Bahrain Must Commit to Real Reform One Year After Commission’s Recommendations | Freedom House

Bahrain Must Commit to Real Reform One Year After Commission’s Recommendations

Washington

Freedom House calls on the Government of Bahrain to honor its stated commitment to undertake serious reform and end its campaign of repression against peaceful activists on the occasion of the first anniversary of the release of the findings of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI). One year later, few of the Commission's 26 recommendations have been implemented by the Bahraini Government and political detentions, police abuse, and the targeting of peaceful protesters continues.

The BICI, established to look into the gross human rights violations and crackdowns employed by the Government of Bahrain to quell the political protests that began in February 2011, was limited in the scope of its mandate and recommendations. Nevertheless the report provided valuable insight into abuses committed by the Government and security forces during the protests and its recommendations were widely considered useful in addressing the roots of repression in Bahrain. According to the Project on Middle East Democracy, however, while the Government claims to have implemented 18 of the BICI recommendations, only three have been fully implemented one year on. Those yet to be implemented include many of the most important steps called for by the BICI, such as ending impunity for the security forces, relaxing censorship, and allowing effective prison monitoring to occur.

"Bahraini authorities claim they have made significant progress towards implementing the BICI recommendations, but many of their changes have been purely cosmetic," said Robert Herman, vice president for regional programs at Freedom House. "The recent decisions to ban protests and revoke citizenship of opposition figures demonstrate the superficiality of the response to date."

Freedom House calls on the United States Government to review its security relationship with the country, including the presence of the U.S. Fifth Fleet and further arms sales, unless rapid progress is made toward undertaking these steps. In the absence of such action, the intensification of violence can only damage US security interest and the image and policy of the United States in the region.

"The United States must stop supporting a dishonest and violent regime that seeks to repress the majority of its own people,"said Charles Dunne, director of Middle East and North Africa programs at Freedom House. "We should signal to the Bahrainis that the security relationship will be in jeopardy if true progress is not made."

Contrary to the Government of Bahrain's assertion of progress, events of the past year demonstrate significant regression and a worsening situation on the ground. The government recently banned all protests, revoked the nationalities of 31 Shiite activists and arrested and upheld convictions of numerous Human Rights advocates, including Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and his daughter Zainab, winners of this year's Freedom House Freedom Award along with Mr. al-Khawaja's other daughter Maryam, who now lives in exile.

Learn more:

Freedom in the World 2012 Bahrain

Freedom of the Press 2012 Bahrain

Freedom on the Net 2012 Bahrain

Countries at the Crossroads 2012 Bahrain

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter (freedomhousedc) and stay up to date with Freedom House's latest news and events by signing up for our RSS feeds and visiting our blog.

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter (freedomhouse). Stay up to date with Freedom House’s latest news and events by signing up for our newsletter.