BHR 001 / 0512 / OBS 048
Arbitrary detention / Judicial harassment
May 7, 2012
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bahrain.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest and judicial harassment of Mr. Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and FIDH Deputy Secretary General.
According to the information received, on May 5, 2012, Mr. Nabeel Rajab was arrested by plain clothes police officers upon arrival at Manama airport from Lebanon and transferred to Al Hawra police station. The police officers who proceeded to the arrest stated that they were following orders by the Public Prosecutor, however neither Mr. Rajab nor his lawyers were then informed of the reasons for his arrest.
Mr. Rajab had returned to Bahrain in order to attend an hearing for charges of “participating in an illegal assembly” and “calling others to join”, relating to a protest organised on March 31, 2012 in Manama to denounce the detention of human rights defender Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, Founder of GCHR, former BCHR President and former MENA Director at Front Line.
On May 6, Mr. Rajab was accordingly taken to court, where he denied the charges against him. The trial was postponed to May 22, 2012.
Later the same day, Mr. Rajab was presented before the Public Prosecutor, who informed him of the reasons for his arrest. According to Mr. Rajab’s lawyers, charges of “insulting the statutory bodies”, pursuant to Article 216 of the Penal Code, which carry an imprisonment for a term of up to three years and a fine, are pressed against him in relation to tweets he posted deemed “insulting” to the Ministry of Interior. Mr. Rajab replied that he was the author of tweets posted through his account and that he did not recognise the jurisdiction of the Court and the Prosecution due to their lack of independence from the Executive. The Public Prosecutor remanded Mr. Rajab to detention for seven days.
The Observatory firmly denounces the arbitrary detention as well as the judicial harassment of Mr. Nabeel Rajab, which seem to merely aim at sanctioning his legitimate human rights activities. It recalls that according to international standards pre-trial detention should only be used where other measures of restraint are not possible.
The Observatory recalls that these events occur within the context of an intensified crackdown against activists, including human rights defenders, who have supported or are alleged to have supported the protest movement which started in Bahrain in February 2011.
The Observatory urges the authorities of Bahrain to:
i. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Nabeel Rajab and all human rights defenders in Bahrain;
ii. Release Mr. Nabeel Rajab immediately and unconditionally as his detention seems to merely sanction his human rights activities and is contrary to national and international law;
iii. Put an end to any acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Nabeel Rajab and against all human rights defenders in Bahrain;
iv. Conform in any circumstances with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular :
its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” ;
its Article 6 (c) which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters” ;
and its Article 12.2 which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.
vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Bahrain.
· Cheikh Hamad bin Issa AL KHALIFA, King of Bahrain, Fax: +973 176 64 587
· Cheikh Khaled Bin Ahmad AL KHALIFA, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tel: +973 172 27 555; Fax : +973 172 12 6032
· Cheikh Khalid bin Ali AL KHALIFA, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Tel: +973 175 31 333; Fax: +973 175 31 284
· Lt. Gen. Cheikh Rashed bin Abdulla AL KHALIFA, Minister of Interior, Tel: +973 17572222 and +973 17390000. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United Nations in Geneva, 1 chemin Jacques-Attenville, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, CP 39, 1292 Chambésy, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 22 758 96 50. Email: email@example.com
Please also write to diplomatic representations of Bahrain in your respective countries.
Paris-Geneva, May 7, 2012
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
* E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
* Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
* Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29