UN rights office urges Bahrain to free activist

The United Nations (UN)’s human rights office has urged Bahrain to “unconditionally and immediately” release prominent activist Nabeel Rajab, whom Manama has sentenced to two years in prison.

“We note that Mr. Rajab has been in detention since June 2016. We call on the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him,” said Liz Throssell, a spokeswoman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva on Friday.

Rajab has been arrested multiple times over the recent years over anti-regime protests in Bahrain. The activist was pardoned for health reasons in 2015 but was rearrested in June 2016 pending trial for tweets and statements deemed insulting to the ruling regimes in the country and Saudi Arabia.

Earlier in the week, he was handed down a two-year sentence for insulting the ruling Bahraini dynasty.

“Human rights defenders in Bahrain must be able to carry out their work without fear of reprisals and should not face detention or prosecution for exercising their right to freedom of expression. Criticizing the government should not be a crime,” Throssell said.

Scores of people have died in the Manama regime crackdown on dissent since 2011, when the public rose in peaceful pro-democracy protests.