More than a dozen EU lawmakers are issuing a letter calling on the Gulf nation to honor its commitment to human rights.
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) issued a letter urging the Bahraini authorities to honor the country’s commitment and release the prisoners of conscience.
In an open letter to the bloc’s foreign policy chief ahead of a meeting with his Bahraini counterpart this week, 16 MEPs expressed concern over the state of human rights in the Gulf nation.
“We are deeply concerned about the continued deterioration of human rights in Bahrain, after a year in which, as Human Rights Watch noted, there has been an ‘intensified crackdown’ by the Bahraini government on critics,” indicates the letter.
“We therefore urge you to take this opportunity to hold your Bahraini counterparts accountable for their human rights commitments by raising the case of dual European and Bahraini citizens Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and Sheikh Mohammed Habib Al-Muqdad and urging Bahrain to restore the death penalty. “
Human Rights Watch, in a report released earlier in January, said Bahraini authorities stepped up their crackdown on peaceful protesters in 2020, adding that the country upheld the death sentences on opposition activists after trials that , he said, were unfair.
“The Bahraini authorities are using the many repressive tools at their disposal to silence and punish anyone who criticizes the government,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of the Middle East at Human Rights Watch at the time.
“Bahrain has stepped up its use of the death penalty, targeted people for their social media activities and denied medical treatment to opposition figures in detention.
In their letter, MPs drew attention to what they called the kingdom’s de facto suspension in 2017 of a moratorium on the death penalty, noting that five of the six executions that took place were tried. arbitrary acts by the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Agnes Callamard.
The parliamentarians also drew attention to the cases of unjustly imprisoned opposition figures, activists and human rights defenders who are held in appalling conditions of detention and are regularly denied medical treatment.
According to Freedom House, at least 21 people were arrested, detained or persecuted for their online activities between June 2018 and May 2019. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 39 people have been arbitrarily detained.
In 2011, Shiite-led opposition activists staged protests across the country to demand reforms in the Sunni-ruled kingdom. But the ruling Al Khalifa family responded by quelling dissent and asked for help from neighboring Saudi Arabia, which sent troops to help quell the unrest.
Authorities denied targeting the opposition and said they were protecting national security. Bahrain has also accused Iran of fueling unrest in the country, a charge denied by Tehran.