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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Bahrain: 2018 Elections

Tuesday, July 10, 2018 - 10:00am
2255 Rayburn House Office Building


Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a briefing on election conditions in Bahrain, a major ally and host of the U.S. 5th Fleet.

Bahrain is a majority Shi’a Muslim country governed by a Sunni-led constitutional monarchy. In late 2018, Bahrain will hold elections for its 40-seat Council of Representatives, the elected chamber of the National Assembly. The second chamber, the Shura Council, is appointed by the king. This election will be the second since the 2011 pro-democracy uprising.

The briefing will examine the conditions under which the election will be held. Political parties are banned in Bahrain. “Political societies” operate as the functional equivalent, but the two major societies, Al Wifaq and Waad, were dissolved by the government in 2016 and 2017 respectively. In May of this year, the National Assembly advanced legislation that would essentially ban members of the political opposition from seeking election. Observers have argued that the government gerrymandered districts in 2014 to reduce Shi’a representation.

Panelists will analyze these developments and others, including restrictions on freedom of expression and association, which could render the upcoming elections neither free nor fair.

This briefing will be open to Members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public, and the media. For any questions, please contact Kimberly Stanton at 202-225-3599 or (for Rep. McGovern) or Jamie Staley at 202-226-1516 or (for Rep. Hultgren).

Hosted by:

James P. McGovern, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC
Randy Hultgren, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC


Opening Remarks


  • Michael Payne, Director of Advocacy, Americans for Human Rights and Democracy in Bahrain 
    Written statement
  • Seth Binder, Advocacy Officer, Project on Middle East Democracy 
    Written statement
  • Leslie Campbell, Regional Director for Middle East and North Africa Programs, National Democratic Institute 
    Written statement


  • Dr. Kenneth Katzman, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs, Congressional Research Service



115th Congress