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Jun-12-2012 00:52printcomments

Bahrain: Immediately Release Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab

Human rights ambassador William Gomes contacts Bahrain's Minister of Foreign Affairs over the arrest of a prominent activist- all over 6 Tweets.

Nabeel Rajab
Nabeel Rajab is head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and a member of the advisory committee of the Human Rights Watch Middle East Division.

(SALEM) - Bahrain Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab, a highly respected activist in Bahrain, was arrested for 6 tweets posted on 2 June 2012.

In those messages on the Twitter network, Rajab called for the Prime Minster of Bahrain to step down. His Tweets drew attention to the PM's corruption, said the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

The charges against Rajab in Manama include “vilifying”; insulting the statuary bodies, participating in illegal assembly, and calling others to join through social networking sites.

“I was targeted because I was exercising my right to defend human rights, which is a right that is stipulated by the Bahraini constitution,” Rajab said.

The Bahraini Code of Criminal Procedure and international law both limit pretrial detention to exceptional cases rather than the rule, however Mr. Rajab has been arrested and re-arrested, twice.

Prior to his first arrest, Mr. Rajab said that Bahrain in essence, lacks a judiciary system that is independent or fair. He also says it is far from being in line with international standards of a fair trial, I have decided to boycott the trial against myself. "The judiciary system in Bahrain, today, is a tool used against human rights defenders and people calling for democracy and justice," Rajab said.



June 12, 2012

Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifah
Minister of Foreign Affairs

P.O. Box 547
Government Road
Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain

E-mail: info@mofa.gov.bh

Re: Bahrain: Immediately Release Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab

Dear Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifah,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com.

I am writing to express my serious concern over illegal arrest of Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and a member of the advisory committee of the Human Rights Watch Middle East Division.

Nabeel Rajab was arrested a day after he appeared on Al-Jazeera TV show AJStream and criticized the lack of serious reform and the continuation of violations against the people of Bahrain.

With 140,000 Twitter followers, Mr Rajab is a high-profile user of the micro-blogging website and a vocal critic of Bahrain’s ruler, King Hamad al-Khalifa, according to a BBC report.

According to Bahrain Center for Human Rights, on the morning of 6 June 2012, prominent human rights defender, Nabeel Rajab has been re-arrested after he got a summons the day before on charges of “vilifying”. He was arrested before at the airport in Manama on 5 May 2012 upon his arrival from Beirut and charged with insulting the statuary bodies, participating in illegal assembly, and calling others to join through social networking sites. On 6 May 2012, Nabeel Rajab was brought before the Criminal Court of First Instance in Manama and charged with incitement of illegal rallies by using the social media networking. The court remanded him in custody for seven days pending the investigation. He was released on bail on 28 May 2012.

Prior to his first arrest he stated: “Given that Bahrain in essence lacks a judiciary system that is independent and/or fair, and is far from being in line with international standards of a fair trial, I have decided to boycott the trial against myself. The judiciary system in Bahrain, today, is a tool used against human rights defenders and people calling for democracy and justice.”

The arrest is directly related to the 6 tweets posted on 2 June 2012 by Nabeel Rajab, that are solely directed towards the Prime Minster of Bahrain calling him to step down and highlighting his corruption, according to Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

According to Bahrain Center for Human Rights, on 6 June 2012, the public prosecution ordered the detention of Nabeel for 7 days pending investigation. This is the fourth lawsuit filed against Nabeel Rajab in the last 30 days. The other cases are:

  1. Participation in illegal gathering and calling for a march without prior notification, in Manama, which is postponed to 17 June 2012.
  2. Defamation of an official authority over twitter in which the judge agreed to release Nabeel on 300 Bahraini dinar ($800) bail with a travel ban and postponed the hearing to 24 June 2012 pending investigation by the court. The case focuses on four tweets posted by Nabeel Rajab on the social media site Twitter in which he suggested that the Interior Ministry had not carried out proper investigations into civilian deaths.
  3. Involvement in illegal practices and inciting to gatherings and calling for unauthorized marches through social networking sites for which the trial started on 05 June 2012, and postponed to 12 June 2012.

In a hearing on Wednesday, relating to the third case where Nabeel is charged of staging illegal protests, he told the court that all charges against him are “vindictive accusations.”

“I was targeted because I was exercising my right to defend human rights, which is a right that is stipulated by the Bahraini constitution,” he said.

I condemn in the strongest term the illegal arrest, detention and trial of Nabeel Rajab. I believe strongly that his arrest is part of an ongoing campaign of judicial harassment against him in order to prevent him from continuing his legitimate and peaceful human rights work.

I respectfully remind 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, recognises 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 5 (b) which states that: “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: (b) To form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups;” and to Article 12.2, which provides that “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.

The Bahraini Code of Criminal Procedure as well as international law limits pretrial detention to exceptional cases rather than the rule, for example situations in which the suspect might tamper with evidence, commit a criminal offense, or abscond. Al-Jishi told Human Rights Watch that usually in defamation cases authorities will not detain the accused, and noted that Rajab went to the public prosecution office willingly in response to the summons. The most severe penalty in such cases is usually a fine, al-Jishi said.

I finally urge you release Mr. Nabeel Rajab as early as possible.

I request your urgent intervention.

Yours sincerely,

William Nicholas Gomes

Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com

Salem-News.com P.O. Box 5238 Salem, Oregon 97304

www.williamgomes.org

______________________________

Salem-News.com Human Rights Ambassador William Nicholas Gomes is a Bangladeshi journalist, human rights activist and author was born on 25 December, 1985 in Dhaka. As an investigative journalist he wrote widely for leading European and Asian media outlets.

He is also active in advocating for free and independent media and journalists’ rights, and is part of the free media movement, Global Independent Media Center – an activist media network for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate telling of the truth. He worked for Italian news agency Asianews.it from year 2009 to 2011, on that time he was accredited as a free lance journalist by the press information department of Bangladesh. During this time he has reported a notable numbers of reports for the news agency which were translated into Chinese and Italian and quoted by notable number of new outlets all over the world.He, ideologically, identifies himself deeply attached with anarchism. His political views are often characterized as “leftist” or “left-wing,” and he has described himself as an individualist anarchist.





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