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Bahrain Center for Human Rights
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by Bahrain Center for Human Rights category: Cause
On 11 May, internationally known Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab will face public prosecution where he could be handed down a 10- year prison sentence for simply tweeting about injustice and for exposing the truth about torture in Bahrain’s prison.
Mr. Nabeel Rajab is the President and Co-Founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Co-Founder of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), Deputy Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and a member of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East Advisory Board.
Mr. Rajab has faced continuous judicial harassment for his legitimate human rights work since his first arrest in June 2012. Mr. Rajab was sentenced to three months imprisonment for another tweet calling for Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman al Khalifa to step down. On August 23, 2012, the Higher Appeal Court acquitted Mr. Nabeel Rajab.
On August 16, 2012, the Lower Criminal Court sentenced Mr. Nabeel Rajab to three years imprisonment for three cases related to his participation in peaceful gatherings in favor of fundamental freedoms and democracy.
In December 2012, the Appeals Court reduced the above sentence to two years, which Mr. Rajab completed and was released in May 2014.
On October 1, 2014, Mr. Rajab was summoned by the General Directorate of Anti-corruption and Economic and Electronic Security of the Criminal Investigation Department for “insulting a public institution” via Twitter.
On October 9, 2014, Mr. Rajab was informed that the Ministry of Defense had filed a complaint regarding the same tweet. On November 2, 2014, the Third Lower Criminal Court ordered Mr. Rajab’s release but barred him from leaving the country.
On January 20, 2015, the Third Lower Criminal Court sentenced Mr. Nabeel Rajab to six months imprisonment on charges of “insulting public institutions and the army” via Twitter. Mr. Rajab’s lawyers appealed this sentence and his trial before the Bahrain Criminal Court of Appeal is ongoing and have been adjourned several times. The most recent adjournment was on May 4, 2015, when his appeal was postponed till May 14, 2015.
On February 26, 2015, Mr. Rajab was summoned for investigations in a different case for charges of “inciting hatred towards the regime”. To date, the police investigation on this charge is ongoing.
Regardless of the above ongoing harassment, on April 2, 2015, at 4:00 pm, over twenty police cars surrounded Mr. Rajab's house and policemen arrested him on charges of “spreading false news”. The arrest relates to a tweet from Mr. Rajab denouncing the torture of detainees at Jaw Prison. Mr. Rajab was then sent to the General Directorate of Anti Corruption Economic and Electronic Security to be interrogated.
On April 3, 2015, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) regarding two new charges brought against him interrogated Mr. Rajab in the presence of his lawyers. The first charge is “insulting a statutory body” (Article 216 of the Bahraini Criminal Code) referring to the Ministry of Interior in relation to tweets he posted denouncing the torture of detainees at Jaw Prison. The second charge is “disseminating false rumors in time of war” (Article 133 of the Bahraini Criminal Code) in relation to tweets he published about the Saudi-Arabia led coalition air strikes in Yemen. If sentenced on the second charge, Mr. Rajab could be facing up to 10 years imprisonment.
On April 5, 2015, the Court of Appeals held a hearing in the case against Mr. Rajab concerning “insulting statutory bodies”. Though the appeal proceedings had been closed and the verdict hearing had been scheduled for April 15, 2015, the court informed Mr. Rajab's lawyers on April 4, 2015, that the Court had decided to re-open the case after receiving from the Public Prosecution a “supplementary defense memorandum”. The court handed over a copy of that memo to Mr. Rajab's lawyers and adjourned the appeal to May 4, 2015 in order to receive the reply to the Prosecution's memo. According to Mr. Rajab's lawyers, no new material arguments or grounds would justify the re-opening of the case.
As earlier stated, on May 4, 2015, the appeal verdict for his previous sentence was once again postponed to May 14, 2015. Meanwhile, on May 11, 2015, Nabeel Rajab is to appear in front of the public prosecution for his current charges, and it will be decided whether his detention should be extended or he will be released.
Previously, the United States through a statement from the Department of States called on the Bahraini authorities to drop the charges against Nabeel Rajab and to release him immediately.
Through this campaign, we want to call on other countries to follow in the direction of offering strong words to put pressure on the Bahraini government to put an end to the aforementioned judicial harassment on Mr. Nabeel and respect his internationally protected right of free expression. Furthermore, to call on the government of Bahraini: to drop all charges against Nabeel Rajab and to release him immediately.
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization, registered with the Bahraini Ministry of Labor and Social Services since July 2002. Despite an order by the authorities in November 2004 to close, the BCHR is still functioning after gaining a wide local and international support for its struggle to promote human rights in Bahrain.