Thursday, October 11, 2012

Insight into the Charges Against and Imprisonment of Nabeel Rajab

Nabeel Rajab in his office. Image by Isa Alhammadi via Wikimedia Common
In 2011, the Foundation for Democratic Advancement completed a electoral fairness audit of the Bahrain's Monarchical Election System. Bahrain received a failing overall score of 0 percent for electoral fairness. The score means that the constitutional and legislative basis for Bahrain’s political system is completely unfair. Though some of Bahrain’s laws are electorally fair, this fairness is canceled out by the kingdom's severe restrictions on political societies and political content, and the powerlessness of the elected Council of Deputies over the kingdom's executive branch of government. Therefore, the Foundation for Democratic Advancement is not surprised by the Bahraini Kingdom's harsh treatment of human rights activists like Nabeel Rajab. The Bahraini kingdom at its core is authoritarian, when the color and glitter of the democratic layer is removed.

Updated Information on Nabeel Rajab: 

This background information was compiled by the FDA through information provided by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

Since 2012, Nabeel Rajab, a human rights activist from Bahrain was sentenced to three years and three months in imprisonment. The prison sentence stems from a number of charges: “participation in illegal gathering and calling for a march without prior notification”, “calling to illegal gathering over social networks”, “Insulting an official authority over twitter”, and defamation of AlMuharraq people over twitter. Rajab has been arrested and detained several times in the last few months starting May 2012 and the last arrest was on 9 July 2012. He has been convicted in all these cases by the Bahraini court and he was fined BHD 300 for insulting official authority over twitter on 28 June 2012, and received a total of 3 years and 3 months imprisonment sentences in the other cases."

On the current indictment, Mr. Rajab was convicted on three separate counts 1) illegal gathering, 2) participating in illegal gathering, 3) calling for illegal gathering, by the Lower Criminal Court of Bahrain.
His attorney has appealed the sentence.

According to the prosecution, Mr. Rajab gave a speech calling for confrontation with law enforcement officers. Subsequent to this, a demonstration occurred in Manmar which devolved into an ‘illegal assembly intending to undermine law and order, block roads and assault public security personnel’. The BCHR says that allegations by the government that Mr. Rajab had called for violence is untrue, inconsistent with the charges against him and is aimed at misleading the public

In 2011, government forces tried to intimidate Mr. Rajab after he spoke to the media about a government crackdown against Shiite protesters—he was forcibly removed from his house, blindfolded, handcuffed, put into a car and driven around for several hours before taken to an investigator. In addition to the indictment for which he is in prison, Mr. Rajab has had in the past four other charges against him, all relating to illegal gatherings and his posts via social networking websites.

Mr. Rajab is currently on a hunger strike after authorities prevented him from attending the condolence gathering of his recently deceased mother. He is thought to be in solitary confinement although there has been no communication from him since the date of his sentencing.

Mr Rajab is a founding member of the BCHR, a non-political human rights organisation which was established in 2002. The Bahraini government outlawed this organization in 2004 and although they no longer recognize it, the BCHR continues to exist de facto and to be recognised by several international human rights bodies. In 2008, Mr. Rajab became it’s president.

The BCHR blog can be found here:

By Leanna Seetahal (FDA Writer and Researcher) and Stephen Garvey (FDA Executive Director)

FDA Electoral Fairness Report on Bahrain

Question for Readers: 

What do the convictions and sentences against Nabeel Rajab say about the Bahraini kingdom and society?  

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