Urgent Interventions

Continuing arbitrary detention and ill-treatment of Mr. Nabeel Rajab


New information

BHR 006 / 0812/ OBS 048.33

Ill-treatment /

Arbitrary detention


September17, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a jointpartnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), hasreceived new information and requests your urgent intervention in the followingsituation in Bahrain.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the continuingarbitrary detention and the ill-treatment of Mr. Nabeel Rajab, thePresident of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Deputy SecretaryGeneral of FIDH, Founding Director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR),and a member of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) Middle East and North AfricaAdvisory Committee.

According to the information received, on September 17, 2019, Manama’s HighCourt of Appeal rejected Mr. Nabeel Rajab’s request to overturn previous courtdecisions and replace his prison sentences by non-custodial ones[1].

Furthermore, the Observatory has received worrying information concerninghis conditions of detention. Indeed, since the beginning of September 2019, Mr.Nabeel Rajab, who is detained in Jaw prison, has been transferred from a cellwhere he was kept along other human rights defenders to a cell with nine otherprisoners convicted for prostitution. This treatment goes against Rule 11c ofthe United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners(Nelson Mandela Rules), which states that prisoners should be kept in differentparts of the prison according to – among others - their criminal record and thelegal reason of their detention, and that civil prisoners should be separatedfrom persons detained for criminal offences. Such treatment qualifies asdegrading treatment as the aim is clearly to humiliate or debase Mr. Rajab.

TheObservatory recalls that Mr. Nabeel Rajab is arbitrarily detained since June13, 2016 and is serving seven years in prison in relation to two differentcriminal cases linked to his human rights activities. On January 15, 2018, theCourt of Cassation upheld a two-year sentence against him for televisioninterviews he gave in 2015 and 2016 for which he was convicted of “spreading false news and rumors about the internal situationin the Kingdom, which undermines the State’s prestige and status”. OnDecember 31, 2018, the Court of Cassation upheld a five-year sentence for aTweet Mr. Nabeel Rajab published in March 2015 denouncing the torture ofprisoners in Jaw prison and the killing of civilians by the Saudi-led coalitionin Yemen, for which he was convicted of “disseminating false rumors in time ofwar”, “offending a foreign country” (Saudi Arabia) and “insulting a statutorybody”.

In the past several months Mr. Rajab’s legal team has appealed to thecourts to suspend the sentence against him or to convert it to a non-custodialsentence, or a form of community service, but all their efforts were rejected.

The Observatory welcomes the National Human Rights Institute delegation’svisit to Mr. Nabeel Rajab, that took place on September 12, 2019, and hopesthis visit will lead to improvements in Mr. Rajab’s conditions of detention.The Observatory is still deeply concerned about the ill-treatment and ongoingarbitrary detention of Mr. Nabeel Rajab and urges the authorities of Bahrain toimmediately and unconditionally release him. In the meantime, they shouldguarantee in all circumstances his physical integrity and psychologicalwell-being.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Bahrain asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychologicalwell-being of Mr. Nabeel Rajab and all other human rights defenders in Bahrain;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Nabeel Rajab and put an endto all threats and acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, againsthim and all the human rights defenders in Bahrain;

iii. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration onHuman Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998,in particular its Articles 1, 11 and 12;

iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamentalfreedoms in accordance with international human rights standards andinternational instruments ratified by Bahrain.


· Cheikh Hamad bin Issa AL KHALIFA, Kingof Bahrain, Fax: +973 176 64 587

· Cheikh Khaled Bin Ahmad AL KHALIFA,Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fax : +973 17 21 05 75;

· Cheikh Khalid bin Ali AL KHALIFA,Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Fax: +973 175 31 284

· Lt. Gen. Cheikh Rashed bin Abdulla ALKHALIFA, Minister of Interior, Email:

· H.E. Mr. Yusuf Abdulkarim Bucheeri,Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax:+ 41 22 758 96 50. Email:

· H.E. Ahmed Mohammed Yousif Aldoseri,Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the Kingdom of Belgium, Fax: +32 (0)26472274; E-mail:

Pleasealso write to the diplomatic representations of Bahrain in your respectivecountries.


Paris-Geneva,September 17, 2019

Kindlyinform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in yourreply.

TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) wascreated in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). Theobjective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repressionagainst human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, theEuropean Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by internationalcivil society.

Tocontact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· E-mail:

· Tel and fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18/ +33 1 43 55 18 80

· Tel and fax OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 /+41 22 809 49 29

[1] Indeed, Bahrain introduced in May 2018an “alternative punishment law” allowing its courts to convert prison termsinto non-custodial sentences, such as community service, electronic monitoringor repairing criminal damage, if the court determines that the defendant willnot commit a new “crime” in the future.

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