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Formula One is investigating circumstances surrounding Bahraini activist Najah Yusuf’s imprisonment Open in fullscreen

The New Arab & agencies

Formula One is investigating circumstances surrounding Bahraini activist Najah Yusuf’s imprisonment

"Peaceful protests at all our events is a democratic right," said F1

Date of publication: 25 March, 2019

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Formula One has declared that it is investigating circumstances surrounding the imprisonment of Bahraini activist Najah Yusuf who was handed a three-year jail term in 2017.

Formula One has declared that it is investigating circumstances surrounding the imprisonment of Bahraini activist Najah Yusuf who was handed a three-year jail term in 2017.

The sports body will visit Bahrain this week amid renewed criticism it has been facing after the Yusuf’s three-year prison sentence in 2017.

The sentence was handed following publications that she posted on social media, criticising and denouncing the political and social systems in the Gulf kingdom.

In the posts, she also expressed her oppositions to the auto race. However, the Bahrain government has denied her comments about the Grand Prix that led to her conviction.

Human rights groups reported that her trial was marred by violations. Yusef said that she was sexually assaulted at the hands of authorities during interrogations.

According to Human Rights Watch, which launched campaigns calling on F1 to put pressure on the Bahraini government, coerced confession was used in her conviction.

Human Rights Watch urged the sport body to adhere to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and encouraged individuals to write letters to both F1 chairman Chase Carey and FIA president Jean Todt.

“The leaders of Formula One and its governing federation, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) will be celebrating their race in Bahrain – a mere 20 kilometers away from the prison where Yusef is unjustly held. They could and should ask to meet her in prison,” said Human Rights Watch.

F1’s management group confirmed that it is currently discussing the issue of Yusuf with the Bahrain state.

In a statement that the group released to the Associated Press, it said:

“We continue to remind all our promotors, including Bahrain, that peaceful protests at all our events is a democratic right, and we continue to raise our concerns in regard to Ms Yusuf with the Bahraini authorities.

“Only last week we met to discuss Ms Yusuf’s case with campaigners, we continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding it, and as all these parties are aware, we are working on a number of initiatives in regard to this case, that we, and they, have agreed it would be unhelpful to comment on further at this time.

“Formula 1 is committed to respecting internationally-recognised human rights in our operations globally and we take all such responsibilities seriously.

“As a global sporting organisation we already have a clearly defined human rights policy.

“We obtain from every national promoter of a Formula 1 Grand Prix its commitment to respect internationally recognised human rights.”

F1 has staged a race in Bahrain since 2004. However, it was cancelled eight years ago following a string of protests against the government.

Liberty Media, the sport’s American owners, will reportedly unveil their post-2020 blueprint to team bosses and the FIA at a summit in London on Tuesday.

It is expected that a new set of regulations will be presented, in addition to the introduction of a budget cap to improve the sports competitivity.

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