For Immediate Release: November 28, 2011
Washington, DC – Today, as President Obama meets with European leaders to discuss a coordinated response to developments in North Africa and across the Middle East, Human Rights First urges him to make clear that efforts to disrupt political reform in Bahrain and Egypt will not be tolerated and that the protection of human rights defenders in the region is a top priority.
“Today’s election in Egypt is only one step in that nation’s journey to a new political reality. It will be essential for the United States and its European allies to support a swift transition to elected civilian rule,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “In response to the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry’s (BICI) report issued last week that confirmed widespread human rights abuses in the Kingdom, the United States should send a clear and unequivocal public message to the Bahrain regime that the time for stonewalling and delay is over. It must implement fundamental human rights reform now.”
Ahead of today’s election in Egypt, Human Rights First issued a blueprint outlining goals and recommendations for Egypt’s transition to democracy. The report, Blueprint: Promoting Reform in Egypt, offers recommendations for both the Egyptian and United States governments and reflects the rapidly changing situation in Egypt.
The organization was in Bahrain last week as the BICI issued its findings. According to Dooley, who attended the event, little has changed in the wake of the report and the Bahrain Government has failed make any substantive moves on human rights. Dooley stated that Bahraini security forces continue to tear gas protestors and that the sham trials of medics and others continue.
“The group of 20 medics were back in court today despite the BICI findings that they and many others had confessions extracted under torture, had been denied proper access to lawyers and been denied a fair trial process,” Dooley stated. “The BICI largely confirmed what Human Rights First and other leading human rights organizations have been saying for months, that thousands of people were wrongly detained and many of them tortured. It’s time for the international community to tell Bahrain’s leadership that such abuses will not be tolerated.”
Dooley also noted that if the Bahrain government wants to show it is taking the report’s findings and recommendations seriously, it will free all those from detention who have been sentenced by unfair military tribunals or in suspect civilian courts, stop attacking protestors with excessive force and drop the trumped up charges against medics and others. It will also take immediate action on some of the BICI recommendations, including that there should be audiovisual recording of all official interviews with detained persons in order to prevent torture.