FIDH’s International Board Demands the Immediate Release of its Deputy Secretary General Nabeel Rajab

Press release
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The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) on the occasion of its international board meeting in Paris on May 13th 2012, strongly denounces the ongoing detention of its Deputy Secretary General Nabeel Rajab.

Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, has been detained since he was arrested upon arrival at Manama airport from Lebanon on May 5th. He was then charged with “insulting the statutory bodies”. The charges are pressed against him in relation to tweets he posted deemed “insulting” to the Ministry of Interior. He was taken before the court on May 6th, when he stated that he was the author of tweets posted through his account.. He further said that he did not recognise the jurisdiction of the Court and the Prosecution due to their lack of independence from the Executive. The next hearing will take place on May 22, 2012.

On May 12th, Mr. Rajab was again presented before the Public Prosecutor, who informed him of a new case against him for charges of “calling for and participating in an illegal gathering”. According to the information received, based on information provided by the police administration to the prosecutor Nabeel Rajab is alleged to have made speeches during rallies calling for the use of force by demonstrators against police forces. Mr Rajab refused to answer the questions of the judge and declared that the investigation is a conspiracy. The Public Prosecutor remanded Mr. Rajab to detention for an additional seven days in relation to this case.

Mr Rajab faces another case 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 who has been on hunger strike since February 9, 2012. [1]

FIDH considers that Mr Rajab is victim of a judicial harassment that seems solely aimed at punishing his human rights activities and curtailing his fundamental rights. FIDH calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Nabeel Rajab and other human rights defenders detained for the legitimate exercise of fundamental freedoms and human rights.

FIDH is deeply concerned that these events occur within the context of an intensified crackdown against activists, including human rights defenders, pro-democracy protestors and entire parts of the population. At the occasion of the mission conducted by FIDH in April 2012, the mission witnessed how peaceful demonstrations are being repressed with the excessive use and abuse of tear gas by the security forces. The mission considers such acts to be a form of collective punishment for exercising the right to peaceful assembly [2].

FIDH recalls the authorities’ obligation to comply with the international human rights instruments ratified by the Kingdom of Bahrain and to respect and protect the fundamental rights of all Bahrainis and people living in Bahrain, including the right to freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly. FIDH considers that the continued detention of Nabeel Rajab severely undermines the government ’s statements that it respects human rights, and demands his immediate release.

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