Manama using anti-terror laws to silence speech freedom, dissidents: Rights group

An independent human rights group says Bahraini officials are exploiting anti-terror laws to suffocate freedom of speech and silence voices critical of the ruling Al Khalifah regime as Manama presses ahead with its crackdown on pro-democracy campaigners in the kingdom.

Speaking at the 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council in the Swiss city of Geneva on Friday, Clara Sanchez Lopez with Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain said that Manama was “using its broad and vague counter-terror laws to criminalize free expression and … dissent.”

She also expressed serious concern over Bahrain’s abuse of such legislation “to restrict civil and political space in the kingdom by targeting human rights defenders and activists.”

“The Bahraini government has effectively dissolved political opposition under the guise of countering terrorism and using false terror charges. Prominent Bahraini human rights defenders are also serving prison time on false terror charges,” Lopez added.

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.

They are demanding that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.

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