On 2 November, a Bahraini court ordered the release of prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and postponed his trail until 20 January 2015, on the condition of a ban on his travel outside of the country. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) welcome Rajab’s release, yet remain concerned over the imposition of a travel ban and the continued judicial persecution of Rajab for his right to free speech.
Rajab, President of BCHR and Co-Director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR), was arrested on 1 October after responding to a summons for questioning from the Cyber Crimes Unit of the Central Investigations Directorate regarding comments he made on Twitter. Rajab’s arrest immediately followed his return to Bahrain from a European human rights advocacy tour. Rajab remained in detention until his release yesterday and has been formally charged with “denigrating government institutions.”
Rajab’s arrest was met with an unprecedented outcry from the international community. The United Nations called his detention “chilling” and argued that it sent a “disturbing message.” The governments of the United States, Norway, France, and Ireland, as well as the President of the European Parliament, United States Ambassador Samantha Power United States Congressman James McGovern, 13 members of the UK Parliament, and 51 Members of the European Parliament called for Mr. Rajab’s release. While the UK government claims to be following the situation closely, it has yet to call for Mr. Rajab’s release.
We, the undersigned human rights organizations, than the international community for their concern, and call for:
- The international community to continue to apply pressure until the charges against Rajab are dismissed;
- the Government of Bahrain to immediately dismiss all charge against Rajab; and
- ensure that all civil society organizations and human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to conduct their work without fear of retaliation or reprisal.