Bahrain is a constitutional monarchy. King Hamad Bin Isa al-Khalifa, the head of state, appoints the cabinet, consisting of 26 ministers; 12 of those ministers are members of the al-Khalifa ruling family. Parliament consists of an appointed upper house, the Shura (Consultative) Council, and the elected Council of Representatives, each with 40 seats. According to government reports, approximately 52 percent of eligible voters participated in parliamentary elections held in 2014. Turnout was significantly lower in opposition districts, due in part to a decision to boycott the elections by the main opposition political societies and a lack of confidence among opposition communities in the electoral system. The government did not permit international election monitors. Domestic monitors generally concluded authorities administered the elections without significant procedural irregularities. There were, however, broader concerns regarding voting-district boundaries. New parliamentary elections will be held in late 2018.
The most significant human rights issues included reports of arbitrary or unlawful killings by security forces; allegations of torture of detainees and prisoners; harsh and potentially life-threatening conditions of detention; arbitrary arrest and detention; political prisoners; unlawful interference with privacy; restrictions on freedom of expression, including by the press and via the internet; restriction of academic and cultural events; restrictions on the rights of association and assembly; allegations of restrictions on freedom of movement, including arbitrary citizenship revocation; and limits on Shia political participation.
The government occasionally prosecuted low-level security force members accused of human rights abuses, following investigations by quasi-governmental institutions. Nonetheless, due to the frequently slow and ineffective nature of investigations, impunity remained a problem.
For Further Reference
Full U.S. Department of State Human Rights Country Report
U.S. Department of State International Religious Freedom Country Report
U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Annual Report Chapter on Bahrain
U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report Country Narrative
Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review
Human Rights Watch World Report Country Chapter
Amnesty International Annual Report Country Chapter
Freedom House Freedom in the World Country Report