On 31 December 2018, we will not forget Nabeel Rajab!

Press release
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(c) Rash Brax

On 31 December, Bahrain’s Court of Cassation will issue a final verdict on the appeal of Nabeel Rajab’s five-year prison sentence for peaceful tweets. He is being persecuted for defending the freedoms in his country, but also for denouncing the crimes committed by the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen. A symbolic activist, he is the subject of several international solidarity campaigns requesting his release, and was recently made honorary citizen of the city of Paris. The date set by the Bahraini justice system for ruling on his latest appeal is deliberate, suggesting his sentence may be confirmed, or indeed extended. Journalists, NGOs, diplomats, citizens of the world... on 31 December, let’s not forget Nabeel Rajab, demand his release!

Nabeel Rajab is the co-founder and president of the Bahraini Center for Human Rights (BCHR), founding director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR), FIDH Deputy Secretary General and member of the Middle East Advisory Committee to Human Rights Watch.

Nabeel has been in jail since 13 June 2016, and has been sentenced in two separate cases:

 In July 2017, he was sentenced to 2 years in prison for "spreading fake news, statements and rumours about the internal situation of the kingdom that would undermine its prestige and status". This first conviction was confirmed on 22 November 2017 in the Court of Appeal, then on 15 January 2018 in the Court of Cassation.

 On 21 February 2018, Bahrain’s High Criminal Court sentenced Nabeel to five years in prison for publishing tweets criticising Bahrain’s intervention alongside Saudi Arabia in Yemen and for denouncing attacks on human rights in his country, including torture during detention.

This second case began in July 2017 and involved 21 hearings. This accumulation of hearings and postponements constitutes judicial harassment. On 5 June 2018, a Court of Appeal upheld this conviction, which will be reviewed again on New Year’s Eve 2018. This procedural harassment is in addition to inhuman detention conditions which have exacerbated his chronic health problems.

Bahrain’s Court of Cassation is expected to issue its verdict in the appeal of his 5-year prison sentence at the "last chance" hearing on 31 December and may even increase the sentence. Worryingly, this date seems to have been deliberately chosen as a time when there is likely to be minimal media attention and international diplomatic pressure.

Journalists, NGOs, diplomats, citizens of the world... on 31 December, we will not forget Nabeel Rajab! We will closely monitor the verdict of his appeal in the Court of Cassation, for which we call on the Bahraini authorities to release him.

Press contact : shanryon@fidh.org

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