Ahead of the Formula One Grand Prix this weekend in Bahrain, Index on Censorship calls on the government of Bahrain to release human rights activist Nabeel Rajab and fellow human rights defenders.
Rajab — a winner of the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards in 2012 — was arrested on April 2 on charges involving a series of recent tweets and an opinion piece published in the Huﬃngton Post. If he is convicted on all current charges, Rajab — who was only released from jail last May after two year’s detention — could face more than 10 years in prison.
His last jail sentence followed protests during the Formula One race in April 2012, and he was a leading mediator in securing a commitment from Formula One — announced last week — to respect human rights in Bahrain and other countries in which it conducts business. It is the first time in its history that Formula One has committed publicly to respecting internationally recognised human rights in all of its operations.
Rajab’s continued harassment and prosecution is a clear violation of his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that, “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression”.
Index calls on the government of Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release Rajab from custody and drop all charges against him. We also urge Bahrain to uphold its international commitments to supporting human rights, including free expression, and call on the international community to ensure Bahrain meets those commitments.