USCIRF’s 2013 Annual Report on the State of International Religious Freedom - Bahrain
April 30, 2013
In December 2012, a USCIRF delegation traveled to Manama to assess conditions for freedom of religion or belief, particularly progress by the Bahraini government in implementing relevant recommendations from the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), including related to the rebuilding of Shi’i mosques and religious structures the government destroyed in 2011.
The delegation met in Manama with high-level government officials, including the Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs and the Minister of Human Rights. The delegation also met with the Secretary-General of one of the leading Shi’i opposition groups, the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society; Sunni and Shi’i religious leaders; representatives of human rights organizations; representatives of non-Muslim religious minority communities; other civil society leaders, such as lawyers and media personalities; and ordinary Bahraini citizens. In addition, the delegation met with the U.S. Ambassador and other Embassy staff.
While Bahrain does not meet the criteria to be placed this year on USCIRF’s Tier 1 or Tier 2, inadequate implementation of the relevant BICI recommendations over the next year may negatively impact its status. USCIRF remains concerned by the government’s ongoing lack of accountability for abuses against the Shi’i community since 2011. USCIRF acknowledges some progress by the Bahraini government in implementing various BICI recommendations related to freedom of religion or belief, but much more needs to be done. USCIRF will continue to monitor closely the religious freedom situation in Bahrain over the next year.