Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (11 July) on the conviction of human rights activist Nabeel Rajab:
I was disappointed to learn that Bahraini human right activist Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to two years in prison yesterday for giving interviews to foreign media. Freedom of expression enjoys constitutional protection in Bahrain. Freedom of expression and freedom of the press, along with freedom of assembly and freedom to demonstrate, are essential prerequisites for a functioning constitutional democracy. That also means showing tolerance towards expressions of opinions that are critical of the government. I deplore this sentence against Nabeel Rajab and call on the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain to meet its international obligations to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.
After being pardoned in 2015, human rights activist Nabeel Rajab was rearrested last summer and put on trial. Yesterday’s sentence by Bahraini Criminal Court was handed down for supposed false and misleading information on human rights and democracy in Bahrain that Mr Rajab is alleged to have given in interviews with foreign TV stations. He has the right to appeal the conviction. Further criminal proceedings are pending against him on account of critical statements on Twitter.