Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC) Hearing:

The Human Rights Situation in Bahrain

Noon-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 27 2200 Rayburn House Office Building

Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission at a hearing on the human rights situation in Bahrain. The hearing is open to the media and the interested public.

Bahrain is a monarchy of approximately one million people, ruled by King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, the head of state and of all branches of government. A new constitution effective February 14, 2002, reinstated a legislative body, consisting of one elected chamber, the Council of Deputies, and one appointed, the Shura Council. A 2005 law stipulates that “political parties” are prohibited but “political societies” were legalized, and those societies participated in 2006 elections, considered by many as marred by irregularities and accusations of vote rigging. A close ally of the United States with strategic importance for the region, Bahrain is a Shia majority country ruled by Sunni royal family and Sunni elites dominating the public, military and business sectors.

Shia political societies participated in 2006 parliamentary and municipal elections. Al Wifaq, the largest Shia political society, won the largest number of seats in the elected chamber of the legislature. However, Shia discontent remains and manifests itself in violent incidents connected to street demonstrations. While the constitution in Article 19(d) states that: “No person shall be subjected to physical or mental torture, or inducement, or undignified treatment, and the penalty for so doing shall be specified by law. Any statement or confession proved to have been made under torture, inducement, or such treatment, or the threat thereof, shall be null and void,” credible human rights NGOs and the State Department Human Rights Report for 2009 documented violations of these constitutional protections. Other concerns include women’s rights, trafficking, freedom of speech and religion, domestic violence and discrimination against the Shia population and foreign workers’ rights.

To discuss these important issues, we will welcome: ***

Joe Stork, Human Rights Watch Stephen McInerney, Project on Middle East Democracy Mohammed Alansari, Bahrain Society for Public Freedom Representative, Freedom House

***Witness List subject to change.

If you have any questions, please call Hans Hogrefe (Rep. McGovern) or Elizabeth Hoffman (Rep. Wolf) at 202-225-3599.

James P. McGovern, M.C. Frank R. Wolf, M.C. Co-Chairman, TLHRC Co-Chairman, TLHRC