Track Record of postponements raises question of political show trials.

(Witness Bahrain) -August 14, 2012

On Thursday August 16, a court in Manama, Bahrain is expected to issue a verdict/hear briefs in four cases pending against Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab, including Rajab’s appeal over the three-month sentence he is currently serving for being found guilty of libel due to posting six statements on Twitter that are critical of the Bahraini Prime Minister. The other cases that the court will hear include allegedly inciting gatherings and unauthorized marches.

This is not the first time the court has set a date for a verdict, and in other prominent cases – notably that of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja – the court has met only to announce a delay. These postponements raise the question as to the legitimacy of Bahrain’s judicial process. Media reports have cited the delays as an indication of the government’s commitment to reform, yet the track record to justify such conclusions is lacking.

“I believe strongly in peaceful means of struggle. It could take longer time, but has better results,” Nabeel Rajab told Witness Bahrain in a videotaped interview just days before his arrest. “I will continue all my life struggling for democracy and human rights."

Rajab is currently being held in Jaw Central Prison and, according to reports from his family, in an insect-ridden cell without air conditioning or proper ventilation, and without needed medical attention for his eczema, high blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat.

“We, as the family of Nabeel Rajab, plead to you and plead to the UN and all international human rights organizations and institutions to demand from the Bahraini authorities that Nabeel Rajab should be released, that abuses against him and our family should stop and that he should be allowed to practice his human rights activities as guaranteed by all international conventions,” wrote Nabeel Rajab’s wife Sumaya in an open letter on behalf of herself and her two children.

In addition to this just-released video interview, in which Nabeel Rajab talks about his work oh behalf of the Bahraini people’s struggle for democracy and human rights, a member of Witness Bahrain conducted a video interview with Nabeel Rajab on July 9, 2012, the day he was arrested and taken to prison, including filming surreptitious footage of the arrest itself.

Press contact for Witness Bahrain: Kate Raphael katrap40@gmail.com, +1-510-381-1287

witnessbahrain.org/