Did you know that today’s generation of youth is the largest in mankind history? With more than 3 billion young people under the age of 30, making half of the world’s inhabitants.
Today, the 12th of August is marked as International Youth Day and is attributed to highlight the powerful role played by young women and men in bringing about change through tackling global issues & achieving universal sustainable development goals. It celebrates as well the contributions of young activists who are pushing for positive change around the world serving as catalysts for peace, harmony & prosperity, not only in their local communities but on the global spotlights.
This day reminds us too to raise awareness of challenges and problematics facing the world’s youth nowadays. It also accentuates on the rights of young people to have full access to education, healthcare, housing, employment, monetary services and complete participation in public and civic life.
The percentage of the population under the age of 25 is 35% in Bahrain. However, its government has had difficulties turning this potential into an actual asset. One issue is the youth unemployment which rates have been a significant ordeal, even though the country in particular and the region in general has experienced strong economic growth and job creation. It is worth mentioning that Bahrain has youth unemployment rates over 20%.
A second issue is detention & imprisonment of young people for their political backgrounds. We were made aware that at least 607 children were subjected to various forms of torture by Bahraini authorities while in detention over the past decade, where these interrogation sessions were often carried out without the children’s parents or their lawyers present.
In December 2013, ten-year-old Jehad al-Sameea was arrested while playing near his grandfather’s house and detained for 43 days. He was sentenced to one week in prison in May 2014 under charges of participating in illegal gatherings, charges he denies.
In 2015 more than 200 minors were in prison in Bahrain, half of whom were housed in adult facilities.
Despite Law No. (4) of 2021 promulgating the Restorative Justice Law for Children and their Protection from Maltreatment and its article 19 which clearly states: “The Restorative Justice Court for the Child or the Judicial Committee for Childhood may enroll the child in one of the training and rehabilitation programs, or national educational programs that ensure the child preparation and rehabilitation for return and reintegration into society as a good citizen, by entrusting the child to one of the governmental or private social welfare institutions specialized in children’s affairs”, 15 children were arrested, some of whom were released within the alternative penal law, yet 7 are still held in Dry Dock detention centre, an adult facility.
In an attempt to raise awareness of these cases, Bahrain Center for Human Rights and several partners went on to educate the public about human rights and democracy and continue fighting for youth rights in civic participation while denouncing placing them as targets for government reprisals.
These two issues mentioned in this statement suggest that much needs to be done by the government of Bahrain to capitalize on its youth population. The main avenues for reform lie with the education system, the labor market and the respect of universally-granted human rights. In terms of the former, there are clear constraints that leave young people in a position of abuse and violation.
Let us keep reminding ourselves that a healthy youth generation has an unmatched potential to contribute towards the betterment of our society.