Since February 2011, popular protests in Bahrain have been met with an intense crackdown by the authorities. On 16 August 2012, Nabeel Rajab, FIDH Deputy Secretary General and President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) was sentenced to three years in prison without parole due to his peaceful human rights activities. Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, former President of the BCHR, is serving a life sentence.

FIDH and the BCHR have advocated tirelessly to mobilize a mainly unresponsive European Union. Last December, the FIDH and Marietje Schaake, Member of the European Parliament, organised a roundtable on how to step-up the EU’s response to ongoing human rights violations. At the same time, FIDH organised a series of meetings for Bahraini human rights defenders with key actors from across the EU institutions, laying down a series of recommendations and urging for a strong EU response.

Following this round of advocacy, a statement by the spokesperson of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton was issued expressing dismay on the final appeal court’s verdict of 7 January against opposition activists in Bahrain and reiterating its call for a full implementation of the 2011 Bahrain Commission of Inquiry report (statement here).

Furthermore, on the 17th of January 2013, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution on the human rights situation in Bahrain strongly condemning the ongoing human rights violations committed by the Bahraini authorities and security forces and calling for the suspension of, and a ban on, exports of tear gas and crowd control equipment. The EP calls for “the immediate and unconditional release of all Bahraini political prisoners, including teachers, doctors and other medical staff, who have been detained and charged with alleged violations related to the rights of expression, peaceful assembly and association, in particular Sayed Yousif al-Muhafadha, Nabeel Rajab and Abdulhadi al-Khawaja”. The EP also calls for the establishment of an international monitoring mechanism to monitor the implementation of the recommendations of the BICI and of the UN Universal Periodic Review of Bahrain, including those relating to human rights defenders (full text here).

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