English PEN joins PEN International in urging the Bahraini authorities to stop all criminal proceedings against Nabeel Rajab, ensure the full respect of his rights as a prisoner, and order his immediate and unconditional release.
Rajab, a prominent human rights defender and writer, remains in detention since his arrest on 13 June 2016, in spite of his deteriorating health due to poor prison conditions and mistreatment.
PEN believes Rajab is being detained for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and for his peaceful human rights activities.
Salil Tripathi, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee, said:
It is outrageous that Nabeel Rajab, a peaceful advocate for human rights, is detained again. Bahraini authorities must stop this relentless campaign of harassment and intimidation against him, respect his basic human rights and allow him to return to his family immediately.
Rajab’s poor health prevented him from attending his previous court hearings on 14 June and on 3 July 2017. He is currently in hospital waiting for the next hearing, which is due to take place on 10 July 2017. A verdict is expected at this hearing and Rajab is at risk of receiving up to 3 years’ imprisonment for ‘spreading false news’ in relation to media interviews he gave. Rajab is currently allowed limited contact with his family, with no possibility of communication with his lawyers.
The judge presiding over Rajab’s case has refused all requests submitted by his lawyers to release him, despite the length of his detention period in solitary confinement and clear evidence about the deteriorating condition of his health. According to PEN’s information, he is at risk of being sent back to prison in spite of his bad health and his need for hospitalisation, in order to force his presence at the next hearing. The charges against Rajab are a clear violation of his right to freedom of expression, protected under article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Bahrain has ratified.
For further background informaiton, please visit the PEN International website.