Update: Bahrain: Leading human rights defender Nabeel Rajab imprisoned for three months over twitter
Update - 12 August 2012
On 12 August 2012 the court held 2 sessions, one for the case of twitter and the other for all the three cases of protesting and calling to protests. The court announced it will issue verdicts in all cases on 16 August 2012.
Update- 08 August 2012
On 5 August 2012, Nabeel Rajab had a court hearing for three cases. He was brought to the court handcuffed. The court was supposed to issue a verdict in appeal of his twitter case where he was sentenced for 3 months for his tweets, however the judge decided to summon the officer who recorded the case to hear his testimony. Hearing was adjourned to 12 August. In the other cases where Nabeel Rajab is accused of illegal gathering (protesting) and calling for illegal gatherings. Hearing was adjourned to 12 August. Lawyer Mohamed Ahmed complained that the lawyers are not allowed to talk to Rajab inside the court.
Update- 26 July 2012 Nabeel is expecting a verdict in the appeal on the twitter case on 5th of Aug.
In addition, Nabeel’s lawyer Mr Mohamed AlJishi found that the session of 2 cases where Nabeel is accused with participating in, and calling to unauthorized demonstrations was brought forward from the original date of 26 Sep 2012 and it was held on 25 July 2012 in absence of both Nabeel and the lawyer as they were not informed of the dates change, the court postponed the plea hearing to 5th August.
Update- 21 July 2012
On 19 July 2012 the appeal hearing started in the case of comments over twitter, for which Nabeel Rajab has been sentenced for 3 months imprisonment.
Nabeel Rajab was brought to the court handcuffed and placed inside a glass cell where he can't be heard to the rest of the court. The trial has been postponed to 24 July 2012. The court refused to release Nabeel on bail.
On 16 July 2012 the court had a session on the case of "Involvement in illegal practices and inciting to gatherings and calling for unauthorized marches through social networking sites".
At the court hearing Nabeel told the judge: “You sentenced me unjustly to 3 months on fabricated and false charges, (..),you will not be able to change my convictions that the Prime Minister is a corrupted person who is not fit to manage the state. You will not be able to change my convictions or stop me whether you sentenced me to 3 months or 3 years or 30 years.”
The lawyers requested that this case is merged with another similar case where Nabeel Rajab is accused with " Participation in illegal gathering and calling for a march without prior notification, in Manama". The court agreed and the next session for both cases will be on 26 Sep 2012.
Nabeel Rajab has told lawyer Reem Khalaf that he is receiving inhuman treatment at the prison which he believes is a punishment for his human rights work. He is placed in an isolated building that is not regularly used for prisoners, with another 2 cell mates, and he is not allowed to mix with other prisoners. He is not allowed to receive clothes from his family. He has requested to see the prison doctor for skin allergy but he was not granted that visit. His family was able to visit him for the first time on 19 July and it was noticed that he was brought to the visits center handcuffed and was not allowed to talk to the other prisoners.
Update- 12 July 2012
According to the latest information that BCHR has received, Nabeel Rajab is being held at the central prison in Jaw in a small cell with many insects. His only cell mate who doesn’t speak Arabic is not allowed to talk to Nabeel. He is being handcuffed when he is moved from a place to another inside prison. His family was turned away on Wednesday 11 July when they went to visit him despite having a scheduled visit, and the same happened to the lawyers who were prevented from meeting Nabeel on Thursday 12 July. In a call he had with his family on 10 July he informed them that he had not received his medicines which his family has submitted to the prison administration. Nabeel health problems include blood pressure, heart beats disorder and back pain.
09 July 2012
The Gulf Center for human Rights (GCHR) and Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) express their concerns regarding the continued campaign of judicial harassment, arrest and detention of leading human rights defender Nabeel Rajab for views and statements he expresses over twitter. Nabeel Rajab is the President of BCHR and Director of GCHR. He has a very popular twitter account with more than 158,000 followers, which he uses to express his views in relation to ongoing, widespread human rights violations in Bahrain.
Today, the 5th lower criminal court convicted Rajab of libeling the citizens of the town of Muharraq and sentenced him to three months in prison, in a case that is linked to six tweets he posted on 2 June 2012, that were solely directed towards the Prime Minster of Bahrain calling him to step down and highlighting his corruption. At around 1:30pm today, 9 July, Nabeel Rajab was arrested from his house which was surrounded by police cars. Masked men in civilian clothes and wearing police jackets entered his house and pulled him forcibly away. (See video: youtu.be/nENlacyy3Sw )
The libel case against Nabeel Rajab was filed in the name of Muharraq's citizens by people who are part of or affiliated with the government, including Adel Flaifel, the former officer of the national security apparatus, who is accused of allegedly torturing political activists and who has directed threats in the recent months against Rajab and other human rights defenders. Others who filed the case include Saleh Bin Isa Bin Hindi, a consultant to the King of Bahrain, as well as some former security officers.
Rajab’s lawyer had said the most severe penalty in libel cases was usually a fine. The lawyer has appealed the sentence.
Rajab has been detained previously between 6 and 27 June 2012 on the same case. He was also detained between 5 and28 May 2012 in relation to another case that includes accusing him of defamation of an official authority over twitter, in which the judge ruled against Rajab on 27 June 2012 and ordered him to pay a fine of 300 Bahraini dinars.
Additionally, Rajab is still facing another two ongoing trials where he faces more sentences which could possibly lead to imprisonment:
1- Participation in illegal gathering and calling for a march without prior notification, in Manama, postponed to 26 September 2012.
2- Involvement in illegal practices and incitement to gatherings and calling for unauthorized marches through social networking sites, postponed to 19 July 2012.
GCHR and BCHR condemn in the strongest terms the arrest, detention and trial of Nabeel Rajab. We believe strongly that his arrest is part of an ongoing campaign of judicial harassment against him in order to prevent him from continuing his legitimate and peaceful human rights work.
GCHR and BCHR respectfully remind the Bahraini authorities that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals.
We particularly draw their attention to Article 5 (b) which states that: “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: (b) To form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups;” and to Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.