Bahrain: NPWJ strongly condemns sham trial and 2 years prison sentence against Nabeel Rajab

Brussels – Rome, 11 July 2017

Yesterday a Bahraini court has sentenced prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab to two years in jail after finding him guilty "of disseminating false news, statements and rumours about the internal situation of the kingdom that would undermine its prestige and status".
Rajab is currently hospitalised and was therefore sentenced in absentia, with his lawyers withdrawing from the case following the court’s refusal to delay the hearing due to his health condition. Rajab has been held in solitary confinement since his detention began, and is reported to be in a very serious condition. He also faces charges in a separate case concerning Tweets on allegations of torture in Bahrain and the crisis in Yemen, for which he could receive 15 years imprisonment.
Statement by Niccolò Figà-Talamanca, Secretary-General of No Peace Without Justice: 
“No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) firmly condemns the decision of the Bahraini Lower Criminal Court to sentence Nabeel Rajab to two years' imprisonment in absentia for media interviews he gave in 2015 and 2016. We express our undiminished solidarity with and support for Rajab, who has consistently called for peaceful protest and advocated for a fair and just democratic political system in Bahrain.
“Yesterday’s shocking ruling is yet another clear example of the Bahraini authorities’ relentless determination to criminalise free speech and silence any peaceful dissent through judicial harassment and the improper use of judicial and police powers. The alleged acts upon which the charges against Rajab were based are not in any way recognisable criminal offences under international human rights law, and involved the peaceful exercise of internationally protected rights to freedom of expression and to promote and protect human rights.
“We urge the international community to unequivocally condemn this major blow to freedom of expression in Bahrain and to take immediate concrete steps to ensure that the regime abides by its obligations under international human rights laws. This means first and foremost to ensure the immediate and unconditional release of Rajab and other imprisoned human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience, whose only “crime” is to advocate openly and peacefully for meaningful democratic reforms and the respect of human rights in Bahrain”.