Human rights activist Nabeel Rajab revealed addresses sent to the government of Bahrain on October 14th 2014, in which the Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; and Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders expressed grave concerns at his arrest and detention, and that this might be linked to his peaceful and legitimate activities advocating for human rights in Bahrain and to his exercise of his right to freedom of expression.
In the addresses that Rajab recently posted on social media outlets, the UN rapporteurs voiced further concerns that his arrest and detention might also be an act of reprisal due to his cooperation with the United Nations and its human rights mechanisms.
They also stated that Rajab’s detention appears to be in contravention of the right not to be deprived arbitrarily of liberty as set forth in article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
The special rapporteurs also appealed to the government in Manama to take all necessary steps to ensure the rights to freedom of expression and of association, as recognized in articles 19 and 22 of the ICCPR.
In view of the urgency of the matter, they said that they would appreciate as well a response on the initial steps taken by the authorities to safeguard the rights of Rajab in compliance with international instruments.
They requested Bahrain to provide information concerning the legal grounds for the arrest and detention of Rajab and how these measures are compatible with international norms and standards, and provide the details, and where available the results, of any investigation, and judicial or other inquiries carried out in relation to this case, as well as indicate what measures have been taken to ensure that human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate work in a safe and enabling environment without fear of criminalization.
At the end of the address, they stated that they are considering publicly expressing their concerns in the near future as they are of the view that the information upon which the press release is going to be based is sufficiently reliable to indicate a matter warranting immediate attention.
The Website of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, on which the addresses were published, also posted the government’s response which was similar to its previous statements about Rajab’s arrest and detention, and, in the Bahraini government’s view, was in compliance with the terms and standards.