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Six months’ analysis of rights violations in Bahrain shows heightened volatile crackdown in 2019

Introduction

The first six months of 2019 have seen increasing instances of intimidation and reprisals against human rights defenders,  ​journalists, and active members of civil society in Bahrain. Amid the heightened crackdown on critical voices, the Bahraini government has regressed to a near total suppression of human rights. The Bahrain Center for Human (BCHR) has documented increased numbers of individuals arbitrarily arrested, an increased number of protests, and a significant number of citizenship revocation orders. All major opposition parties have now been dissolved, and stripped of their nationalities. Peaceful protesters ​ died from injuries inflicted by security forces, many caused by the use of birdshot pellets and tear gas.

BCHR is gravely concerned about these recent developments in Bahrain, and the ongoing and increasingly severe and volatile crackdown on human rights defenders, members of the political opposition, journalists, and active members of civil society in the country.

 

Review

Between 01 January and 30 June 2019, BCHR has recorded a total of 261 arbitrary arrests in Bahrain, amongst which, 23 children, and 2 women.

There have been 128 protests across the country; 5 of these protests were attacked. Numerous injuries were also reported during this time; injuries caused by birdshot pellets were the most common.

Between 01 January and 10 May 2019 BCHR recorded a total of 521 individuals sentenced in politically motivated cases, amongst which 334 had their Bahraini citizenship revoked, rendering them stateless, whilst 46 were sentenced to life.  

Since January 2019, 109 individuals were sentenced to death in Bahrain while many countries have, each year, recommended that Bahrain move towards the abolition of the death penalty and impose an official moratorium on the death penalty (104 countries such as France, Germany, United Kingdom, and South Africa).

Mohamed Ramadan, a 36-year-old soldier formerly serving at the Bahrain International Airport, and Husain Ali Moosa, 32 years old, are two Bahraini citizens that were sentenced to death in a collective judgment in 2014. They were convicted for their alleged involvement in the Al-Dair bombing of 14 February 2014 that resulted in the death of a policeman. On 16 November 2015, Bahrain’s Court of Cassation – the highest court – rejected Mohamed’s final appeal. He is currently awaiting imminent execution at Jau Prison. Sentenced to death in the same trial, Husain received a similar treatment. On 22 October 2018, the Court of Cassation overturned their verdict, on the basis of new medical reports, which may exhibit signs of torture. They are currently awaiting a re-trial. The order for a retrial of death-row inmates Mohammed Ramadan and Husain Ali Moosa certainly represented a positive step, given that their case rests on the coerced confession extracted from Mr Moosa. However, there is still a risk that Mr Ramadan and Mr Moosa will be subjected to an unfair trial as they have been prevented from attending recent hearings of their re-trial.

 

The increased use of indiscriminate violence against critical voices in the country, and the targeted reprisals levied at human rights defenders and their families is demonstrative of the escalated campaign in Bahrain.

Human rights defenders and members of Bahrain’s civil society more generally are systematically being harassed and punished, with the use of torture and imprisonment. On 31 December 2018, Bahrain’s top court, the Court of Cassation, upheld leading human rights defender Nabeel Rajab’s five-year sentence for tweeting his criticism of the war in Yemen and the torture prisoners in Bahrain’s notorious Jau Prison are subjected to. Hassan Mushaima, a former political opposition leader, continues to serve his life imprisonment. Female activist Najah Yusuf has been imprisoned for alleged social media activity, which includes Facebook posts calling for peaceful protests against the Bahrain Grand Prix 2017.

The Court of Cassation also upheld the life sentence handed down to former political opposition leader, Sheikh Ali Salman. The lack of any credible political opposition in Bahrain restricts democracy in the country, and reduces avenues for criticism which could lead to a total suppression of the freedom of expression and association in the country.

 

Trying civilians in military courts

The use of military courts to try civilians in Bahrain has particularly been criticized by many countries who called for Bahrain to rescind law 105b, which allows for civilians to be prosecuted in military courts if accused of crimes under the terrorism law. Bahrain should, additionally, review the anti-terrorism law and its implementation to ensure that it is not utilized for abuse, harassment, and detention of dissenters.

 

 

Recommendations

Based on the above, it is a critical time to push for the end of the systematic clampdown on freedom of expression in Bahrain. The international community is to put more pressure on Bahrain to lift the restrictions on the right to the freedom of expression; it goes without saying that the right to exercise the most basic rights, one cannot expect any reforms or rule of law .BCHR calls on the International Community to pursue its effort to raise concern about the plight of civil society in Bahrain and calls on the Government of Bahrain to take concrete steps to foster an environment in which civil society can operate freely, in accordance with international standards.

Further recommendations for the Government of Bahrain are:

- Signing and acceding to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that aimed at abolishing the death penalty.

- Repeal the amendment to the Military Law and to restore the law to its previous case, which prohibits the prosecution of civilians in military courts.

- Provide basic guarantees for all civilians accused in military courts and re-trials in civil courts with the legal access of lawyers.

-Immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscious that were arrested as a result expressing their opinion through media.

The Persecution of Religions in Bahrain

In light of the recent events in Bahrain and the disregard of the ruling authorities in Manama for local and international laws and the involvement of systematic violations of religious freedoms according to experts of the United Nations and international organizations concerned with the file of religious freedoms. Bahrain Interfaith, in cooperation with Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and Amnesty International, organized a conference entitled "Religious persecution in Bahrain ". The conference was attended by human rights and media personalities. The conference was held in Beirut, on Monday July 15. It focused on restrictions on freedom of expression and belief in Bahrain's prisons. From Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Ghiwa Faroukh spoke about restrictions on religious freedoms and stressed that "Bahraini prisons, overcrowded against detainees on political and legal backgrounds, in the country do not take into consideration or include the basic rules for the protection of human rights." The lawyer Abbas Dbouk called on to "find effective international mechanisms according to high standards in the face of any authority that violates the human rights of individuals in their basic rights and freedoms." Amnesty International representative Devine Kenny also spoke of discriminatory policies against Shi’a referring to the following three high-profile cases: the denaturalization of Sheikh Hussein Najati in 2011, the destruction of Shi’a places of worship in 2011, and the denaturalization of Sheikh Issa Qasim in 2016. Soumaya al-Haj Hassan, on behalf of Bahrain Interfaith, spoke of the US State Department's recent report on religious freedoms in Bahrain and noted that the Shiites in Bahrain continue to be discriminated against across jobs, education and the judiciary. She added that Shi'a prisoners are also subjected to humiliation, persecution, ill treatment and denial of treatment.

Final Report: “Bahrain: repression of words and deprivation of rights”

Bahrain Center for Human Rights issued the yearly final report entitled “Bahrain: repression of words and deprivation of rights”, in both, English and Arabic languages. The report is published to highlight the status of human rights in Bahrain through documentation and statistics of all violations forms (arbitrary arrests and judgments and suppression of all forms of peaceful expression).

In a chronological order, the four parts of the report shed light on what happens in Bahrain including persecution, discrimination, unfair power practices with citizens (249 nationality revocations), and the suppression of peaceful demonstrations. The report shows how authority tries to mute mouths through arbitrary arrests.

The report includes a graph in each part (three months) showing the number of arrests through methods: raids on houses, checkpoints, arrests from the street and others. That is in addition to a graph showing the number of peaceful demonstrations and suppressed one. And all the practices adopted by the authority against human rights practices from the disbanding of Al Wefaq Islamic Party to the activation of the political isolation law and harsh sentences amounting to a total of 6383 years imprisonment.

The report concluded with recommendations to the Government of Bahrain to:

- Signing and acceding to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that aimed at abolishing the death penalty.

-Protecting the freedom of religion to all citizens in Bahrain.

- Urge the government of Bahrain to repeal the amendment to the Military Law and to restore the law to its previous case, which prohibits the prosecution of civilians in military courts.

- Provide basic guarantees for all civilians accused in military courts and re-trials in civil courts with the legal access of lawyers.

-Immediate and unconditional release of all journalists and prisoners of conscious that were arrested as a result expressing their opinion through media.

Read full report here 

From 2011 to 2019: The Screams of Torture Still Echo

Bahrain Center for Human Rights issued a new report entitled “From 2011 to 2019: The Screams of Torture Still Echo”, on the occasion of International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The report is published in English language to highlight the acts and victims of torture in Bahrain since 2011.

The report provides an overview of the current status of human rights violations in Bahrain, particularly those pertaining to allegations of ill-treatment and torture of political prisoners, while held in police custody. It also provides a background on the status of torture in Bahrain by providing readers with a glance at earlier cases and events of the last few years.

In a number of recommendations, BCHR calls on the Bahraini government to abide by applicable international and national law prescriptions, and calls on the international community to take immediate steps to address the culture of impunity and the clearly illegal use of torture and ill-treatment, to which individuals continue to be subjected at the hands of the security forces of Bahrain in 2019.

To read the full report click here

From 2011 to 2019: The Screams of Torture Still Echo

Bahrain Center for Human Rights issued a new report entitled “From 2011 to 2019: The Screams of Torture Still Echo”, on the occasion of International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The report is published in English language to highlight the acts and victims of torture in Bahrain since 2011.

The report provides an overview of the current status of human rights violations in Bahrain, particularly those pertaining to allegations of ill-treatment and torture of political prisoners, while held in police custody. It also provides a background on the status of torture in Bahrain by providing readers with a glance at earlier cases and events of the last few years.

In a number of recommendations, BCHR calls on the Bahraini government to abide by applicable international and national law prescriptions, and calls on the international community to take immediate steps to address the culture of impunity and the clearly illegal use of torture and ill-treatment, to which individuals continue to be subjected at the hands of the security forces of Bahrain in 2019. To read the full report click here

US Pressure to Deny Palestinian Rights in “Deal of the Century” Bahrain Workshop Must be Rejected

We, the undersigned, express our grave concern regarding the US-led “Peace to Prosperity” workshop in Bahrain, which poses a significant threat to the Palestinian right to self-determination, justice, and equality. The Bahrain workshop is part of President Trump’s anticipated Palestine-Israel peace plan, touted as the “Deal of the Century,” and will be held later this month to discuss investment in the occupied Palestinian territory as an economic solution to the question of Palestine.

Although the contents of the plan have not yet been released, the troubling pattern of the current US administration’s policies portend what the plan will likely entail — a continued course of uncritical support for Israel at the expense of the rights of the Palestinian people. Since 2017, the Trump administration’s policies have undermined Palestinian rights, contravened international law, and flouted longstanding US policies with regard to Israel and Palestine. President Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Israel’s annexation of the Syrian Golan in violation of international law, which does not recognize sovereignty over territory taken from another country by force. It has also cut crucial US funding to UNRWA for its work with Palestinian refugees, eliminated USAID programs in the West Bank and Gaza, and closed the Washington office of the General Delegation of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

These US policies jeopardize the inalienable rights of Palestinians to self-determination and an independent Palestinian state, an end to the prolonged occupation, an end to Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise, and the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

Palestinians have been held captive to Israel’s market and economy due to the prolonged occupation and are facing increasing economic pressure as a result of US policies. Now, Palestinians will be asked to give up their inalienable rights and struggle for freedom and justice in exchange for vague promises of economic cooperation and an alleged better standard of living. The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and a number of prominent Palestinian businessmen have made it clear that they oppose the plan and will not be attending. Russia and China will also boycott the workshop. However, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar have announced their plans to attend as the Gulf states are expected to provide the bulk of the investment funding. Morocco, Jordan, and Egypt will also be sending representatives.

The Palestinian people are facing an Israeli-made humanitarian, human rights, and political crisis that is deeply rooted in geopolitical incentives and cannot be wished away through aid and investment, as envisioned by the proponents of the Bahrain workshop. These efforts echo the “checkbook diplomacy” put forward during the Oslo peace process, while ignoring the ramifications of Israel’s prolonged military occupation and colonization endured by the Palestinian people for more than five decades. The lack of political will to put an end to Israeli impunity and disregard for international law are the root causes of the continued occupation, annexation, and colonization of Palestinian territory. International aid has merely subsidized and sustained the status quo, making the military occupation cost free and profitable for the Israeli government.

In order to bring about a just resolution that meets international legal standards, the underlying causes of this crisis – which stem from the occupation – must be properly addressed. If the international community and states in the region do not oppose the Bahrain workshop and the US policies that it represents, the Israeli government will be emboldened to further entrench the occupation through settlement expansion, annexation of Palestinian territory, and maintaining its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli leadership has already pledged to begin annexing parts of the West Bank. Further, the US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, recently stated that Israel “has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.” Such acts would be in violation of international law pertaining to self-determination and the unlawful annexation of territory. If these policies are enacted, it would exacerbate the existing human rights crisis and deny Palestinians any prospects for development – which remain out of reach if effective access to their land and natural resources is not realized.

Not only does the US plan imperil Palestinians’ aspirations for basic rights and an independent state, it also poses significant risks to the stability of the region. The US administration’s disregard for international principles and law will have wide-reaching and long-term ramifications threatening the progress that has been made in the acceptance of the international order and legislation protecting human rights.

We call on the international community and states of the region to reject any and all efforts to sacrifice Palestinians’ internationally recognized rights to self-determination, justice, freedom, and equality. Any legitimate peace process must be based on the principles of international law, justice, and equality.

In particular, we call on all Arab states not to attend the Bahrain workshop due to the absence of formal Palestinian representation, as no party has the right to negotiate on behalf of Palestinians. We further call on Arab states to match their words of support for Palestinian rights and a Palestinian state with their actions by ensuring that any agreement reached involves Palestinian participation and includes the fulfillment of Palestinian rights as enshrined under international law by putting an end to Israel’s illegal occupation and annexation of Palestinian territory, as well as accountability for the persistent human rights abuses, war crimes, and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the occupying power – its institutions, military, and agents.

Signatory organizations:

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies Al-Haq

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights

Community Action Center – Al Quds University

PHRO – Palestinian Human Rights Organization

Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights

SCM – Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression

SNHR – Syrian Network for Human Rights

Bahrain Center for Human Rights

Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Researches

DAAM – Democratic Transition and Human Rights Support Center

Libyan Center for Freedom of Press Belaady for Human Rights (Libya) Jurists Without Chains (Libya) Women Defenders Network (Libya)

US Pressure to Deny Palestinian Rights in “Deal of the Century” Bahrain Workshop Must be Rejected

We, the undersigned, express our grave concern regarding the US-led “Peace to Prosperity” workshop in Bahrain, which poses a significant threat to the Palestinian right to self-determination, justice, and equality. The Bahrain workshop is part of President Trump’s anticipated Palestine-Israel peace plan, touted as the “Deal of the Century,” and will be held later this month to discuss investment in the occupied Palestinian territory as an economic solution to the question of Palestine.

Although the contents of the plan have not yet been released, the troubling pattern of the current US administration’s policies portend what the plan will likely entail — a continued course of uncritical support for Israel at the expense of the rights of the Palestinian people. Since 2017, the Trump administration’s policies have undermined Palestinian rights, contravened international law, and flouted longstanding US policies with regard to Israel and Palestine. President Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Israel’s annexation of the Syrian Golan in violation of international law, which does not recognize sovereignty over territory taken from another country by force. It has also cut crucial US funding to UNRWA for its work with Palestinian refugees, eliminated USAID programs in the West Bank and Gaza, and closed the Washington office of the General Delegation of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

These US policies jeopardize the inalienable rights of Palestinians to self-determination and an independent Palestinian state, an end to the prolonged occupation, an end to Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise, and the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

Palestinians have been held captive to Israel’s market and economy due to the prolonged occupation and are facing increasing economic pressure as a result of US policies. Now, Palestinians will be asked to give up their inalienable rights and struggle for freedom and justice in exchange for vague promises of economic cooperation and an alleged better standard of living. The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and a number of prominent Palestinian businessmen have made it clear that they oppose the plan and will not be attending. Russia and China will also boycott the workshop. However, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar have announced their plans to attend as the Gulf states are expected to provide the bulk of the investment funding. Morocco, Jordan, and Egypt will also be sending representatives.

The Palestinian people are facing an Israeli-made humanitarian, human rights, and political crisis that is deeply rooted in geopolitical incentives and cannot be wished away through aid and investment, as envisioned by the proponents of the Bahrain workshop. These efforts echo the “checkbook diplomacy” put forward during the Oslo peace process, while ignoring the ramifications of Israel’s prolonged military occupation and colonization endured by the Palestinian people for more than five decades. The lack of political will to put an end to Israeli impunity and disregard for international law are the root causes of the continued occupation, annexation, and colonization of Palestinian territory. International aid has merely subsidized and sustained the status quo, making the military occupation cost free and profitable for the Israeli government.

In order to bring about a just resolution that meets international legal standards, the underlying causes of this crisis – which stem from the occupation – must be properly addressed. If the international community and states in the region do not oppose the Bahrain workshop and the US policies that it represents, the Israeli government will be emboldened to further entrench the occupation through settlement expansion, annexation of Palestinian territory, and maintaining its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli leadership has already pledged to begin annexing parts of the West Bank. Further, the US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, recently stated that Israel “has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.” Such acts would be in violation of international law pertaining to self-determination and the unlawful annexation of territory. If these policies are enacted, it would exacerbate the existing human rights crisis and deny Palestinians any prospects for development – which remain out of reach if effective access to their land and natural resources is not realized.

Not only does the US plan imperil Palestinians’ aspirations for basic rights and an independent state, it also poses significant risks to the stability of the region. The US administration’s disregard for international principles and law will have wide-reaching and long-term ramifications threatening the progress that has been made in the acceptance of the international order and legislation protecting human rights.

We call on the international community and states of the region to reject any and all efforts to sacrifice Palestinians’ internationally recognized rights to self-determination, justice, freedom, and equality. Any legitimate peace process must be based on the principles of international law, justice, and equality.

In particular, we call on all Arab states not to attend the Bahrain workshop due to the absence of formal Palestinian representation, as no party has the right to negotiate on behalf of Palestinians. We further call on Arab states to match their words of support for Palestinian rights and a Palestinian state with their actions by ensuring that any agreement reached involves Palestinian participation and includes the fulfillment of Palestinian rights as enshrined under international law by putting an end to Israel’s illegal occupation and annexation of Palestinian territory, as well as accountability for the persistent human rights abuses, war crimes, and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the occupying power – its institutions, military, and agents.

Signatory organizations:

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies Al-Haq Palestinian Centre for Human Rights Al Mezan Center for Human Rights Community Action Center – Al Quds University PHRO – Palestinian Human Rights Organization Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights SCM – Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression SNHR – Syrian Network for Human Rights Bahrain Center for Human Rights Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Researches DAAM – Democratic Transition and Human Rights Support Center Libyan Center for Freedom of Press Belaady for Human Rights (Libya) Jurists Without Chains (Libya) Women Defenders Network (Libya)

Nabeel Rajab: 3 YEARS IN DETENTION

Bahrain’s most prominent human rights defender, Nabeel Rajab is the head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), deputy secretary general of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), and a member of the Human Rights Watch Middle East and North Africa Advisory Committee. He is being detained in Jaw Prison since his initial arrest since June 2016. This day marks the third anniversary of Nabeel Rajab’s arrest.

Rajab is a prisoner of conscience held solely for his peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression. He is one of dozens of human rights defenders unjustly imprisoned for refusing to stay silent on his government’s rights abuses.

Nabeel Rajab is a prominent human rights defender who has been repeatedly targeted for his human rights work and criticism of the Bahraini authorities. Rajab has been in and out of prison since 2012 and subject to a travel ban since November 2014. He is currently serving a 5-year prison sentence, convicted of “spreading false rumors in time of war”, “insulting a foreign country", and “insulting public authorities”, in relation to peaceful tweets about the conflict in Yemen and torture allegations in Jaw prison. Such sentences reflect the increasingly restrictive and dangerous environment faced by human rights activists.

On 6 June 2018, the Council of Paris has unanimously awarded honorary citizenship to Nabeel Rajab, in recognition of his fight for freedom, democracy and human rights.

On 14 June 2018, the European Parliament adopted Resolution (RC8-0281) which strongly condemns the crackdown on human rights in Bahrain and calls for Nabeel Rajab’s immediate release.

On 15 August 2018, The United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has issued a formal decision declaring Bahrain’s imprisonment of human rights defender Nabeel Rajab unlawful. Nabeel Rajab is being arbitrarily detained under eight articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and seven articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, according to the Working Group. This is “in violation of the rules of international law may constitute crimes against humanity”.

On 8 October 2018, Nabeel Rajab was shortlisted for the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize, which is bestowed upon those who deliver outstanding commitment and action in the defence of human rights, both in Europe and internationally.

On 31 December 2018, Bahrain’s Court of Cassation upheld the five-year prison sentence of human rights defender and prisoner of conscience Nabeel Rajab. He was convicted of “spreading false rumors in time of war”, “insulting a foreign country" and “insulting public authorities”, in relation to peaceful tweets about the conflict in Yemen and torture allegations in Jaw prison. Nabeel Rajab has therefore exhausted all legal remedies in this case.

Urgent international pressure for Nabeel Rajab’s release is needed. Bahrain Center for Human Rights therefore urges Bahraini authorities to: - Immediately and unconditionally release Nabeel Rajab. - Quash his convictions and sentences, and drop all charges against him. - Undertake a prompt, impartial, independent and effective investigation into his allegations of ill-treatment. The findings of the investigation must be made public and anyone suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice in fair proceedings.

Bahrain: where tweeting can land you in jail

Many cases reflect the increasingly restrictive and dangerous environment faced by human rights activists and those willing to express their opinions inside Bahrain.

One of the most well-known cases is of prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab. Having served several prison sentences since 2011’s pro-democracy uprising, he is no stranger to the fundamentally unjust Bahrain judicial system. Incarcerated for tweeting about the killing of civilians by the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition in Yemen, in addition to allegations of government-sanctioned torture in Bahrain’s prisons, he faces a bleak and tough future ahead.  Nabeel Rajab is one of dozens of human rights defenders unjustly imprisoned for refusing to stay silent on his government’s rights abuses

A similar desire by the government of Bahrain to quash political dissent also sits front and centre in the case of Hakeem Al Araibi. His outspoken remarks against Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, a member of Bahrain’s royal family, is believed to have been the underlying reason for his detention in a Thai prison for nearly three months.

Instead of embarking upon a path towards progressiveness, inclusivity and reform, Bahrain has made an active decision to entrench policies of hostility and repression. Unfortunately, these attitudes will only draw further criticism towards the oil-rich state, as activists and political opposition figures will continue to be forced to flee in search of safety and security. 

Click here for more

USCIRF: Bahrain as a Tier 2 country “for engaging in or tolerating religious freedom violations

THE U.S. COMMISSION ON INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM (USCIRF) issued its annual report in April 2019. The report was published to monitor religious freedom abroad and makes policy recommendations to the president, secretary of state, and Congress. The 2019 Annual Report documents religious freedom violations and progress during calendar year 2018 in 28 countries and makes independent recommendations for U.S. policy.

The report is divided into three sections. The first section focuses on the U.S. government’s implementation of IRFA and provides recommendations to bolster U.S. efforts to advance freedom of religion or belief abroad. The second section highlights 16 countries USCIRF concludes meet IRFA’s standard for “countries of particular concern,” or CPCs, for the period covered by this report, which USCIRF refers to as Tier 1 countries. The third section of the Annual Report highlights 12 countries USCIRF categorizes as Tier 2, defined by the Commission as nations in which the violations engaged in or tolerated by the government during 2018 are serious and characterized by at least one of the elements of the “systematic, ongoing, and egregious” CPC standard.

In 2019, USCIRF places Bahrain on its Tier 2 for engaging in or tolerating religious freedom violations that meet at least one of the elements of the “systematic, ongoing, egregious” standard for designation as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).The part related to Bahrain concluded with recommendations to the US  government. The most important of these recommendations was to urge the Bahraini government to clarify the terms and enforcement of the 2016 amendment to article 5 of the 2005 Political Society Law, which prohibits religious figures from “inciting hatred,” and repeal articles 309 and 310 of Bahrain’s Penal Code that impose fines and jail time for blasphemy.

Click here to read the full report