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US joins 43 states in condemning human rights situation in Bahrain

(Freedom House/IFEX) - Freedom House applauds the release of a joint statement today by 44 United Nations member states expressing “serious concern” with the human rights situation in Bahrain and calling on the government to investigate rights abuses and make a real effort to implement reform. The United States' decision to sign on to the statement was also a welcome development given its resistance to publicly criticizing the regime.

Germany, France, Sweden, Spain and Mexico were among the 44 countries who voiced concern with the government's imprisonment of persons exercising the right to free expression, and with the impunity of human rights violators. Signatories called on the government to show restraint during public demonstrations and to uphold the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of association. They also noted the lack of due process in the cases of pro-democracy activists, including 2012 Freedom Award winner Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and 12 other activists who were put on trial and later had their life sentences upheld.

Signatories urged the government to expedite the implementation of recommendations from the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report, which was released in November 2011 and criticized the government's reaction to February 2011's protests calling for reforms. So far, there has been no evidence of real reform in Bahrain, despite the government's pledge to implement BICI report recommendations, and the country has been steadily moving in the wrong direction.

Bahrain is rated Not Free in the 2013 edition of Freedom House's Freedom in the World report and Not Free in the 2012 edition of the Freedom of the Press and Freedom on the Net reports. Citizens have been broadly engaged in protests calling for a more representative government and denouncing ongoing human rights abuses since February 2011. Rights groups have reported ongoing arrests, intimidation, and in some cases torture of those who speak out against the regime.

On February 14 2013, Freedom House released a video, in which Freedom House 2012 Freedom Award recipient Maryam Al-Khawaja, daughter of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, speaks about Bahrain's revolution and her family's struggle to promote human rights in Bahrain.

What other IFEX members are saying
  • United Nations: Global pressure mounts on Bahrain to end repression of democracy activists

    “This declaration and the broad support it enjoyed from around the world gives us hope that Bahrain might finally be held accountable by the international community for the grave human rights violations it continues to commit on a daily basis against those struggling for democracy and rights in the country,” said Sohair Riad, Researcher for the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.

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