The IFEX network has strongly condemned the decision of a Bahraini court to uphold a 5-year prison sentence for internationally-renowned human rights defender and IFEX member Nabeel Rajab. The network of more than 100 organisations says there is no justification for Rajab's continued detention, and has called on Bahraini authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally.
Rajab has been imprisoned since June 2016 on a combined 7-year prison sentence - 2 years for conducting media interviews, and 5 years for social media posts documenting allegations of torture in Bahrain's prisons and human rights violations in the war in Yemen.
“This cruel and profoundly unjust ruling against our colleague Nabeel Rajab is a stark reminder of the cost of speaking out in Bahrain,” said IFEX Executive Director Annie Game. “Nabeel's only 'crime' was to exercise his human right to free expression, and he should never have been imprisoned in the first place. The entire IFEX network stands united in calling for his immediate release, and the dropping of all charges against him.”
Bahraini authorities cynically scheduled this ruling for New Year's Eve, believing much of the world wouldn't be paying attention. But the obvious injustice of Nabeel's continued imprisonment will ensure that Bahrain continues to be the focus of ever-growing international attention and criticism.
Annie Game, Executive Director of IFEX
Rajab has been a tireless champion of human rights for many years, helping to found the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights and the Gulf Center for Human Rights, both members of the IFEX network. Since his detention, his health has been severely compromised from long periods of solitary confinement, unsanitary conditions, multiple emergency hospital visits, and from being beaten on his arrival.
Those calling for Rajab's release include the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Union, the US State Department, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye, the Council of Paris, and dozens of members of the European Parliament.
In a recent open letter over 50 organisations urged Bahraini authorities to immediately free Rajab, quash his convictions and sentences, drop all charges against him, and undertake a prompt, impartial, independent and effective investigation into his allegations of ill-treatment.