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The Guardian: HR Groups Urge 50 States to Call on Bahrain to Release Nabeel Rajab

2016-09-16 - 3:54 p

Bahrain Mirror- Exclusive: The Guardian Newspaper stated that "Human rights groups have written to 50 states urging them to call on the Bahraini authorities to release Nabeel Rajab, who is facing up to 15 years' in jail for comments he made on Twitter."

The Guardian said "Twenty-two NGOs, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, want the 50 countries to speak out on Bahrain's continued misuse of the judicial system to harass and silence human rights defenders."

"All the states have been signatories to previous statements at the United Nations criticizing Bahrain's human rights violations. Among them are the UK, USA, the France and Switzerland," it indicated.

It added "While the US State Department has called for Nabeel Rajab's release, many others have yet to do so."

The newspaper noted a commons question, from an SNP MP, asking about Britain's position on Rajab, elicited a response on Monday from foreign office minister Tobias Ellwood who said that the government had had "frank discussions with the government of Bahrain about human rights concerns both in public and in private".

"We urge the Bahraini authorities to respect the rights of all its citizens, and call on them to protect the universal rights of freedom of expression," Ellwood said.

He pointed out that the former foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, had spoken to the Bahraini foreign minister, Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, in June.

He also said that an official from the British embassy in Bahrain has attended all of Rajab's hearings to date and "we will continue to monitor his case closely and raise concerns with the government of Bahrain."

For his part, the UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, raised concerns about Bahrain's human rights record during his opening statement at the 33rd Human Rights Council on Tuesday.

He said: "I am concerned by harassment and arrests of human rights defenders and political activists [in Bahrain], and legislation which enables revocation of citizenship without due process."

"The past decade has demonstrated repeatedly and with punishing clarity exactly how disastrous the outcomes can be when a government attempts to smash the voices of its people, instead of serving them," he added.

It is to mention that Rajab has been held in pre-trial detention since 13 June, mostly in solitary confinement. His health has deteriorated as a result.

Rajab was arrested for comments on Twitter and has been charged with ‘defaming the state' after writing an op-ed article for the New York Times.

He wondered in his letter published in the newspaper "Is this (Bahrain) the kind of ally America wants? The kind that punishes its people for thinking, that prevents its citizens from exercising their basic rights?"

Rajab's next court session has been set for 6 October, when he is expected to be sentenced.

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