Testimony by Daniel Calingaert, Freedom House Vice President for Policy and External Relations, before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, on December 8, 2011
We are writing to you out of concern with ongoing developments in Bahrain. “meaningful reform and equal treatment for all Bahrainis are in Bahrain’s interest, in the region’s interest, and in ours.”
As we await the report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) on November 23, we are also pleased to hear that the administration will “review the Commission’s findings carefully and assess the Government of Bahrain’s efforts to implement the recommendations and make needed reforms.”
The International Partnership Group of freedom of expression organizations visited Macedonia on an evidence-gathering mission from 17-18 November 2011 and met with representatives of the government, the parliament, civil society, journalism associations and media development organizations, as well as individual journalists.
Nearly ten months since the start of the Egyptian revolution, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has yet to take basic steps towards establishing a human rights-respecting, democratic, civilian government.
Amid the political convulsions wracking the Middle East, few prolonged protests have been as ignored by the West, particularly the United States, as those in the tiny Gulf monarchy of Bahrain. Despite the regime’s brutality, which has targeted peaceful protesters, human rights activists and medical personnel, the United States recently signed a multimillion-dollar arms deal (currently on hold) with the country and has remained largely silent amid a crackdown that proportionally surpasses the magnitude of any other in the region. Despite the fact that Bahrain is home to the US Fifth Fleet and has received the coveted designation of ‘non-NATO ally’, the people of Bahrain have the same right to advocate for democratic change as their counterparts in the region.
A little more than two years after the United States took its seat for the first time as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, debates persist over whether it should have continued the Bush administration’s policy of disengaging from the UN’s primary human rights body. This debate largely revolves around the issue of whether the council is a fundamentally flawed structure, and if so, whether the presence of the United States gives it undue legitimacy.