Bahrain has regressed in nearly every area of human rights over a decade since hundreds of thousands of Bahrainis joined the pro-democracy protests during the Arab Spring, a new report by the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) to mark the tenth anniversary of the Arab Spring has found.
Despite the Bahraini regime’s pledge to respond to protesters’ demands for reform, the report reveals that reforms promised by Bahrain’s rulers in the wake of the uprising have “largely been reversed or abandoned”
Meanwhile, the leaders of the protests continue to languish in Bahraini prisons, including Hassan Mushaima, Dr. Abdul-Jalil Al-Singace, Sheikh Muhammad Habib Al-Miqdad and Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja.
The report further documents a range of serious violations committed by the Bahraini state since 2011, adding that government repression has considerably intensified after the inauguration of President Donald Trump in 2017.
Violations include a severe crackdown on civil society, bans on independent media and political opposition parties; the targeting of political activists and other civil society figures with arbitrary arrests, vexatious prosecutions and citizenship revocation.
The report also condemns Bahrain’s execution of six individuals since a moratorium on the death penalty was abandoned in 2017. Five of which were deemed to be arbitrary by the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions Agnes Callamard, in 2017 and 2019.
Continuous reports of torture and mistreatment of political prisoners by the security forces were also documented, including the widespread practice of medical negligence against political detainees in Bahraini detention centers.
While prospects for democratic reform have diminished in Bahrain, the UK government’s support for the ruling monarchy has remained unwavering in the country.
However, evidence presented in the report suggests that UK-backed reform efforts have failed to “improve the human rights situation in Bahrain”. The report also asserts that the taxpayer money appears to have benefited “institutions involved in human rights abuses,” including human rights oversight bodies described as “not independent” and “ineffective” by the United Nations.
Finally, the report noted that the United Kingdom has sold Bahrain at least £115 million in arms since February 2011, despite their potential use for internal repression or in the war in Yemen – dubbed as the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe by the United Nations