Bahrain: Bahrain- Health deterioration of detained human rights defender Nabeel Rajab
Nabeel Rajab is a prominent human rights defender who was sentenced to 3 months in prison in July 2012 for a tweet, and then to 3 years in prison for participating in and calling for a peaceful protest. His sentence was later reduced to 2 years in prison. Nabeel Rajab has been held in prison since 9 July 2012, and is detained in isolation from the rest of prisoners of conscience. He has been reportedly ill-treated during detention.
Nabeel Rajab was awarded the Ion Ratiu Democracy Award in 2011, presented annually by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC. He also won the British Silbury Prize in 2011 for his humanitarian and human rights activities.
Nabeel Rajab called his family on the evening of 20 April 2013. He informed them during the call that he is suffering from severe back pain and has no access to proper medical care or medications. He has chronic disc pain that requires him to be seen by a consultant doctor and to undergo physiotherapy treatment. Reports confirmed that he lies in bed all the time and with very little mobilization of his back.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) condemns the continued imprisonment and reported ill-treatment of Nabeel Rajab, and believes that these actions are directly related to his human rights work in Bahrain, including leading the calls for the human and civil rights of the Bahraini people to be recognized.
The GCHR calls on the Government of Bahrain to:
1. Immediately release detained human rights defenders Nabeel Rajab and drop all charges against him, as it is believed that these charges have been taken against him solely due to his legitimate and peaceful work in the defense of human rights, and the exercise of the right of freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
2. Immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience and activists including leading human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja;
3. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Nabeel Rajab;
4. Immediately grant Nabeel Rajab access to medical treatment;
5. Immediately put an end to the practice of torture and the ill-treatment of prisoners in Bahrain and bring those responsible to justice;
6. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
The GCHR also reiterate our call to the international community to put real pressure on the government of Bahrain to stop the ill-treatment of human rights defenders and to release them immediately as we believe they have been targeted solely for their legitimate human rights activities.
The GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognizes the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 6 (b ): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (b) As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms; and Article 12 (2): The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”