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On 21 February, Bahrain’s High Criminal Court sentenced Nabeel Rajab to five additional years in prison for comments posted on social media. This verdict follows the one which had already been handed down in January. Other cases against him are still pending.
The case of Mr Rajab has become a symbol for human rights defenders and respect of freedom of speech, in Bahrain and beyond. This new sentence, as well as the open cases against Mr Rajab, run counter to the Government of Bahrain's own commitments as the country prepares itself for new parliamentary elections.
The European Union once again reiterates its call to grant Mr Rajab's release, including on humanitarian grounds due to his deteriorating health condition, and seizes this opportunity to encourage all parties in Bahrain to contribute to resume dialogue with a view to relaunch a process of national reconciliation in a peaceful and constructive manner.