At the March 11 meeting, parliamentarians are urging serious restrictions on political freedom.
Human rights groups are urging MPs to visit this year’s Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Bahrain to raise concerns about the “poor state of political freedom” in the Gulf country.
In a joint letter to the delegates of the IPU assembly, the 22 organizations including Human Rights Watch, PEN International and Reprieve noted that two former members of the Bahrain parliament are currently in detention.
“We urge you to ensure that the 146th meeting of the IPU is not used by the Bahraini authorities to whitewash its abysmal human rights record,” the groups said in the letter published Monday.
The meeting will begin on March 11 in Manama, the capital of Bahrain.
Bahrain has been accused of widespread crackdown pro-democracy protests in 2011and opposition politicians, along with activists, bloggers and human rights defenders, are still in prison for their role in those demonstrations and more recent protests.
In December, three independent experts from the United Nations expressed concern about the “alleged arbitrary detention and subsequent arrestsby human rights activist Yusuf Ahmed Hasan Kadhem, 17-year-old Ali Mustafa Majid Maki and two unidentified 16-year-olds for participating in protests against the normalization of ties with Israel.
Among requests to lawmakers attending the IPU, the letter urged them to push for the unconditional and immediate release of all political prisoners and the abolition of so-called “political isolation” laws introduced in 2018 and former members of the IPU banned parties from running for parliament or sitting on the boards of civil society organisations.
It also called for an end to torture and ill-treatment, and for the restoration of citizenship in line with UN recommendations for all those arbitrarily deprived of their nationality.
Bahrain’s judiciary disbanded two of the country’s main political opposition parties, al-Wefaq and Wa’ad, in 2016 and 2017, and Human Rights Watch says the country severely restricts freedom of expression, association and assembly, but also notes that elections are neither free nor fair.
Bahrain authorities deny allegations of human rights abuses and say the elections are democratic.
The IPU was founded in 1889 to promote dialogue and diplomacy. The biennial meetings are part of the decision-making mechanism and the event in Bahrain will focus on promoting peaceful coexistence and inclusiveness.
The 145th Congress was held in the Rwandan capital of Kigali.