This statement is concerned with the legitimacy of the charges laid by the authorities of Bahrain against human rights defender and cleric Sheikh Maytham Al Salman for expressing an opinion about the trial and imprisonment of a public figure and for criticizing the authorities of Bahrain for the country’s governance. He was charged with incitement of hatred towards the system of government and expressing views on an ongoing trial with the intent to change public opinion. This review was prompted by the repeated use of such or similar charges against human rights defenders and political opponents, including Sheikh Maythan Al Salman himself.
This statement was written by Dr. Agnes Callamard (Director, Global Freedom of Expression) and Bach Avezdjanov (Program Officer, Global Freedom of Expression), on behalf of the signatories. It greatly benefited from the support and input of Charles Glasser (Adjunct Professor of Media Ethics and Law, New York University, USA), Peter Noorlander (Chief Executive Officer, Media Legal Defense Initiative, UK), Karuna Nundy (Advocate, Supreme Court of India, India), and Dirk Voorhoof (Professor of Media Law, Ghent University, Belgium).