Briefing: Bahrain – Government must engage with demands of hunger strikers; European Union must abide by its own commitments and the troubling case of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja


London – 25 August 2023

In August 2023, prisoners at Bahrain’s Jau Prison undertook a hunger strike in protest against ongoing poor conditions. While it was underway, a senior European Union (EU) official visited the country. Neither the EU nor the Government of Bahrain (GoB) addressed the significance of the hunger strike nor the deeply-rooted human rights problems it represents.  EU policy, as expressed by the official who visited in August 2023,  appeared to contradict stated EU policy. The participation in the hunger strike by human rights defender, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, and the manner in which the authorities dealt with his case exemplify the human rights challenges faced by the GoB and EU, in the middle of which unfairly imprisoned persons, like Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja find themselves.

This briefing provides summary analysis of the human rights violations unfolding at the time of writing, as well as the GoB and EU’s failure to address these violations, including apparent contradictions in EU conduct. The text briefly assesses the case of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja as emblematic of the human rights failures by both the GoB and the EU. It sets out recommendations aimed at changing the current, downward human rights trajectory seen in Bahrain.

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