Bahrain extends detention of human rights defender
27 Apr 15
Nabeel Rajab
Nabeel Rajab during a protest in London in September (Photo: Milana Knezevic)

Nabeel Rajab during a protest in London in September (Photo: Milana Knezevic)

Index on Censorship condemns the extended detention of Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, who was arrested in early April for detailing abuses at the country’s Jaw prison. On 26 April, Bahraini authorities prolonged Rajab’s detention for a further 15 days.

Rajab tweeted on April 2 that his house had been surrounded by special forces and that over 20 police cars were sent to his house for the arrest.

Rajab was handed down a six month suspended sentence pending payment of a fine in January for a tweet that both the ministry of interior and the ministry of defence said “denigrated government institutions”.

The tweet in question stated:

Since then, Rajab’s appeal against the verdict has been postponed repeatedly.

Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and a member of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East Advisory Board, has continuously been targeted by Bahraini authorities over his human rights campaigning work. He reported on 26 February he had again been summoned by the police.

Rajab, a 2012 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression award winner, was released in May 2014 after spending two years in prison on spurious charges including writing offensive tweets and taking part in illegal protests.

“Bahrain must stop the harrassment of Nabeel Rajab,” Index on Censorship CEO Jodie Ginsberg said. “The country has committed publicly to respecting human rights, but continues to flout its international commitments by denying its citizens the right to peaceful protest, peaceful assembly, and to free expression.”

Last week, Rajab’s civil society colleagues human rights defender Abdulhadi and political activist Salah Al-Khawaja were prevented from attending the funeral of their eldest brother Abdulaziz, who passed away in Bahrain on April 22. Abdulhadi is serving a life sentence due to his human rights work and Salah is serving five years for his political activism; both are prisoners of conscience and torture survivors.

Earlier this year, Bahrain revoked the citizenship of 72 individuals, including journalists, bloggers, and political and human rights activists, rendering many of them stateless – its latest attempt to crack down on those critical of the government.