By Courtney Trenwith
Bahrain agrees to allow America’s top human rights official back into the country five months after abruptly kicking him out
America’s top official on human rights is expected to return to Bahrain on Wednesday, nearly five months after he was expelled for meeting an opposition political party, US officials said.
Tom Malinowski, the assistant secretary for democracy, human rights and labour, visited Kuwait on Tuesday and was scheduled to then travel to Bahrain with Anne W. Patterson, the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, the officials said.
Malinowski was ordered to the leave the country on July 7 when Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry claimed he had violated “conventional diplomatic norms” after he met with the leader of Al Wefaq, the country’s largest opposition party.
Secretary of State John Kerry called Bahrain’s foreign minister at the time to complain about the decision, including the country’s insistence that a Foreign Ministry official attend all of Malinowski’s meetings with the opposition, New York Times reported.
Bahraini MPs also last year called for US ambassador to Bahrain Thomas Krajeski to be excommunicated, claiming he was “dangerous” and “despicable” and had attempted to interfere in the country’s politics by holding meetings with the opposition and anti-government protesters.
In protest over the expulsion of Malinowski, the US suspended some arms sales to Bahrain and indefinitely cut assistance to the Interior Ministry, which has been involved in cracking down on the opposition since violent protests began in 2011.
The opposition boycotted elections held late last month in protest over what they claim is an unfair crackdown.
Some international human rights organisations have called on the US to take tougher action.
Bahrain is a sensitive issue for the US, which has its Navy Fifth Fleet based there, while F-16s from Bahrain also have joined the American-led airstrikes against IS.
The US is expected to reassess its suspension of some arms deliveries after Malinowski’s visit, and after evaluating the election process and the human rights situation in Bahrain, New York Times reported.