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Facts about the classification of Bahrain as a repressive, not free, state that violates rights

More than 4,000 prisoners of conscience are held in the regime’s prisons. The international non-governmental organization Freedom House has published facts about the classification of Bahrain as an unfree and repressive country according to the annual index of civil and political rights and freedoms for the year 2022.

According to the Freedom House report, Bahrain scored only 12 points out of 100 on the state of political rights and civil liberties in the world for the year 2022.

Bahrain scored only two points in the political rights index and 10 points in the civil liberties index, while it did not get any points in most classifications.

With regard to the elections, the organization considered that there are no free and fair elections, as the electoral framework is “unfair, as the districts were designed in a way that underrepresents the Shiite majority.”

The report emphasized that political pluralism had disappeared after the opposition political societies were dissolved in 2016.

The organization said that “the media is not independent (…) there are 6 journalists behind bars regarding freedom of expression. The authorities have refused to renew the credentials of journalists working for foreign media, and international journalists cannot enter Bahrain.”

Regarding freedom of belief, the organization said that it is limited “as harassment continues against Shiites” and explained, “In 2011, an estimated 45 religious sites were demolished or vandalized in apparent retaliation, and the Ulema Council was banned in 2014.”

“It also revoked the citizenship of the great Shiite cleric Issa Qassem in 2016. Police restrictions impede access to mosques despite observing safety measures.”

The organization considered that “the educational system is politicized and expression of opinion is restricted, as the penal code includes a variety of penalties. It also warned the authorities against online expression that contradicts their foreign policy priorities, used networks of whistleblowers, and monitored the communications of activists and dissidents.

It pointed out that freedom of assembly is restricted, and the police use force to disperse protests, even though protests against normalization with Israel were organized.

As for civil society institutions, the organization said that there is no freedom for the work of NGOs, especially those working in the human rights or labour field, and activists and their families are subjected to harassment at home and in exile.

It emphasized that the judiciary is not independent, as the king appoints all judges. Law enforcement officers violate due process during arrests and detentions. Prominent lawyers such as Abdullah Al-Shamlawi have been tried.

The organization stated that torture and ill-treatment are on the rise when the Office of the Ombudsman of the Interior has failed to reduce impunity. Political prisoners were denied medical care and suffered religious discrimination.

It highlighted that death sentences continue even though individuals sentenced to death were forced to confess under torture.

It also indicated that freedom of movement is restricted, especially within Shiite villages with a heavy security presence. It also prevents many opponents and activists from travelling.

The international organization stressed that citizens in Bahrain do not enjoy equal opportunities in jobs and opportunities for promotion depending on their social and sectarian background.

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