Bahrain: Continued ill-treatment of Mr. Nabeel Rajab

Urgent Appeal

New information
BHR 006 / 0812 / OBS 048.32

Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment /
April 24, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bahrain.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the continued judicial harassment, arbitrary detention and ill-treatment of Mr. Nabeel Rajab, co-founder and President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), founding Director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR), FIDH Deputy Secretary General and a member of the Middle East advisory committee at Human Rights Watch. Mr. Nabeel Rajab has been one of the country’s most vocal human rights defenders, denouncing human rights violations within the country’s Jaw prison, and denouncing Bahrain’s participation in bombings of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

According to the information received, on April 20, 2018, Mr. Nabeel Rajab’s family reported that he had not been allowed to drink for more than 24 hours. He was finally given water after another inmate collapsed because of dehydration.

The Observatory recalls that since the beginning of his detention on June 13, 2016, Mr. Rajab has been held under particularly harsh detention condition, including solitary confinement, and is regularly prevented from accessing his lawyers. Locked in his cell 23 hours a day, prison authorities regularly deprive Mr. Nabeel Rajab of basic commodities and health treatments needed. Mr. Nabeel Rajab was also reportedly subjected by prison guards to degrading treatment, including humiliating and degrading body searches, forcibly shaving his hair, arbitrarily raiding his cell at night and confiscating his personal items [1].

In addition, on April 4, 2018, Mr. Nabeel Rajab was briefly transferred toBahrain military hospital because of continued feelings of dizziness and loss of conscience, his blood was taken for further examinations. During the transfer, Mr. Nabeel Rajab was strip searched and shackled in a bus which had a small cell inside and resulted in him begging his head on the iron bars every time the bus driver stopped. Later, on the same day, officers at the hospital received orders to take him back to Jaw prison.

Two weeks before his transfer, he was transferred to the Ministry of Interior hospital, where he underwent pre-surgery procedures. However, he was later informed that he would only be allowed to undergo the surgery at the military hospital. Mr. Nabeel Rajab refused because of acts of ill treatment previously received there. He was supposed to undergo a pilonidal sinus excision, abscess incision and drainage surgery which he has already received last year. Prior to the new surgery, Mr. Nabeel Rajab’s doctor recommended that he should go to a laser clinic to remove his hair in order to ease the surgery, but the doctor’s recommendation was ignored by prison authorities.

The Observatory expresses its outmost concerns over reports of ill-treatment of Mr. Nabeel Rajab, whose health has severely degraded since the beginning of his detention. The Observatory thus urges the Bahraini authorities to guarantee Mr. Nabeel Rajab’s physical and psychological integrity.

In its concluding observations on Bahrain published on May 12, 2017, the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UN CAT) drew attention to the fact that “excessive use of solitary confinement constitutes cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or, depending on the circumstances, even torture (...)” [2]. The UN CAT added that it was “deeply concerned” by the arbitrary imprisonment, torture and ill-treatment of detained human rights defenders, including Mr. Nabeel Rajab.

The Observatory recalls that Mr. Nabeel Rajab is currently serving a seven years prison sentence following two separate sentences. On April 23, 2018, the first appeal hearing in Mr. his so-called “Twitter case” took place before Bahrain Court of Cassation, which was then postponed to May 8, 2018 (see background information).

The Observatorydenounces the continued arbitrary detention of Mr. Nabeel Rajab, which seems to be yet another evidence of a long-standing pattern of harassment against him to sanction his legitimate human rights activity.

The Observatory calls upon the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Nabeel Rajab, to put an end to any act of harassment against him and, in the meantime, to ensure that all judicial proceedings against him are carried out in full compliance with the right to due process, the right to a fair trial and the right to be presumed innocent, as protected under international law.

Background information [3]:

Mr. Nabeel Rajab is currently serving a seven years prison sentence following two separate sentences:

On July 10, 2017, the Manama’s Lower Criminal Court handed down a two years’ prison sentence against Mr. Nabeel Rajab under charges of “deliberately spreading false information and malicious rumours with the aim of discrediting the State” in relation to television interviews he participated to. This sentence was upheld on November 22, 2017 by the Court of Appeals. Mr. Nabeel Rajab faces additional charges in at least two other cases related to articles published in foreign newspapers about Bahrain’s human rights record.

In the so-called “Twitter case”, on February 21, 2018, the High Criminal Court of Bahrain sentenced him to 5 years in prison on charges of“insulting a statutory body” (Article 216 of the Penal Code), “disseminating false rumours in time of war” (Article 133) and “offending a foreign country [Saudi Arabia]” (Article 215), which carries up to 15 years in prison. Those charges are related to tweets he posted denouncing the torture of detainees in the Kingdom’s Jaw Prison, where he is now being detained, and the human rights violations perpetrated by the Saudi-Arabia led coalition air strikes in Yemen.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Bahrain urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Nabeel Rajab and that of all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

ii. Release Mr. Nabeel Rajab immediately and unconditionally, as his detention is arbitrary and its conditions amount to ill-treatment and are endangering his life;

iii. Put an end to any act 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 Articles 1, Article 6 (c), 9, 11 and 12.2;

v. 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, Fax : 00973 17 21 05 75;
· Cheikh Khalid bin Ali AL KHALIFA, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Fax: +973 175 31 284
· Lt. Gen. Cheikh Rashed bin Abdulla AL KHALIFA, Minister of Interior, Email:
· H.E. Mr. Yusuf Abdulkarim Bucheeri, Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 22 758 96 50. Email:
· H.E. Ahmed Mohammed Yousif Aldoseri, Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the Kingdom of Belgium, Fax: 0032 (0) 26472274; E-mail:


Paris-Geneva, April 24, 2018

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
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

Read more