STATEMENT VIA FRONTLINE DEFENDERS:
12 April 2012
Egypt – Deportation of Bahraini human rights defender Mr Nabeel Rajab
On 11 April 2012, prominent Bahraini human rights defender Mr Nabeel Rajab was stopped upon arrival at Cairo International Airport and subsequently denied entry to Egypt and ordered to leave the country. Nabeel Rajab is the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights. He was invited to Egypt, together with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders and the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly and Association, by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) to attend a consultative meeting on the human rights situation in the region.
Following his arrival at Cairo International Airport at 12.30 pm on 11 April, Nabeel Rajab's passport was seized by airport security officers who did not disclose the reasons behind the procedure. The airport authorities later stated that Nabeel Rajab would be deported back to Bahrain on the next flight. CIHRS staff who reached the airport authorities by phone were told that Nabeel Rajab was on the list of those prohibited from entering Egypt but no further details were disclosed.
The deportation of Nabeel Rajab comes less than two weeks after another Bahraini human rights defender, Ms Maryam Al Khawaja, daughter of prominent human right defender and former Front Line Defenders Protection Coordinator on the Middle East and North Africa Mr Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, was held for several hours at Cairo International Airport.
Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned about the denial of entry to Egypt of Nabeel Rajab and believes that this measure by the Egyptian authorities is solely motivated by his work as a human rights defender. This is especially the case given the fact that Nabeel Rajab and Maryam Al Khawaja have both been able to visit Egypt on a regular basis in the past in relation to human rights activities in the region.
Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Egypt to:
1. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the reasons behind Nabeel Rajab's denied access to Egypt with a view to publishing the results;
2. Ensure Nabeel Rajab is allowed access to enter Egypt so that he may be able to carry out his peaceful and legitimate human rights work;
3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders visiting Egypt are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all undue restrictions or arbitrary interference from Government entities.