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Title: Bahrain: BTA final appeal court hearing on Sunday 9 September
Publication: Education International
September 07, 2012
In view of the final appeals hearing in the cases of Bahraini teacher unionists Mahdi Abu Dheeb and Jalila Al Salman, there is growing concern that harsh earlier sentences, will be upheld by the appeals court - as in another ruling against Bahraini activists earlier this week.
On 9 September, the Manama Appeals Court will hold the final defense hearing regarding the appeal of Abu Dheeb and Al Salman, respectively President and Vice President of the Bahraini Teachers’ Association (BTA). In September 2011, a military court had handed the two union leaders prison sentences of 10 and 3 yearsafter widespread civil protests. EI wrote to the Bahraini authorities requesting that Bahraini legal proceedings allow the defendants to exercise their right to appeal and to ensure that due process is observed.
“EI reiterates its appeal to the Bahraini authorities to ensure the application of international human rights standards, including the right to a fair trial, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly”, stressed EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “Bahraini authorities must comply with the rights to peaceful assembly and expression and immediately release those arbitrarily detained for exercising their legitimate freedoms, including the President of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association, Mr Mahdi Abu Dheeb,” he said. Van Leeuwen also quoted the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Association, Mr Maina Kiai, who commented on the persecution of human rights defenders in Bahrain by reiterating that “the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly should not be subject to prior authorization from the authorities.”
“Rather than blatantly silencing those legitimately working to promote basic human and trade union rights, the government of Bahrain should set the conditions for an all-inclusive and respectful national dialogue that addresses the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis, to promote social justice in the country,” van Leeuwen said.
EI has called again on the Bahraini Government to complete the full implementation recommendations delivered earlier by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI). These recommendations included the creation of independent bodies to investigate claims of human rights violations, the review of convictions and sentences of individuals detained during the unrest, and the avoidance of detention without prompt access to lawyers, with all cases of detention subject to effective monitoring by an independent body. Some recommendations apply directly to the arrest, torture and prolonged detention of BTA leaders and address the dismissals of teachers and academics.
Throughout the appeals process, Mahdi Abu Dheeb has consistently been denied release on bail. The Court eventually, at the end of June, accepted to include medical reports of the BTA President and evidence of torture. However, the prison officials have deliberately ignored doctors instructions for Mahdi, especially in relation to his diabetes. Prison visitors have indicated that his health has deteriorated badly.
EI called on teacher unions in countries having a diplomatic mission in Bahrain to ask their embassy to send representatives to attend the upcoming appeals court hearing on 9 September, and will further report on the outcome of the case.