The House Appropriations Committee voiced grave concern about persistent human rights breaches in Bahrain. It mandated that the U.S. State Department provide a report explaining its efforts to promote free and fair parliamentary elections in Bahrain in November 2022. The decisions of the Committee were included in the Report to Accompany the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2023, which the full Appropriations Committee adopted on June 29, 2022.
Hussain Abdulla, executive director of Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, stated, “The Committee makes clear that the human rights situation in Bahrain is abysmal and that there are grave concerns that free and fair elections are not feasible under present conditions.”
“The Bahraini government maintains its reign of terror against its own citizenry. “Opposition leaders are imprisoned, the government has banned opposition political parties, the free press has been shut down, freedom of assembly and expression are severely restricted, and international observers are not welcome,” he continued.
In November 2022, the government of Bahrain will conduct legislative elections. The opposition boycotted the most recent elections held in Bahrain in 2018, which were largely seen as unfair.
The language adopted by the Committee reads:
The Committee remains concerned with ongoing reports of the widespread violations of human rights, including the use of arbitrary detention, harsh prison conditions, restrictions on political participation, and severe limitations on freedom of expression, the press, and assembly. The Committee urges the Department of State to prioritize working with the government of Bahrain to release political prisoners, provide detainees with due process of law, and ensure that parliamentary elections are free, fair and include the participation of political parties and independent media outlets.
Bahrain. – Not later than 60 days after enactment of this act, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations detailing U.S. government actions taken to ensure that parliamentary elections in Bahrain are conducted according to international standards and respect for the free will of the people of Bahrain.
“During his confirmation hearing, U.S. Ambassador Stephen Bondy promised members of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee that human rights in Bahrian were high on the U.S. agenda and he would work hard to advance human rights in Bahrain. The U.S. government’s actions leading up to the November parliamentary elections will be a strong indicator of whether his promise has been kept; whether he really has a commitment to human rights in Bahrain,” said Abdulla. “The required report is an important accountability measure that should both encourage the Biden Administration to be more forceful toward Bahrain and guide congressional action on Bahrain going forward,” he added.
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) fosters awareness of and support for democracy and human rights in Bahrain and the Middle East.