Bahrain: NPWJ and NRPTT strongly condemn sham trial and increased prison sentence against Sheikh Ali Salman

30 May, 2016 | Press Releases

Brussels – Rome, 30 May 2016


Today, a Bahraini Appeals Court extended from four to nine years a prison sentence imposed on Sheikh Ali Salman, Secretary General of Al Wefaq, the major opposition party in Bahrain.
At his final appeal hearing, the Court reversed an earlier acquittal on the charges of “seeking to overthrow by force the monarchy and change the political system”.
On 16 July 2015, Sheikh Ali Salman was initially sentenced to four years of imprisonment on charges of “inciting disobedience and hatred against the regime” and “insulting public institutions”.
Sheikh Ali Salman’s trial, which opened on 28 January 2015, has been marred by a number of violations of his right to a fair trial, including to the necessary rights and means of defence.

Statement by Niccolò Figà-Talamanca, Secretary-General of No Peace Without Justice: 
“No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT) firmly condemn the astonishing increase in the sentence of the leader of the main opposition party, Sheikh Ali Salman to nine years. We express our undiminished solidarity with and support for Salman, who has consistently called for peaceful protest, condemned all forms of violence – including during the speech that formed the basis of his trial – and advocated for a fair and just democratic political system in Bahrain through the establishment of a genuine constitutional monarchy.

“Today’s shocking ruling, grounded on purely politically-motivated charges, clearly demonstrates Bahraini authorities’ unabated determination to criminalise free speech and suppress any peaceful dissent. It also further confirms the fallacy of the Bahraini regime’s claims to advance democratic reform, rule of law and respect of human rights in the country.

“This is also a highly dangerous move that can only set the country further along the dangerous path of political turmoil and disunity. In the face of what is rapidly becoming the realisation of the worst possible scenario for Bahrain, the response of the international community cannot continue to be weak and deaf to the plight of Bahraini citizens. So far, the Bahraini authorities have used this approach as a green light to persevere in their repressive and retaliatory practices against peaceful opposition leaders and human rights advocates.

“We urge the international community, and the European Union (EU) in particular, to take immediate action and unequivocally condemn this latest blow to freedom of expression in Bahrain. Failure to do so is, in reality, siding with tyranny and repression. A truly democratic transition in Bahrain will be achieved only if all those who are committed to peaceful and nonviolent dialogue are able to contribute fully to the political process without fear of reprisals. The international community must support this process rather than turning a blind eye to another move clearly designed to thwart democracy and human rights”.

Read also:
– Bahrain: over 110 parliamentarians from 43 countries call for the immediate release of Sheikh Ali Salman, 28 January 2015