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Press briefing note on DRC and Bahrain

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Liz Throssell
Location: Geneva
Date: 23 December 2016
Subject: (1) DRC & (2) Bahrain

(1) DRC

Reports that dozens of people have been killed by police and soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo over the past few days are deeply troubling and point to growing instability in the country, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said on Friday.

Over the past week, the UN Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC (UNJHRO) has documented at least 40 killings of civilians in Kinshasa, Lumbumbashi, Boma and Matadi, mainly of people protesting against President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down at the official end of his mandate on 19 December. Some 107 people have been injured or ill-treated and there have been at least 460 arrests.

Read the High Commissioner’s press release:
Accountability for killings of protesters vital, Zeid says, as DRC crisis continues (http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21059&LangID=E)

(2) Bahrain

We are seriously concerned about the ongoing prosecution of Nabeel Rajab, a co-founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, who has been detained since 13 June 2016 for exercising his right to freedom of expression.

Mr Rajab, who was convicted and then pardoned for tweets he wrote in 2014, currently faces a series of charges. These relate to comments on social media regarding torture in Jaw prison, and critiquing the Saudi-led coalition’s airstrikes in Yemen, charges that carry maximum sentences of 10 and three years respectively.

On 5 September he was additionally charged with “intentionally broadcasting false news and malicious rumours abroad impairing the prestige of the State”. These charges were brought by the General Prosecutor in response to an article by Mr Rajab published on 4 September in the New York Times.

This charge carries a sentence of at least one year.

On 15 December, Mr Rajab’s trial was postponed for the fifth time. His next hearing is scheduled for 28 December.
Criticising the Government should not be the grounds for detention or prosecution and we call on the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr Rajab.

We also urge the Government of Bahrain to take all necessary steps to secure the right to freedom of opinion and expression in accordance with fundamental principles set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Bahrain ratified in 2006.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or or Liz Throssell  ( +41 22 917 9466/ ethrossell@ohchr.org )

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