U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Bahrain
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||30 January 1998|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Bahrain, 30 January 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa6328.html [accessed 16 September 2014]|
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1998.
BAHRAINBahrain is a hereditary emirate with few democratic institutions and no political parties. The Al-Khalifa extended family has ruled Bahrain since the late 18th century and dominates its society and government. The Constitution confirms the Amir as hereditary ruler. The current Amir, Shaikh Isa Bin Sulman Al Khalifa, governs Bahrain with the assistance of a younger brother as Prime Minister, the Amir's son as Crown Prince, and an appointed cabinet of ministers. In 1975 the Government suspended some provisions of the 1973 Constitution, including those articles relating to the National Assembly, which was disbanded and never reconstituted. Citizens belong to the Shi?a and Sunni sects of Islam, with the Shi?a comprising over two thirds of the indigenous population. The Sunnis predominate because the ruling family is Sunni and is supported by the armed forces, the security service, and powerful Sunni and Shi?a merchant families. Bahrain experienced continued political unrest during the year, including bomb and arson attacks on public and private property. There are few judicial checks on the actions of the Amir and his government, and the courts are subject to government pressure. The Ministry of Interior is responsible for public security. It controls the public security force (police) and the extensive security service, which are responsible for maintaining internal order. The Bahrain Defense Force (BDF) is responsible for defending against external threats. It did not play a role in internal security during the year. Security forces committed serious human rights abuses. Bahrain has a mixed economy, with government domination of many basic industries, including the important oil and aluminum industries. Possessing limited oil and gas reserves, Bahrain is intensifying efforts to diversify its economic base companies doing business in banking, financial services, oil field services, and light manufacturing. The Government has used its modest oil revenues to build an advanced transportation and telecommunications infrastructure. Bahrain has become a regional financial and business center. Tourism, particularly via the causeway linking Bahrain to Saudi Arabia, is also a significant source of income. The country?s human rights situation improved slightly during the year due to a decrease in the level of political unrest; however, there was no change in the Government's human rights practices and numerous serious problems remain. The main problems continue to include the denial of the right of citizens to change their government; political and other extrajudicial killings; torture; arbitrary arrest; incommunicado and prolonged detention; involuntary exile; limitations on or the denial of the right to a fair public trial, especially in the security court; infringements on citizens' right to privacy; and restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, and worker rights. The Government imposes some limits on freedom of religion and movement. Domestic violence against women and discrimination based on sex, religion, and ethnicity remain problems.