Bahrain’s Human Rights Record
Bahrain’s human rights record has been bleak for decades. Many abuses stem from the policies of Great Britain, which ruled the island nation prior to independence in 1971. These policies grafted a complex legal system onto the tribal form of local political authority, the Al Khalifa family and oil production.
Bahrain human rights violations fall into two general categories: the first category involves the administration of justice and law enforcement. It includes the behavior of security forces and the physical and mental abuse of detainees. The second category is the denial of legal counsel, fair and impartial judicial proceedings, civil liberties, and fundamental political rights.
Human rights violations in Bahrain are a serious concern for the U.S. government, which publishes a country report every year. The State Department requires its embassy staff to monitor the country’s human rights record. It urges foreign diplomats to challenge Bahrain’s actions on human rights, and to publicly and privately warn the government of the consequences of human rights abuses.
The government has also restricted the work of domestic human rights organizations, and local NGO leaders have reported harassment. Common harassment included police surveillance, delayed processing of civil documents, and “inappropriate questioning” of children applying for government scholarships. Additionally, activists were prevented from traveling abroad.