Human Rights Commissioner Löning calls on Bahrain to release political prisoners

23.03.2012 - Press release

Danish-Bahraini human rights activist Abdulhadi al‑Khawaja was imprisoned almost a year ago and has been on hunger strike since the beginning of February. Various sources report that he is in extremely poor health. Markus Löning, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy, issued the following statement today (23 March):

“I call on the Government of Bahrain to release Abdulhadi al‑Khawaja immediately. He is still being held despite the fact that the sentence which had been passed against him has since been revoked. His health is deteriorating visibly.
The Government of Bahrain must also release all other political prisoners with immediate effect and undertake further steps towards resolving the country’s political crisis.
I remain extremely concerned in the light of indications that the security forces are continuing to deploy excessive violence, leading to deaths and injuries. The Government should now press ahead with the implementation of the Bassiouni Commission’s recommendations.”

Abdulhadi al‑Khawaja was arrested in spring 2011 during the violent clashes which had been taking place in Bahrain; a special tribunal sentenced him to life in prison. The Bahraini authorities have reviewed his sentence and passed the case on to a civilian criminal court, but the appeal is still to be held.

The international Bassiouni Commission, established to investigate the events of spring 2011, presented its final report in November 2011. Bahrain has not yet completed implementation of the Commission’s recommendations. The German Government is firmly of the opinion that only meaningful dialogue between all players in Bahraini politics can lead to national reconciliation, and it encourages the Government and opposition groups to seek such dialogue.

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