20 December 2012

Member of the European Parliament, Ms. Marietje Schaake, was denied an entry visa into Bahrain for her planned travel on December 18th as part of a delegation of Members of the European Parliament with a program focused on human rights. On December 4th, Ms. Schakke co-hosted a round table discussion with FIDH entitled “Bahrain: How to step-up the EU’s response to ongoing Human Rights violations?”, and Bahraini activists were among the participants on it. She has also worked extensively in other areas concerning EU relationships with Bahrain . The BCHR believes that it is this work which led to the denial of her visa.

In a separate incident, New York Times Journalist Nicholas Kristof was also denied entry into Bahrain on December 17th after being held at the airport overnight. Mr. Kristof is a citizen of the United States, and reported that airport officials acknowledged that US citizens are allowed to transit through Bahrain for 72 hours without a visa, but officials informed him that he is on a ‘blacklist’. Mr. Kristof has been a very outspoken critic of the ongoing human rights violations perpetrated by the authorities in Bahrain, and the relationship between the United States and the gulf kingdom.

The Bahraini Government Spokesperson stated that Bahrain regulates visas for journalists and media delegations like any other country. However, Nicholas Kristof has been twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his outstanding work as a journalist highlighting human rights violations. It is clear that his rejection is not because of his work lacks objectivity. The same is true for Ms. Schaake, who has been widely recognized for her work to objectively promote and protect human rights in Bahrain and other countries.

In the previous months, the authorities in Bahrain have continued to turn down visa requests from several human rights defenders and NGOs missions, including several individuals who wished to attend the trial of leading human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, in order to testify on his behalf in court.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights demands that the authorities in Bahrain allow journalists, activists and foreign dignitaries with an international reputation for objectively protecting and promoting human rights to visit Bahrain.