Observers Urge Bahrain to Lift Visa Restrictions
Washington, DC – Human Rights First today urged the Bahraini government to lift its visa restrictions on human rights observers wishing to monitor the situation in the country. In a letter addressed to the Bahraini Minister of Human Rights and Social Development, Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley, along with members of other human rights advocacy groups, called on the government to reconsider the five day limit currently placed on observer visas. The letter, signed by Dooley and observers from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Physicians for Human Rights, noted, “We must object to the conditions placed on our visits, in particular the extremely short timeframe. The five-business-day limit appears to be arbitrary and will greatly impede our ability to monitor and research human rights developments.” Dooley has visited Bahrain three times since the uprising began in February 2011 and is the author of four reports about the ongoing crackdown. In January, the Bahraini government denied Dooley’s visa request despite promising that NGOs would be granted access to Bahrain if they gave notice of their arrival. The Bahrain Minister for Foreign Affairs had also assured Dooley and other observers that NGOs would not be denied access to the kingdom. “We consider the limit imposed on the duration of our stay in Bahrain to contradict the oral commitments you and other officials made in meetings with our representatives, and to the United Nations, regarding access for international human rights organizations,” the letter concluded. “In addition, informing us of these constraints so close to our planned departure dates calls further into question the King’s commitment to interact with us on a constructive basis.” For more information about Brian Dooley or to schedule a time to speak with him about this latest development, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at [email protected].