Statement by the Chair of the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI), Pier Antonio Panzeri.

"I urge the Bahraini authorities to release Sheikh Ali Salman and all prisoners of conscience in Bahrain and to comply with Bahrain's international and national human rights commitments.

Ahead of the election on 24 November, I call on the government to ensure that civil society organisations are allowed to participate in the democratic debate without fear. An independent civil society enjoying fully its fundamental rights is always the best contribution a country could make to development, stability and prosperity. It is crucial to ensure meaningful accountability and to prevent corruption and extremism.

The European Parliament has already raised the case of Sheik Ali Salman in its resolutions of 9 July 2015 and 7 July 2016. The European Parliament has also adopted resolutions on other political prisoners in Bahrain (such as Nabeel Rajab, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Mohammed Ramadan, Hussain Ali Mosa, Sheik Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim and Khalil Al Halwachi) and continues to call for their release. A delegation of the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Human Rights has visited Nabeel Rajab and Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja in Jau Prison whilst in Bahrain on a DROI mission in 2012. In 2017 DROI had planned another mission to Bahrain, which, however, has been denied by the Bahraini authorities."

Background

Skeikh Ali Salman is a Shia cleric and the Secretary General of the banned Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, the largest Shiite opposition bloc in Bahrain. Bahraini security forces initially arrested him in December 2014 on charges stemming solely from a political speech he delivered. Following a complex series of appeals and retrials, in April 2017 the Court of Cassation ultimately sentenced him to four years in prison on charges including “inciting hatred against the government.

In 2017, Ali Salman’s second trial began on a range of intelligence-sharing charges relating to his recorded telephone conversations with the then Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar in 2011. Sheikh Ali Salman was acquitted on 21 June 2018, but the prosecution appealed the ruling. Finally, on 4 November 2018, the Appeals Court of Bahrain found him guilty of spying for Qatar and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

Contact:

Office of MEP Pier Antonio PANZERI

  • +32(0)2 28 45349

pierantonio.panzeri@europarl.europa.eu