HRC35 Item 4 Oral Intervention: Deterioration of Human Rights in Bahrain in 2017

On 16 June 2017, ADHRB’s International Advocacy Office, Michael Payne, delivered an oral intervention on behalf of ADHRB under the Item 4 debate during the 35th session of the Human Rights Council. In his intervention, Payne noted the severe deterioration of human rights in Bahrain just since the beginning of 2017, in what has been the worst slide of rights since 2011. Please continue reading for the full text of his intervention, or click here for a PDF of his remarks.

Mr. President,

Only halfway through, this year has been one the most disastrous for Bahrain’s human right situation since 2011.

In January 2017, the government re-empowered an intelligence agency that tortured and killed peaceful demonstrators – reversing one of its only substantial reforms.

That same month, officials unlawfully executed three men tortured into providing false confessions.

In April, the government amended the constitution to allow military courts to try civilians – a measure previously reserved for states of emergency.

Just last month, the authorities dissolved the last major opposition group, Wa’ad, and this week marks the one-year anniversary of human rights defender Nabeel Rajab’s detention on free expression charges.

2017 has also seen Bahrain’s bloodiest day in over a decade: after a court convicted leading Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim on charges stemming from religious practices, security forces violently raided a sit-in around his home in Diraz, killing five demonstrators and injuring hundreds.

This unprecedented deterioration is enabled by Bahrain’s allies in Washington and London. Days before the lethal Diraz raid, Donald Trump met with Gulf rulers in Saudi Arabia, heralding a new era of arms sales and unconditional support. His administration already demonstrated its commitment to this approach, lifting restrictions on a multibillion-dollar fighter-jet sale to Bahrain. The UK, meanwhile, continues to provide training and diplomatic cover to the same Bahraini security forces that have only intensified their abuses, while receiving a new naval base in the kingdom.

We call on all in the international community to condemn these repressive measures and urge the Government of Bahrain– and its allies – to immediately reverse this devastating course.

Thank you.