For Immediate Release: July 1, 2011
Washington, D.C.— Human Rights First applauds President Obama’s nomination of an ambassador to Bahrain. This has been a critical request from the Bahraini human rights community since the absence of a high level diplomatic envoy from the United States has hampered the USG’s ability to address the ongoing crackdown against human rights defenders in the home of the Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
President Obama announced Tuesday the nomination of Thomas C. Krajeski as ambassador to Bahrain. “This nomination satisfies a major demand of the human rights community by adding accountability and weight to U.S. foreign policy-making in Bahrain,” said Human Rights First’s Quinn O’Keefe.
The President’s announcement is especially important on the eve of a national dialogue that many in the human rights community doubt will be real and productive.
“The Bahraini government’s continuing violent attacks on peaceful protesters and its intimidation and detention of human rights defenders call into question the Bahraini government’s good faith,” added O’Keefe. “As President Obama said in his May 19th speech on the Arab Spring, Bahrain cannot have a real dialogue if the opposition is in jail.”
On Wednesday, the Bahraini military court decided to postpone the appeals of 21 dissidents to overturn sentences handed down to them in sham trials, and trials continue against doctors, nurses and others accused by the authorities of trying to overturn the government.
The Bahraini government’s decision this week to launch an independent investigation into the violence is a welcomed step, but it is unclear if the committee will have the necessary authority to deliver justice.
“Accountability through investigations and prosecutions of the government offenders has to occur for the committee to have any credibility or impact. Members of the royal government must be held accountable for the violence that killed 32 people,” concluded O’Keefe.