18 June 2012

(HRF)- Human Rights First has been denied entry into Bahrain for the second time this year. We were denied access to the country in January and after being granted access for five days in March, we planned to visit again from June 22-29. We notified the Bahrain authorities of our plans on May 3, only to be told last week that “The scheduling of meetings in the period before and after the Holy Month of Ramadan is always difficult, not just for government officials as you suggest, but for the country as a whole. It is important to remember that this calendar date is set far in advance and unfortunately your request in early May was probably too late for administrative purposes.” Despite assurances that international observers are welcome, we are among several NGOs to have been denied entry in recent weeks. In March, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez was told a few weeks prior to his scheduled arrival date that he should not come. In April, Ana Gomes, a Member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, was turned away at Manama airport. It looks like Bahrain is uncomfortable with international scrutiny.