Bahrain: MEPs call for Nabeel Rajab’s release and the end of crackdown of human rights defenders and freedom of expression

21 June 2016 – This afternoon, a number of Members of the European Parliament from different political groupings sent an open letter to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, urging for an immediate release and the dropping of all charges against the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab.

Members of the European Parliament further called for an end to Bahraini government’s crackdown on legitimate human rights defenders, political opposition and the freedom of expression.

European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights strongly welcomes this initiative and joins the call upon HR/VP Federica Mogherini to take a firm stand and publicly condemn the ongoing unprecedented suppression basic human and political rights of the Bahraini people.

Please find below and on this link the letter in its entirety.

Dear HR/VP Federica Mogherini,

Nabeel Rajab, the prominent human rights defender and President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), has been arrested once again by Bahraini authorities on Monday June 13th, and has since been kept in solitary confinement. Nabeel was last released from prison in July 2015 following a European Parliament resolution on his case adopted a week earlier and has been subject to a travel ban ever since.

Nabeel has been charged with “spreading false news and rumours about the internal situation in a bid to discredit Bahrain”, and an extension of his detention has been ordered pending an investigation. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.

This recent arrest coincides with a wide-spread crackdown on political dissidents, human rights defenders, and the opposition by Bahraini authorities. On June 12th, Bahraini authorities prevented a delegation of human rights activists from traveling to attend the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva while only two days later, on June 14th, the government suspended Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, the biggest opposition party and the largest political group in the country, on charges that the organisation supported sectarianism and terrorism. Various prominent human rights defendants in Bahrain still face harassment and travel bans. In the meantime, Bahrain continues the practice of stripping opposition and human rights activists, or dissidents of the Bahraini diaspora of their citizenship, leaving many stateless.

As Members of the European Parliament deeply concerned with human rights, the rule of law, and the right to freedom of expression, we urge you to take urgent action to secure Nabeel Rajab’s immediate release, the dropping of all charges against him, as well as lifting the travel ban that was previously imposed on him.

Nabeel’s release must be followed with an end to the ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders, and all measures taken by the Bahraini government to stifle legitimate opposition and freedom of expression.

Many thanks,

Signed, Members of the European Parliament,

Julie Ward
Ana Gomes
Anneliese Dodds
Barbara Spinelli
Beatriz Becerra
Brando Benifei
Carolina Punset
Catherine Bearder
Edouard Martin
Eric Andrieu
Fabio Massimo Castaldo
Helga Trupel
Helmut Scholtz
Izaskun Bilbao Brandica
Javier Nart
Josef Weidenholzer
Josu Juaristi Abaunz
Jude Kirton-Darling
Judith Sargentini
Karima Delli
Klaus Buchner
Liadh Ní Riada
Lynn Boylan
Margrete Auken
Maria Arena
Marie-Christine Vergiat
Marita Ulvskog
Mark Demesmaeker
Martina Anderson
Matt Carthy
Monica Luisa Macovei
Nessa Childers
Paloma Lopez Bermejo
Petra Kammerevert
Petras Austrevicius
Tanja Fajon
Teresa Maria Giménez Barbat

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