ADHRB: ADHRB representatives raise the issue on Bahrain’s human rights situation in Rome


On Monday, 13 May 2019, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) attended a debate in front of the Permanent Committee of Human Rights, a subcommittee in the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Italian Deputy Chamber (Camera dei Deputati).

ADHRB associates raised the issue on the progressive Manama’s abuses and systematic brutalities since 2016, a series of repressive measures which target human rights defenders, deteriorate prison conditions in detention facilities and incentivize the use of capital punishment.

During the hearing, ADHRB representatives depicted the general frame of the deteriorating human rights situation in Bahrain. Their remarks focused entirely on the escalating targeting of human rights defenders and political opposition activists, the arbitrary stripping of citizenship and nationality privileges, and the restoration of the death penalty. Among the most significant changes in Bahrain since 2016, the following cases may be the most dramatic ones: the re-empowerment of the National Security Agency, the restoration of military courts, the dissolution of Al Wefaq and last but not least the dissolution of the National Democratic Action Society.

Observations also addressed the Bahraini’s collective persecutions of human rights defenders and political opposition activists. Exemplary cases can be recorded with Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Nabeel Rajab and Sheikh Ali Salman. Al-Khawaja is a prominent human rights defender who was arrested in 2011 due to his participation and leadership in the peaceful uprising protest. Consequently, Al-Khawaja was tortured, subjected to repetitive ill-treatments and sentenced to life in prison. Concerning the case of Nabeel Rajab, the most prominent human rights defender, he is currently serving a five-year prison sentence on free expression charges stemming from tweets criticizing Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the war in Yemen. On the other hand, Sheikh Ali Salman, the former secretary general of Al Wefaq, was arrested in 2014 and later sentenced to four years in prison in total, but as his punishment was ending in November 2017, authorities brought new charges against him for treason. Therefore, he faced sentence to life in prison on 5 November 2018.

ADHRB’s interventions also stressed the poor prison conditions and of detainees in Bahraini detention facilities. The inhuman environments, including over-crowding and poor sanitation levels which directly affect prisoners especially those with pre-existing health conditions. Regularly, political prisoners suffering from previous or present health problems are prohibited to receive adequate health care support and medical assistance. Remarks also focused on Bahrain’s reintroduction of capital punishment and the official rejection of Ali Al-Arab and Ahmed Al-Malali’s final appeal on 6 May 2019.

ADHRB representatives called on the Italian government to take a stronger attitude towards protecting and promoting human rights in Bahrain by following the European Union (EU) Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders. By providing and stressing the importance of EU Guidelines, the Italian government could be in a stronger position vis-à-vis to human rights, and it would be able to prove greater leadership on promoting and protecting human rights in the region.

The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) pledges the remarks highlighted by ADHRB’s representatives and their active work on stressing a higher importance on the human rights situation in Bahrain. In hope that the event held on Monday could raise the awareness of the Italian government, we call on other EU and international actors to activate and increase their level of attention on such issues.