Bahraini Officials Urged to Drop Charges Against Nabeel Rajab
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today urged the government of Bahrain to drop all charges against and immediately release prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab. The organization also urged the U.S. ambassador to Bahrain, William Roebuck, to attend in person Rajab’s hearing tomorrow, where a Bahraini court will consider charges related to his tweets and retweets critical of Bahrain’s treatment of prisoners and the Saudi-led war in Yemen. This unfounded prosecution constitutes a serious attack on freedom of expression in Bahrain, and occurs against the backdrop of a worsening crackdown on civil society and political dissent.
“Everyone sees this trial for what it is—a politically-motivated attack on a leading peaceful dissident,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “The U.S. government, in addition to calling for an end to this latest wave of repression, should threaten real consequences for its ally, including reimposing the arms ban it lifted last year.”
The charges against Rajab, of “spreading false information and rumors with the aim of discrediting the State,” carry a potential sentence of up to 13 years’ imprisonment. Rajab has been detained since June 13, when he was arrested in an early morning raid. He has reportedly suffered from medical issues as a result of the poor conditions of detention, and he was held in solitary confinement for a significant period of time following his arrest. Human Rights First urges the U.S. government to reiterate its call for the charges against Rajab to be dropped.
Human Rights First also urges members of Congress to cosponsor bipartisan legislation—The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) Accountability Act of 2015—which which would ban transfers of certain weapons and small arms that could be used against protesters until Bahrain fully implements the human rights reforms to which it committed in 2011.
For more information or to speak with Dooley, contact Corinne Duffy at DuffyC@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3319.