Hivos concerned about verdict against GCHR director Nabeel Rajab

August 21, 2012

Hivos is concerned about the verdict against Bahraini human rights  defender Nabeel Rajab. On 16 August 2012, Rajab was sentenced to a total  of three years of imprisonment for three cases, including the calling  for and participation in peaceful gatherings which the Bahraini  government considers illegal.

Rajab is already serving a three months prison term on charges of “libeling the citizens of the town of Muharraq over twitter”, because he had tweeted that the prime minister of Bahrain should resign. Rajab has almost 170,000 Twitter followers. He is in prison since 9 July 2012 for this charge. An appeals court again postponed this verdict on the same day of the three years verdict, on 16 August 2012.

Human rights defender
Nabeel Rajab is a well-known human rights defender. He is Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, Deputy Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and a member of the advisory committee of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division. In 2011 he was awarded with the Ion Ratiu Democracy Award because he “has worked tirelessly and at considerable personal peril to advance the cause of democratic freedoms and the civil rights of Bahraini citizens”.

Target of repression
For several years already, Nabeel Rajab has been a target of repression because of his work, but because his role has become stronger during the past year in reporting severe human rights violations in Bahrain following the crackdown on protesters, the repression by the Bahraini authorities against him has increased. A detailed overview can be found on the website of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights.

Gulf Centre for Human Rights
Hivos supports the Gulf Centre for Human Rights since 2012. From its base in Beirut, the centre focuses on addressing the human rights situation in a wide range of countries in the Middle East. In addition, it trains human rights defenders from throughout the region.
After the sentences were read out on August 16th, Nabeel Rajab stated: “You can jail me for three years or thirty years, but I will not back down or retreat”.