The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), is writing to you to express its deepest concerns over the ongoing judicial harassment against, and arbitrary detention of, Mr. Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and FIDH Deputy Secretary General. The Observatory announces its intention to observe the upcoming hearing against Mr. Rajab, scheduled for June 24, 2012 in Manama.
Mr. Nabeel Rajab was most recently summoned on June 6, 2012 by the Public Prosecutor after he tweeted his belief that the Prime Minister had been warmly welcomed by villagers on the occasion of his recent travel to Al Mashraq in exchange for subsidies. On the same day, Mr. Rajab was interrogated and ordered a seven-day imprisonment pending further investigation. On June 13, his detention was extended to June 19. His lawyer requested his release on bail but the prosecution refused without giving any proper argument.
The Observatory believes this detention merely aims at curtailing Mr. Rajab’s freedom of expression and at stifling his attempts to fight corruption in Bahrain.
The Observatory therefore considers the deprivation of liberty of Mr. Rajab to be arbitrary, as it based on his exercise of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
More generally, we are extremely worried about the increasing judicial harassment against Mr. Rajab, as the legal case mentioned above is the fourth opened against him since May 2012.
The upcoming hearing of June 24 is indeed related to another case, in which Mr. Rajab is accused of “insulting the statutory bodies”, pursuant to Article 216 of the Penal Code, which carries a term of imprisonment of up to three years and a fine. Such charges were pressed against him in relation to tweets he posted to denounce the lack of investigation, by the Ministry of Interior, into the killings of civilians. Other hearings are scheduled to take place on June 17 and June 19, in relation with two other cases, one of them on charges of “illegal gathering” in relation to a peaceful protest organised on March 31, 2012 in Manama to denounce the detention of human rights defender Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, founder of GCHR, former President of the BCHR, and former MENA Director at Front Line.
It is crucial that all the upcoming hearings, including that of June 24, comply with the international standards of fair trial, as well as with the provisions of the 1998 United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Observatory is aiming to dispatch high level international observers at the June 24, hearing, and expresses its sincere hope that the Bahraini authorities will allow such a mission by granting entry visas to its mission delegates. The names and personal details of the delegates will be duly and swiftly communicated to the relevant consular services in that regard.
In the hope that you will take these requests and considerations into account,
OMCT Secretary General
 Mr. Rajab is also a member of the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East Division and Chair of CARAM Asia.