Channel: Bahrain Center for Human Rights
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Bahrain’s prosecution orders seven-day detention of Nabeel Rajab over politically-motivated charges


29 December 2016 - The public prosecution in Bahrain today interrogated human rights defender Nabeel Rajab regarding a case related of allegedly “disseminating false documents and malicious rumors” and announced a seven-day detention order according to his lawyer. This follows the announcement yesterday when the High Criminal Court ordered Rajab’s release on bail and the postponement of his hearing to 23 January 2017.

The undersigned organizations strongly condemn the continued judicial harassment and detention of Nabeel Rajab and call on the Bahraini authorities to immediately release him and drop all charges against him.

Bahraini authorities yesterday announced the release of Nabeel Rajab after nearly seven months in pre-trial detention for tweets he posted about torture in Bahrain’s Jau Prison and the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. However, following the announcement of Rajab’s release, the Bahraini government immediately re-arrested him for investigation on separate charges. The public prosecution ordered a seven-day detention period on charges of “disseminating false documents and malicious rumors on the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain that could damage its status.

“Today's judicial harassment against leading rights activist Nabeel Rajab is another reminder of the repressive nature of Bahrain ruling family,” said BIRD’s Director of Advocacy Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei. “Bahrain rulers abandoned their commitments to reform and have now escalated repression to the highest degree we’ve seen since 2011. The repression continues to increase because of impunity for authorities’ abuses that are largely undenounced by Bahrain's allies, including the UK and the US.”

The Bahraini government originally arrested Rajab on 13 June 2016 and charged him with “spreading false news and rumours about the internal situation in a bid to discredit Bahrain” later they referred him to the High Criminal Court on charges related to comments he made on Twitter about the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and documentation of the torture epidemic in Bahrain’s Jau Prison. Rajab has been subjected to ongoing detention since that time, with periods mostly in solitary confinement. Rajab’s health has suffered due to his ongoing detention, and he has been rushed to the hospital for heart conditions on several occasions.

“The continued escalation of repression could be avoided if Bahrain’s allies pressured the Bahraini government to start a path of reform,” said ADHRB Executive Director Husain Abdulla.“The failure by European states to call for the release of Nabeel Rajab coupled with the US administration’s decision to lift the arms ban to Bahrain last year has give the authorities a green light to continue their assault on human rights in Bahrain.”

We, the undersigned, condemn in the strongest terms the ongoing detention and judicial harassment of Nabeel Rajab. We call on the Government of Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release Nabeel Rajab, drop all charges against him, and lift his travel ban.




Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)

Bahrain Center for Human Righs (BCHR)

Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)

European Center for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)


Further information

In September 2016, the New York Timespublished a letter written by Rajab from his jail cell. Authorities subsequently charged Rajab for allegedly publishing false statements undermining Bahrain. In November 2016, Rajab published another letter in the French newspaper Le Monde. Authorities called Rajab in for questioning over the article and has since accused him of “spreading false information and tendentious rumors” that insult Bahrain and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

On 20 December 2016, over 50 NGOs urged the UN to call for his release, a call which the UN’s leading expert on free speech endorsed. On 23 December, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement calling for Rajab’s release. His spokesperson stated, “Criticising the Government should not be the grounds for detention or prosecution and we call on the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Rajab.

Since his arrest in June 2016, a number of international government figures have called for the release of Rajab. The US State Department has called for the release of Rajab multiple times and stated they believe it is “clear that the government lacks evidence to support its case.” Members of the European Parliament have put out a series of video messages in support of Rajab and called for his release. Additionally, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights used his opening statement at the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council to warn the Bahraini government that it must not continue on a path of repression. “The past decade has demonstrated repeatedly and with punishing clarity exactly how disastrous the outcomes can be when a Government attempts to smash the voices of its people, instead of serving them.”

The United Kingdom and Bahrain

Pressure mounted this week on the Prime Minister to call for Nabeel Rajab's release. While Theresa May told parliament at Prime Minister's Questions this week that "We do raise the issue of human rights when we meet the Gulf states", the UK Government has never publicly called for the release of any prisoners of conscience in Bahrain.
On Tuesday 14 December, 23 MPs penned a joint letter to the Foreign Secretary calling on the UK Government to demand the “unconditional release” of Nabeel Rajab from prison, and for the charges against him to be dropped. The letter  signed by a cross-party group of MPs from the Conservatives, Labour, Scottish National Party, DUP, Liberal Democrats, Green and SDLP, urges the UK Government to follow the lead of the US State Department, the European Parliament, and the United Nations, in calling for Bahrain to release Mr Rajab. The letter said: We urge you, in advance of the trial tomorrow, to make it clear to Bahraini officials that the United Kingdom wishes to see his unconditional release from prison, and for the charges brought against him, which are related to his right to freedom of expression and freedom of speech, to be dropped. 
On the same day, rights groups including Index on Censorship and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy protested outside Downing Street and delivered a letter to the Prime Minister.  Theresa May was in Bahrain last week to set out her new "bold vision" for British-Gulf relations. Human rights was not mentioned in her speech to Gulf leaders, nor by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who was also in Bahrain for a separate security conference.  The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy and Index on Censorship, along with three NGOs also wrote a letter to the Prime Minister: "There is nothing bold in silence over clear human rights violations, and we urge you to now make a public call for Nabeel Rajab’s immediate and unconditional release."
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