Annual Report: Bahrain 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Bahrain 2010

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  • 'Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja, a human rights defender, was charged under Articles 92, 160, 165 and 168 of the Penal Code in January after he criticized the royal family. He was accused of calling for the use of force to change the political system, inciting hatred against the country's rulers and inciting unrest by deliberately spreading rumours. He was also banned from travelling abroad. He denied the accusations. The charges were dropped in accordance with the royal pardon in April.
  • In February, Lamees Dhaif was charged under the Penal Code after she published several articles on alleged judicial corruption in al-Waqt daily newspaper. She faced possible imprisonment or a fine if convicted of insulting a public authority. At the end of the year, the case was still being investigated.

Migrants' rights

In May, the government announced a revision of the sponsorship system – known as kafala – through which foreign migrant workers obtain employment. The new system, which came into force on 1 August, permits foreign workers to change their employment without obtaining their current employer's consent. The kafala had previously prevented workers from changing their employers or leaving the country, facilitating exploitation and abuse of workers' rights by employers, including non-payment of wages. The reform does not apply to migrant domestic workers, mostly women, who remain particularly vulnerable to abuse by employers.

Death penalty

In November, the Court of Cassation upheld the death sentence against Jassim Abdulmanan, a Bangladeshi national. He was sentenced to death in 2007 for premeditated murder. The execution was pending ratification by the King.

Amnesty International visits

In March, Amnesty International observed the trial of the 35 people accused of terrorism-related offences. The same month, an Amnesty International delegate participated in an international conference on human trafficking.