On 17 September 2019, Bahrain's court will hear a request to overturn previous decisions to uphold the sentence against Nabeel Rajab, in prison for exercising his right to express himself. NGOs around the world call on Bahrain's Minister of International Affairs to support this request.
13 September 2019
H.E. Ali bin Mohammed Al-Rumaihi
Minister of Information Affairs
Email: [email protected]
LETTER TO THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION AFFAIRS
Dear Minister Ali bin Mohammed Al-Rumaih,
We, the undersigned, write to you regarding the case of human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and ask you to consider the request of Mr Rajab’s lawyers to suspend his current sentence.
Mr Rajab is currently serving a five-year sentence related to tweets criticising alleged torture at Jau prison and the actions of the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen’s civil war.
In recent months, Mr Rajab’s legal team has appealed to the courts to suspend the sentence against him or to convert it to a custodial sentence, or a form of community service, but all their efforts were rejected. A hearing requesting that the Court overturn previous decisions to uphold the sentence will take place on 17 September 2019.
We strongly urge you to support this request for the sentences to be suspended. In particular, we are concerned that Mr Rajab is not being treated according to international standards for prisoners. Mr Rajab is currently being held in a cell in Jau Prison with nine other prisoners who were convicted for prostitution offences. This is contrary to Rule 11c of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Nelson Mandela Rules) which states: “The different categories of prisoners shall be kept in separate institutions or parts of institutions taking account of their sex, age, criminal record, the legal reason for their detention and the necessities of their treatment.”
Mr Rajab is a highly regarded human rights defender. He is the President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Founding Director of GCHR, Deputy Secretary General of FIDH and a member of the Human Rights Watch Middle East and North Africa Advisory Committee.
His case has been raised repeatedly by the international community. In 2018, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called for Mr Rajab’s release and said the convictions were unlawful and violated his freedom of expression. Earlier this month, UK parliamentarians said the UK should be willing to use sanctions against countries that violate international standards on media freedom.
Given this, we urge you to suspend Mr Rajab’s sentence.
Index on Censorship
Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR)
Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
European Center for Democracy & Human Rights (ECDHR)
Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)