The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Bahrain to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Bahrain's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
and the International Religious Freedom Reports
Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
The U.S. Government works toward broadening political participation and strengthening the rule of law to achieve greater trust and cooperation among citizens, civil society, and the government. The U.S. Government considers parliament a critical element in the ongoing political reform process and an important voice for the country's citizen population. The U.S. Government espouses the holding of free and fair elections, and supports initiatives by the government and civil society to bolster citizens' confidence in the country's electoral processes. U.S. officials maintain regular contact with political societies and candidates, enabling them to assess the views of multiple stakeholders, including advocates of reform, when establishing objectives for advancing democracy and human rights.
The U.S. Government supports the development of a dynamic and robust civil society, including the provision of assistance to NGOs and other civil society groups. Emphasis includes bolstering the role of women and youth in governance, elections, and other political processes. The U.S. Government advances human rights, with a particular emphasis on combating the scourge of human trafficking, as well as labor abuses affecting the country's sizeable foreign workforce.
Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance
The United States supports a number of activities that reinforce the country's ten-year old political reform process. The U.S. chief of mission and other U.S. officials maintain constant engagement with government officials, opposition political leaders, representatives of political societies and non-governmental organizations, and journalists and editors. U.S. officials routinely attend sessions of the national legislature. U.S. officials also attend the open meetings that some members of parliament hold for constituents. During these events, embassy officers encourage continued participation in the political process and listen to citizens' concerns regarding the status of local reforms. The U.S. Government funds programs that promote political participation by historically under-represented and disenfranchised segments of society such as women and youth. Such programs include capacity building of youth and women's NGOs and training of female candidates for elected office. The United States has expanded its public affairs outreach and education programming in order to help prepare the next generation of leaders to continue the country's reform efforts.
The United States supports the country's efforts to develop durable democratic processes and institutions. A U.S.-funded NGO conducts training programs for parliamentarians, their staff, and members of other political societies. The same NGO has provided capacity building to municipal council members and staff. The U.S. Government will again provide support to a civil society-based elections monitoring initiative, led by two local NGOs. The United States supports programs designed to aid political societies in political campaigning, including voter identification and outreach.
As part of a U.S.-funded program for judicial reform, an experienced American attorney works as a consultant in the Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of the judicial system. The government regularly lauds the program for its impact and has requested additional support to modernize further its judicial system. To respond to the government's efforts in this area, the U.S. embassy works with the Ministry of Justice's Judicial and Legal Studies Institute (JLSI) to conduct specialized training for judges, lawyers, law schools, and the bar association. The U.S. Government uses a range of resources to address the problems of trafficking in persons and labor abuses in the country. The United States seeks to enhance the abilities of the government, domestic and foreign worker groups, and the NGO sector to enforce worker rights and combat trafficking in persons through grants for capacity building, training, and awareness campaigns. U.S. officials continually stress to government officials at all levels the country's responsibilities for combating trafficking in persons. The U.S. Government is funding programs that enable targeted training and capacity building of police officers, prosecutors, and other government officials. The United States will also sponsor government officials to undertake trafficking-in-persons-related training in the U.S.