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1. Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights
The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR), founded by a group of young rights activists, submitted its registration application in March 2005. According to one founder, Muhammad al-Maskati, the ministry never responded to the request, effectively rejecting the application to operate legally.
The society nevertheless openly carried out activities, including public events and workshops. In February 2007, the ministry filed a complaint with the Public Prosecution, which then filed a case against al-Maskati on charges of “operating an organization without license.” Al-Maskati told Human Rights Watch that the ministry complained because “our work, activities, and cooperation with international rights groups increased.”
I believe this advocacy drew the attention of authorities and they wanted us to stop. The public prosecutor summoned me. During the questioning the officers asked about our work with international rights groups and human rights complaints we had sent to different UN agencies.
According to the US State Department, the Ministry of Social Development rejected BYSHR’s registration application “allegedly because of its ties to the dissolved Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and because some of its members were younger than the 18 [years old].” Al-Maskati told Human Rights Watch that he was the youngest among the founders and that he was 18 when the group applied for registration. He agreed that his ties with the BCHR might have been a factor:
I think that they rejected the registration because of me. Before we started BYHRS I was actively involved with the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. When authorities filed the complaint they only targeted me, although there were many others working with BYHRS.
On April 5, 2010, a minor criminal court fined al-Maskati 500 Bahraini Dinars (US$1,320) for operating an unlicensed organization. On December 23, 2010, the Court of Appeal upheld the minor court’s ruling and al-Maskati paid the fine.
The society still monitors human rights violation in Bahrain and publishes news releases and reports. Al-Maskati told Human Rights Watch that authorities continue to harass the group. On October 16, 2012, security forces arrested al-Maskati on charges of participating in “illegal gathering” in Manama a week earlier. He was released on bail the following day. 
 Human Rights Watch phone conversation with Muhammad al-Maskati, president of Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, August 3, 2012.
 “The case of al-Maskati adjourned for closing argument, (تأجيل قضية المسقطي للمرافعة),” Al-Wasat, September 25, 2009, http://www.alwasatnews.com/2576/news/read/312663/1.html (accessed May 16, 2012).
 Human Rights Watch, phone conversation with Muhammad al-Maskati, president of Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, August 3, 2012.
 US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2009: Bahrain” March 11, 2010, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136066.htm (accessed October 9, 2012).
 Human Rights Watch, phone conversation with Muhammad al-Maskati, August 3, 2012. As noted earlier, authorities closed down the Bahrain Center for Human Rights in 2004.
 “Court fines al-Maskati 500 Dinars for establishing an unlicensed society, (القضاء يغرّم المسقطي 500 دينار لإنشائه جمعية غير مرخصة),” Al-Wasat, April 6, 2010, http://www.alwasatnews.com/2769/news/read/393925/1.html (accessed May, 16, 2012). In Bahrain’s judicial system, misdemeanors are referred to minor criminal courts and felonies to high criminal courts.
 “Upholding a fine of 500 Dinars against al-Maskati for establishing an unlicensed society, (تأييد تغريم المسقطي 500 دينار لإنشائه جمعية غير مرخصة),” Al-Wasat, December 24, 2010, http://www.alwasatnews.com/3031/news/read/516689/1.html (accessed May 16, 2011).
 “Activist Muhammad al-Maskati released, (إخلاء سبيل الناشط محمد المسقطي),” Al-Wasat, October 18, 2012, http://www.alwasatnews.com/3694/news/read/709637/1.html (accessed April 1, 2013).