Freedom House classified, in its annual report on World Press Freedom, Bahrain among the “Not Free” countries, and one of the worst countries on the level of freedom. It also noted that Bahrain, which came in rank 193 out of 211 countries, “has become one of the Middle East’s most repressive states.”
Bahrain scored 12/100 (0 being the least free) in the Freedom in the World Scores. In the general Freedom Rating it scored 6.5/7 (7 being the least free), while it scored 7/7 on political rights, and 6/7 on civil liberties, with also 7 being the least free.
In the report issued Friday (April 28, 2017), the international watchdog stated that “since violently crushing a popular pro-democracy protest movement in 2011, the Sunni-led monarchy has systematically eliminated a broad range of political rights and civil liberties, dismantled the political opposition, and cracked down harshly on persistent dissent in the Shiite population.”
According to Freedom House, the Bahraini authorities’ drive to outlaw peaceful political opposition intensified in 2016. It highlighted the key developments of 2016 in this regard, such as suspending Al-Wefaq, the country’s largest opposition group, harassing and detaining leading political and human rights activists, as well as revoking the citizenship of Isa Qassim, the country’s most important Shiite cleric.
It pointed out that violent confrontations between protesters and security forces continued in 2016, leading to widespread arrests and a militarized police presence in predominantly Shiite villages and neighborhoods.
Bahraini authorities maintained legal pressure on outspoken activists during the year, the international organization went on to say, while highlighting that in July, the minister of information issued strict new guidelines for newspapers’ use of internet or social media to disseminate content, further limiting the press’s freedom to operate.