WASHINGTON, DC – July 29, 2013 – On Sunday, the Bahrain National Assembly held an extraordinary session reportedly in response to an increase in violence in Bahrain, but also amid growing support for Bahrain’s Tamarod Movement protests set to take place on August 14. Following the session, the National Assembly released 22 recommendations, which the King of Bahrain readily accepted. Disconcertingly, however, the recommendations lack regard for basic human rights protections, including freedoms of expression, assembly, association, and speech. Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) is deeply concerned by these recommendations and urges the Government of Bahrain to reconsider all proposals which infringe upon fundamental human rights.

The recommendations encourage “tough” and “severe” legal penalties for a variety of vaguely-worded activities which the government deems as inciting violence or undermining security. If implemented, which Bahrain’s king has said should happen as soon as possible, these proposals would allow the Government of Bahrain to target a broad swath of Bahraini activists and oppositionists, simply for exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of assembly and expression, including anyone who uses social media “in an illegal way” or who disseminates “false information.”

Disturbingly, the recommendations also ban protests and call for the revocation of citizenship of those who carry out or instigate undefined “terrorist crimes.” The Bahrain government frequently abuses ambiguous definitions of “terrorism” and related national security crimes in order to justify the arbitrary arrest, detention, and sentencing of bloggers, medical professionals, and prominent human rights activists.

“For decades, Bahrain’s rulers and their allies within the National Assembly have sought ways to forcefully silence criticism and dissent, and these recommendations are another example of the extreme measures the ruling family is willing to undertake to retain a stronghold on power,” said ADHRB Director Husain Abdulla. “Many of the recommendations presented by the parliament are nothing short of institutionalized human rights violations masquerading as security measures. The only way forward in Bahrain is through substantive dialogue and reform, an end to violence by all parties, an immediate stop to rights abuses, and accountability for those responsible for serious human rights violations, including senior government officials.”

With the onset of Bahrain’s peaceful protest movement in 2011, the Bahrain government enforced a swift and brutal crackdown that led to thousands of arrests and injuries, hundreds of reported cases of torture, and dozens of deaths. Following the subsequent human rights violations perpetrated against protesters by government forces during the crackdown, the king of Bahrain accepted recommendations made by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI)—a body commissioned to investigate abuses and propose reforms. However, few of the recommendations have been implemented fully or in good faith.

“The majority of the proposals made by the National Assembly directly contradict those made by the BICI nearly two years ago, calling into even greater question the sincerity of the government’s promise to implement the BICI reforms,” Abdulla said.


Please click here for a PDF of this statement.

الرجاء الضغط هنا لقراءة هذه الرسالة باللغة العربي