2009 Human Rights Report: Bahrain
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
March 11, 2010
Bahrain is a monarchy with a population of approximately 1,050,000, including approximately 530,000 who are citizens. King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa is the head of state and all branches of government. The king appoints a cabinet of ministers; approximately half are members of the minority Sunni Al-Khalifa ruling family. The 2002 constitution reinstated a legislative body with one elected chamber, the Council of Deputies, and one appointed chamber, the Shura Council. All registered political societies participated in the 2006 parliamentary and municipal elections, which were marred by allegations of gerrymandering and vote rigging in some races. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces.
Citizens did not have the right to change their government. The government restricted civil liberties, including freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, and some religious practices. Domestic violence against women and children persisted, as did discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, nationality, and sect, especially against the Shia majority population. Trafficking in persons and restrictions on the rights of foreign resident workers remained problems.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
The government or its agents did not commit any politically motivated killings during the year.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The constitution prohibits such practices; however, there were allegations during the year that security forces employed them. Local human rights observers were critical of the tactics used by specialized police units responding to tire burnings and other such disturbances; in some cases, rioters threw Molotov cocktails and other projectiles at police.
On several occasions, police detained dozens of young men in connection with small but frequent skirmishes between police and youths throwing rocks and, at times, Molotov cocktails. These youths routinely alleged that security forces beat them in custody. Security forces denied the accusations, and some opposition political activists expressed doubt about some of the allegations.