31 May 2016 – The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) cautiously welcomes the Bahraini authorities’ release of human rights defender Zainab al-Khawaja from prison. However, as the details around her release remain unclear, we call on the Bahraini authorities to drop all charges against Zainab as she remains under the threat of re-arrest at any moment.
Earlier today, Bahraini authorities called Zainab’s husband telling him to come to the Isa Town Detention Center to pick up Zainab and her son, 17-month-old Abdulhadi al-Khawaja. It is unclear whether this decision came from the judge in the case or from the Ministry of Interior (MOI). ECDHR and Zainab’s family are under the assumption that Zainab obtained a short-term humanitarian release as charges against her remain in place.
Bahraini authorities arrested and imprisoned Zainab on 14 March 2016 on charges relating to her right to freedom of expression. On 7 April, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister announced the government would release Zainab on humanitarian grounds. Today, over two months later, Bahraini authorities finally released Zainab and her infant son. As the charges against her remain, Zainab risks re-arrest and imprisonment at any moment.
The Bahraini government continues to target human rights defenders who exercise their right to free expression. For Zainab, this temporary release does not equal freedom. We call on the Bahraini government to stop targeting human rights defenders who peacefully advocate for the rights of all. Further, we urge the Bahraini government to drop all of the charges against Zainab al-Khawaja.