Tag Archives court

“It was just a bump” they claimed

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With 15 people still in custody for allegedly torching a police car and stealing a weapon, there were several claims of the accused being subjected to harsh treatment including beatings. Their lawyer demanded that they immediately be submitted to medical examination to ascertain the reality of the situation, the Ministry of Interior refused initially, but under mounting pressure, ultimately agreed but only after about a month had passed after the initial allegations surfaced. They also required that the assigned doctors were government appointed. They refused – point blank – any doctor proposed by human rights societies.

Stop police brutalityUnfortunately for the Ministry of Interior, the doctors’ reports submitted to court yesterday unequivocally showed that some of the accused were in fact subjected to beatings and mistreatment.

“Not so!” the Ministry cried out, and demanded that the examining doctors should be brought in for cross examination.

Let me re-iterate my position once again: if an independent investigation and trial clearly shows that the accused did torch the police car and stole the gun and ammunition then they should be thrown in prison to serve whatever the court decides as a fit punishment for them.

However, that does not, ever, excuse the Ministry of Interior’s personnel for beating them or subjecting them to any form of mistreatment. They should have abided by normal and decent human rights codes by at least not forcibly extracting false confessions – sorry, there is no other explanation for using such barbaric methods.

Therefore, and regardless of their crime, this is a clear technical infringement on the accused’s rights and hence should immediately be released. The people who did the beatings should be thrown in jail instead.

This incident brings to mind a joke a friend of mine related to me recently, it deals with how Arab police – stereotypically – go about their business:

    On a police course conducted by an international police training institute, three Arab policemen trainees where told to go into the woods and catch a rabbit as part of survival skills development.

    Off the trainees went to pursue their task, but the instructors got worried when several hours later their charges still did not report back. Going a short distance into the woods, they heard some shouts and thumps. Quickening their pace, they came upon a clearing with the three trainees surrounding something lying on the ground which was moaning with pain.

    Alarmed at the situation, the trainers stealthily approached the scene furtively to try to discover what was going on, when all of a sudden, and amongst much mirth and laughter by their charges, they noticed that two of the trainees where holding down a bloodied and nearly dead dear while the third was kicking the shit out of it and shouting:

    “confess that you are a rabbit, you bastard, CONFESS!”

Does that sound familiar? If there are no respect for human rights by the organ which should most apply them, there is absolutely no hope for justice.

This has brought shame, again, on the whole country and everybody in it. The accused have had their rights flouted and as such, no case should be brought against them, even if they are proven guilty.

The people who should be punished are those who beat them and infringed upon their charges’ basic human rights.

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Social Affairs?

Mohammed Al-Maskati, head of the unlicenced BYSHRCan someone explain to me the role of the Ministry of Social Affairs please?

Is it put there to encourage social responsibility and enact programs which do good to the community, or is it to discourage such endeavors?

It certainly seems to be the latter than the former.

Take Mohammed Al-Maskati’s case for instance. The guy created and heads the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights and has been quite active in that sphere, yet when he applied to the ministry to register his fledgling society he got refused. Their regulations apparently do not recognise any person below 18 to be of sound mind and body to be socially active, and the BYSHR has generated a lot of interest in that sector. The objection appears to extend to other intangibles, one of which is that Mohammed’s sin is to be directly related to the regime’s supreme undesirable Abdulhadi Al-Khowajah who happen to be the head of the disbanded BCHR. All in all, they seem to have taken offense at this kid meddling in the big boys’ sphere.

Regardless and notwithstanding the aforementioned, I still do not understand why anyone who wants to do good needs to seek express permission to do so in this country!

I don’t know what their motive is, but I’ll assume the best and think that they just don’t like competition.

In the mean time, I would like to express my full support to the BYSHR and affirm its right to exist and to do good by and for the community.

Hands off MoSA, you’re not doing this country any good by those unfair regulations you are trying to shove down the civil societies’ throats.

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Defamation case thrown out by High Court

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The High Court dismissed a defamation case brought by the president of the Arabian Gulf University Dr Rafia Ghubash against journalist Hisham Al-Zayani.

I wish to offer my congratulations to Mr. Al-Zayani for winning the case, even though the decision has taken over 2 years to be determined. This rare victory for the written word should be guardedly welcomed as the current Press and Publications Law still allows for the imprisonment of journalists and it is high time that it is changed.

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The minister recants and withdraws case

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Very quickly after lodging an official complaint with the Public Prosecution, the Minister of Electricity and Water has recanted and withdrawn the libel case against a municipal councillor after mediation efforts by the councilor’s colleagues.

استجاب وزير الكهرباء الشيخ عبد الله بن سلمان آل خليفة للجهود المكثفة التي قام بها رئيسا مجلسي بلدي الشمالية والوسطى يوسف البوري وعبدالرحمن الحسن، وقرر سحب الشكوى التي كانت الوزارة قد تقدمت بها للنيابة العامة ضد عضو بلدي الوسطى صادق ربيع، على خلفية اتهاماته للوزارة بالفساد في مؤتمر صحافي عقده الشهر الماضي.

وكان الوزير، قد استقبل أمس (الخميس) وفداً بلدياً ضم رئيس بلدي الشمالية يوسف البوري والوسطى عبدالرحمن الحسن، ونائبه عباس محفوظ، إضافة إلى عضو بلدي الوسطى صادق ربيع، وذلك للتفاهم والتنسيق بشأن القضية المشار إليها، فيما ثمن بلدي الوسطى، موقف الوزير واستجابته مشكورا بسحب القضية من النيابة العامة، على أن تسلم جميع الملفات ذات العلاقة للوزير لدراستها ومتابعتها مع المجلس البلدي
الوقت – ٢٠/Ù¤/٢٠٠٧

This is good news of course. Apart from the fact that – in an impartial judicial system – there is no way that the minister would win this case; the Ministry of Electricity’s reputation in particular is far from pure, he has shown complete intolerance to criticism and rather than asking for the allegations to be brought forward to be rationally discussed and any shortcomings identified and eradicated, he has taken the now fashionable line which is “sue now, ask questions later.”

What was the end result of this action then? A meeting between the two protagonists took place and promises were made that the shortcomings identified by the municipal councillor will be documented and treated.

Why this was not done from day one and save time and spent reputations is anyone’s guess. The result as far as I can see is that it has now become de rigeur to sue without any thought at what these actions by high officials actually do to the reputation of the country as a whole.

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mum’s the word

This sounds SO familiar!

وقال العضو البلدي ربيع في رده على الاتهام الموجه له: أنا قلت ما قلت من باب ممارسة دوري الرقابي الذي يكفله الدستور لي كمواطن وكعضو بلدي، وقد ناشدت جلالة الملك بالتدخل لإصلاح أوضاع الوزارة إصلاحاً كلياً.

وأكد «أنا لم أهن أية سلطة، وإنما كنت أمارس دوري الرقابي، وهدفي كان الصالح العام وليس توجيه الإهانة لأي أحد».

يشار إلى أن المادة (216) من قانون العقوبات تنص على أنه «يعاقب بالحبس أو الغرامة من أهان بإحدى طرق العلانية المجلس الوطني أو غيره من الهيئات النظامية أو الجيش أو المحاكم أو السلطات أو المصالح العامة».
الوسط – ١٩/Ù¤/٢٠٠٧

The councillor stated that: “I did not insult any authority, what I did was exercise my oversight responsibility and my intention was to the general good of the country rather than purposefully insulting anyone“.

In an email interview, the Jerusalem Post reporter asked me whether the troubles I am facing are symptomatic of attempts by the government of Bahrain to silence criticism. I answered no, of course not, I don’t believe in conspiracies.

I would like to change my answer now to the affirmative.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any shadow of a doubt any more. Any criticism is not taken as just that any more, an attempt from concerned citizens to better their lot and to act in a supervisory role and attempt with their criticism to correct or at least highlight the various ills they experience on a daily basis in their own country, but as personal attacks and summary insults that hurt delicate feelings of purer than pure government organs and their officials.

More gardening and photography posts coming up!

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Case Deferred

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We went to the court this morning with a number of people already present and offered their support. But due to the main judge’s family bereavement, for which I would like to offer my sincere condolences to Shaikh Mohammed bin Ali on the passing of his mother, the case has been administratively deferred to be heard on May 8th.

I would also like to sincerely thank everyone who was present and all of those who called, emailed and texted their support as well.

In particular I would like to thank the lead advocate Ms. Fatima Al-Hawaj and the legal team offered by the Bahrain Human Rights Society to assist Ms. Al-Hawaj in the case, Lawyers Nawaf Al-Sayed and Lo’ay Qarouni; Tawfiq Al-Rayyash, Nabeel Rajab of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, the head of the Bahrain Journalists Union Mohammed Fadhel, journalists Mohammed Al-Sawwad from Al-Waqt (who was involved very recently in a similar case), Mohammed Aslam of the GDN, Mohammed Abbas of Reuters, Sandeep Singh Grewal from the Bahrain Tribune and Adel Al-Shaikh from Al-Wasat.

I would also like to sincerely thank my family who have always stood by me. My wife Frances, my brother Jamal and sister Maha as well as my children. I am sure that if my other siblings were in Bahrain they would have not hesitated an instant by being present to offer their support.

The legal team have asked for the case’s documents for their review and preparation, and we await the new court’s date to present our case before the High Criminal Court.

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Thoughts on tomorrow

Thank you all for your unstinting support. I truly appreciate it.

What I want to emphasize, if I may, this is not really a case against Mahmood Al-Yousif as much as it is a case against the tenets of the freedom of expression.

We, the people, should not be cowed into a status of never questioning or criticising a government official no matter how high that position is. They have to realise themselves, or be made to realise that the positions they occupy being called “civil servants” is no accident of nomenclature, but fact.

Unfortunately, both the Penal Code and the Press & Publications Law specifically not only discourages this civic responsibility of criticism, but glaringly criminalise it!

Is it any wonder that these very officials have risen within their own spheres to a status of demi-gods, inviolate, unapproachable and completely disconnected with the very people they are sworn to serve?

Parliament, on the other hand, continues to prevaricate and hasn’t even scheduled discussions on a retooled Press & Publications law which will elevate freedoms of expression in all its forms, concerning themselves more with perceived sorcerers and witches!

No, this is not a case against Mahmood Al-Yousif and never was. What I have written is rather mild when you consider it. This is a case purposefully levied to silence criticism.

Today it is me. Tomorrow it is everyone who dares to even glance “wrongly” at a public official, even if that official happens to be a janitor.

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At the High Court at 9:30 for 10:00

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We’re all gathering tomorrow morning at the Court building at 9:30. Cases are looked at starting at 10:00am.

It’s a freedom of expression case, any way you look at it. Please show your opposition to attempts to stifle this freedom by being there.

Thank you.

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Libel case to be heard in the High Criminal Court!

bin Rajab vs Al-Yousif High Criminal Court summons

I received a summons yesterday delivered to my home instructing me to present myself at the High Criminal Court next Tuesday (17 April 2007) charged under both the Penal Code (3/92, 364, 365) and the Press & Publications Law 47/2002 (3/4, 72, 77) in the defamation case brought against me by a sitting minister; H. E. Mansour Hassan bin Rajab, the Minister of Agricultural Affairs and Municipalities relating to my criticism of his public figure and that of his ministry for lackadaisical performance in executing their duties.

I am grateful for the various mediation efforts enacted on my behalf which have gained the Minister’s assurances – twice – that he would drop the case; however, unfortunately this obviously has not happened.

I am very grateful for the tremendous support I have received from Bahraini and international journalists and friends in this regard. They not only promise to be present at the trial in a show of solidarity, but the Bahrain Journalists’ Association specifically have appointed Ms. Fatima Al-Hawaj to take up the defence of the case on my behalf.

I have also received and continue to receive the unstinting support from the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights as well as the Bahrain Human Rights Society. I truly appreciate their advice and their support.

I am convinced that I did no wrong. I have portrayed my criticism squarely at a public figure and a government organ both of whom I think did not execute their job to the full extent of their capability. This case is nothing more than a scare tactic to silence any form of criticism, especially that of a public official. Why else is a case like this is to be heard at the highest criminal court in the land? Why else is a defamation case looked at in the same court that adjudicates murder and treason cases?

I believe in our constitution, and believe in the human right of free speech and expression. I know that with your support I can go through this.

If you wish, you can show your support by writing about this case and you are more than welcome to be present at the court next Tuesday morning to show your support.

For background information about this case, please use the following link:
http://mahmood.tv/tag/bin-rajab

and full press coverage (so far) at:
http://mahmood.tv/bin-rajab-vs-al-yousif-libel-case/

A higher resolution image of the attached document (for publication) is available at:
http://mahmood.tv/pages/courtcase_binrajab_vs_alyousif_pp.jpg

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