SHAFAQNA – We are seriously concerned about the ongoing prosecution of Nabeel Rajab, a co-founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, who has been detained since 13 June 2016 for exercising his right to freedom of expression.
Mr Rajab, who was convicted and then pardoned for tweets he wrote in 2014, currently faces a series of charges. These relate to comments on social media regarding torture in Jaw prison, and critiquing the Saudi-led coalition’s airstrikes in Yemen, charges that carry maximum sentences of 10 and three years respectively. .
On 5 September he was additionally charged with “intentionally broadcasting false news and malicious rumours abroad impairing the prestige of the State”. These charges were brought by the General Prosecutor in response to an article by Mr Rajab published on 4 September in the New York Times. This charge carries a sentence of at least one year.
On 15 December, Mr Rajab’s trial was postponed for the fifth time. His next hearing is scheduled for 28 December.
Criticising the Government should not be the grounds for detention or prosecution and we call on the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr Rajab.
We also urge the Government of Bahrain to take all necessary steps to secure the right to freedom of opinion and expression in accordance with fundamental principles set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Bahrain ratified in 2006.