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by IFEX category: Cause
On 13 June 2016, security forces arrested leading human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, and he has been held in pre-trial detention ever since, despite his failing health.
Nabeel is President of IFEX member the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Founding Director of IFEX member the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), Deputy Secretary General of FIDH, and Advisory Committee member of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East Division. The reported reason for his arrest was for "spreading false news and rumours about the internal situation in a bid to discredit Bahrain," which BCHR reports is related to statements he gave during TV interviews in early 2015 and 2016.
Nabeel was placed in solitary confinement simply for speaking out about human rights violations in Bahrain, and has been in hospital since 8 April 2017. If convicted, he could face up to 18 years behind bars!
Please show your support for Nabeel by joining our Thunderclap campaign calling for his immediate and unconditional release in time for the 1-year anniversary of his detention. Nabeel's health has been severely compromised by the conditions of the arrest and imprisonment, and he remains in hospital since 8 April 2017.
On 26 June 2016, Nabeel’s lawyers were informed that old charges related to his free expression have been referred to court, with a first hearing set for 12 July 2016 for “spreading rumours during wartime” and “insulting a statutory body.” The charges in this case were first brought against him in April 2015, after he spoke out against widespread torture occurring in prison and criticised the humanitarian costs of the war. As of 15 May 2017, Nabeel's hearings in this case have been postponed 11 times, and he faces up to 15 years imprisonment if convicted.
These charges are being pursued in addition to a second case in which he is charged with “spreading false information and malicious rumors about domestic matters with the aim of discrediting and adversely affecting the State prestige” in television interviews he gave in 2015. As of 15 May 2017, Nabeel’s hearings in this case have been postponed 5 times and he faces up to 3 years imprisonment if convicted.
Nabeel's health at risk
Nabeel has suffered multiple emergency visits to the hospital during his detention, and on 5 April 2017, he underwent surgery for bleeding ulcers. His family was denied the right to visit, and after surgery he was sent back to solitary confinement, despite further need of medical care. On 8 April 2017, Nabeel was rushed to hospital in an ambulance and has remained in hospital since. According to information received by BCHR, his weakened immune system is slowing down the recovery process.
In relation to Nabeel’s health crisis, his wife Sumaya Rajab, stated: “We raised our extreme worries about the effects isolated detention would have on Nabeel’s health and we were ignored. Nabeel never suffered heart problems before. My husband is a human rights defender and does not deserve this treatment.”
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For more information, visit our infographic on Nabeel's case: