POMED’s Cole Bockenfeld Testifies on Human Rights in Bahrain

On Friday, September 9, POMED’s Deputy Director for Policy Cole Bockenfeld testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission during a hearing entitled, “Human Rights in Bahrain: Next Steps.”

In his testimony, Bockenfeld emphasized that Bahrain’s crackdown on peaceful dissent is at “a scale of which we have not seen since March 2011.” He also sharply criticized the Obama administration for “repeatedly ‘lowering the bar’ over the past several years regarding the need for reform in Bahrain.” He added, “Frankly, the Bahraini government’s recent boldness in escalating its crackdown is unsurprising, given the extremely weak and inconsistent reactions of the international community and especially of the U.S. administration to the its lack of progress on reform and its worsening abuses of human rights.”

He concluded his testimony with several recommendations for U.S policy moving forward, including a renewed suspension of arms sales to Bahrain, and visa bans and asset freezes for Bahraini officials credibly linked to gross human rights violations. Bockenfeld also recommended Congress should approve FY17 appropriations language requiring the State Department to produce an updated BICI assessment, in addition urging Congress to press the Defense Department to publicly release its report on an assessment of the security situation in Bahrain, including contingency plans for relocating the U.S. Fifth Fleet.

Bockenfeld testified alongside Brian Dooley of Human Rights First, Sarah Margon of Human Rights Watch, and former Bahraini Member of Parliament Matar Ebrahim Matar.

A PDF of his full testimony is available here.