The ICJ fears for the life of renowned Bahraini human right defender, calls for his release

The ICJ today called upon the Bahrain authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, an internationally renowned human rights defender.

Abdulhadi Al Khawaja is currently serving a life imprisonment sentence in central JawPrison, Manama.

The call comes as Abdulhadi Al Khawaja’s health has rapidly deteriorated as a result of a now 62-day hunger strike he went on to contest the conditions of his arrest and imprisonment. The ICJ says he is in urgent need of medical treatment and fears that his life is in grave danger.

Abdulhadi Khawaja’s sentence for life imprisonment was imposed in June 2011 following his conviction by a National Security Court, presided over by a military judge, under emergency legislation introduced by the Bahraini government in the wake of the popular protests that took place in early 2011.

The charges included, “organizing and managing a terrorist organization”, “attempting to overthrow the Government by force and in liaison with a terrorist organisationworking for a foreign country” and the “collection of money for a terrorist group”.

But the ICJ stresses that during the trial of Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, the prosecution did not present credible evidence to support these accusations and did not consider reports that he was subjected to torture and ill-treatment during his pre-trial detention.

“We believe that his detention was based solely on his legitimate work as a human rights defender and that his trial failed to meet international standards of fair trial,” said Wilder Tayler, Secretary General of the ICJ. “We therefore call for his immediate and unconditional release.”

“As long as Abdulhadi Al Khawaja remains imprisoned, it is the responsibility of the Bahraini authorities to guarantee his safety, security and physical integrity are ensured and he has access to proper medical care”, Tayler added.

For further information, please contact:

Saïd Benarbia, Middle East & North Africa Senior Legal Adviser, t +41 79 964 05 96; e-mail: said.benarbia(at)


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