Formula One ‘concerned’ over jailing of woman who protested Bahrain GP

Formula One has admitted its concern after a woman who protested against the Bahrain Grand Prix was jailed for three years by the country’s authorities.

The Guardian reports that Najah Ahmed Yusuf claims she was beaten, sexually abused and imprisoned following a series of posts on Facebook in April 2017 criticising the race and the regime.

In one Facebook post Yusef claimed the races were “nothing more than a way for the [ruling] al-Khalifa family to whitewash their criminal record and gross human rights violations”.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Scriven and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (Bird) elicited a response from Formula One when they wrote letters to the organisation alerting them to Yusuf’s treatment.

“We are concerned by the citation in the court judgment of Ms Yusuf’s comment opposing the staging of the 2017 Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix,” Sacha Woodward Hill, general counsel for F1, told Scriven and Bird. “And we have raised our concerns with our counterparts in Bahrain, as part of our ongoing enquiries.

“Formula One is committed to respecting internationally-recognised human rights in its operations globally. As part of our commitment we expect that commentators who may wish to use the occasion of a Formula One grand prix event to express opinions peacefully will be able to do so without punitive action, before, during or after the event.”

However, the Bahrain government maintains Yusuf was jailed for “promoting and encouraging people to overthrow the political and social systems” between 2010 and 2017 and that the right to peaceful protest was upheld by Bahrain’s constitution. It added that it had referred the complaint of alleged mistreatment to the country’s Special Investigations Unit.