Tag Archives justice

Shaikh Isa Qasim Sentenced. Now what?

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After more than a year or toing and froing, Shaikh Isa Qasim, Hussain Alqassab and Mirza Aldurazi get a suspended sentence of one year in jail, three years probation, the appropriation of over BD 3 million collected as “khums” – a religious tax of 20% of surplus profits given by followers of the Shia tradition in alms to be distributed to the poor via vouched for clerics – and the appropriation also of two properties registered to Shaikha Isa Qasim. He was also stripped of his nationality last year and since then, the government has imposed a lockdown on the town of Duraz which houses over 20,000 inhabitants.

Regardless of whether the sentence is fair, will that mean that Shias can actually practice their beliefs unmolested? Who will they trust with that religious duty of paying alms? Will the Duraz Siege now be lifted? What change will we see?

The other question I must ask: why was Shaikh Isa Qasim holding three million dinars in an account? With the dilapidated state of most villages, with the absence of employment of his followers, with the meagre higher education opportunities available to them, why was that amount not spent wisely and continuously to help people, or at least invested in property or other instruments to ensure its longevity and availability for those in need?

What will happen to the appropriated funds and properties now? Will the government judiciously use those funds in a manner they were designed for or will they be simply appropriated into the treasury never to be seen by needy people again?

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Nabeel Rajab Acquitted

Nabeel Rajab Acquitted

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The Bahrain News Agency is carrying a report that the court has acquitted Nabeel Rajab from defaming and slandering Muharraq citizens. Here’s the release:

Court of Appeals Acquits Nabeel Rajab of Defamation and Slandering of Muharraq Citizens

12 : 12 PM – 23/08/2012
Manama, August 23 — (BNA)– The Court of Appeal has cleared activist Nabeel Rajab of the charges filed versus him by a group of citizens from Muharraq. Rajab was accused of publically slandering them on his personal twitter account.

The court ruling was due to the judge’s uncertainty regarding the evidence submitted to support the lawsuit. The first-instance court had previously found him guilty and sentenced him to a period of three months.

Rajab is currently serving a three year sentence on charges of participating in and inciting illegal assemblies and unlicensed rallying in busy commercial districts and he currently is appealing the verdict. [BNA]

Just as I thoughtActivist Nabeel Rajab Acquitted from Defamation and Slander accusation, and as did the majority of those who live in this country did so too, that Nabeel Rajab is innocent of these heinous charges and he was framed and imprisoned for expressing his opinion. I have no doubt whatsoever that he is innocent. I know that although he is wrongly serving a prison sentence now again for simply exercising his rights, he will be exonerated, not only because the whole free world is demanding his release, but because he is right.

The funny thing about this whole press release; however, is that the state is now calling Nabeel an activist rather than the usual nomenclature of terrorist and other assorted adjectives. What gives? Did the BNA get a new translator who over-stepped his mark and their reference manual which describes just about everybody who has a differing opinion a traitor, a coward, a terrorist or all three together? Regardless, I wouldn’t be surprised if that word was edited out of the text on their site soon.

Time to release Nabeel to get him back to his family and his thankless work. We – as a whole country and its people – need him and his like. We should thank him for his efforts rather than let him rot in jail. The others who’ve been wrongly convicted for nothing more than expressing their opinions should also be immediately released and charges against them voided.

Now, in a country where justice is supposedly institutionalised and cherished, and in view of Nabeel being acquitted of the defamation and slander, when will we see those who brought those charges against him brought to justice for at least impeding justice and wasting their time? I think they absolutely should if for nothing but to make an example of them and deter others from targeting honest citizens and wasting the rather busy and precious courts’ time.

I look forward to welcoming a free Nabeel back into the community soon.

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Mixed messages

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This is on Al-Wasat‘s front page this morning:

On the right, the Crown Prince inaugurates the building of a low income community of 444 much needed houses in Malkiya, one of the Bahraini fishing villages. While on the left, a picture of two children of 12 years old sitting on a bench inside the court in which they were convicted of the crimes of possession of inflammable material, rioting and participating in an unlawful gathering.

Twelve years old criminals.

But they’re not the only ones. Apprehending, incarcerating and imprisoning children has become a legitimate exercise of our ever vigilant security apparatus. According to human rights organisations and the very same security apparatus, there are some 65 (yes, sixty-five) children in prison either awaiting trial or having been convicted due to various offences including participation in demonstrations and unauthorised protests, possession of illegal material, rioting, etc. The youngest of those is ten years old.

Do you not see the complete disconnect between the two pictures? The crown prince laying the foundation stone for the future of 444 Bahraini families who hope to be productive and secure now that the promise of an abode is near, while sixty-five whole families now being raised with a deep hatred for the regime, and whose future is at best suspect. Children in prison for doing what they cannot possibly comprehend, but paying dearly for their future. No education, no compassion, just hate generated from a deep sense of injustice levied against them.

Shame.

Shame on every Bahraini who condones such a un-compassionate and inconsiderate application of the law.

Instead of investing into changing these children’s and their environment’s prospects for the future, bringing them into a more equitable economic situation, we get the government entrenching their dire situation of poverty and ignorance. All under the guise of “teaching them a lesson”. The lesson that they’re “teaching” in this instance; however, is just hate. Hate that will traverse generations.

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Mistrial?

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You might have heard that there is a trial taking place in Bahrain in which 25 Bahrainis are accused of crimes against the state, everything from sedition through to terrorism and incitement against the regime, all of which carry rather heavy sentences.

You might have also heard that a gag order has been imposed on the media, guaranteeing the absence of transparency and making for the fertile grounds of continued suppositions and incorrect allegations by the public, who have a right to know the truth of what’s happening.

The gag order notwithstanding, the press continue to report around the case, detailing at least the happenings in court rather than expound on and investigate the substance of the accusations; thus, providing a glimpse of what’s happening in the court, a-la soap opera style.

But what has happened over the last few weeks transpired to be better than expected and excellent fodder for a soap opera! The original defence team resigned in toto citing their legitimate demands for investigations of allegations of torture against the detainees by police elements since apprehension and the screening of the defendants by independent medical personnel to determine such receipt of abuse were summarily rejected by the court. The resignation put the court in a quandary, as the Bahraini constitution specifically states that a defendant has a constitutional right to accept or refuse a court appointed lawyer to try his case, defendants rejected the court appointed lawyers; hence, the court-appointed lawyers withdrew from the case. The court saw the resignation as an act of contempt and referred them to the minister of justice requesting disciplinary action taken against them.

Onwards the court proceeded and now assigned a new batch of lawyers to the accused; however, this time, rather than assigning individual lawyers representing individual defendants, the ministry of justice stipulated that a batch of lawyers could and shall represent a batch of defendants in an individual or group manner; hence, should a defendant reject a lawyer, others in the group automatically shall take over representation.

But even then, the court’s trouble did not end. In yesterday’s proceedings, five lawyers withdrew from the case citing unconstitutionality of representing defendants who reject them; another five requested an immediate audience with the justice minister to tell him face-to-face why they cannot proceed with the trial as they have been rejected by their assigned clients and all lawyers demanding the rule of the Constitutional Court as to the applicability of lawyers being forced to represented clients, while only one – Awadh Fouda – interpreted the constitutional article inapplicable as “the constitutional right to consent to the lawyers is inapplicable as the defendants have abused that right” and thus opted to proceed with both the representation and the trial.

The defendants were again unanimous in their rejection of the third wave of legal representation when directly asked by the judge, demanding the restoration of the original defence team.

The five lawyers who withdrew from the case were referred to the disciplinary committee for contempt of court, the defendants were carted off to their prison cells and the trial was once again delayed for a week awaiting the assignment of even more lawyers to take the place of those who withdrew.

At this rate, I think the government should seriously consider the immediate importation of more lawyers from other sympathetic Arab countries, naturalise them and get them to stand in the carousel to fill in the void created by withdrawing lawyers.

I’m not a lawyer and never want to be one, but my simple intellect tells me that (a) this trial has all the hallmarks of being political, (b) the government has lost this one and (c) there is a serious series of flaws surrounding it and therefore should be immediately declared a mistrial and let the defendants go free.

Unless of course, the sham is required to continue for no good reason.

A terror trial against 25 men accused of plotting attacks against Bahrain was adjourned yesterday for another week after five members of the second defence team appointed recently withdrew from the case.

The lawyers stated that the suspects refused to be represented by them. “According to the Constitutional Law, an accused has the right to refuse or accept his lawyer and we have found out that our clients do not want us to defend them,” one of the lawyers stated.
The five lawyers are Ali Al Oraibi, Shahnaz Ali, Taymoor Karimi, Nabeela Al Majid and Loay Qarooni.

Justifying their decision, they said that they cannot go against the Constitutional Law as its articles take precedence over legal articles.

Daily Tribune · 14.1.11

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Daily Tribune trumps the multitude of incumbents, puts them to shame

Daily Tribune trumps the multitude of incumbents, puts them to shame

If you’re in Bahrain, you must be aware of the infamous “terrorism plotters” case, of whom my friend and fellow blogger Ali Abdulemam is one of the accused. This case, like others like it, has the now customary gag order by the court which the cowardly press go to great lengths to “respect”, rather than do their duty and challenge such a draconian measure. So it’s with quite some pleasure that I read the following coverage in today’s Daily News in which they detail the mass resignation of the original lawyers and their attempted replacement by the court with fresh recruits. Their efforts were rewarded by 22 out of the newly appointed 25 refusal to take up the case of their assignees due to “non-cooperation and non-commissioning” of the defendants. But, that didn’t stop the court from throwing justice out of the window and charge ahead with the case, even if the defendants have no legal representation!

If that doesn’t smack of political underpinnings to this case, I don’t know what does.

Here’s the article in today’s DT, which is, by the way, much more of a pleasure to read rather than the flaccid GDN. I even subscribed and not regretted it since.

click image to enlarge

Have a wonderful Christmas, and spare a thought to those souls languishing in prison for exercising their rights.

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And let THAT be a lesson.

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Here ye! Hear ye!

You do bad bad stuff in Saudi and you’re a foreigner, you get your ‘ead chopped off. But if you don’t believe that, then, well, y’know, the very contemporary authorities in the other Magic Kingdom have devised quite a novel approach to deter those who contemplate jiggy-jiggying with it and do some “bad stuff” as determined by their impartial and equitable and divine and – well – just Saudi justice system. Like this:

Saudi Arabia has put the bodies of four Sri Lankans beheaded in Riyadh on display in public in an effort to deter a rising crime wave by foreigners.

crucifiedbacklitSee how creative that is? I am absolutely convinced that as Saudi – home of Islam’s two holiest sites – have now set a precedent for the rest of the Muslim Umma to follow, especially as this new deterrent is approved, condoned and sanctified by their highest authorities; therefore, I warrant that crucifixion after the Shari’a compliant beheading shall be the new norm. I expect that ardent followers of this generous interpretation of our religion, especially those in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other “Key US Strategic Allies” shall perfect this new form of deterrent in order to reduce crime.

Believe me that won’t take too long. Expect new announcements and pictures of this very contemporary form of deterrent to appear on your news sources very soon. And it’s about time too, because:

“There is a pressing need to review many of the negative practices of foreigners in the kingdom,” al-Riyadh quoted Abdel-Rahman al-Luweiheq, who teaches at the Imam bin Saud University, as saying.

“Foreigners in the kingdom are implementing criminal plans made abroad,” he said, referring to mafia-like outfits. [source]

Which is a contention oft repeated by our very own lawmakers. Those illustrious doyens of faith, protectors of our morals and upholders of Islam and protectors of our culture and traditions against the unwashed uncouth heathen hordes who do not know their place within our pure race. Without our preeminent lawmakers and their symbiotic clerics, our divine ascendancy to Heaven must surely be interrupted if not derailed completely. After all, we can never know what is best for us nor can we make our own minds up as to what is right and what is wrong.

So ye foreigners be warned! Thou shalt not sully our purity! Thou shalt not dare think yourselves equal to us, the chosen people of Allah! Thou shall get your just deserts, as determined by our most learned and most just – in a contemporary form, of course, lest the world think of us as heinous barbarians.

But we don’t give a damn about what the world thinks of us anyway. We know better.

[edit: link to today’s story: Saudi beheads and crucifies murder convict#2]

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Criminal turns philanthropist thrills victims families

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Stephanie Grady must be really thrilled to know that the person implicated with the death of her husband, together with 57 other poor souls in the biggest sea disaster in Bahrain’s modern times, has not only not served a single day of his 10 year conviction in prison but a few in a health spa hospital due to his failing health, but has now turned to protecting the environment by adding to his burgeoning multi-faceted business ventures yet another enterprise to run vehicles on the much more environmentally and pocket friendly liquid gas. Stephanie should know that this process is actually proven – according to Mr. Al-Kobaisi – to be 2.5 times cheaper than the petrol it replaces, especially that he promises to convert cars to this new process within just 24 hours of receipt of enlightened owners vehicles.

Abdulla Al-Kobaisi
Abdulla Al-Kobaisi
Stephanie should also be over-the-moon to note that Mr. Al-Kobaisi’s lawyer is now in India wrapping up handing out compensations to victims and that her turn should come to the top of the queue very soon now. A fact that should lessen the sadness and grief that the demise of her husband due to Mr. Al-Kobaisi’s gross criminal negligence and allow her at long last to continue on with her young life. It should come as no surprise to me at all should I ever come to know that Ms. Grady, being such a forgiving soul like the rest of decent humanity, is really at peace with the criminal who killed her husband is recovering from “his serious illness” and has now been released in the last few months from his spa hospital bed and is now fully in control of his businesses, as in that realisation, he continues to ensure that hundreds of low wage workers can continue to send alms back to their estranged families a fact that makes their economies run rather smoothly.

So you see Stephanie, your dear husband’s life, may Allah rest his soul with all those others who died on that fateful trip, has not perished needlessly.

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Winograd, from another perspective

The following cartoon appeared in Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper (thanks to Jaddwilliam for the heads-up) reflecting an alternate perspective on the findings of the Winograd Commission. However, it failed to stop me in my tracks.

Winograd cartoon in Al-Quds newspaper

The bubble says: “They admit their defeat and they hold their negligent accountable!! God curse the Zionist fads which intrude on our genuine Arab traditions!

I am unfortunately very familiar with this situation, as is the case with almost every other Arab, I suspect. Our situation is that if we do identify grave negligence or even culpability in nefarious initiatives which could destroy whole societies and puts whole countries in turmoil, is elevate those implicated and pretend that the situation never actually happened. We just continue to spout useless platitudes about our “true Arab heritage” and that “those fads are not of our make-up”. What’s more is that the very people who were elected to ensure the application of proper oversight actually become tenacious defenders of the offenders! They methodically destroy any chance at our progress as a responsible human race.

Sweeping things under the carpet is an age-old tradition.

Maybe it’s high time that we did away with old and completely bankrupt ways and learnt to face our problems head-on in order to learn from experiences and get on to a better future. If that lesson comes from whom we call enemies, then so be it. But for God’s sake let us be courageous enough to at least attempt to solve our problems.

Without accepting and recognising failures, success will continue to be elusive.

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Accountability resurfaces

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It was with pleasure that I read the following on the front page of the GDN this morning:

A new law will force ministers, top government officials, MPs, Shura and municipal councillors to declare their personal finances. An independent commission of judges will have sweeping powers to investigate their finances, including those of their spouses and children.

Those who fail to comply, or found guilty of financial crime, will face heavy fines and/or jail sentences.

This is obviously in response to a Parliamentary Wish tabled some time ago requiring such a thing to happen, the government then formulated this wish into legislation – which is its right under the by-laws – and returned it back to parliament for approval.

I didn’t see the draft law yet, but like everyone else concerned with accountability in Bahrain, I am anxious to see its contents; particularly the exceptions – if present – and what the actual penalties are and if they are sufficient for deterring corrupt officials from continuing to abuse their positions. Will this law, for instance, only limit the declarations of wealth to be “correct and acceptable” from the time it is issued, or will it have any provision to force officials to show how they got their current wealth? What is to happen to that wealth should it be considered ill-begotten? All this remains to be seen. I am not very enthusiastic as what has been reported as fines and sentences in the papers is a pittance when compared to the wealth amassed by various officials in this country. But I’ll keep the final judgement to when the law is applied and convictions are made.

It is important; therefore, to understand how the law defines corruption, as when it was last attempted, the result was quite varied and officials suggested that concept is quite elastic; thus, rendering the definition and the law toothless.

Which brings me to the question of the independence of the commission tasked with overseeing this new law – when and if it sees the light. The question must be asked, will they ever be independent and be seen as such if they are appointed – with all due respect – by his majesty? Or will they be subservient to the government’s wishes and not pursue the fight against corruption with the required gusto? Or even worse, will they drop a case once identified due to governmental or royal court pressure due to their affiliation?

As to the judiciary, so far it has been shown somewhat ineffective and there is quite a road to tread to get it to improve and gain the people’s trust and confidence. Hence, it is just as important to completely reform the judiciary in parallel to effecting this new legislation.

I hope these kinds of reactions to the low level gained by Bahrain in the recent Corruption Perception Index will continue. The government seems to finally have gotten the message, as the options to continue to ignore world opinion in this regard particularly will shake the foundations of the country’s economy. It looks, so far, that the government are finally acknowledging this fact and are doing something about it.

It is up to the parliament to ensure that these oversight tools are not watered down one bit, but strengthened with their determination to extricate corruption and corrupt officials. Abrogating their responsibility by continuing to colour their decisions based on confessional association is not an option. They must act in a cohesive bipartisan manner in order for this country to pull itself out of the entrenched quagmire.

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Ridiculous notions

This country needs “a Gibbs”

This country needs “a Gibbs”. An act watchers of NCIS will be really familiar with. For others less fortunate, the act is best described as a swift whack on the back of a head the sharpness of which will bring that mind back to reason. Hopefully. But I fear in some cases it might require a shovel to effect the needed movement of neurons in solidified grey matter.

The shovel method is most certainly required to a head that belongs to a so called “educator” who mysteriously deduced that a young adult giving what is essentially monopoly money bought on a trip to Iran to friends at school as high treason in the form of “distributing counterfeit currency with the intent to shake the country’s economy.” A charge communicated to the Misery of Education which found it fit to escalate the matter to the Public Prosecutor who in turn – with a complete straight face and some might even think with collusion – imprisoned the girl for a few days “while investigating the matter” only to come out eventually with all charges dropped, most probably due to the ridicule heaped upon them by the press.

Although blame should most definitely be levied at the moronic principal who at best does not have any sense of humour, and at worst is riddled with dark and heinous sectarian intentions – a charge that school has been particularly riddled with and one might be excused to thing that this incident would not have received such attention had the Monopoly dosh come from the Emirates or Saudi or even Afghanistan – to be shared with full contempt for the Misery of Education as both have certainly put new meaning to educating our youth by terrorising them with the ever-present police ogre who are only too willing to acquiesce to their frivolity.

However, the blame in this case, as is in others, must squarely lay at the Public Prosecutor’s office who inexplicably dish out imprisonments “for investigations” as a matter of course and seem to emphatically dish that incarceration sentence out not to prevent people from fleeing or interfering with their “investigations”, but rather as a first phase of punishment in their heretofore unproven guilt; thus, over stepping their role from being an investigative service to that of jurists and executioners too.

both have certainly put new meaning to educating our youth by terrorising them with the ever-present police ogre who are only too willing to acquiesce to their frivolity

Is this the education reform spearheaded by our Crown Prince I wonder? Apart from building higher walls surmounted by iron-work spikes to prevent people from getting into schools now has terrorising students out of their wits by imprisoning young impressionable minds for a frivolous and a completely legal activity of giving gifts clearly marked as “having no commercial value” and clearly – even to the blind of sight but definitely not those with that affliction affecting their souls – nothing more than Monopoly money? What kind of impression do those champions of education; in this particular case the headmistress and her cohorts at the Misery of Education, leave with the young girl other than hating education and most probably detesting the establishment too? Or was it a concerted effort to reach such a zenith in the first place?

What a ridiculous situation this is. Utterly corrosive and criminal too.

That headmistress should be removed from her post forthwith, she has amply demonstrated that she does not have the presence of mind or the kindness of soul to be an educator nor a person who should be tasked with guiding impressionable youths into a more complex world. She is completely unfit for the job. The same must be done to her cohorts, the unthinking uncaring automatons at the Misery of Education for allowing such an issue to be escalated rather than holding their minion back from further grievous mistakes and utter public embarrassment.

His majesty might also want to ensure that an over-sight committee is put in place to look into infractions like these and provide redress for those who unnecessarily suffer by the misapplication of their power.

As to the Public Prosecutor, well, at the risk of getting pulled up by them again and unnecessarily imprisoned, I suggest that it is high time for their reform too. That shouldn’t be too difficult given the recent age of that organisation. The king might seriously consider giving them complete autonomy and independence to execute their jobs better after removing their current head who allowed his staff to use investigative imprisonment as yet another method of what could be conceived as state sponsored terror. His majesty might also want to ensure that an over-sight committee is put in place to look into infractions like these and provide redress for those who unnecessarily suffer by the misapplication of their power. At the very least, tell them, your majesty, that they should not dish out automagic incarcerations willy nilly like that but only if truly deserved when there is a genuine flight risk.

Failing that, let’s just declare Monopoly a tool of the devil and pay a readily bought cleric or two to haramize it.

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