Bahrain: GCHR declares solidarity with human rights lawyer Abdullah Al-Shamlawi, sentenced to prison for tweets
Update: Bahrain: On 14 September 2020, prominent lawyer Abdullah Al-Shamlawi had a hearing at Bahrain's Third High Criminal Court for two charges related to his social media posts, for which he was facing jail time. The Court suspended his sentence on charges of "inciting hatred of a religious sect". A second charge of "misusing a telecommunications appliance" was dropped after Al-Shamlawi reached a settlement with the complainant.
On 30 June 2020, the Bahrain Court of Appeal issued a verdict against prominent human rights defender Abdullah Al-Shamlawi in which the Court sentenced him to eight months in prison over two tweets. The sentence has been suspended upon payment of 200 BD (USD$530) bail. He uses his Twitter account to express his personal opinions on various issues of concern to citizens.
In the first case, the court sentenced him to six months in prison to be suspended by payment of 100 BD, in relation to a tweet he published in 2020. He gave in this tweet his personal opinion on fasting, even though he then deleted the tweet and apologised to everyone who did not accept his point of view.
The court also sentenced Al-Shamlawi to two months in prison to be also suspended by payment of another 100 BD, over his comment - that did not contain any abuse - on a tweet published by Al-Ayam newspaper in 2018 that includes a photo. Al-Ayam quickly deleted the tweet, but Al-Shamlawi was the only one charged in the case.
Fifteen lawyers volunteered to defend Al-Shamlawi, and the complaint filed against him was transferred from the Cyber Crime Directorate to the Public Prosecution, which summoned him for an interrogation that lasted four hours.
Al-Shamlawi is a legal consultant and an experienced lawyer who has practiced law for more than 40 years, during which time he has defended prisoners of conscience with courage and persistence.
Khalid Ibrahim, Executive Director of Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), said, "The authorities in Bahrain should honour prominent lawyer Abdullah Al-Shamlawi for his long and sincere work in defending the human and civil rights of citizens rather than targeting him in violation of his freedom of expression."
GCHR calls on the government of Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally overturn the verdict against human rights lawyer Abdullah Al-Shamlawi and to stop targeting him. The authorities must fulfill their obligations related to the protection of public freedoms, especially freedom of expression on the Internet and beyond, and the protection of civic space, and not to harass human rights defenders, including lawyers, writers, journalists, and Internet activists.