This is a letter signed by myself and Wajid Khan MEP calling on Theresa May and Boris Johnson to support Rajab Nabeel and call for his immediate release.
Prime Minister Theresa May
10 Downing St, Westminster, London SW1A 2AA
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson
King Charles St, Westminster, London SW1A 2AH
Brussels, 21 November 2017
Dear Prime Minister,
Dear Foreign Affairs Secretary,
As Members of the European Parliament, we are writing to express our deepest concern regarding the human rights situation in Bahrain, and particularly the case of human rights defender Mr Nabeel Rajab, Founding Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and Deputy Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).
On Wednesday 22 November, Nabeel is expecting the conclusion of his appeal against a two-year prison sentence for stating that the Kingdom of Bahrain bars reporters and human rights workers from entry into the country. We urge you to support Mr Rajab by:
- Publicly and privately raising his case in your contacts with Bahraini authorities
- Publicly and privately condemning his sentencing and calling for his immediate and unconditional release, and all outstanding charges against him to be dropped.
Human rights organisations have recently received extremely worrying updates on Nabeel’s detention conditions. After his arrest on 13 June 2016, he was held in solitary confinement for nine months, in violation of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for Non-Custodial Measures. On 25 October 2017, Mr Rajab was transferred to another prison, having been hospitalised since April, after a serious deterioration of his health resulting from the authorities’ denial of adequate medical care, and the unhygienic conditions of detention.
Mr Rajab received humiliating treatment upon arrival at Jau Prison. Guards searched him in a humiliating manner and shaved his hair by force. They further punished him by confiscating his books and clothes, and raided his cell at night. Mr Rajab is isolated from other prisoners convicted of speech-related crimes, and is instead detained in a cell with people convicted of drug offences and Daesh affiliates. Prison officers have threatened him with punishment if he speaks with other inmates. One of Mr Rajab’s “charges” results from the fact that he spoke out about the degrading treatment in Jau Prison.
During its current mandate, the European Parliament has already expressed its deepest concern over the human rights situation in Bahrain four times:
- On 16 February 2017 with a resolution expressing dismay about executions in Kuwait and Bahrain
- On 7 July 2016 with a resolution on the human rights situation in Bahrain
- On 4 February 2016 with a resolution on Bahrain, and in particular the case of Mohammed Ramadan
- On 9 July 20145 with a resolution on Bahrain and in particular the case of Nabeel Rajab.
Furthermore, the human rights organisation Reprieve has investigated the United Kingdom’s ties with Bahrain’s judicial and security institutions. The British government has reportedly spent five million pounds on assistance to such institutions in Bahrain, including for training police officers, prosecutors and torture investigators. Worryingly these institutions remain responsible for widespread human rights violations, and the overall human rights record of the country continues to deteriorate.
Given the deep ties the United Kingdom shares with the Kingdom of Bahrain’s justice and security institutions, we believe it to be crucial that the British government demands from its Bahraini counterpart to:
- Immediately release Mr Rajab ahead of the final verdict on 22 November regarding his appeal against a two-year sentence
- Drop all charges against him
- Undertake prompt, impartial, independent and effective investigations into the allegations of ill-treatment. The findings of the investigation must be made public and anyone suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice in fair proceedings.
As his case takes place in a context of systematic abuse and harassment against human rights defenders in Bahrain, we urge you to call on Bahrain to cease all harassment of human rights defenders.
Wajid Khan and Julie Ward, Members of the European Parliament