For Immediate Release: September 3, 2013
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First is alarmed by today’s reports that political opposition representatives in Bahrain must now tell the government in advance when they plan to meet with foreign embassies. The organization urges the U.S. government to speak out against these repressive measures.
Bahraini media reports today suggest that the Ministry for Justice will require three days of notice in advance of meetings between Bahraini political societies and foreign embassies and governments. In addition, after such notice, a Bahrain government representative must be present at the meetings.
“Those of us who follow Bahrain closely are seldom surprised by its government’s repressive measures, but this would be a shocking interference in the work of diplomats and embassies,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “The U.S. government and others should make it immediately and publicly clear it will not support its meetings with opposition figures being vetted by the Bahraini government and insist on the right to meet these figures without the Bahraini government being present.”
Today’s reports suggest a ministerial decision has been made to amend Decision 4 of 2005 regulations on political societies communicating with foreign governments.
“It is part of the everyday work of the U.S. embassy and other embassies in Bahrain and elsewhere to develop a wide range of engagement with civil society and opposition parties. Restricting these contacts will not help bring political stability to Bahrain and, frankly, makes the Bahrain government look like control freaks,” said Dooley.