Bahrain: Continued judicial harassment and arbitrary detention of Mr. Nabeel Rajab

08/04/2015
Urgent Appeal
ar en es

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the continued judicial harassment and arbitrary arrest of Mr. Nabeel Rajab , President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), FIDH Deputy Secretary General and a member of the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East Division.

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

New information
BHR 001 / 0415 / OBS 028.1

Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment
Bahrain
April 8, 2015

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), 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 and arbitrary arrest of Mr. Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), FIDH Deputy Secretary General and a member of the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East Division.

According to the information received, on April 3, 2015, Mr. Rajab was interrogated in the presence of his lawyers by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) regarding two new charges brought against him. The first charge is “insulting a statutory body” (Article 216 of the Bahraini Criminal Code) referring to the Ministry of Interior in relation to tweets he posted denouncing the torture of detainees at Jaw Prison . The second charge is “disseminating false rumours in time of war” (Article 133 of the Bahraini Criminal Code) in relation to tweets he published about the Saudi-Arabia led coalition air strikes in Yemen. If sentenced on the second charge, Mr. Rajab could be facing up to 10 years imprisonment. Mr. Rajab refused to sign the police report of the investigations. On April 4, 2015, Mr. Rajab was brought before the Public Prosecution in the presence of his lawyers. The Prosecution ordered seven days detention pending investigation.

Furthermore, on April 5, 2015, security police confiscated all electronics devices belonging to Mr. Rajab.

Mr. Rajab is currently kept in solitary confinement in an unclean cell, with no hot water and being denied access to newspapers.
The Observatory recalls that Mr. Rajab faces additional charges in two other criminal cases. On April 5, 2015, the Court of Appeals held a hearing in the case against Mr. Rajab concerning “insulting statutory bodies” (see background information). While the appeal proceedings were closed as the verdict hearing was scheduled for April 15, 2015, the court informed Mr. Rajab’s lawyers on April 4, 2015, that the Court had decided to re-open the case after receiving from the Public Prosecution a “supplementary defence memorandum”. The court handed over a copy of that memo to Mr. Rajab’s lawyers and adjourned the appeal to May, 4, 2015 in order to receive the reply to the Prosecution’s memo. According to Mr. Rajab’s lawyers, no new material arguments or grounds would justify the re-opening of the case.

The Observatory denounces the continued arbitrary detention of Mr. Nabeel Rajab, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release, as he is targeted solely for his human rights activities.

The Observatory more generally urges the Bahraini authorities to put an end to all acts of harassment against Mr. Rajab, and to comply with relevant international human rights standards and instruments, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998.

Background information:

Mr. Rajab has faced continuous judicial harassment for his legitimate human rights work since his first arrest in June 2012 . Mr. Rajab was sentenced to three months imprisonment for allegedly libelling the residents of Al Muharraq via several tweets posted on his twitter account. On August 23, 2012, Mr. Nabeel Rajab was acquitted by the Higher Appeal Court.

On August 16, 2012, the Lower Criminal Court sentenced Mr. Nabeel Rajab to three years of imprisonment in relation to three cases related to his participation in peaceful gatherings in favour of fundamental freedoms and democracy
In December 2012, the Appeals Court reduced the sentence to two years of imprisonment. Mr. Nabeel Rajab completed his sentence and was released in June 2014.

On October 1, 2014, Mr. Nabeel Rajab was summoned by the General Directorate of Anti-corruption and Economic and Electronic Security of the Criminal Investigation Department for “insulting a public institution” via Twitter.

On October 9, 2014, Mr. Nabeel Rajab was informed that the Ministry of Defence had filed a complaint regarding the same tweet. On November 2, 2014, the Third Lower Criminal Court ordered Mr. Rajab’s release but barred him from leaving the country.

On January 20, 2015, the Third Lower Criminal Court sentenced Mr. Nabeel Rajab to six months of imprisonment on charges of “insulting public institutions and the army” via Twitter. Mr. Rajab’s lawyers appealed the sentence.

The Bahrain Criminal Court of Appeal is due to issue its verdict on May 4, 2015.

On February 26, 2015, Mr. Rajab was summoned for investigations in a different case for charges of “inciting hatred towards the regime”. To date, the police investigation is ongoing.

On April 2, 2015, at 4:00 pm, over twenty police cars surrounded Mr. Rajab’s house and policemen arrested him on charges of “spreading false news”. The arrest relates to a tweet from Mr. Rajab denouncing the torture of detainees at Jaw Prison . Mr. Rajab was then sent to the General Directorate of Anti Corruption Economic and Electronic Security to be interrogated.

Actions requested:

The Observatory urges the authorities of Bahrain to:

i. Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Nabeel Rajab, as he is targeted solely for his human rights activities;

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

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 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.

Addresses:

• 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 : 00973 17 21 05 75; ofd@mofa.gov.bh
• Cheikh Khalid bin Ali AL KHALIFA, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Tel: +973 175 133 00; Fax: +973 175 31 284
• Lt. Gen. Cheikh Rashed bin Abdulla AL KHALIFA, Minister of Interior, Tel: +973 17572222 and +973 17390000. Email: info@interior.gov.bh
• 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: info@bahrain-mission.ch
• H.E. Ahmed Mohammed Yousif Aldoseri, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the Kingdom of Belgium, Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Avenue Louise 250, 1050 Brussels, Belgium; Fax: 0032 (0) 26472274; E-mail: Brussels.mission@mofa.gov.bh

Please also write to diplomatic representations of Bahrain in your respective countries.

***

Paris-Geneva, April 8, 2015.

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.

Read more
appelobs