Bahrain: Lawyers do not have sufficient independence … and the law does not protect their profession

SALAM DHR: Al-Shamlawi is one of the deans of the legal profession and his trial is malicious
Salam Organization for Democracy and Human Rights (SALAM DHR) expressed its dissatisfaction with what is happening to lawyers in Bahrain in terms of restricting, threatening and forming retaliatory cases for their role in supporting truth and justice. SALAM DHR condemned the fact that the great lawyer Abdullah Al-Shamlawi, was exposed to a malicious retaliatory trial in two cases that came from two communications, which were not completed in violation of the law. In the first issue, Al-Shamlawi expressed his view scientifically by writing on Twitter in a discussion a discussion of a religious subject. The other issue is related to a photo of a citizen published in a local newspaper, in which Al-Shamlawi had nothing to do with the publiction, but he only commented on the photo that was deleted later by the newspaper. On June 30, 2020, a Bahraini court sentenced Al-Shamlawi to 8 months in confinement, 6 months for discussing the religious topic and 2 months for the other case, and a financial grantee of 200 Bahraini dinars for release.

SALAM DHR believes that the Bahraini authorities have targeted lawyer Abdullah Al-Shamlawi because of his support of human rights issues, as he has consistently provided legal opinions critical of legislations restricting public freedoms, including the political isolation law that prevents members of political associations from running for municipal and parliamentary elections. (To view Al-Shamlawi’s tweet, click here). Al-Shamlawi also criticized the ruling issued by a Bahraini court confiscating the Khums money (Khums is a Shia annual religious practice of donating money), and said it was “a violation of the Charter and the constitution and a confiscation of freedom of belief and worship.”

SALAM DHR added that the legal profession must enjoy full independence in accordance with the United Nations principles adopted in September 1990 (the principles of Havana) on the role of lawyers. These fundamental principles guarantee full protection for lawyers to enjoy independence and to not be restricted or threatened, either individually or collectively, and also guarantee that the legal profession has an independent Bar association with a law that regulates it and ensures administrative and financial independence to protect it and its members.

SALAM DHR emphasized that the Bahraini Bar Act issued in 1980 and its amendments does not protect the legal profession and its great message in support of truth and justice. Despite government promises to issue a new Bar act, it is still stalled by the parliament, and its draft contains many legal observations which It makes it inconsistent with the principles of Havana on the role of lawyers.
Salam DHR called for canceling the verdict against the Dean of Bahrain’s Lawyers, Abdullah Al-Shamlawi, and to stop restricting lawyers and to expedite the approval of a law for the legal profession that guarantees it independence and adequate protection in the service of justice.