[JURIST] Bahrain's King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa [BBC profile] has ratified a controversial protest law that some rights groups suggest could be inconsistent with common international rights standards. The Amendments to Law 18/1973 criminalizes unauthorized protests, prohibits foreign nationals from demonstrating, and bans demonstrators from certain public places such as hospitals, airports, and near diplomatic offices and other international organizations.
Advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has expressed concern over the protest law [press release], noting that the amendment is the first human-rights related legislation to be considered by Bahrain [CIA backgrounder] since the country was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council [official website]. HRW suggested that the Amendment may run afoul of Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) [text], which Bahrain has not yet ratified. ICCPR Article 21 states in full:
The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order, the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
AFP has more.