Rt Hon Phillip Hammond MP
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
19 January 2015
We the undersigned Members of Parliament remain concerned over the upcoming verdict hearing on 20 January 2015 concerning the trial of Mr. Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Deputy Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights and member of the Human Rights Watch Advisory Board.
Mr. Rajab has previously served a two-year prison sentence, on charges related to his freedom of expression, declared arbitrary by the UN Working Group on arbitrary Detention. Mr. Rajab completed this sentence in May 2014, and in September of that year he directly engaged in conversations with a number of European capitals, the European Parliament, the UK House of Lords and the 27th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
On 1 October 2014, the government of Bahrain summoned Mr. Rajab to the Central Investigations Directorate’s (CID) Cyber Crimes Unit for interrogation, where officers arrested and interrogated him for a number of hours in relation to a tweet he published while abroad. The tweet read: “Many #Bahrain men who joined #terrorism & #ISIS came from security institutions and those institutions were the first ideological incubator.”
Mr. Rajab was charged in relation to this tweet on two counts of “insulting public institutions” [Ministries of Interior and Defense]. He was released on bail on 2 November although the court has issued a travel ban against him. If he is found guilty he could face up to six years in prison.
We urge your department to publicly voice their concerns over the continued persecution of Mr. Rajab and pressure the government of Bahrain to drop all charges against him in order to safeguard progress and reform. Civil society organisations and human rights defenders in Bahrain must be able to conduct their work freely and without fear of retaliation or reprisal.
Thank you for your consideration.
Dr. Julian Huppert
Sir David Amess
Sir Peter Bottomley