Harsh Sentence for Prisoner of Conscience Marks 'End of Facade' in Bahrain
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(Washington, D.C.) -- Amnesty International today condemned the decision in the case of prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, who was sentenced to three years in prison after being found guilty of taking part in an "illegal gathering."
Rajab, who is president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was charged in relation to an anti-government protest in the capital Manama on February 6, which he helped organize. He was arrested on June 6 following complaints about a message he posted to Twitter, which led to him being charged with libel. Following a court hearing on July 9, he was jailed for three months.
In response to the verdict, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, Amnesty International, said the following:
"The court's decision is a dark day for justice in Bahrain that further questions the independence of the judiciary. Like many others in Bahrain, Nabeel Rajab is a prisoner of conscience, jailed solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and assembly. He should be released immediately and his convictions and sentences quashed."
"If anything, this latest verdict marks the end of the facade of reform in Bahrain. The international community can no longer be under the illusion that Bahrain is on the path of reform when confronted with such blatant and ruthless tactics of suppressing dissenting voices. Bahrain’s international partners need to make this loud and clear to the Bahraini authorities."
Rajab's wife Sumaya, who was with him at the reading of the verdict, told Amnesty International:
"The sentence, although harsh and unfair, comes as no surprise to Nabeel and I. It shows how biased and corrupt the judiciary in Bahrain is. There are no human rights in Bahrain. As the defense team said, this sentence is the biggest scandal in the history of Bahrain judiciary."
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.