On 31 December 2018, the Court of Cassation in Bahrain upheld the 5 year sentence of human rights activist Nabeel Rajab for tweets critical of the Saudi Arabia attack on Yemen and accusing the Bahraini prison authorities of torture.

BHRC Chair Kirsty Brimelow QC issued the following statement:

“Bahrain’s Court of Cassation is in violation of international law in upholding 5 years’ imprisonment for tweets. The European Court of Human Rights has not upheld a sentence of imprisonment of more than a few months in a freedom of expression/protest type cases, and those cases have involved actual violence.

This is a case about expressing views on twitter. Bahrain has ratified the ICCPR which protects the right to free expression in a similar way to the European Convention on Human Rights. Bahrain recently succeeded in being elected to the UN Human Rights Council with its term starting in 2019. Bahrain has an enhanced obligation as part of the UNHRC to cooperate in the protection and promotion of human rights.

Nabeel Rajab should not be in prison. Bahrain can honour its place at the UN Human Rights Council by ensuring its first action in 2019 is securing Nabeel Rajab’s unconditional release.”

BHRC has previously raised concern for Mr Rajab’s prosecution and conditions of confinement.