Bahrain Roundup 2020: Conditional Release of Nabeel Rajab under Alternative Penalty Law

2021-01-07 - 9:38 p

Bahrain Mirror (Roundup 2020): on June 9, 2020, the security authorities released human rights activist and president of Bahrain Center for Human Rights under 2017 law which allows the courts to impose "alternative" penalties after the detainee spends half of his jail term, which Rajab finished on (November 1, 2020). Family of Nabeel Rajab issued a statement in this occasion in which they said "God blessed us today with the release of our dear brother Nabeel Rajab from prison, under the umbrella of the alternative penal code, where he will serve the remaining three years of his sentence in an alternative sentence defined by legal controls." Lawyer Mohammed Al-Jishi said on (June 9, 2020) that "the decision to release Rajab was based on a court order from the executive judge and his approval of the request to replace the remaining sentence to the human rights activist with an alternative action related to community service."

In his first comment after his release on June 9, 2020, Nabeel Rajab stressed via his Instagram page that he will complete serving his punishment at a governmental institution, without disclosing its name. "I have been released from Jaw Prison to finish my sentence at another location, at a governmental institution within the framework of alternative penalty conditions which was issued by the King's initiative." Rajab explained that he will abide by the terms of this law during the remaining three years of his sentence, and will seek to make this project successful. "I, and all who benefited from this law, have to abide by its terms during the remaining years of my sentence, and I will seek through the tools available to make this project successful and support it for humanitarian reasons."

He said on the same day "I am deeply saddened by the suffering of my friends, whom I left behind in prison, especially in the light of family visits suspension for nearly six months, as the prison administration tried to compensate for this suspension by allowing prisoners to make video calls with their families. Even though this was not enough, it was a unique opportunity for those who have not seen their family for many years."

Nabeel Rajab started on (June 14, 2020) his work in the Capital governorate team, human rights activist Ibtisam Al-Saegh reported. It was decided that Rajab performs services within the team of the Capital governorate at the social affairs department.

The Tom Lantos Commission on Human Rights in the United States Congress welcomed the release of Nabeel Rajab. Congressman James P. McGovern said in a statement on (June 9, 2020) "I am very happy that Nabeel has been released from prison and reunited with his family. The Bahraini government made the right decision in this case." US member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Chris Murphy, also welcomed Rajab's release. "Nabeel Rajab has been released from prison. Will serve out the rest of his sentence at home. This is good news and a sign of what can happen when the United States makes trouble over political prisoners," he said via his Twitter account.

The US State Department praised the release of Nabeel Rajab. In a tweet on its Arabic-language Twitter account, the US State Department said "the US praises the release of Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab from the prison under the Alternative Penalty Law." It added "We call all states to adhere to the international human rights in freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, which are the stability pillars on the long term."

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said "we welcome the release of human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and the previous initiatives in Bahrain that released over 2600 prisoners in March and April. However, we are concerned about the release conditions and we are ready to provide technical help with respect to the alternative punishments."

In his comment on (June 17, 2020), Nabeel Rajab said that the political detainees who were released under the Alternative Penalties Law have made success in implementing the alternative action, indicating that those returned to prison are criminal prisoners who have violated the law. "Few of those released under the Alternative Penalties Law were sent back to jail over violations and new legal breaches, most of whom were convicted in criminal cases like drugs and other cases." He added that the released political prisoners were the most to record success in applying these measures, noting that they were arrested over political cases related to 2011 events. "None of them has sent back to prison," he noted. He added that this success will motivate and encourage the competent authorities to release more prisoners.

Rajab stressed that he is interested in the success of the implementation of this law, not only for political issues, which are temporary, but for all prisoners, as everyone deserves other opportunities in life. A Bahraini court sentenced him on February 21, 2018 to 5 years in jail over posting tweets critical to war on Yemen.

Arabic Version