On 7 March 2018, Marietje Schaake submitted the following questions to HR/VP Mogherini on the case of Nabeel Rajab and the situation in Bahrain.
On 21 February 2018, prominent Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to five additional years in prison(1). Rajab was convicted over comments he made on Twitter criticising the air strikes in Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition and accusing Bahrain’s prison authorities of torture against detainees.
In light of the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline (‘the Guidelines’) adopted on 12 May 2014 by the European Council, can the VP/HR:
1. Clarify whether in addition to its statement of 21 February 2018, the EU
will raise the issue of freedom of expression, fair trial and human
rights in all its meetings and contact with the Bahraini authorities?
2. Clarify what specific action the EU is taking under the Guidelines to
promote human rights and freedom of expression online and offline in
3. Give an overview of how EU funds are spent on Bahrain?
Answer given by Vice-President Mogherini on behalf of the Commission
The High Representative/Vice-President is well aware of the case of Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab. The European Union (EU) through its Delegation in Riyadh (which is also accredited to Bahrain) is monitoring this and other individual cases as well as the overall human rights situation in Bahrain, and acting in concert with EU Member States represented in Manama.
In the statement delivered under item 4 at the Human Rights Council on 14 March 2018 in Geneva(1), the EU reiterated its call to Bahrain to maintain its commitments as to the respect of freedom of speech and human rights defenders.
The informal EU-Bahrain human rights dialogue held in Manama on 15 May 2018 allowed to discuss all issues pertaining to freedom of expression (online and offline), fair trial and the overall human rights situation with the Bahraini authorities, including the specific case of Mr Rajab.
These activities are a clear illustration of the work undertaken by the EU for the implementation of the EU Human Rights Guidelines, in particular the EU Guidelines on Freedom of Expression online and offline and on Human rights defenders. The EU has been actively supporting Bahraini human rights defenders and will continue to do so, using all the available means at its disposal.
Bahrain is not a beneficiary of EU financial assistance.