5 April 2019 – Bahrain’s Interior Minister, Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, is arriving in Washington DC today, where he will be spending several days meeting with numerous policymakers and offices, including Congressional offices, the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, and the FBI. He will also be attending a private dinner with ambassadors, lobbyists, former policymakers who promote a pro-Arab Gulf agenda, and White House officials, including Jared Kushner.

This visit is of great concern to human rights organizations, including Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), as Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah oversees the Ministry of Interior (MOI), the government agency responsible for the vast majority of human rights abuses in Bahrain. Since 2011, ADHRB has documented and analyzed over 1,000 discrete incidents of abuse comprising more than 3,000 specific rights violations attributable to Ministry of Interior agencies, from arbitrary arrests and torture to rape and extrajudicial killings. While the Bahraini government claims this misconduct is isolated to a few “bad apples,” ADHRB’s documentation demonstrates these violations are a de facto policy supported from the ministerial level and ultimately authorized by Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah.

This connection between street level officials, serious abuses, and Bahrain’s Minister of Interior is documented and examined at length in a new report ADHRB has recently released entitled Anatomy of a Police State. The report is a comprehensive look at the MOI, the core security agency driving Bahrain’s human rights crisis. It also reveals that even as the MOI has led Bahrain’s catastrophic devolution into a police state, it has continued to receive millions of dollars from countries like the United States.

Commenting: “Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior is the single most abusive body in Bahrain, directly responsible for hundreds of human rights violations. These abuses could not occur without the knowledge and approval of Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, nor ultimately without the support of states like the US,” says ADHRB Executive Director Husain Abdulla. “It is critical that during Sheikh Rashid’s visit, US policymakers understand his role in widespread and systematic human rights abuses. The administration and Congressional offices must hold him accountable for the crimes committed under his leadership.”