English PEN has joined fellow NGOs and rights campaigners to send an open letter to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, urging him to call for the release of jailed human rights defender Nabeel Rajab.
The letter, signed by colleagues at Amnesty International, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), PEN International, Index on Censorship and others states:
As Foreign Secretary you have re-committed your Office to counter the shrinking of civil society space and promote the work of human rights defenders. We therefore urge you to give effect to this commitment by calling for the release of Nabeel Rajab.
The UK’s significant historical, economic, security and political ties with Bahrain incur a responsibility to acknowledge and criticise negative human rights developments within the country. The UK’s voice is strongly heard in Bahrain, and we urge you to act publicly and promptly in support of Nabeel Rajab’s human rights work and call for his release.
Cat Lucas, Writers at Risk Programme Manager, English PEN said:
It is not enough for the UK government to simply monitor the ongoing persecution of Nabeel Rajab and other activists and writers at risk in Bahrain. The Foreign Secretary and his colleagues need to take urgent action and to publicly urge their allies in Bahrain to release our imprisoned colleagues immediately and unconditionally.
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, stated:
The UK is fully aware of the scale of human rights abuses in Bahrain, having spent millions training Bahrain’s police and judiciary to little effect. The UK knows Nabeel Rajab faces an abhorrent sentence simply for speaking. This letter is a reminder to Boris Johnson of his government’s ongoing failure to call for Nabeel Rajab’s release.