BAHRAIN: Nabeel Rajab sentenced to two years in appeal: a sad day for the defence of human rights

Urgent Appeal
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Paris-Geneva, December 11, 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), deplores the two years’ imprisonment sentence issued today in appeal against Mr. Nabeel Rajab. His lawyers immediately announced their intention to lodge an appeal before the Cassation Court.

Mr. Nabeel Rajab is the Deputy Secretary General of FIDH, the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR). He was sentenced in appeal to two years of prison for participating in peaceful gatherings and calling others to join. This conviction blatantly violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides that participation in peaceful activities to protest against violations of human rights, including through peaceful assemblies, are protected under international law. This decision took place one day after International Human Rights Day and sends a negative signal to the international community, which has been calling for reforms and an end to the repression of critical voices in Bahrain.

On August 16, 2012, the Lower Criminal Court had sentenced Mr. Rajab in first instance to three years in prison for three cases related to his participation in peaceful gatherings in favour of fundamental freedoms and democracy.

“Today’s shameful ruling in appeal shows once again the determination of the Bahraini authorities to keep on silencing critical voices in the country. With this decision in appeal, our Deputy Secretary General will remain detained arbitrarily simply because he dared conducting human rights activities in the country”, FIDH President Souhayr Belhassen said today. “We will continue to demand his immediate and unconditional release”, Amina Bouayach, FIDH Vice President added. Ms. Bouayach was mandated by the Observatory to attend today’s verdict in the framework of an international trial observation mission.

“We deplore Nabeel Rajab’s sentencing, which is one more evidence of the continued criminalisation of human rights defenders’ activities in Bahrain”, said OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock. “We call upon the Bahraini authorities to guarantee in all circumstances his physical and psychological integrity, as well as to ensure that human rights defenders can operate without fear of harassment in the country”, he added.

The Observatory observed most of the hearings in the trial in appeal against Mr. Nabeel Rajab, and will publish a trial observation mission report soon.

For more information, please contact:
· FIDH: Arthur Manet/Audrey Couprie: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
· OMCT: Delphine Reculeau: +41 (0) 22 809 49 39

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