There is one word to describe human rights conditions in Bahrain.. and that is DEPRESSING!!

Here's a report, which I am sure, many will turn and twist to show a different reality or may altogether just ignore as baseless fabricated rumours by a disenchanted few!!

Among the "problems" highlighted in the report are:

� inability to change the government
� political parties prohibited
� impunity
� restrictions on civil liberties--freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and association
� lengthy pretrial detention
� lack of judicial independence
� allegations of corruption in the judicial system
� discrimination based on gender, religion, sect, and ethnicity
� infringement of citizens' privacy rights
� restrictions on freedom of religion and of movement
� violence against women
� trafficking
� restrictions on labor rights

If all this is not enough, than take this:
* Members of the Al‑Khalifa royal family occupy about half of the cabinet positions, including all strategic ministries.
* The constitution provides for a nominally independent judiciary; however, the judiciary was not independent, and courts were subject to government pressure regarding verdicts, sentencing, and appeals.
* Reports continued alleging lack of access to a fair trial.
* There were allegations of corruption in the judicial system.
* (T)he government continued to infringe on citizens' right to privacy. The government carried out some illegal searches.
* Telephone calls and personal correspondence remained subject to monitoring.
* Police informer networks were extensive and sophisticated.
* The constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, but the government placed limitations on the exercise of these rights. The election law prohibits speeches at most public locations and limits the areas where campaign materials can be placed.
* In 2002, the king decreed a press law. The government began implementing the law but later "froze" it due to a public outcry. Although suspended, the law was enforced at the government's discretion. The suspended press law provides for restricted freedom of speech and press. The law provides for prison sentences in three general categories of offenses: criticizing the state's official religion; criticizing the king; and inciting actions that undermine state security. In addition, the law allows fines up to $5,225 (2,000 dinars) for 14 other offenses, including publicizing statements issued by a foreign state or organization before obtaining the consent of the minister of information; publishing any news reports that may adversely affect the value of the national currency; reporting any offense against the head of a state that maintains diplomatic relations with Bahrain; or publishing offensive remarks towards an accredited representative of a foreign country because of acts connected with the person's position.
* (T)here was both censorship and self-censorship (of the Press). Representatives from the Ministry of Information actively monitored and blocked local stories on sensitive matters, especially those related to sectarianism, national security, or criticism of the royal family, the Saudi royal family, and judges.
* The Ministry of Information exercised considerable control over privately owned local print media.
* The government restricted use of the Internet. A government‑controlled proxy prohibited user access to Internet sites considered to be anti-government or anti‑Islamic; dedicated, users often circumvented these restrictions, but access to a number of Web sites was impeded for most users. E‑mail use was reportedly unimpeded, although it was monitored.
* In April, the Ministry of Information launched a six-month campaign to register all Bahraini Web sites. Under the new government regulations, Web site administrators face the same libel laws that apply to print journalists, and Web masters are held jointly responsible for all of the content posted on their websites or chat rooms.
* Academic freedom was limited, although there were no formal regulations. Academics avoided contentious political issues, and the University of Bahrain did not have a political science program. The university's hiring and admissions policies favored Sunnis and others who were assumed to support the government.
* Although the constitution provides for the right of free assembly, the law restricts the exercise of this right. The law requires organizers to notify the MOI 72 hours before a public gathering or demonstration takes place and the law prohibits unauthorized public gatherings of more than five persons.
* The Political Rights Law of 2002 regulates election campaigns and prohibits "election meetings" at worship centers, universities, schools, government buildings, and public institutions (see sections 2.c. and 3.). The government periodically limited and controlled political gatherings.
* In April 2004, the press reported that the Ministry of Social Development sent letters to the four main opposition political societies threatening legal action if they followed through with their plan to hold a popular petition drive calling for the rejection of the 2002 constitution (see section 3).
* Public advocacy groups are not permitted to register as a civil society group if the government decides that the group is involved in political activities. The definition of political activities is not clear and is open to interpretation by government officials. If unable to register as a civil society group under the Ministry of Social Development, the group must register, if it meets the qualification requirements, as a political society under the Ministry of Justice.
* The constitution provides for the right of free association; however, the government limited this right. The government does not allow the formation of political parties, though it has authorized political societies through the new Political Societies Law of July to run candidates and participate in other political activities.
* The constitution provides for freedom of religion; however, the government placed limitations on the exercise of this right. The constitution declares Islam as the official religion, and all other religious groups must obtain a permit from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs in order to operate and hold religious meetings.
* Although the Rifaa region constitutes approximately 40 percent of the country's landmass and has numerous Sunni mosques, in April 2004 the Royal Court denied an application for a Shi'a mosque declaring that land in Rifaa cannot be allocated for commercial enterprises.
* Discrimination against the majority Shi'a population remained a problem. Sunnis received preference for employment in sensitive government positions and in the managerial ranks of the civil service. The royal family is Sunni, and the defense and internal security forces were predominantly Sunni. Shi'a citizens were allowed to hold posts in these forces, though not positions of significance.
* Citizens do not have the right to change their government or their political system; however, the constitution provides for a democratically elected Council of Representatives, the lower house of parliament. The king appoints the prime minister, who then proposes cabinet ministers who are appointed by the king. Members of the royal family held all strategic cabinet ministry positions.
* The king may dissolve the COR at his discretion, and he retains the power to amend the constitution and to propose, ratify, and promulgate laws.
* The government drew the electoral districts in both the municipal council and the legislative elections to protect Sunni interests by creating several districts with small populations likely to elect a Sunni candidate. In contrast, districts where a Shi'a candidate was likely to win were drawn to include large numbers of voters, a formula that diluted the voting strength of the Shi'a community.
* Political parties are prohibited, but 15 political "societies" operate much like political parties and hold internal elections, campaign for public support, and host political gatherings.
* Women have the right to vote and run for public office. Women accounted for 52 percent of voters in the 2002 municipal council election. The government did not publish the percentage of women voters in the legislative election. No women were elected in either election.
* Almost all citizens belong to the Shi'a and Sunni sects of Islam, with the Shi'a constituting approximately 70 percent of resident citizens. Members of the two sects have equal rights before the law. However, Sunnis predominate politically and economically. The royal family is Sunni and is supported by the armed forces and the security services, both of which contain very few Shi'a, and influential Sunni and Shi'a merchant families.
* Restrictions on freedom of association and expression hindered investigation or public criticism of the government's human rights policies.
* The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) was one of the most active NGOs in the country from 2002 to 2004. The group produced reports, supported victims of trafficking, held seminars, and organized other events. Since 2003, government ministries had warned the Center against conducting activities that were outside of its bylaws. In September 2004, the Ministry of Social Development issued a press release to local newspapers announcing the dissolution of the BCHR. The government locked the Center's property and froze its bank accounts. The BCHR challenged its closure in court, but lost the case and subsequent appeals (see section 2.a.). The BCHR's activities remained suspended.
* The constitution provides for equality; equal opportunity; and the right to medical care, welfare, education, property, capital, and work for all citizens. However, these rights were protected unevenly, depending on the individual's social status, sect, or gender.
* No government policies or laws explicitly addressed violence against women. Rape is illegal and the press reported some cases of men being arrested for rape. The law does not address spousal rape.
* It was not uncommon for foreign women working as domestics to be beaten or sexually abused by their employers and recruiting agents. Numerous cases were reported to local embassies, the press, and the police; however, most victims were too intimidated to sue their employers, although they had the right to do so.
* There is no specific law that prohibits female genital mutilation (FGM). BHRS received several reports of cases during the year, but there were no available statistics on the prevalence of FGM. The Supreme Council for Women, a government body that promotes women's rights, called on the Ministry of Health to conduct a study on the prevalence of FGM.
* Shi'a and Sunni women have the right to initiate a divorce; however, religious courts may refuse the request.
* In divorce cases, the courts routinely grant Shi'a and Sunni mothers custody of daughters under age nine and sons under age seven. Custody usually reverts to the father once the children reach those ages. Regardless of custody decisions, the father retains guardianship, or the right to make all legal decisions for the child--until the child reaches the legal age of 21. A non-citizen woman automatically loses custody of her children if she divorces their citizen father.
* Labor laws prohibit discrimination against women; however, discrimination existed in the workplace, including inequality of wages and denial of opportunity for advancement.
* Sexual harassment is prohibited; however, harassment was a widespread problem for women, especially foreigners working as domestics and in other low‑level service jobs. The press reported a number of instances of men being arrested for sexually harassing women.
* Women activists have been trying since 2001 to establish the Bahrain Women's Union and continued to face setbacks during the year. The union seeks to bring together numerous societies to advocate for women's rights. One of the group's priorities is the creation of a personal status law to protect the rights of families, women, and children. The government has continuously rejected the union's application on technical grounds, saying that the activities of the union are political in nature.
* Children born to Bahraini mothers and non-citizen fathers are not entitled to citizenship. The Bahrain Women's Society reported in June that there are approximately 1,800 children of Bahraini women who reside in the country but do not have citizenship. These children are ineligible for certain educational and healthcare benefits and other rights of citizens.
* The law does not specifically prohibit trafficking in persons, and there were reports that some foreign workers were recruited for employment on the basis of fraudulent contracts and then forced to work under conditions different from what was promised.
* There are approximately 50,000 foreign housemaids working in the country, and labor laws do not apply to domestic workers.

SOURCE: The US Department of State Country report on human rights practises for 2005.
I am sorry this is a sort of 'longish' entry but every line relates a sad sad story about my home country :(


Um Naief said...

Very, very interesting. Wow, girl, you've shed light in areas that I knew nothing about. The sexual harrassment stuff is interesting. As an expatriate, I've seen this and have been subjected to it in a previous job. Not a lot, but enough to make my skin crawl. I think some men like to push the envelope to see how far they can get w/ this American chick! Since we're all whores.... yeah, baby.

But seriously, some great info here!

SillyBahrainiGirl said...

Thanks Tooners.. read the FULL report when you have time. It really is interesting and highlights a lot of trespasses on human rights back home.
Another interesting aspect would be the way local newspapers would deal with it.
It will be great to see the creative ways in which the "allegations" made in the report are twisted!
I can already read the coverage in my head:
Bahrain's human rights practises were yesterday praised by the US Department of State.
or ..
Bahrain yesterday won laurels for upholding human rights in a new report issued by the US Department of State!!

SillyBahrainiGirl said...

Of course Balushi.. It goes without saying that the Americans have made up all those allegations.

In fact, now that you have pointed it out, I really do believe that perhaps.. just perhaps.. they are jealous from the level of openess, democracy, human rights and transparency we have in the region, that they are making up all those baseless accusations against us.

Does this make you happy now?

SillyBahrainiGirl said...


Leave my turtle alone :)

Anonymous said...

"Anarchy is not being depressed when you're supposed to be depressed. Anarchy is lust when you're supposed to be depressed. When lusty, for life, one is no longer depressed or oppressed and actually rises in status. "


That's like the most profound statement ever posted on the spy derworldwideweb!

I'm not totally down that it's true but it's knarly and way Cool!

"The moral of the story is simple: You can debate anything but if your premise is a negative then so will be your sphere.


WOW, like you did it again! My mind is shattered!!! YO, DUDE, DO YOU SURF, THE WAVES, THE OCEAN?

Cool Stuff, Thanks

Um Naief said...

W/ respect to SoupduJourandMore... are you writing ur thesis on this topic? You lose me in a few places but many points are well made. I like the stuff about abortion and adoption... good points.

balushi - I think you're a NUT case. But I'm just a sweet lil American chick whose prob all racist and full of venom! yeah, baby. Seriously tho... chill out. You find this stuff everywhere... and it seems like a lot of its coming from your mouth... spewing matter of fact.

SillyBahrainiGirl said...

hehe.. make me laugh. Your response was so typical and expected.

If America was the Great Satan.. why are ALL our governments shaking hands with it and consider it as their biggest ally? Are you trying to imply that there is something wrong (God forbid) with the way we are being RULED perhaps?

As to your "racial" slurs.. It isn't my place to respond because those in glass houses shouldn't throw others with stones.

And women..Islam and the Holy Quran gave us ALL our rights almost 15 decades ago.. except that they have all remained on paper since and the ink has long dried.

And thanks a lot for your advice.. I am, in fact, enjoying my time a lot in the kitchen. You should try it sometime :)

Get those taste buds kicking!!

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Bahrain is less like a country and more like a family business. Perhaps, it needs to be judged on how well the corporation is functioning. If it fails to keep it's workers happy and adequately rewarded for their efforts, "Workers of the World Unite!"

The United States has lost it right to judge other countries. Part of their assessment of every country is how it compares with its image of what a democratic capitalist country should be. You see this in it's evaluation of South American countries where democratic socialism has taken hold.

Um Naief said...

I was thinking about all of this lastnight and, really, I pretty much agree w/ Balushi. Not that I hate America, cuz I don't, BUT... there are a lot of bad ppl there and tons of racist ppl there. I lived there all my life, until recently, and have seen it time and time again in every work place and in every environment. And you are right, the American govt doesn't care about its own ppl. There are so many who are poor, so many more who live on the streets (including children & teenagers), prostitution in every city, rape, crime out the wazzoo, incest, single parent homes, hatred... the list goes on and on.

But... in saying this, there are a lot of ppl who do care. There are those who are working to change things and desperately want change but sometimes (most of the time) it falls on deaf ears. Americans are trying to wipe out poverty but it's a difficult thing to do when the govt cares more about going to war than taking care of their own.

I hate the American govt - government issues period and I'm sure it's because of how I was raised and what I saw in the U.S.

Not all of us are bad.... just try to remember that when you are full of rage - which is warranted.

SillyBahrainiGirl said...

It goes without saying that the US government has its own long long list of violations against human rights, whether committed by individuals or sponsored by the State.

Nevertheless, the accusations made regarding the human rights situation in Bahrain are SPOT ON!

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