U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom Sharply Criticizes Bahrain
Washington, D.C. – Today the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) issued its annual report on abuses to religious freedom worldwide and issued a damaging judgment of Bahrain’s claims to reform, said Human Rights First. The report criticized Bahrain on a number of issues, including discrimination against its Shia population and continuing impunity for torture and other abuses.
“Today’s report is the triple whammy this month following other sharply critical verdicts on Bahrain from the U.S. State Department and the U.K. government,” said Brian Dooley of Human Rights First. “Even Bahrain’s closest allies are losing patience with its failure to reform.”
“To date, only a few lower-level police officers or security officials have been tried, prosecuted, and convicted for abuses, with little or no transparency about these trials and convictions,” noted the report. “No high-level government officials have been held accountable for the killing, torturing, imprisoning, and targeting of Shi’i Muslims during the 2011 unrest.”
The USCIRF sent a delegation to Manama in December 2012 to assess progress made by the Bahraini government in implementing the reforms recommended in the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI). The USCIRF report highlighted the destruction of Shia places of worship and discrimination in employment against Shias. It also cited “increased rhetoric from official media outlets inflaming sectarian tensions and demonizing the Shi’i Muslim population.”
“Bahrain seems determined to lose the friends it has,” said Dooley. “Last week the government told the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture last week he couldn’t visit the country, which was a huge blow to Bahrain’s credibility. Today’s report is another. The question now is whether the U.S. government and other allies are prepared to back up their critical words with consequences for the regime.”