Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Wednesday criticized [press release] a Bahrain court for sentencing human rights activist and president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights [advocacy website] Nabeel Rajab [Front Line Defenders profile] to five years in prison for posts he made on Twitter in 2015.
Rajab is currently serving a separate sentence [JURIST report] for his comments in interviews in 2015 and 2016. On Thursday a post [tweet] on Rajab’s Twitter revealed that he will not be appealing this five-year sentence and will not take further legal action on this matter.
Rajab’s tweets [Twitter feed] and retweets resulting in his current sentence alleged acts of torture in Jaw Prison in Bahrain and also related to the killing of civilians in the conflict in Yemen by the coalition led by Saudi Arabia.
AI Middle-East and North Africa (MENA) Regional Director, Heba Morayef, commented:
The conviction of Nabeel Rajab today is a slap in the face to justice. This sentence demonstrates the authorities’ ruthless determination to crush all forms of dissent and leaves no room for doubt about the extreme lengths to which they are willing to go to in order to silence peaceful critics. …This shameful verdict must be quashed and the authorities must drop all pending charges and immediately release Nabeel Rajab. It is absolutely outrageous that he be forced to spend a further five years in jail simply for daring to voice his opinions online.
The US Mission to the UN [official website] also tweeted [tweet] Thursday to express disappointment in Bahrain’s government for sentencing Rajab and reiterated the idea that “No one should be imprisoned for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
This past June AI condemned the government of Bahrain for its suppression of human rights, and in 2015, 32 countries joined [JURIST reports] a statement to the UN urging Bahrain to protect freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.