Bahrain’s most prominent human rights defender, Nabeel Rajab is the head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), deputy secretary general of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), and a member of the Human Rights Watch Middle East and North Africa Advisory Committee. He is being detained in Jaw Prison since his initial arrest since June 2016. This day marks the third anniversary of Nabeel Rajab’s arrest.
Rajab is a prisoner of conscience held solely for his peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression. He is one of dozens of human rights defenders unjustly imprisoned for refusing to stay silent on his government’s rights abuses.
Nabeel Rajab is a prominent human rights defender who has been repeatedly targeted for his human rights work and criticism of the Bahraini authorities. Rajab has been in and out of prison since 2012 and subject to a travel ban since November 2014. He is currently serving a 5-year prison sentence, convicted of “spreading false rumors in time of war”, “insulting a foreign country", and “insulting public authorities”, in relation to peaceful tweets about the conflict in Yemen and torture allegations in Jaw prison. Such sentences reflect the increasingly restrictive and dangerous environment faced by human rights activists.
On 6 June 2018, the Council of Paris has unanimously awarded honorary citizenship to Nabeel Rajab, in recognition of his fight for freedom, democracy and human rights.
On 14 June 2018, the European Parliament adopted Resolution (RC8-0281) which strongly condemns the crackdown on human rights in Bahrain and calls for Nabeel Rajab’s immediate release.
On 15 August 2018, The United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has issued a formal decision declaring Bahrain’s imprisonment of human rights defender Nabeel Rajab unlawful. Nabeel Rajab is being arbitrarily detained under eight articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and seven articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, according to the Working Group. This is “in violation of the rules of international law may constitute crimes against humanity”.
On 8 October 2018, Nabeel Rajab was shortlisted for the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize, which is bestowed upon those who deliver outstanding commitment and action in the defence of human rights, both in Europe and internationally.
On 31 December 2018, Bahrain’s Court of Cassation upheld the five-year prison sentence of human rights defender and prisoner of conscience Nabeel Rajab. He was convicted of “spreading false rumors in time of war”, “insulting a foreign country" and “insulting public authorities”, in relation to peaceful tweets about the conflict in Yemen and torture allegations in Jaw prison. Nabeel Rajab has therefore exhausted all legal remedies in this case.
Urgent international pressure for Nabeel Rajab’s release is needed. Bahrain Center for Human Rights therefore urges Bahraini authorities to:
- Immediately and unconditionally release Nabeel Rajab.
- Quash his convictions and sentences, and drop all charges against him.
- Undertake a prompt, impartial, independent and effective investigation into his allegations of ill-treatment. The findings of the investigation must be made public and anyone suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice in fair proceedings.