peace Without Justice: 

“No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) firmly condemns the astonishing sentences of life imprisonment handed down against prominent opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman and two other Al Wefaq’s senior representatives, Ali Alaswad and Sheikh Hassan Sultan. We express our undiminished solidarity with and support for Sheikh Salman, Mr Alaswad and Sheikh Sultan, who have consistently called for peaceful protest, condemned all forms of violence and advocated for a fair and just democratic political system in Bahrain through the establishment of a genuine constitutional monarchy.

“Today’s shocking ruling, coming ahead of Bahraini Parliamentary elections in which opposition groups are banned from taking part, further confirms the fallacy of the Bahraini Government’s claims to be advancing democratic reform, rule of law and respect of human rights in the country. This verdict leaves no room for any doubt that the Bahraini authorities do not intend to open any space for a real and inclusive political dialogue. Instead, they are determined to use all means they deem necessary – including sham and shameful justice – to criminalise free speech and suppress any peaceful dissent.

“So far, the response of the international community has been weak and deaf to the continued crackdown against Bahraini peaceful opposition leaders and human rights advocates. The Bahraini authorities have used this approach as a green light to persevere in their repressive and retaliatory practices that can only set the country further along the dangerous path of political turmoil and disunity.

“It is past way time for the international community, and the European Union in particular, to take immediate and unequivocal action rather than turning a blind eye to this latest major blow to freedom of expression and human rights in Bahrain. This means urging Bahrain immediately to release Sheikh Ali Salman and all other prisoners of conscience who are being held solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression and for advocating for meaningful political reforms. Failure to do so is, in reality, siding with tyranny and repression, destroying any hope for a truly and peaceful democratic transition in Bahrain.”

For further information, contact Nicola Giovannini on