Announcing the cancellation of an Amnesty International visit to Bahrain, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director said:
"Regrettably we have cancelled the fact-finding visit to Bahrain due to start today, as the new five day limit imposed by the Bahraini authorities for visits by international human rights organizations is a serious impediment to their ability to do their human rights work ".
"The Bahraini authorities have repeatedly stated their commitment to undertake human rights reform and to cooperate with international human rights organizations. These new restrictions contradict such commitment."
Amnesty International and other NGOs were informed in writing by the Bahraini Ministry of Human Rights and Social Development that their visits would now be limited to five working days excluding Fridays and Saturdays and, in addition, that they would need to be sponsored to obtain a visa.
It is essential for Amnesty International delegates to meet and engage, with no time restrictions, with all relevant parties, including the authorities, civil society organizations and victims of human rights violations. If the Bahraini authorities are truly committed to human rights and co-operation with international NGOs they should do away with these new, unjustified obstacles.
0n 29 February the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment was informed by the government that his visit to Bahrain scheduled for 8 March had been postponed to July.