Bahrain: Nabeel Rajab remains in prison despite court-ordered release

 Cairo: 29 December, 2016

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said today: “The ongoing detention of human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, one of the founders of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, after the court ordered his release yesterday constitutes a continued violation of the right to freedom of expression as well as a crackdown on world’s free speech defenders, although the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged, on December 23, the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Rajab.”

On the 28th of this December, Bahrain’s Public Prosecution said that the human rights activist Nabeel Rajab will remain in prison, citing further investigation into another case (anti- cybercrime case) in which Rajab is accused of publishing comments on “Twitter”. The decision came after the High Criminal Court had earlier ordered Rajab’s release adjourning his case to the hearing of 23 January 2017, in addition to a travel ban imposed on him by the court, on charges of “spreading false news and rumors and inciting propaganda during wartime”, in reference to his criticism of Bahrain’s participation in Saudi Arabia-led military operations in Yemen.

Nabeel Rajab is one of the most prominent human rights defenders in Bahrain. He was born on the first of January 1964, and began his activism since the Bahraini uprising in the nineties of the last century. Since then, he has become a salient member of many human rights organizations in Bahrain and the Arabian Gulf. Rajab is the former president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, the head of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights and a member of the Advisory Board of the Department of Middle East and North Africa to “Human Rights Watch”, as well as the Deputy Secretary-General of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). Rajab received several international awards in human rights, and sought to disseminate the culture of Human Rights through electronic means such as the social networking websites “Facebook” and “Twitter”.

Rajab has been banned from travelling and sent to prison several times owing to his human rights activity and the practice of his right to freedom of opinion. He has recently served two months in prison over a charge of “insulting the state bodies” upon a verdict handed down by the Court of Appeal on 14 May 2015. Later on the 13th of July, the Bahraini King ordered his release by special royal pardon due to his poor health. Rajab also served about two years in “Joe” Prison in implementation of the ruling issued against him in August 2012, against the backdrop of cases related to his participation in peaceful rallies that call for the fundamental freedoms and democracy in Bahrain.

ANHRI is calling all rights organizations and free speech defenders to continue working on the release of Nabeel Rajab alongside all prisoners of conscience in Bahrain.

ANHRI, also, demanded from the authorities in Bahrain to immediately release rights defender Nabeel Rajab, drop all the charges pressed against him, launch freedom of opinion and expression in the country, and halt the prosecution of human rights activists against the backdrop of voicing their views.