Urgent Interventions

Open letter to Bahraini authorities: Drop all charges and release Nabeel Rajab

We the undersigned call onBahraini authorities to release Nabeel Rajab immediately, to repeal his convictions and sentences, and drop allcharges against him. On 31 December 2018 the Court of Cassation in Bahrain mayissue its verdict in the appeal of thefive-year prison sentence handed to him for peacefulcomments posted and retweeted on his Twitter account about the killing ofcivilians in the Yemen conflict by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, andallegations of torture in Jau prison.

We are concerned that theauthorities intend to increase Rajab's prison sentence unopposed, by setting 31December as the date for a hearing and possible issuing of a verdict, whilemost Bahrainis and people around the globe will be focused on year-end celebrations.This is not an idle concern, as, opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman wasarrested on 28 December 2014 and subsequently convicted and sentenced to fouryears in jail following an unfair trial. And last month, in yet another casebrought against him on spying charges, the Court of Appeal overturned hisinitial acquittal and sentenced him instead to life in prison.

Rajab has been a tirelesschampion of human rights for many years, helping to found and run the BahrainCenter for Human Rights and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, both members ofthe IFEX network.

He has been detained sincehis arrest on 13 June 2016. He was held largely in solitaryconfinement during the first ninemonths of his detention, violating UN rules on pre-trial imprisonment, and hasbeen subjected to humiliating treatment. His books, toiletries, and clotheshave been confiscated and his cell frequently raided at night.

Rajab was sentenced to two years in jail in 2017 on charges of “publishing and broadcasting false newsthat undermines the prestige of the state” during TV interviews he gave in 2015and 2016 in which he stated that Bahraini authorities bar reporters and humanrights workers from entering the country. He was sentenced in 2018 to fiveyears in prison on charges of “disseminating false rumors in times of war” fortweets about torture in Jau Prison and the war in Yemen.

Atits eighty-first session, 17-26 April 2018, theWorking Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Rajab's “deprivation ofliberty constitutes a violation of articles 2 and 7 of the Universal Declarationof Human Rights and articles 2 (1) and 26 of the Covenant – on the grounds ofdiscrimination based on political or other opinion, as well as on his status asa human rights defender”.

We therefore urge Bahrainiauthorities to immediatelyand unconditionally release Nabeel Rajab, quash hisconvictions and sentences, and drop all charges against him; and undertake aprompt, impartial, independent and effective investigation into his allegationsof ill-treatment. The findings of the investigation must be made public andanyone suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice in fairproceedings.

As this case is part of apattern of abuse and harassment against human rights defenders and journalistsin Bahrain, we also urge the authorities to cease all such actions and ensurethat the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press is respected.


Bahrain Center for Human Rights
ActiveWatch – Media Monitoring Agency
Adil Soz - International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC)
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE)
Association of Caribbean Media Workers
Bytes for All (B4A)
Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
Foro de Periodismo Argentino
Freedom Forum
Free Media Movement
Globe International Center
Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
I'lam Arab Center for Media Freedom Development and Research
Independent Journalism Center (IJC)
Index on Censorship
Initiative for Freedom of Expression - Turkey
International Press Centre (IPC)
Maharat Foundation
Mediacentar Sarajevo
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
Media Rights Agenda (MRA)
Media Watch
Norwegian PEN
Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF)
Pacific Islands News Association (PINA)
Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA)
PEN America
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
Social Media Exchange (SMEX)
Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)
South East European Network for Professionalization of Media (SEENPM)
South East Europe Media Organisation
Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM)
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC)
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

Amnesty International
Bahrain Interfaith
Campaign Against Arms Trade
FIDH under the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
Frontline Defenders
Gulf Institute for Human Rights
Martin Annals
MENA Monitoring Group
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) under the Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders
Salam for Democracy and Human Rights