After Refusal to Implement it on Nabeel Rajab, Alternative Penalty Law doesn't Seem to Include Political Prisoners

2019-05-07 - 9:12 م

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): On July 17, 2017, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa ratified the Alternative Penalty Law, which authorizes the public prosecution or the judge to replace the sentence of preventive detention with a commuted penalty, including house arrest.

After nearly two years, it can be said that there is nothing new with regard to the selectivity of the Bahraini judiciary in enforcing the law. This corrupt apparatus proves time and time again that it is merely a tool in the hands of the regime that punishes whomever it wants and forgives whomever it wants.

The Bahraini judiciary rejected yesterday, Monday (May 6, 2019) a request by defence lawyer of prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab to implement the new alternative penalty law on him, more than a year after the law came into force.

Laywer Mohammed Al-Jishi said that the court rejected the request, adding that the lawyers had demanded the court to implement the new law on Rajab's case on April 30.

The law also authorizes the detainee or the prison administration to petition the judge to replace the punishment or the remainder of the sentence with an alternative penalty, and the law requires that the sentenced person must have served half of the sentence or sentences imposed on him. He should also have good conduct, and that his release should not endanger public security.

Based on these requirements, defence lawyers applied for an alternative sentence for Rajab, where the defence team believed that he complied with the requirements of the law, but the judiciary had again chosen to punish Rajab for his role in supporting human rights issues.

Apart from using the judiciary as a punitive tool, the verdict demonstrates the fallacy of allegations that an advisor at the Bahraini embassy in London tried to promote extending the implementation of the new law to include political detainees.

The positive atmosphere that the state authorities are trying to promote through foreign media outlets was revealed with the first test. King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa does not seem to be going towards political reconciliation, as the embassy advisor in London Hassan Al-Shafei claims.

The reconciliation process takes place through the release of some political prisoners, according to British writer Bill Law. He adds that the arduous task of building trust and finding a common basis can begin with their release.

Interior Minister Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa told the House of Representatives on Sunday (April 28, 2019) that a total of 451 individuals - 388 men, 52 women and 11 minors - are to benefit from the alternative penalty law.

None of the political prisoners who were arrested over 14 February 2011 uprising, which demanded putting an end to Al Khalifa monopoly over power, benefited from the law.

The implementation of the law did not benefit any of the political detainees for their participation in the February 14, 2011 revolution, which called for putting an end to the acquisition of power by the Al Khalifa family.

Bahraini human rights reports say that there are more than 4,500 political prisoners in the country.

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