Bahrain: Nabeel Rajab free, after nearly two years of arbitrary detention

26 May, 2014 | Press Releases

Brussels-Rome-New York, 26 May 2014
On 24 May 2014, Nabeel Rajab, a prominent Bahraini human rights activist and president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, was released from prison after spending nearly two years behind bars. Nabeel Rajab was convicted and sentenced in August 2012 to three years in jail for calling and participating in “illegal gatherings”. An appeals court later reduced his term by a year. Prior to his conviction, in July 2012, Nabeel was also sentenced to three months in jail on charges linked to anti-government comments made on social media, including Twitter. This conviction was later overturned on appeal only after he had begun his sentence for participating in protests.
At its 66th session in June 2013, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions characterised the detention of Nabeel Rajab as arbitrary.

Statement by Niccolò Figà-Talamanca, Secretary-General of No Peace Without Justice:

“No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT) are pleased that Nabeel Rajab is finally out of prison where he should have never been held. Nabeel’s arbitrary imprisonment for exercising his right to freedom of expression, association and assembly, together with many other human rights defenders targeted with similar politically motivated charges, demonstrates the determination of the Bahraini authorities to suppress any peaceful dissent and nonviolent quest for democracy, rule of law and respect of fundamental human rights in the country.

“Despite repeated promises to implement the recommendations issued by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) in November 2011 as well as by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in May 2012, the regime in Bahrain continues to deny to a majority of Bahrainis their fundamental rights on a daily basis. Prominent civil society activists and human rights defenders, including minors, are still being exposed routinely to harassment, arbitrary detention and imprisonment, ill-treatment and unfair and politically motivated trials leading to harsh sentences for having participated in peaceful demonstrations or criticised officials.

“If the Government is sincere about reform aimed at anchoring the country’s future to democratic values, it needs to respect the Rule of Law and ensure the respect of human rights. Bahraini authorities should also immediately and unconditionally release all remaining prisoners of conscience and human rights defenders in detention whose only “crime” has been to speak out in favour of reform, in favour of human rights and in favour of bringing meaningful democracy to Bahrain.

“The international community has also a responsibility to ensure that the Bahraini authorities do not persist in this repressive and retaliatory strategy rather than complying with their obligations. Today, it is even more urgent for the international community to abide by its duty and responsibility to protect those who are threatened for advocating openly for the end of the longstanding culture of impunity that remains intact in Bahrain to this day”.

NPWJ Bahrain Project
No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) supports Bahraini human rights organisations and activists in their efforts to promote a democratic and nonviolent political reform in Bahrain. It focuses on assisting human rights defenders and human rights advocates to secure effective and genuine accountability for past and ongoing violations of human rights, including through outreach, monitoring and documentation.

For further information, please contact: Gianluca Eramo, MENA Democracy Program Coordinator, email:, phone: +32 2 548 39 12 or Nicola Giovannini on or +32 2 548 39 15.