53 HR Organizations Call on Bahraini Authorities to Release Nabeel Rajab, Drop Charges against Him
2018-12-18 - 6:31 p
Bahrain Mirror: A large number of human rights organizations from around the world have sent an open letter to the Bahraini authorities calling for the immediate release of Nabeel Rajab, the repeal of his convictions and sentences, and dropping all charges against him.
The 53 undersigned said that on December 31, 2018 the Court of Cassation in Bahrain may issue its verdict in the appeal of the five-year prison sentence handed to him for peaceful comments posted and retweeted on his Twitter account about the killing of civilians in the Yemen conflict by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, and allegations of torture in Jau prison.
The HR groups expressed concern that the authorities intend to increase Rajab's prison sentence unopposed, by setting December 31 as the date for a hearing and possible issuing of a verdict, while most Bahrainis and people around the globe will be focused on year-end celebrations.
They; however, stressed that this is not an idle concern, as, opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman was arrested on December 28, 2014 and subsequently convicted and sentenced to four years in jail following an unfair trial. "And last month, in yet another case brought against him on spying charges, the Court of Appeal overturned his initial acquittal and sentenced him instead to life in prison."
The NGOs noted that Rajab has been a tireless champion of human rights for many years, helping to found and run the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, both members of the IFEX network.
Rajab was sentenced to two years in jail in 2017 on charges of "publishing and broadcasting false news that undermines the prestige of the state" during TV interviews he gave in 2015 and 2016 in which he stated that Bahraini authorities bar reporters and human rights workers from entering the country. He was sentenced in 2018 to five years in prison on charges of "disseminating false rumors in times of war" for tweets about torture in Jau Prison and the war in Yemen.
The organizations further highlighted that at its eighty-first session, April 17-26, 2018, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Rajab's "deprivation of liberty constitutes a violation of articles 2 and 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 2 (1) and 26 of the Covenant - on the grounds of discrimination based on political or other opinion, as well as on his status as a human rights defender".
They also urged Bahraini authorities to undertake a prompt, impartial, independent and effective investigation into his allegations of ill-treatment. "The findings of the investigation must be made public and anyone suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice in fair proceedings."
"As this case is part of a pattern of abuse and harassment against human rights defenders and journalists in Bahrain, we also urge the authorities to cease all such actions and ensure that the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press is respected," they added.
The undersigned include: Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), Human Rights Watch (HRW), Index on Censorship, Media Watch, Norwegian PEN, PEN America, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Amnesty International, Bahrain Institute for Human Rights, CIVICUS, FIDH under the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, Frontline Defenders, Gulf Institute for Human Rights, and Salam for Democracy and Human Rights.
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