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US Department of State: Trafficking in Persons Report 2016 - Bahrain section

Bahrain is a destination country for men and women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Men and women from South, Central, Southeast, and East Asia; East and West Africa; the Middle East; and other countries migrate voluntarily to Bahrain to work as domestic workers or as laborers in the construction and service industries. In recent years, NGOs observed a greater influx of workers from parts of Africa. Some migrant workers face forced labor after arriving in Bahrain, experiencing unlawful withholding of passports, restrictions on movement, contract substitution, non-payment of wages, threats, and physical or sexual abuse.

Read the full report here.

Parliamentary Boycotts in Kuwait and Bahrain Cost Opposition

Citizens of the Gulf’s leading parliamentary monarchies have access to a pressure point that other Gulf citizens do not: If the ruling family-led executive is refusing reforms or taking unilateral political actions, they may withhold their participation in elections. Yet this past month dramatically demonstrated the limited power of the political boycott, and the considerable cost of leaving the formal political arena. In Kuwait and Bahrain, the leading opposition political figure and political society respectively have been banned from politics following the passage of new laws passed by the parliament: the very institution they are boycotting.

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Statement by EU Spokesperson on recent developments in Bahrain

We are witnessing a series of worrying developments, including ongoing judicial proceedings regarding the suspension of Bahraini opposition political society Al-Wefaq, which point to increasing polarisation of society in Bahrain.  The sentencing of 9 years on appeal against its Secretary General Ali Salman, as well as the re-arrest of Mr. Nabeel Rajab and measures preventing activists from travelling abroad can only represent an obstacle to the national reconciliation in the Kingdom.

Read full areticle here

Nabeel Rajab: Background Information & Previous Harassment

Since 2011, Nabeel Rajab has faced more than eight legal cases. He was detained in prison for a total of 33 months between 2012 and 2015. He was also subjected to ill-treatment on several occasions, and has been threatened by the authorities multiple times. In addition, Rajab has been under a travel ban since November 2014.


FIDH - Bahrain continues to harass Nabeel Rajab

Since 2011, Bahrain authorities have been relentlessly harassing the human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights - BCHR, and FIDH Deputy Secretary General.

Any excuse will do to keep Nabeel quiet. He was accused in all sorts of trumped up charges and sentenced to six months in jail on 20 January 2015 for supposedly "insulting public institutions and the army" on Twitter. He had been released but was not allowed to leave the country.

Further harassment began on 13 June 2016 when he was arrested while at home. He is still in temporary detention. Things took a dramatic turn on 28 June, when Nabeel had to be hospitalised because his health had deteriorated in prison. There is no justification for this harassment and it must stop immediately.

See infographic here.

Joe Biden calls king of Bahrain to raise 'strong concerns' amid violence

Vice-president Joe Biden called Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa to express “strong concerns”, the White House said late on Friday, alluding to a political crisis in the tiny island kingdom that threatens its close ties to the US, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

In a description of the call, the White House said Biden and the king spoke of “recent negative developments in Bahrain and their implications for the wider region”.

Read full article here

Human Rights First: Bahrain Should Release Dissidents Jailed for Free Expression Immediately

Last week the State Department released its long overdue assessment of Bahrain’s implementation of the recommendations laid out in the 2011 Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report. The BICI report was the product of an investigation into the regime’s crackdown on the 2011 democratic uprising. The Bahrain government had committed to following the report’s recommendations, but sadly, that progress has yet to be seen.

Recommendation 1722h requires the government to free those imprisoned on charges that violate their freedom of expression. Cherif Bassiouni, the commissioner of the BICI report, cited this as one of Bahrain’s “top priorities.” While Bahrain has no shortage of problems to address, Bassiouni is right to call out this issue. Bassiouni cites “16 high-level persons” convicted on the basis of “their political beliefs and actions, based on freedom of opinion and expression.”

While he does not explicitly name the 16 high-level persons, they are thought to include the political opposition and civil society leaders jailed in 2011. And over the last year, Bahrain has continued to convict and sentence people for peacefully expressing their views, often falsely accusing them of inciting violence.

Read the full article here.

In response to government repression Bahrainis hold mass sit-in in Diraz

Government of Bahrain revoked the citizenship of Sheikh Isa Qassim, one of Bahrain’s most prominent Shia clerics. Within an hour of this announcement, thousands of Bahrainis gathered in the streets of Diraz surrounding Sheikh Isa’s home. The amount of people who gathered in the streets has not be seen since the 2011 pro-democracy protests. It has now been over one week, and the sit-in continues as Bahrainis vow to stand in solidarity with Sheikh Isa and his family. The President of the Bahrain Shia Clerical Council, Sayed Majeed al-Mishal, stated that they “do not want a homeland without Sheikh Isa Qassim.”

Read the full article here.

Senators press State Department to rethink Bahrain aid

Washington (CNN)A bipartisan group of senators wants the State Department to reconsider military aid to Bahrain following a crackdown on political opposition and a deterioration of human rights.

In a letter addressed to Secretary of State John Kerry, the senators request that the State Department rethink arms sales to the key Gulf ally if Bahrain's leadership cannot protect the rights freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, according to a copy of the letter obtained by CNN.
Read the full article here.