Nabeel Rajab is a prominent Bahraini human rights activist who is the President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights. Rajab was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment on August 16, 2012 for taking part in anti-government protests. He had been convicted on charges of “illegal gathering” and “disturbing public order” for calling for and taking part in demonstrations in Manama without prior notification on January 12, February 6 and March 31. During the protest, he was assaulted by riot police who punched him several times in the face, head and back. He said: “I fell on the ground but they continued to beat me – they even stomped on me and kicked me.” Nabeel Rajab’s latest conviction and sentence were handed down while he was already serving a three-month jail sentence in a separate case in relation to a tweet he posted. He was held in al-Jaw prison.
On May 24, 2014, after serving two years in prison, Rajab was released only to be detained again on October 1, 2014 for a tweet that was said to have offended the Ministry of Interior. On January 2015, Rajab was sentenced to six months in prison after being charged with insulting a public institution and the army. The court granted Rajab bail of $500 while he appeals the verdict, if he chooses to pay it. Nabeel Rajab was re-arrested on June 13, 2016.
Advocate: Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA)
Bahrain arrests prominent human rights campaigner Nabeel Rajab: wife Nabeel Rajab has been arrested nearly one year after being released from prison. No reason for the arrest was given (June 13, 2016, Reuters).
Rajab was reportedly in poor medical condition after undergoing surgery and going in and out of solitary confinement. He was rushed to a hospital on April 8 for treatment of an infected wound (April 13, 2017, Gulf Center for Human Rights).
On the anniversary of Nabel Rajab's arrest, 37 members of the European Parliament sent an open letter to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affaris and Security Policy urging her to call for his immediate release (June 13, 2017, European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights).
- European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights Chair issued a statement denouncing the arrest of Nabeel Rajab and urging Bahraini authorities to release him (June 27, 2017, European Parliament).
- Rajab was sentenced to two years in prison for allegedly making "false or malicious" statements about Bahraini authorities (July 10, 2017, Reuters).
- Rajab faces up to 15 additional years in jail for criticizing Bahrain's participationin the Saudi-led war against Houthi rebels in Yemen, and for speaking out about torture in Bahrain's infamous “Jaw” prison (December 7, 2017, Global Voices).
- Rajab received an additional five-year jail sentence for tweets in 2015 criticizing torture in Bahrain and the Saudi-led coalition’s military intervention in Yemen. He is already serving a two-year sentence, which he received last July on a charge of “spreading rumors and false information” for criticizing the Bahraini authorities in TV interviews. (February 21, 2018, Reporters Without Borders)