Testimony Details Concrete Steps U.S. Should Take to Address Bahrain Abuses
Washington, D.C. – In testimony submitted today to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley urged the U.S. government to publicly condemn abuses by the Bahrain government and call for accountability at the highest levels of authority for human rights violations. His testimony also highlighted five main human rights issues that should be of particular concern to the U.S. in its dealings with the Bahraini government. In his testimony, Dooley noted that silence on the part of the U.S. is often poorly received by local human rights activists. He stated, “In the absence of such public statements, the general public, including human rights defenders, are left to understand that the U.S. supports the status quo.” Among other areas of concern Dooley detailed in his testimony are: lack of access to Bahrain for international human rights observers and media; use of excessive forces by police and security personnel; criminal charges against medical personnel and other innocent civilians; lack of accountability for human rights violations, and; attacks on human rights defenders and other pro-democracy protests. Dooley’s testimony also included recommendations for the U.S. government. “The U.S. government should publicly state that its current and future relationship with the Bahrain government is dependent on it respecting international human rights standards and holding violators accountable, and that a relationship of long-term, mutual benefit cannot be pursued unless Bahrain respects international human rights standards,” urged Dooley. Among the concrete steps Dooley recommends the U.S. government take to pressure the Bahraini government to improve its human rights record are the following:
- Urge the Bahrain government to begin immediately real reform and diversification of its security sector, to make its police force representative of the whole community and to end discriminatory practices in hiring or promotion.
- Present its views on the fairness of each of the trials its observers have monitored in Bahrain since May 2011. Without a public declaration, it could be inferred that the U.S. supports the proceeding.
- Call for access for international human rights observers and journalists, and identify those who should be—but are not—allowed into the country.
- Name those Bahrainis it believes are being held or charged with politically-motivated offenses, and publicly call for charges to be dropped against them.
- Urge that the decisions against all 502 people convicted by the military Court of National Safety last year be immediately and unconditionally revoked since they were politically motivated and were conducted through unfair military process.
Dooley has traveled to Bahrain four times in the past year to speak with human rights defenders, Bahraini government officials, U.S. government officials, diplomats from other governments, and international experts working in Bahrain. He has authored five reports detailing the situation in the country based on these visits.