Amnesty: Bahrain: Prisoner of conscience faces new charges: Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja

Amnesty addresses the Bahraini Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad, calling to release the political prisoner Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja immediately and unconditionally and drop all the new charges brought against him. The organization further urged him to ensure Al-Khawaja is granted, without delay, unrestricted access to adequate healthcare, and is protected from further torture and other ill-treatment.

Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja is a dual Bahraini-Danish national who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison after an unfair trial for his role in leading peaceful protests calling for political reform in Bahrain in February 2011. Early during his detention Al-Khawaja was subjected to torture and his jaw was fractured in several places. Despite multiple surgeries, he continues to suffer from chronic pain and requires additional intervention as he has not healed properly.

In a call on 6 November 2022, Al-Khawaja told his daughters that he was facing a number of separate new trials. On 3 November 2022 his trial began in his absence before the Second Lower Criminal Court for allegedly breaking a plastic chair in November 2021 and verbally insulting a police officer in Jaw prison after being denied phone calls to his daughters who live abroad. A second hearing on 16 November was rescheduled for 28 November because Al-Khawaja, who wanted to attend it, was requested to first sign a power of attorney document. However, while waiting to do so in prison, an officer in charge attempted to pressure and threaten him into recording a video stating that he was refusing to attend the hearing, which he refused and repeatedly stated on camera that he wanted to attend the hearing. He was then transferred back to his cell. On 21 November his second trial began on charges of insulting a public servant. The case relates to an incident on 30 March 2022, when Al-Khawaja protested against the normalization deal with Israel (Abraham Accords) and told a prison officer that he did not wish to speak to him and that he was a bad man for treating prisoners like animals. The hearing was also postponed to 28 November.


Source: Amnesty