3rd Aug, 2013 –

The extraordinary meeting of Bahrain’s National Assembly came after a series of serious terrorist incidents, including a bombing outside a Mosque. Human Rights Watch’s statement completely ignores this fact, and therefore it fails to acknowledge why elected Parliament members are calling for proportionate and lawful measures in order to fulfill their duty of protecting the public.

Human Rights Watch furthermore fails to recognize that these recommendations have no legal status. Given the emphasis put by the MPs on freedom of expression and guaranteeing human rights; it seems somewhat bizarre that Human Rights Watch is rushing to condemn the deliberations of Bahrain’s Parliament, before anybody has any idea whether these will directly lead to a change in approach to the security situation.

Human Rights Watch fails to clarify that the proposed ban on protests only applies to the central business district of Manama, leaving the opposition with plenty of choice for alternative locations less likely to paralyze the economy.

The issue of revocation of citizenship is indeed a controversial one. While many people would agree that those who plot to murder Bahrainis and commit terrorist atrocities deserve to face severe measures, the Government should consider carefully before taking such measures against individuals, taking its human rights obligations into account.

Human Rights Watch seems far too ready to take everything the opposition says at face value, accepting uncritically that the authorities are “exaggerating” the terrorist threat.

We wish that Human Rights Watch would take into account the rights of the majority of Bahrain’s citizens who do not want to be put at risk of terrorist attacks; and we question how the families of victims of terrorism would react to being told that the threat of terrorism is being exaggerated.

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