Washington, DC - Five years ago this week, Bahrainis from all backgrounds called for political reforms that would bring greater respect for their universal rights and fundamental freedoms.

Bahrain has made progress in some areas, including by creating institutions that improve oversight of security institutions, but more work remains to be done. We will continue to raise our concerns with Bahrain about limitations on peaceful assembly and political activism, and the criminalization of free expression. We will also continue to encourage the release of opposition figures like Ibrahim Sharif and Sheikh Ali Salman.

It is important that the Government of Bahrain and opposition groups work together to implement reforms that meet international standards in these areas. By doing so, they can help bring peaceful change that is responsive to the aspirations of all Bahrainis, and marginalize those who support violence.

Bahrain is an important U.S. partner. Our relationship is built on common interests, including joint efforts to combat violent extremism. Allowing for greater rights and opportunities for all Bahrainis strengthens Bahrain’s stability and security, and so we will continue to encourage progress on these important issues.