Global Freedom of Expression

Español

The Case of Sheikh Ali Salman [Bahrain]

On Appeal Contracts Expression

Key Details

  • Mode of Expression
    Public Speech
  • Date of Decision
    June 16, 2015
  • Outcome
    Imprisonment
  • Case Number
    N/A
  • Region & Country
    Bahrain, Middle East and North Africa
  • Judicial Body
    First Instance Court
  • Type of Law
    Criminal Law
  • Themes
    Hate Speech
  • Tags
    Political speech

Content Attribution Policy

Global Freedom of Expression is an academic initiative and therefore, we encourage you to share and republish excerpts of our content so long as they are not used for commercial purposes and you respect the following policy:

  • Attribute Columbia Global Freedom of Expression as the source.
  • Link to the original URL of the specific case analysis, publication, update, blog or landing page of the down loadable content you are referencing.

Attribution, copyright, and license information for media used by Global Freedom of Expression is available on our Credits page.

Case Analysis

Case Summary and Outcome

Ali Salman was sentenced on June 16, 2015 by Bahrain’s Higher Criminal Court to four years imprisonment. His charges were related to statements and speeches he had made that the court held had publicly incited hatred, which ultimately disturbed public peace, incited non-compliance with the law, and insulted public institutions. The case is currently on appeal.


Facts

Sheikh Ali Salman is a senior figure in a Bahraini Shi’ite opposition group called Al-Wefaq Islamic Society. In November 2014 he led a protest supportive of boycotting Bahrain’s parliamentary elections.

He was arrested in December 2014, after leading a protest rally against the parliamentary elections, which he and his organizations boycotted for the government’s failure to implement promised reforms. He was charged with:

  1. Inciting a change of regime by non-peaceful means (Bahrain Penal Code (BPC), art. 160);
  2. Inciting hatred of a segment of society against another (BPC, art. 172);
  3. Inciting others to break the law (BPC, art. 173);
  4. Insulting the Ministry of Interior (BPC, art. 216).

Prior to his arrest a complaint had been made to the General Directorate of Crime Detection and Forensics which eventually led to an investigation by the Public Prosecution regarding the nature of Salman’s statements.

Global FoE could not identify official legal and government records on the case and information on the case was derived from secondary sources. Global FoE notes that media outlets may not provide complete information about this case. Additional information regarding legal matters will be updated as an official source becomes available.


Decision Overview

One June 16, 2015, the Higher Criminal Court sentenced Ali Salman to four years imprisonment. He was found guilty of “publicly inciting hatred, an act which disturbed public peace, inciting non-compliance with the law and insulting public institutions.”

However, Salman was acquitted of all other charges levied against him, including the charge of inciting political change which is a crime that can enure a life-time prison sentence.

He appealed the decision on September 15, 2015, and also requested release on bail. The Prosecutor counter-appealed for a stricter sentence. The appellate refused to grant the bail and adjourned the case to October.

Global FoE could not identify official legal and government records on the case and information on the case was derived from secondary sources. Global FoE notes that media outlets may not provide complete information about this case. Additional information regarding legal matters will be updated as an official source becomes available.

[1] Society Secretary General sentenced to four years, BNA, June 16, 2015, available at http://bna.bh/portal/en/news/673862.


Decision Direction

Quick Info

Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.

Contracts Expression

This case contracts freedom of expression because it criminalizes speech that is critical of the government. Ultimately, this case supports the Bahraini Penal Code and its prohibition on speech that “incites others to develop hatred or hostility towards the system of government.”

Global Perspective

Quick Info

Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.

Table of Authorities

National standards, law or jurisprudence

Case Significance

Quick Info

Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.

The decision establishes a binding or persuasive precedent within its jurisdiction.

This case was determined by the Higher Criminal Court, thus, it is possible to appeal the verdict to a Higher Court.

Official Case Documents

Reports, Analysis, and News Articles:


Have comments?

Let us know if you notice errors or if the case analysis needs revision.

Send Feedback