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Bahrain - Press Release: Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab sentenced to 3 years in jail – for a Tweet
The ongoing pattern of repression of human rights defenders in Bahrain intensified today as Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), was sentenced to three years imprisonment on charges of illegal assembly.
Nabeel Rajab has been awarded the 2011 Ion Ratiu Democracy Award by the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
“Front Line Defenders condemns the imprisonment of Nabeel Rajab and calls for his immediate and unconditional release. The prosecution of Nabeel Rajab for exercising his rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, before a court that has consistently failed to adhere to international fair trial standards, is part of an ongoing pattern of repression by the Bahraini authorities against human rights defenders”. Said Mary Lawlor Director of Front Line Defenders speaking in Dublin.
This latest case against Nabeel Rajab is one of several trials which will take place between now and October. Speaking in a recent interview with Front Line Defenders Nabeel Rajab said “I will not stop, I am teaching people not to stop – to challenge them. If everybody keeps quiet it's a disaster – we should challenge them - we should be willing to pay the price for the struggle for the freedom that we fight for – that's the price”.
THIS FOOTAGE MAY BE FREELY USED IF CREDITED TO FRONT LINE DEFENDERS
On 6 May 2012 Nabeel Rajab was brought before the Criminal Court of First Instance in Manama and charged with participating in illegal rallies and marches by using social networking websites. In one of several trials pending he was sentenced to three months imprisonment but expects that other charges may be levelled against him.
His outspoken criticism of the King and Prime Minister seem to have stung the Bahraini authorities into this aggressive response. Nabeel Rajab, has been charged with using Twitter to "defame" and "humiliate" the Bahraini public security forces.
Since early 2011, Nabeel Rajab has been the subject of an ongoing campaign of intimidation, judicial harassment and defamation, including arbitrary arrest and detention. This campaign, which aims to deter him from continuing his legitimate human rights work, included an unprovoked dawn attack by security forces in May 2011 using tear gas on his home, while his family were asleep.
Speaking from Bahrain, Nabeel's wife Sumaya Rajab said in an open letter to the international community “It is well-known that Nabeel exercised his right to freedom of expression in his tweets, which was guaranteed by all international conventions for human rights. Other cases taken against Nabeel related to his criticism of the security forces and the use of excessive force and torture and also his calls for peaceful protests through social networks. The right to assembly to demand civil rights is guaranteed by Bahraini laws.”
Nabeel Rajab is currently held at Jaw central prison in harsh conditions .
Front line Defenders reiterates its call for the immediate and unconditional release of Nabeel Rajab and for the Government of Bahrain to end its campaign of harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders. ENDS
For further information please contact Jim Loughran on +353 87 9377586