The United Nations human rights office has condemned the latest verdict on Nabeel Rajab as "continued suppression of government critics," urging Bahrain to release the prominent human rights activist.
The Court of Cassation, whose verdicts are final, on December 31 rejected Rajab’s appeal and upheld his prison sentence over tweets deemed critical of the Manama regime and the deadly Saudi-led war against Yemen.
"Monday's court decision brings into focus the continued suppression of government critics in Bahrain through arbitrary arrest and detention, travel bans, harassment, threats, revocation of citizenship and other means," UN human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said at a news briefing in Geneva, Switzerland.
On February 21, Bahrain’s criminal court sentenced the distinguished human rights activist to five years in prison for tweeting in 2015 about torture in the Jaw Prison and censuring the Saudi-led war on Yemen.
According to a court document, Rajab was found guilty of “spreading false news and rumors in time of war,” “insulting foreign countries” and “insulting publicly the interior ministry” in comments posted on Twitter.
The pro-democracy campaigner has already served a two-year jail sentence over a news interview in which he said Bahrain tortured political detainees. Rajab completed this sentence in July.
Prominent human rights organizations also denounced the ruling, with Amnesty International describing the verdict as “utterly outrageous.”
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the kingdom in mid-February 2011. They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.
Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.