HRW urges Bahrain to drop charges against activist

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has asked allies of Bahrain to urge Manama to drop charges against human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, who is to be tried for a tweet that “insulted state institutions.”
Rajab was arrested for posting the tweet in October 2014 and has since been released on bail. His upcoming trial could lead to his facing up to six years in prison.

In the tweet, Rajab stated that many Bahrainis who have joined Islamic State originated from security institutions and accused those institutions of being “the first ideological incubator.”

The justification for his arrest was Article 216 of Bahrain’s penal code, which allows the arrest and imprisonment of any individual who “offends by any method of expression the National Assembly or other constitutional institutions, the army, law courts, authorities or government agencies.”

Rajab is the president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, as well as a member of the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East Division and a founder of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights.

The allies that Human Rights Watch encouraged to publicly denounce the decision include Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

There have been similar arrests, such as those of Zeinab and Maryam Al-Khawaja, Bahraini sisters and activists for human rights.