For Immediate Release: May 15, 2013
Washington, DC – Human Rights First today voiced concerns for the safety of jailed leading human rights defenders, including President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) Nabeel Rajab. Rajab is serving a two-year sentence for politically-motivated charges.
“Nabeel’s wife, Sumaya, told us that he called her from prison on May 14 at around 11 a.m. On that same day around 7 p.m., Sumaya heard via another prisoner’s family that Nabeel had been taken from his cell and subjected to some form of harassment, though the details are not clear about why he was targeted. Sumaya fears Nabeel could be put in solitary confinement,” said Human Rights First’s Human Rights First.
Earlier this week, Said Yousif of BCHR told Human Rights First that he had received a call from Nabeel Rajab on May 12 and that the jailed defender told him he had witnessed the torture of eight youths in Jaw Prison.
Dooley notes that there are also concerns about human rights defender Naji Fateel, who was arrested earlier this month on May 2. Fateel is a board member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) and, according to reports, was arrested without warrant by security men in civilian clothes at his home in the village of Bani-Jamra. On May 7, the BYSHR reported that it had heard reports that Fateel had been tortured in custody, including that he was electrocuted, beaten and suspended from the ceiling.
Today, News Agency France 24 reported that another six people have been today to a year in prison for “insulting the King” on Twitter. According to the news agency, they were charged with “misusing the right of free expression” and of “undermining the values and traditions of Bahrain’s society towards the king on Twitter.”
Human Rights First calls for an immediate investigation into these allegations. “U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez should have been in Bahrain this week, but was denied entry by the government. Reports of torture keep coming and the authorities need to respond with transparent investigations and not evade scrutiny,” noted Dooley. “Accounts of torture in custody and increased targeting of peaceful expression demonstrate this is a government intent on repression, not reform,”
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