Bahrain court upholds prominent activist’s jail sentence

Bahrain court upholds prominent activist’s jail sentence
In a ruling condemned by rights groups, a court in Bahrain on Thursday upheld a jail sentence against Nabeel Rajab, a prominent activist and campaigner.
2 min read
14 May, 2015
Nabeel Rajab was not present in court for the verdict [AFP]
The appeals court in Bahrain has confirmed a six-month jail sentence against Nabeel Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights.

Rajab was handed down the suspended sentence pending payment of a fine in January for a tweet that both the ministry of interior and the ministry of defence claimed "denigrated" government institutions.

Rights groups were quick to condenm the court's ruling. 

“Today’s verdict shows once again that Bahrain is brazenly flouting its international obligations... the Bahraini authorities must release him immediately and unconditionally, and ensure his conviction is quashed,” said Said Boumedouha, of London based Amnesty International.

“The Bahraini authorities have expressed outrage at criticism of their human rights record, claiming they have introduced a series of reforms in recent years. However, this case provides further proof that these reforms amount to little more than empty gestures.” 

UK based group Index on Censorship was as critical and called on the authorties in Manama to end what the group described as "harassment" of activists and called on Britain, an ally of Bahrain, to put pressure on Bahrain:

“......We ask Britain, as a close ally of Bahrain, to insist that the kingdom upholds its human rights commitments”, Index on Censorship CEO Jodie Ginsberg said.  

Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, was initially sentenced to six months in prison on 20 January for “publicly insulting official institutions”, namely the Ministries of Interior and Defence, on Twitter, after he posted comments, last summer, suggesting that Bahrain’s security agencies may have acted as “incubators of extremist ideologies” for Bahrainis who travelled to Iraq and Syria to join the group calling itself Islamic State.  

Amnesty International has been calling on the Bahraini authorities to uphold the right to freedom of expression, repeal laws that criminalize the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, and to release Nabeel Rajab immediately and unconditionally. 

Nabeel Rajab was not present in court for the verdict.

He is currently in detention facing additional charges in a separate case in relation to comments said to have been posted on Twitter or retweeted by him on the war in Yemen and incidents in Jaw prison after a prison strike on 10 March.

If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.