Human rights defender Abdulhadi al-Khawaja receives life sentence in Bahrain

Former President of Bahrain Center for Human Rights and longtime IMS partner Abdulhadi al-Khawaja received a life sentence on July 22nd in Bahrain. IMS calls for boosted international efforts in support of his case

A Bahraini court sentenced Abdulhadi al-Khawaja for his alleged role in plotting to overthrow the regime “by force and intelligence with a terror group colluding with a foreign country”. al-Khawaja who holds dual Bahraini and Danish citizenship was convicted alongside 20 other defendants, seven of which were also sentenced to life. He has now appealed the verdict, and the international pressure on the Bahraini government is growing.

IMS has been following the case closely and is now in contact with several international organisations to increase the support to the case of al-Khawaja with a concrete and collective initiative on an international level:

– IMS is deeply worried about the case of al-Khawaja. We are engaging with international media partners to ensure intensified focus on his case and those of the other 20 convicted. It is our hope that the Danish government will continue to follow the case, and we support suggestions made within the Danish parliament to address Abdulhadi al-Khawaja’s case on an EU level.

According to the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Danish government has tried to get in contact with the Bahraini authorities but to no avail. With al-Khawaja’s Danish citizenship the Danish authorities have insisted on gaining access to the court hearings and to be allowed to visit him in prison. This has been fruitless so far.

al-Khawaja led the IMS-supported Arab Working Group’s monitoring of Bahraini media’s coverage of the country’s elections in October 2010. He was detained by the Bahraini authorities in early April. According to the organisation Front Line who works to protect human rights defenders al-Khawaja was subjected to torture during the detainment leading up to his sentence.