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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Human Rights in Bahrain: Next Steps

Friday, September 9, 2016 - 11:00am


Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on the deteriorating human rights situation in Bahrain, a major U.S. ally and host of the U.S. 5th Fleet.

The human rights situation in Bahrain has been a focus of U.S. and international attention since the spring of 2011, when the government, with the support of Saudi Arabia and other countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, violently repressed a major citizen uprising. After the fact, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa named the five-person Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) to investigate the government’s response to the unrest. The resulting BICI report provided 26 recommendations that became a point of reference for constructive change. But implementation of the recommendations has lagged, as evidenced by a June 2016 State Department report to Congress.

Meanwhile, in recent months the Bahraini government has again escalated its repression of human rights defenders and opposition political leaders. Activists have been banned from traveling to attend sessions of the UN Human Rights Council. A number of Shia citizens have been convicted and sentenced for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly through activities such as tweeting or participating in sit-ins. The largest opposition political group, al-Wefaq, has been dissolved. Well-known prisoner of conscience Nabeel Rajab, already imprisoned, has been newly charged with “undermining the prestige of the kingdom” a day after publishing an op-ed in the New York Times.

Witnesses will analyze these recent developments and their implications for Bahrain and the United States, and offer policy recommendations to Congress, in the context of the global effort to counter violent extremism.  

This hearing will be open to members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public, and the media. The hearing will be livestreamed via the Commission website, For any questions, please contact Kimberly Stanton (for Mr. McGovern) at 202-225-3599 or or Carson Middleton (for Mr. Pitts) at 202-225-2411 or  

Hosted by:

James P. McGovern, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC
Joseph R. Pitts, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC

Opening Remarks


Panel I

  • Brian Dooley, Director, Human Rights Defenders, Human Rights First
    Written testimony
  • Sarah Margon,  Washington Director, Human Rights Watch (HRW)
    Written testimony
  • The Honorable Matar Ebrahim Matar, former Member of Bahrain's Parliament
    Written testimony
  • Cole Bockenfeld, Deputy Director for Policy, Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)
    Written testimony





114th Congress