A Report by Salam for Democracy and Human Rights forInternational Democracy Day
On September 15, the world celebrates the International Day of Democracy. For this important occasion, Salam for Democracy and Human Rights (SALAM DHR) presents its report: “Absent Democracy: A Human Rights Perspective on Lost Political Rights in Bahrain.”
The Government of Bahrain (GoB) is currently violating its obligations under international agreements and its constitution with arbitrary measures. They are the primary obstacle to democratic reform in the country. The report outlines the challenges democratic practices face within Bahrain’s political and civil spheres. It includes violations that occurred in Bahrain’s 2022 legislative elections. These include:
- Gerrymandering of electoral districts;
- Marginalizing the opposition through political isolation laws; and
- Preventing international and independent election monitoring.
The report also examines the dissolution of opposition political societies, most notably the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society (Al-Wefaq), in 2016, and the “National Democratic Action” Society (Wa’ad) in 2017. These practicesmake legal, organised political activity, a basic pillar for democracy, impossible in Bahrain.
SALAM DHR also documented that 15 former representatives were subjected to a series of human rights violations, with some facing arrest, torture, revocation of citizenship, and imprisonment.
The GoB, represented by the Ministry of Labour and Social Development, enacted a series of arbitrary restrictions against Bahraini civil space: This includes:
- Dissolving civil society organisations and associations;
- Preventing citizens from running for the boards of directors; and
- Imposing strict control on citizens and residents through arbitrary laws and illegal tactics.
Among these measures, the GoB has imposed significantrestrictions since 2011 to suppress freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly.
Concluding the report, SALAM DHR presents a set of recommendations to ensure the transition towards democracy, political pluralism, and a peaceful transfer of power in Bahrain.
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