Bahrain: Human Rights Activist Detained

By Huiyu Yin

Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights activist, had just returned to Bahrain on September 30 from Europe, where he had made public appearances criticizing his government for using counterterrorism laws to prosecute human rights defenders and charged that Bahraini security forces foster violent beliefs akin to those of the Islamic State (IS, otherwise known as ISIS or ISIL). On October 1, 2014, Rajab was arrested and faced with charges that he “offended national institutions” in comments on social media on September 28.”

According to Human Rights Watch, this is clearly a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Bahrain has ratified. The UN Human Rights Committee issued General Comment 34 to interpret the scope of the right to freedom of expression and opinion. The committee stated that “In circumstances of public debate concerning public figures in the political domain and public institutions, the value placed by the Covenant upon uninhibited expression is particularly high.” It also stated that “states parties should not prohibit criticism of institutions, such as the army or the administration.”