BHRC has sent a letter to the UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, raising concern over the detention, prosecution and treatment of Nabeel Rajab, a human rights defender in Bahrain.
Mr Rajab is the president and co-founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. On 21 February 2018 he was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment, to be served consecutively to a two-year prison sentence he was already serving. All of the charges against him concern ‘freedom of expression’ allegations. In particular, this recent conviction relates to comments made on Mr Rajab’s Twitter account about the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Yemen, and further comments exposing alleged torture in Bahrain’s Jau prison. Charges included “spreading false rumours in time of war”, “insulting public authorities” and “insulting a foreign country”.
In its letter, BHRC Chair Kirsty Brimelow QC raised concern over the attack on Mr Rajab’s right to freedom of expression and the political nature of his prosecution.
“It is clear from the evidence adduced by the Public Prosecutor that the basis of the case against Mr Rajab was founded entirely on legitimate public expressions of dissent and concern about violations of fundamental human rights. Subsequently, the Bahraini government has continued to pursue charges against Mr Rajab, seemingly in an attempt to silence him.”
BHRC is also concerned for Mr Rajab’s health which has deteriorated while in custody. He has also faced months of solitary confinement and mistreatment.
BHRC finds Mr Rajab’s prosecution, detention and treatment a violation of Bahrain’s obligations under international law and calls upon the Foreign Minister to make representations to the Bahrain Government regarding the deeply flawed prosecution of Mr Rajab and to raise concerns over his treatment in detention.
BHRC Executive Committee Member Pete Weatherby QC said:
“The repeated prosecution, detention and mistreatment of the internationally-renowned human rights defender, Nabeel Rajab, for tweets, newspaper articles and criticism of the Government’s involvement in Yemen, is a reminder that Bahrain has no current intention of abiding by its international human rights obligations. This is particularly serious given the amount of money the UK Government has expended on ‘Rule of Law’ projects in the Kingdom in recent years”
You can read the full letter here.