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Encouraging Signs They Are Set to Take More Leading Role

The Nordic countries proudly express steadfast commitment to human rights as a priority in foreign policy, but have been disappointingly inconsistent in practice. Sweden launched a feminist foreign policy in 2014 – a laudable approach that failed…
An Icelandic flag hangs outside a shop in Reykjavik, October 27, 2016.
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Death Sentences Stand Despite Evidence of Torture

“I am Mohamed Ramadan. I have been sentenced to death.… I want my voice to be heard by those who believe in the principles of justice and equality.… I am innocent of the crime of which I was accused, subjected to a sham trial and sentenced to death.…
Mohamed Ramadan (left) and Hussein Ali Moosa (right).
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Many Prominent Political Prisoners Still Detained

On March 17, the Bahraini Interior Ministry announced it had released 1,486 detainees for “humanitarian reasons, in the backdrop of current circumstances,” a likely reference to the COVID-19 pandemic. About 900 of them were granted…
Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab arrives for his appeal hearing at court in Manama, February 11, 2015.
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Bahrain King’s Visit Ideal Opportunity to Urge Release of Nabeel Rajab, Prisoners

French President Emmanuel Macron should not hold back in criticizing Bahrain’s dismal rights record during King Hamad al-Khalifa’s visit to Paris on April 30. Bahrain is approaching a near total shutdown on free speech as…
Demonstrations after the death of a young Bahraini after being shot outside the home of the Shiite leader in Bahrain on March 25, 2017. © 2017 Sayed Baqer AlKamel/NurPhoto via Getty Images
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Formula 1 Should Urge Bahrain To Free Activist Najah Yusuf

Next week, Formula One returns to Bahrain for its high-octane auto race, the Grand Prix. The race sparks protests year after year in Bahrain, as well as in other repressive host countries like Azerbaijan. Bahraini authorities…
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FIFA, IOC Helped Stop Refugee Footballer’s Forced Return

Today marks the eighth anniversary of the mass protests in Bahrain during the 2011 Arab Uprisings, when thousands demonstrated against the ruling al-Khalifa family’s tight grip on power. The government’s ensuing crackdown left about 30…
#FreeHakeem
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Mkhaitir, Bibi Not Yet Free Despite Court Rulings

Thanks to inhumane blasphemy laws, two former death row inmates living at distant ends of the Muslim world have much in common. Aasia Bibi spent eight years on Pakistan’s death row after a court sentenced her to death for “…
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Activists May Look to US Congress for Support

United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo predictably avoided public discussion of human rights concerns during his recent visit to Bahrain, part of a nine-nation Middle East tour. During a meeting with the King, Crown…
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At Risk of Torture If Returned From Thailand

This week Bahraini soccer player Hakeem al-Araibi was taken to Bangkok Criminal Court, where bail was denied and his detention was extended for 60 days so Thailand can prepare his extradition to Bahrain, a country where he has said he was tortured.…
Hakeem Ali Mohamed Ali al-Araibi in detention at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok.
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Plan Would Link EU Funds to Rule of Law, Functioning Judiciary

It’s not every day the European Commission proposes something truly ground-breaking. But yesterday, when the EU announced a new plan to link EU funds given to member states to the health of their judiciary, it did just that.…
European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, October 28, 2015.
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Local Activists Addressing Discrimination, Slavery Also Face Government Obstacles

“You said human rights? You need to get the OK elsewhere,” said the hakim (a municipal officer) after we asked him to hold a press conference earlier this month in a hotel in Mauritania’s capital, Nouakchott. Normally, the hakim decides…
Human Rights Watch press conference in Nouakchott, Mauritania, February 12, 2018.
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Arrested Mauritanian Senator Mohamed Ould Ghadda Demands Fair Trial

Mohamed Ould Ghadda, the former Mauritanian senator, was sitting on the floor outside of a cell shared with eight other co-prisoners when I met him in Mauritania’s Nouakchott Prison about a week ago. “I refused to ask the…
Mauritanian authorities detained opposition leader, Mohamed Ould Ghadda, for two months on vague corruption charges. © 2016 Mohamed Ould Ghadda (Official Facebook Page)
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While Saudi Arabia Fights Yemen War Crimes Investigation

This week Saudi Arabia and its allies in Geneva are blustering and threatening other countries to try to defeat a UN Human Rights Council resolution that would set up an independent investigation into war crimes by all parties –…
MENA 2015 Bahrain Nabeel Rajab
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Other Council of Europe Countries Should Back LGBT Rights

As of March 1, Finland will allow same-sex couples to marry, bringing to thirteen the number of European countries with marriage equality laws.Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, in a statement on February 21, affirmed…
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UK Prime Minister Theresa May has been called out publicly by rights groups in recent days over the British government’s cosy relationship with the Gulf monarchies. Two days before her appearance as guest of honor at the Gulf…
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (L) greets Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa in front of 10 Downing Street, in London, Britain October 26, 2016.
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Seeking justice for the ongoing grave human rights abuses in Syria has proven largely elusive. Now the shield of impunity is beginning to crack. Several countries, including Sweden, Germany, and France are in the process of investigating some…
Syrian Man Carries Children After Barrel Bomb Attack
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Prominent Bahraini Rights Activist Faces 15 Years In Prison

In January 2014, Stephen Colbert interviewed Human Rights Watch’s executive director Ken Roth and asked him who the next Nelson Mandela would be. Alongside the Chinese dissident writer Liu Xiaobo, he named Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab.…
MENA 2015 Bahrain Nabeel Rajab
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Bahrainis were given a harsh reminder yesterday that the Bahrain government brooks no criticism. In a statement the Bahraini Ministry of Interior cautioned against criticism of the government’s decision to send eight fighter jets to take part…
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UK statements supportive of Bahrain’s ruling Al Khalifa family are nothing new, but the tone and timing of Tuesday's comments by foreign secretary Philip Hammond are the worst and most cynical yet.   Less than 24 hours before rights activist Nabeel Rajab…
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Many Bahraini activists have borne the brunt of their government’s unjust laws, unfair convictions and unlawful tactics, but few have resisted with such steely resolve as the activists in the al-Khawaja family. Maryam al-Khawaja’s August 30 arrest on…