Today, the European Union has reiterated its call for the Bahraini government to release leading Bahraini human rights defender, Nabeel Rajab.
In addition, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy wrote to the UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, urging him to call for the immediate and unconditional release of the prominent human rights defender, who was first arrested in June 2016 and currently serves as the President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.
On Monday 15th January, the Bahraini Court of Cassation upheld Mr Rajab’s two-year prison sentence for communicating with journalists. With the dismissal of this final appeal, all possible legal remedies for Mr Rajab have now been exhausted.
A spokesperson stated that the EU has been following the case of Mr Rajab very closely, including his deteriorating health, in spite of which he has continued serving consecutive terms in prison since his arrest. Speaking on behalf of the EU, the spokesperson urged that the Government of Bahrain should “show commitment to its own reform agenda by upholding freedom of expression”, adding that “suppressing voices of dissent can only contribute to fuel resentment and instability”.
Commenting on this development, Tom Brake MP said, “I welcome the EU statement on Nabeel Rajab and press the UK Government to issue an identical statement. The UK and Bahraini Governments have a very close relationship. Therefore a call from the UK Government for Bahrain to respect freedom of speech and human rights and release Nabeel would have a significant impact.”
In addition to Mr Brake, a further 24 British MPs have condemned the sentence that Mr Rajab currently faces.
A growing number of organisations and governments are now calling for Mr Rajab to be released. In July 2017, the US State Department issued a statement to this effect. In addition, Norway has publicly called for Mr Rajab’s release, whilst Germany has expressed “disappointment” over his sentencing.
Commenting, Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, the Director of Advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) said: “The sentencing of Nabeel Rajab is a textbook example of the reprisals that are faced by those who exercise their freedom of expression in Bahrain. Since the Bahraini judicial system has failed him, the UK must condemn Mr Rajab’s sentence and call for his immediate and unconditional release.”
BIRD, Bahrain: Two-Year Conviction Against Nabeel Rajab Upheld, Expecting Conclusion on his Twitter Case (Yemen War) NEXT MONTH in Court, 15 January 2018 http://birdbh.org/2018/01/ bahrain-two-year-conviction-
Statement by the spokesperson on the sentencing of Nabeel Rajab in Bahrain, 17 January 2018 https://eeas.europa.eu/
U.S. State Department, Sentencing of Nabeel Rajab, 10 July 2017 https://www.state.gov/r/pa/
Federal foreign Office, Statement by Human Rights Commissioner Kofler on the conviction of a Bahraini human rights activist, 11 July 2017 https://www.auswaertiges-amt.
‘Norway calls for the release of Nabeel Rajab in Bahrain’, 7 December 2017 https://www.regjeringen.no/en/