Nabeel Rajab released from prison!

June 12, 2020

Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and Martin Ennals Award Finalist 2012, was released from prison this week on Tuesday June 9.

Who is Nabeel Rajab?

Nabeel Rajab is one of the founders and the current president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), a local organization dedicated to promoting human rights through research, training and monitoring of human rights. The BCHR was awarded the Martin Ennals Award in 2012 as a final nominee for its work reporting on human rights violations in Bahrain.

Rajab had already served a two-year prison sentence for charges related to freedom of expression. He was released in 2014. Arrested again in 2016, he was sentenced to six years in prison by a Bahraini criminal court for offences including “spreading fake news”.

Martin Ennals Foundation and Laureates speak out

In April 2020, the Martin Ennals Foundation and the Martin Ennals Award winners called for the release of all imprisoned human rights defenders around the world, including Nabeel Rajab and their other fellow award-winners:

Read the letter the Martin Ennals defenders wrote :

What’s happening in Bahrain?

The human rights situation in Bahrain remains critical.

According to a 2019 Human Rights Watch report, authorities have “banned all independent media from operating in the country, dissolved all opposition groups, and cracked down on critical online posts”. Bahrain denies access to human rights organizations as well as UN human rights bodies. The government maintains its policy of arresting, convicting, and harassing human rights defenders, journalists, and opposition leaders.

Although some prisoners were released at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the first semester of 2020, prisons retain numerous human rights defenders and political prisoners, including Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Vice-President of the BCHR, who is serving a life-sentence for leading peaceful protests criticizing the regime’s crackdown in 2011 and demanding accountability for torture and corruption. Al-Khawaja was convicted in 2011 by the authorities of charges such as financing and participating in terrorism, as well as for “spying for a foreign country”.

On 17 March 2020, Bahrain released 1,486 prisoners. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights has revealed that, of all the detainees released, a total of 394 were imprisoned on political charges.

Support to Nabeel Rajab, his family and colleagues

The Martin Ennals Foundation expresses its great satisfaction on the release of Nabeel Rajab and his reunification with family and colleagues. We wish him safety and success in his future endeavours.