Bahrain Designed Most Comprehensive Catalogue of Civic Space Closure in Region, Report

2018-09-24 - 9:34 p

Bahrain Mirror: The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) published a report on the Civic Space in the Middle East, warning that time is running out as civic space is closing rapidly in the region.

The report highlighted CIVICUS Monitor Ratings, which evaluate the openness and strength of civic space in respective countries, noting that in this regard, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are rated ‘closed' which indicates that civic space is not sanctioned legally or by practice.

Annihilation of attempts to challenge this closure is met with extremely repressive measures by governments and non-state actors, added the report.

The report evaluated another three countries, Iraq, Qatar and Oman, as ‘repressed', noting that this implies that there is a window for activism, however, it is subject to the same highly repressive measures as in ‘closed' countries.

Meanwhile, Kuwait, Lebanon and Jordan were ranked as ‘obstructed', where CSOs may operate but civil society faces a combination of legal and practical constraints.

Regarding Bahrain, in a special section, the report said: "Nowhere in the region is there a more comprehensive catalogue of closure of civic space than in Bahrain where all human rights defenders have been either jailed, exiled or banned from travel, the only independent newspaper Al-Wasat has been closed, political societies have been shut down, and protests have been violently suppressed leading to the death of five people in May 2017."

The report further pointed out that the country's leading human rights defenders Nabeel Rajab and Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja (GCHR's Founding Directors) remain in jail. "Rajab was one of the first people to be jailed for expressing concern about human rights violations on twitter, having been jailed in 2012 for tweets - leading to the spread of social media prosecutions across the region."

It added that the rapid decline in Bahrain in the past two years is what sets it apart, since Bahrain used to have functioning CSOs, HRDs and journalists free to work, and an independent media, but this is no longer the case.

GCHR also stressed that sentencing Rajab to prison over tweets on the war in Yemen shows the extreme sensitivity of the authorities to any kind of criticism.


Arabic Version


: Bahrain Mirror