(Beirut) – Members of parliament from around the world attending this year’s Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Bahrain should use the assembly to raise concerns about the serious repression of human rights in Bahrain, 22 organizations including Human Rights Watch said today in a joint letter.
The 146th IPU Assembly is scheduled to take place in Manama, Bahrain’s capital, from March 11 to 15, 2023. “We urge you to ensure that the IPU’s 146th Assembly will not be used by the Bahraini authorities to whitewash its dismal rights record,” the groups said in the letter.
The government of Bahrain imposes restrictions on expression, association, and assembly that violate Bahrain’s international human rights obligations. Elections are neither free nor fair, and opposition voices are systematically excluded and repressed.
In 2016 and 2017, Bahrain’s judiciary dissolved two of the country’s main political opposition parties, al-Wefaq and Wa’ad. Political isolation laws introduced in 2018 have barred former members of these parties from running for parliament or sitting on boards of governors of civil society organizations.
The laws also target former prisoners, including people imprisoned for their political work. They also face routine delays and denials in their ability to access “Good Conduct Certificates,” a document required for Bahraini citizens and residents to apply for a job, university admission, or even join a sports or social club.
Many members of Bahrain’s political opposition, as well as activists, bloggers, and human rights defenders, continue to be imprisoned for their roles in the 2011 pro-democracy protests, as well as for more recent political activism in more recent years. They have faced brutal treatment, including torture and denial of medical care.
“The Bahrani government’s invitation to hold the Assembly in Manama this year in Bahrain is significant in the opportunity it presents to parliamentarians,” the groups said in their letter. “They can act to improve the human rights situation in the country, for their counterpart MPs as well as the broader Bahraini population.”
The organizations are:
- Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain
- Bahrain Center for Human Rights
- Bahrain Forum for Human Rights
- Bahrain Human Rights Society
- Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy
- Democracy for the Arab World Now
- European Center for Democracy and Human Rights
- Front Line Defenders
- Gulf Centre for Human Rights
- Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights
- Human Rights First
- Human Rights Watch
- International Federation for Human Rights
- MENA Rights Group
- PEN International
- PEN America
- Project on Middle East Democracy
- Rights Realisation Centre
- SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights
- Scholars at Risk
- The #FreeAlKhawaja campaign