Posted on 08 April 2014
On 3 April 2014 a Bahraini Court of Appeal ruled to uphold a sentence of one year's imprisonment issued by the Third Criminal Court in Bahrain against human rights defender and medic Dr Saeed Al Samahiji.
Dr Saeed Al Samahiji is an ophthalmologist who extended his medical services to injured protesters during the popular uprisings in Bahrain in 2011. Since April 2013, the human rights defender has worked on cases of persons stripped of Bahraini nationality, has been closely involved in assisting the families of those killed during mass protests, and has been a vocal online supporter of human rights issues in Bahrain.
On 3 April 2014, the Court of Appeal affirmed the sentence issued against Dr Saeed Al Samahiji by the Third Criminal Court on 11 December 2013. The ruling imposed a year's prison sentence and a fine of 200 Bahraini Dinars on the human rights defender for insulting the King of Bahrain. The charge arose from a speech made by Dr Saeed Al Samahiji on 1 September 2013 at a funeral of a young man reportedly killed by the police. The human rights defender stated that he considered the King responsible for the death, as well as that of 50 other people killed by the police, and that he hoped that the King would one day leave power.
Dr Saeed Al Samahiji had previously been sentenced to ten year's imprisonment by a military court in October 2012. The sentence was reduced to one year by the Criminal Court of Appeal, and the human rights defender was released in April 2013. Dr Saeed Al Samahiji was one of a group of medics sentenced to for their support of persons injured in the protests occurring in Bahrain at the time.
Front Line Defenders expresses concern at the sentencing of Dr Saeed Al Samahiji and at the continued targeting of human rights defenders through prosecutions. Front Line Defenders is concerned that the prison sentence is solely related to Dr Saeed Al Samahiji's legitimate exercise of the right of freedom of expression and his human rights work.