Bahrain: Arbitrary arrest and detention of Mr. Nabeel Rajab
URGENT APPEAL -
001 / 0512 / OBS 048.2
Arbitrary arrest and detention / Judicial harassment
July 10, 2012
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights
Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights
(FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new
information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about
the new arbitrary arrest of Mr. Nabeel
President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), Director of the Gulf
Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and FIDH Deputy Secretary General.
According to the information received, on July 9 at 1:30
pm, police cars surrounded Mr. Rajab's house, and masked police officers
entered the house and forcibly arrested him.
Mr. Rajab is currently being held in Jaw Central Prison.
The police officers who arrested Mr. Rajab were carrying an
arrest warrant issued by the presiding judge of the 5th Lower
Criminal Court, which sentenced Mr. Rajab on the same day to three months
imprisonment for allegedly libelling the residents of Al Muhraq through tweets
posted on his twitter account (see background information).
Mr. Rajab's lawyers immediately filed two appeals following
the verdict: the first one to request the suspension of the sentence which was
rejected by the judge, and the second one to request that the three months
imprisonment sentence be commuted into community work, in accordance with
Article 371 of the Bahraini Criminal Code.
The first hearing of the second appeal is scheduled to take
place on July 18, 2012 before the Higher Appeal Court.
The Observatory denounces the new arbitrary detention of
Mr. Nabeel Rajab, which seems to merely aim at hindering his human rights
activities and at stifling his attempts to fight corruption in Bahrain. The
Observatory also recalls that normally, Courts issue fines for cases of libel,
and not imprisonment sentences.
The Observatory calls for the immediate and unconditional
release of Mr. Rajab, and is extremely concerned about the fact that four cases
have been filed against him since May 2012.
The Observatory more generally urges the Bahraini
authorities to put an end to all acts of harassment – including at the judicial
level – against Mr. Rajab, and to comply with the relevant international norms
and standards, in particular the United Nations (UN) Declaration on Human
Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, and
international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by
On May 5, 2012, Mr. Nabeel Rajab was arrested by plain clothes police officers upon arrival at
Manama airport from Lebanon and transferred to Al Hawra police station. The
police officers who carried out the arrest stated that it had been ordered by
Public Prosecution, however neither Mr. Rajab nor his lawyers were at the time
informed of the reasons for his arrest.
The following day, Mr. Rajab was taken to court were he
faced charges of “participating in an illegal assembly” and “calling others to
join”, in relation to a protest organised on March 31, 2012 in Manama to
denounce the detention of human rights defender Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, founder of GCHR, former President of the Bahrain Centre
for Human Rights (BCHR), and former MENA Director at Front Line. Mr. Rajab
denied the charges. The trial was postponed to May 22, 2012.
the same day, Mr. Rajab was presented before the Public Prosecutor who informed
him of the reasons for his arrest. According to Mr. Rajab's lawyers, charges of
“insulting the statutory bodies”, pursuant to Article 216 of the Penal Code,
which carry a term of imprisonment of up
to three years and a fine, are pressed against him in relation to tweets he
posted deemed “insulting” to the Ministry of Interior. Mr. Rajab stated that he
was the author of tweets posted through his account but that he did not
recognise the jurisdiction of the Court and the Prosecution given their lack of
independence from the Executive. The Public Prosecutor remanded Mr. Rajab to
detention for seven days.
On May 28, 2012, Mr. Rajab was released on bail after spending three weeks in detention.
On June 6, 2012, Mr. Nabeel Rajab was summoned by the
Public Prosecutor, after he tweeted the following on June 2, 2012: "Khalifa, leave the residents of Al Mahraq, its Sheikhs and its elderly.
Everyone knows that you are not popular here, and if it wasn't for the
subsidies, they wouldn't have gone out to welcome you. When will you step down?".
On the same day, the Prosecutor ordered a seven-day
imprisonment pending further investigation. Mr. Rajab was charged with
“insulting in public” in accordance with Article 92 (1), (3) and 365 (1) of the
Bahraini Penal Code.
On June 27, 2012, the Court issued its final verdict
regarding the tweet of “insulting the statutory bodies” ordering Mr. Rajab to
pay a fine of 300 Bahraini dinars, and lifting the travel ban. Mr. Rajab was
finally released on June 27, 2012 after spending three weeks in prison.
Mr. Nabeel Rajab is scheduled to appear before court on
July 19, 2012, for “participation in illegal gathering and calling for a march
without prior notification”, in Manama. In addition, he is due to appear before
court on the September 26, 2012 for charges of “involvement in illegal
practices and incitement to gatherings and calling for unauthorised marches
through social networking sites”.
The Observatory urges the authorities of Bahrain to:
- Guarantee the physical and
psychological integrity of Mr. Nabeel Rajab and all human rights defenders
- Release Mr. Nabeel Rajab
immediately and unconditionally as his detention seems to merely sanction
his human rights activities and is contrary to national and international
- Put an end to any act of
harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Nabeel Rajab and
against all human rights defenders in Bahrain;
in any circumstances with the provisions of the Declaration on Human
Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations
General Assembly, in particular:
- its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the
right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection
and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and
international levels” ;
its Article 6 (c) which
states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with
others to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law
and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through
these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those
and its Article 12.2
which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the
protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in
association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto
or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a
consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the
vi. Ensure in all circumstances
respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with
international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by
Cheikh Hamad bin Issa AL KHALIFA, King of
Bahrain, Fax: +973 176 64 587
Cheikh Khaled Bin Ahmad AL KHALIFA,
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tel: +973 172 27 555; Fax : +973 172 12 6032
Cheikh Khalid bin Ali AL KHALIFA, Minister
of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Tel: +973 175 31 333; Fax: +973 175 31 284
Lt. Gen. Cheikh Rashed bin Abdulla AL KHALIFA,
Minister of Interior, Tel: +973 17572222 and +973 17390000. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United
Nations in Geneva, 1 chemin Jacques-Attenville, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, CP 39,
1292 Chambésy, Switzerland. Fax:
+ 41 22 758 96 50. Email: email@example.com
Please also write to diplomatic
representations of Bahrain in your respective countries.
Paris-Geneva, July 10, 2012