Human rights practices in Bahrain

How timely. The US Department of State released the 2004 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices two days ago. Click here to read the Bahrain report. But here's an exceprt from the summary:

Problems remained in the Government's respect for human rights. Citizens did not have the right to change their government. The Government prohibits political parties, and none exist. Impunity of government officials remained a problem, as did the lack of independence of the judiciary and discrimination against the Shi'a population, women, and foreign nationals. The press reported that some judges were corrupt. The Parliament investigated an instance of government corruption involving the government pension funds. The Government continued to infringe to some extent on citizens' privacy rights, and it restricted the freedoms of speech, the press, assembly, and association. Journalists routinely practiced self-censorship. The Government also imposed some limits on freedom of religion and freedom of movement. Violence against women and discrimination based on sex, religion, and ethnicity remained a problem. There was reported discrimination in the job market. In May, the Council of Representatives rejected a law making discrimination a crime punishable under the country's 1976 Penal Code. Abuse of foreign workers occurred, including numerous instances of forced labor and some instances of trafficking.

The Government took initial steps to improve the judiciary process with the transparent recruitment of new judges, training of judges and prosecutors, establishment of an office of mediation, and steps to speed up [hah!] the court process that automates case management. Five judges were dismissed for corruption. The Government also provided increased human rights training to law enforcement officers. (Continued)