Bahrain: 2022 Elections
Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a briefing on upcoming elections in Bahrain.
Bahrain is a majority Shi’a Muslim country governed by a Sunni-led constitutional monarchy. On November 12, Bahrain will hold elections for its 40-seat Council of Representatives, the elected chamber of the National Assembly. The Assembly’s second chamber, the Shura Council, is appointed by the king. This election will be the third since the 2011 pro-democracy uprising.
Observers including Freedom House have raised concerns over the conditions under which the elections will be held. Political parties are banned in Bahrain. “Political societies” operated as the functional equivalent in the past, but the two major societies, Al Wefaq and Wa’ad, were dissolved by the government in 2016 and 2017 respectively, in advance of the 2018 elections. The law bans practicing clerics from membership in political societies and involvement in political activities, even on a voluntary basis. The government directorate responsible for administering the elections is not independent, nor is the press, and the government prohibited international monitoring of the 2018 elections. Freedom House characterizes Bahrain’s elections as “not fair,” in part due to the drawing of electoral districts to deliberately underrepresent the majority Shi’a population, and ranks Bahrain overall as “not free.”
The House Appropriations Committee in its State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2022 encouraged the State Department “to prioritize working with the Government of Bahrain to make meaningful progress toward establishing democratic institutions and holding accountable those responsible, including in the armed forces and Ministry of Interior, for human rights violations.” Panelists will examine the state of human rights, including political rights, leading up to the election and offer recommendations in keeping with the Committee’s instruction.
The briefing will be virtual. Pursuant to H. Res. 965, panelists will participate remotely via Cisco WebEx. Members of the public and the media may view the briefing by live webcast on the Commission website. Staff, members of the public and the press may submit questions for the panelists through this form. For any questions, please contact Kimberly Stanton (for Co-Chair McGovern) Piero Tozzi (for Co-Chair Smith).
Member of Congress
Member of Congress
Elizabeth Hagedorn, State Department Correspondent, Al-Monitor
U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2021, Bahrain, April 12, 2022
Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2022, Bahrain, February 24, 2022
Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, Briefing on Bahrain's failure to engage with UN human rights mechanisms and upcoming elections, September 2022
Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy and Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, Submission for the 41st Session of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, March 30, 2022
Human Rights Watch, You Can't Call Bahrain a Democracy, October 2022
UN Human Rights Council, Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Bahrain - Compilation of information prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, A/HRC/WG.6/41/BHR/2, August 25, 2022
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights and Elections - A Handbook on International Human Rights Standards on Elections, 2021