Summary: Prominent Bahraini human rights activist released from prison

Nabeel Rajab, a prominent Bahraini human rights activist and President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, was released from prison on 24th May 2014 after completing his two-year term.

Mr Rajab was sentenced to three years in prison in 2012 for calling for and participating in “illegal gatherings” and “disturbing public order”. His sentence was reduced to two years on appeal. He was considered by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience, and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared his imprisonment as “arbitrary”. Mr Rajab said, “I was isolated from other prisoners of conscience and put in a remote building with three foreigners who were convicted of prostitution-related charges. It felt almost like a solitary confinement. I got access to my family twice a month and the most painful action taken by authorities during my imprisonment was after the death of my beloved mother when they prevented me from participating in her condolences ceremony.”

According to Amnesty International, Bahrain’s authorities have repeatedly used legislation to punish peaceful protesters taking part in unauthorised gatherings. Under the country’s penal code, gatherings of more than five people can be criminalised if those assembled were deemed to do so with the intention to commit a crime or any acts aimed at undermining public security.

Nabeel Rajab’s colleague, human rights activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, has been in prison since June 2011 serving a life sentence, following a “grossly unfair” trial according to human rights observers. Mr Al-Khawaja and Mr Rajab co-founded the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights. Despite losing their leaders to detention, both Centres have not only survived but grown. “They managed to put lot of efforts to fill the gap of not having me and my colleague Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja. I think we are now in a better position to continue our peaceful work to further support and protect human rights defenders in our region,” Nabeel Rajab noted. “I will continue my peaceful work in the field of human rights with a solid determination to reach our prosperous future.”

Full story from BCHR’s website:

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