BAHRAIN: Prisoner of Conscience Facing Reprisals

Download a copy of the 3rd UA 100/22 below

Danish-Bahraini human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja continues to be denied due process by the court. On December 29, 2022, an appeal court ruled that he did not have the right to appeal the case in which a criminal court convicted him of insulting a public servant and on January 5, 2023, it upheld his conviction in the case of breaking a chair in prison. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja was not brought to court to attend the sessions. On January 6, 2023, he was taken to the prison guards’ room to face the public servant he is accused of insulting. He has so far spent more than 11 years of an unjust life sentence in Jaw prison for leading peaceful protests during the 2011 popular uprising in Bahrain. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja is a prisoner of conscience who should be immediately and unconditionally released.

On January 5, 2023, his lawyer handed the head of the court a letter in which Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja said that he had instructed his lawyer to withdraw from the session in the event that he was unable to visit him prior to the hearing session or if he was not permitted to attend. Indeed, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja was not brought to court, his lawyer withdrew from the court’s session, and the judge upheld the conviction and fine.

The next day, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja called his daughters and told them that prison guards had lured him to the prison administration building under the pretense to have a call with his lawyer, only to be taken to the prison guards’ room to face the public servant he was convicted of insulting. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja resisted being forced into the room and started yelling and shouting slogans. On January 8, he was informed that he would not be allowed to have calls with his lawyer anymore.

Write to the Crown Prince urging him to:

  • ensure that Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja is immediately and unconditionally released
  • quash his convictions and sentences
  • grant Al-Khawaja access to his lawyer and ensure he is protected from torture and other ill-treatment

Write to:

Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad

Court of the Crown Prince

P.O Box 29091, Riffa – Bahrain

Email (via contact form):

Twitter: @bahrainCPnews @BahrainPMO                                                                                                  

And copy:

His Excellency Shaikh Abdulla Rashed Abdulla Alkhalifa


Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain

3502 International Drive North West

Washington, D.C., DC 20008

United States of America

Fax:  1 202 362-2192                      

Additional Information

Prominent human rights defender and prisoner of conscience Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, aged 61, is married and has four daughters and four grandchildren. He co-founded both the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR). Until early 2011, he worked as MENA Protection Coordinator for the human rights group Frontline Defenders. He also previously took part in an Amnesty International fact-finding visit to Iraq in 2003 and is a member of the International Advisory Network of the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre. He is a peaceful advocate of human rights and the recipient of several human rights awards, including the Dignity – World without Torture Award which he received in October 2013. Most recently, in 2022, he obtained the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders.

On November 6, 2022 during a call to his daughters, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja said that he was facing a number of separate new trials. On November 3, 2022, his trial began in his absence before the Second Lower Criminal Court for allegedly breaking a plastic chair in November 2021 and insulting a police officer in Jaw prison after being denied phone calls to his daughters who live abroad. A second hearing on November 16, 2022 was rescheduled for November 28, 2022 because Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who wanted to attend it, had to first sign a power of attorney document for his lawyer to represent him in court. 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. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja refused and repeatedly stated on camera that he wanted to attend the hearing. He was then transferred back to his cell without being allowed to sign the power of attorney.

On November 21, 2022, his second trial began on charges of insulting a public servant. The case relates to an incident on March 30, 2022, when Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja protested against the normalization deal with Israel (Abraham Accords) and told a prison officer “You are a dirty and unclean person. You have a way of treating people like animals”. The hearing was also postponed to November 28.

On November 28, 2022, the court convicted and fined Al-Khawaja in both cases. On December 15, 2022, the European Parliament adopted an urgent resolution highlighting Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja’s case and those of other political prisoners and calling for his release. On December 27, 2022, he met his lawyer for the first time in prison, however his lawyer was yet to receive the court documents relating to the recent convictions.

Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja faces a third case and faces the charge of incitement to overthrow or change the regime in relation to an incident that took place in prison on July 27, 2022 in which he called for the removal of the Minister of Interior when protesting against the normalization with Israel and their actions towards the Palestinians. The case is now pending with the Prosecution and could be referred to court at any moment. If convicted Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja could be sentenced to up to 10 years imprisonment.

Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja is serving a life sentence in Jaw prison for his role in for leading peaceful protests during the 2011 popular uprising in Bahrain.

In May 2012, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considered that Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja’s detention was arbitrary as it resulted from his exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly; and called for his immediate release and an enforceable right to compensation.


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