HRC32: ADHRB calls attention to harassment of Nabeel Rajab

On June 17, ADHRB international advocacy officer Michael Payne delivered an oral intervention at the 32nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva under Item 3.  Please continue reading for full remarks or click here to download a PDF.

Mr. Rapporteur,

Alsalam Foundation, together with Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain and the Bahrain Institute for Rights & Democracy, would like to thank you for your recent communication published on the widespread and systematic targeting of peaceful expression via social media in Bahrain. This is truly an important and pervasive issue in Bahrain and throughout the Gulf region.

In the most recent joint communications report, your mandate commented on the Bahraini authorities’ targeting of ten individuals for social media posts and online content. One of these individuals is Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

Bahraini forces initially arrested Nabeel in October 2014. The government interrogated him about comments he expressed online. This arrest came less than 24 hours after Nabeel returned to Bahrain from the 27th Session of the Human Rights Council.

The Government of Bahrain again arrested Nabeel in April 2015 for reporting on the inhumane conditions in Jau Prison and criticized the humanitarian disaster in Yemen via social media. The charges Nabeel continues to face under both the counterterror and cybercrimes laws for his peaceful expression via twitter, could result in up to 13 years in detention.

Unfortunately, the end of this communication was not the end of Nabeel’s story. Early Monday morning this week, security forces associated with the cybercrimes division surrounded Nabeel’s home, arrested him and confiscated all of his electronics. Bahrain has now charged Nabeel with “spreading false news that undermines the prestige of the State” also in relation to his tweets.

We therefore as if your office is aware of these further actions against the subject of one of your most recent communications? And, if so, could you comment on the nature of your interaction with the government during the repeated harassment of a victim highlighted so recently by your mandate?

Thank you.