The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is alarmed about information received regarding the further deterioration of the health of its president, leading human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, in detention.

As reported by his wife, Sumaya Rajab, on 4 August, Bahraini authorities delayed urgent hospital appointments until early September. Rajab was scheduled to attend a consultation with specialists at the Bahrain Defense Force Hospital in order to discuss an operation for the removal of gallstones and an operation to treat an ulcer on his back.

Prior to his arrest on 13 June 2016, the SurgiCare clinic in Bahrain had recommended that he have surgery for the ulcer following treatment to clear a related infection with antibiotics. According to information received by BCHR, this ulcer has now worsened to the level of bleeding due to the poor conditions in detention. Rajab has requested his wife to provide bandages for the bleeding.

In addition, the Bahraini authorities have also postponed a further consultation with a blood disease specialist, who is supposed to treat Rajab’s immunity problems which are caused by a low white blood cell count, a condition that Rajab had not experienced prior to his detention.

Since his arrest, Rajab has been placed at West Riffa police station in solitary confinement and under extremely poor conditions. The living conditions in his cell are highly unsanitary, as the toilet and shower are unclean, unhygienic, and filled with potentially disease-carrying sludge. There is either no or very little water in the bathroom. Rajab has occasional contact with other inmates for no more than a few hours or overnight. The effect of these poor conditions is clearly resulting in his deteriorating health as he has requested painkillers to treat severe headaches and lower back pain, which have been provided by his family.

On 28 June 2016, he had been transferred to hospital on an emergency basis due to irregular heartbeats. This was his only access to specialist medical treatment since his arrest.

Despite Rajab’s poor health condition, the judge of the high criminal court refused to release him on 2 August 2016. The government has already placed a travel ban on Rajab, and his continued detention - at risk to his health – can be considered punishment for his human rights work.

In addition to being a founder and the President of BCHR, Rajab is the Founding Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), Deputy Secretary General of FIDH, and a member of the MENA Advisory Board of Human Rights Watch.

Rajab is facing up to 15 years in prison for a number of charges related to tweets and retweets concerning torture allegations at Jau Prison and the Saudi-led war in Yemen. His trial is ongoing despite lack of evidence by the prosecution.

BCHR is deeply concerned about Nabeel Rajab’s well-being. We therefore call on the international community to press for his basic human rights to be respected, for his immediate and unconditional release, and for an end to the government of Bahrain’s reprisals against human rights defenders.

For updated information please see: http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/updates-arrest-and-detention-bchrs-president-nabeel-rajab