On Monday 13 May 2019 at 12:30pm, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) will testify in front of the Permanent Committee of Human Rights, a subcommittee in the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Italian Parliament’s lower house. The Committee, chaired by Iolanda Di Stasio of the 5 Star Movement and composed of 21 members from six political parties, has invited ADHRB to discuss the lack of action by the Italian Embassy in Manama, Bahrain in raising concerns about human rights abuses, and to offer recommendations for steps the embassy can take to protect and promote human rights in Bahrain. ADHRB has raised similar concerns about Italy’s engagement on human rights in Bahrain and the role its embassy can play in a previous hearing in the Italian Senate on 13 February 2019. In that hearing, moderated by Senator Alberto Airola, we were joined by Amnesty International-Italy and Human Rights First, who raised broad concerns about the human rights situation in Bahrain.
In the upcoming testimony next week, ADHRB will call upon the Italian government to take a stronger stance to promote and protect human rights in Bahrain, including by meeting with Bahraini activists, political figures, and human rights defenders. Among the steps the embassy in Manama can take to demonstrate the Italian government’s commitment to human rights is to visit victims of torture in prison and to support the requests of sick prisoners who need health care. Additionally, the embassy can attend the trials of activists charged with politically motivated crimes or crimes relating to their exercise of free expression. According to several human rights activists in Bahrain, the Italian Embassy has yet to attend the trials of any human rights defenders, political opposition figures, or other important individuals.
In addition to visiting prisoners of conscience, supporting detainees’ right to adequate healthcare, and attending trials, the embassy can hold trainings for rights and political activists. Another important step would be to issue public statements of concern when the Bahraini government arrests and detains rights defenders and political activists and to publicly call for their release. The embassy should also make public statements when the Bahraini government passes restrictive laws that empower officials to infringe upon fundamental freedoms, holds unfree and unfair elections, and levies and carries out death sentences. Taking these steps would demonstrate the embassy’s and Italy’s leadership on human rights in Bahrain.
ADHRB’s testimony will urge the Italian Embassy in Bahrain to take a stronger position towards human rights and to demonstrate greater leadership on promoting and protecting human rights in Bahrain. In particular, the embassy must publicly condemn the arbitrary arrest and detention of human rights defenders and activists, and the unjust imprisonment of political figures. The embassy must also raise their concerns with officials in the Bahraini government and pressure the government to release those unjustly detained.