June 20, 2012

Dear Secretary Clinton:

Since joining the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), active U.S engagement has made a valuable contribution to strengthening the institution and demonstrating its capacity to respond to urgent human rights situations. We are encouraged that the U.S. plans to seek a second term on the Council to continue shaping the HRC into a relevant and effective part of the UN human rights system. The June HRC session offers an important opportunity for U.S. leadership to solidify gains and move the Council further toward becoming a strong and consistent voice for human rights around the world.

Accountability in Bahrain

The U.S. commitment to building a credible Human Rights Council will be underscored by promoting a consistent HRC response to human rights violations worldwide. Other members of the Human Rights Council are following closely the U.S. approach to HRC action on the situation in Bahrain where widespread and systematic repression of protestors has been carried out with almost total impunity. The Bahraini government has failed to implement the main recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission Inquiry (BICI), including the independent, thorough, and impartial investigation of torture by Bahraini security forces. In the absence of strong condemnation from the international community, over the past several months the government of Bahrain has escalated its use of excessive force against protestors, democracy activists, human rights defenders and medical personnel. In a rebuke to calls for human rights improvements, the authorities in Bahrain recently upheld most of the convictions and jail sentences for medical professionals who provided care to protesters.

We welcomed the strong language of the U.S. statement at Universal Periodic Review of Bahrain in May. We urge the U.S. to reinforce deep concerns about ongoing detention and trials of peaceful protestors as well as the failure of state institutions to ensure accountability by vigorously pressing for HRC action on Bahrain in June. We call on the U.S. to take the lead in advancing a joint cross-regional statement at the 20th Session of the HRC that calls on the government of Bahrain to end grave human rights violations and:

- put an end to the use of violence and release all those prosecuted for the peaceful expression of their views; - implement all recommendations of the BICI report; - accept and speedily implement the most important recommendations made during the Universal Periodic Review, particularly those focusing on ending torture and arbitrary detention, guaranteeing freedoms of association, assembly and expression and protecting human rights defenders; - allow full and unrestricted access to independent monitors and members of human rights organizations; - fully cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and swiftly facilitate visits by UN Special Rapporteurs.

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Signed by

Frank Jannuzi Deputy Executive Director, Amnesty International USA

Theodore Piccone Senior Fellow and Deputy Director for Foreign Policy, Brookings Institution (in personal capacity)

Karin D. Ryan Director, Human Rights Program, The Carter Center

Don Kraus Chief Executive Officer, Citizens for Global Solutions

Allison Garland Project Coordinator, Democracy Coalition Project

Robert Herman Vice President of Regional Programs, Freedom House

Robyn Lieberman Senior Strategist, Human Rights First

Juliette de Rivero Geneva Director, Human Rights Watch

Hans Hogrefe Washington Director, Physicians for Human Rights

Read full letter on freedomhouse.org