For Immediate Release: June 28, 2013
Washington, D.C. – On Monday July 1, 2013, final appeal hearings in the cases of Mahdi Abu Deeb and Jalila Al Salman – President and Vice President of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association, respectively – are scheduled to be heard at the Bahraini Court of Cassation. Yesterday, Al Salman was told about the hearing and informed by her lawyer that authorities had arranged for the urgent court appearance date in conjunction with the cases of some other students from the University of Bahrain.
In 2011, Al Salman and Abu Deeb were detained, tortured, and convicted of politically-motivated charges. A military court sentenced Al Salman to three years in prison and Abu Deeb received a ten year sentence. On February 19, 2012, Abu Deeb and Al Salman appealed their military court convictions for peacefully voicing their opposition to Bahrain’s ruling regime. As a result of their civilian appeal, Abu Deeb and Al Salman had their sentences reduced to five years and three months, respectively.
“The U.S. Embassy sent observers to these trials and saw first-hand how the proceedings failed to reach international legal standards,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “The United States should publicly call for these convictions to be quashed and for Bahrain to make progress toward its long-promised human rights reforms.”
“We did not witness justice in any of the previous steps: not in the way they arrested us; not in interrogations where torture was the tool used to extract confessions; not in the military courts where our voices weren’t heard; and certainly not in the higher appeal court where the judge refused some of the witness testimonies which were on our behalf,” Al Salman told Human Rights First.
Jalila Al Salman has already served her sentence, but Abu Deeb remains in Bahrain’s Jaw Prison, where she is serving out the remainder of his five year sentence. Human Rights First urges the convictions against them be overturned and Abu Deeb be immediately and unconditionally released.
“We are looking to this court decision, which is the final step in our case, as our last chance for justice” Al Salman told Human Rights First.