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HRW calls on Bahrain to drop charges against Twitter activists

June 5, 2018 at 11:05 am

Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab [Nabeel Rajab / Wikipedia]

Human Rights Watch called on the Bahraini authorities to drop charges of “tweeting” against human rights activists including Nabeel Rajab.

The organisation confirmed that the charges against Rajab are a violation of his right to freedom of expression which is guaranteed under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights signed by Bahrain in 2006.

“Nothing in what Nabeel Rajab has posted about human rights in Bahrain or the humanitarian crisis in Yemen justifies his arrest for even one minute,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, the director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch.

“These charges already violate the basic human rights, and Rajab should not have been tried in the first place,” she added.

The Bahrain High Criminal Court on 21 February sentenced Rajab to five years in prison for tweets criticising alleged torture in Bahrain’s Jaw Prison and the Saudi-led military operations in Yemen. Rajab is serving a two-year prison sentence on other charges related to peaceful expression and has been detained since 13 June 2016. His relatives say he has medical ailments that prison authorities are not treating adequately.

HRW: Bahrain punishes opponents through revoking citizenship, deportation

“Last year, Bahrain tightened its control on activists, lawyers and journalists, arbitrarily dropped a record number of citizens’ nationalities, conducted unfair trials of civilians before military courts, and sought to harass, intimidate, imprison, and prosecute human rights defenders and their families,” Whitson added.

A few days ago, the United States accepted a possible deal to sell 3,000 missiles worth $45 million to Bahrain. Rights groups have long called on America not to sell arms to repressive governments including Gulf states as a result of their use to oppress peaceful protests in their countries and to strike third parties including the Middle East’s poorest nation, Yemen.