The lower house of the Bahraini parliament has approved a contentious amendment to the kingdom’s constitution under which civilians could be tried in military courts, in a latest move to further suppress political dissent in the island country.
The Council of Representatives (Majlis an-Nuwab) voted 31-1 for the measure on Tuesday, with three lawmakers not taking part in the vote.
However, the bill has yet to be endorsed by the 40-member Consultative Council (Majlis al-Shura), the upper house of the parliament, whose members are appointed directly by Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifah.
“The Bahraini king is effectively creating a police state with this de facto martial law,” Sayed Alwadaei, the director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), a London-based NGO, said in a statement released following Tuesday’s vote.
The bill removes limitations in the Bahraini constitution on who military courts can try.
Last month, a royal decree restored arrest and investigatory powers to the National Security Agency (NSA), Bahrain’s domestic spy service.