More than a dozen rights groups have urged the US administration to restrict arms sales to Bahrain and pressure the Arab monarchy to introduce reforms and address the severe deterioration of human rights there.

Iran Press/Middle East: In a letter sent to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday, 15 groups urged Washington to pressure Manama over its ban on opposition political parties and independent media, and demand an "end [to] the use of torture and other ill-treatment".

"Last December, you noted that '[i]n too many countries, people are imprisoned and face torture or death for speaking their minds, reporting the news, or demanding their rights," the letter said.

"This statement sadly reflects the situation in Bahrain over the last four years, where human rights defenders and political activists have borne the full brunt of political repression.

"The Biden administration should urge Bahrain to rescind restrictions on civil society, take genuine steps towards justice reform and the restoration of civil rights, and reinstate restrictions on arms sales to Bahrain pending an improvement in the country's rights record."

The letter was signed by 15 groups including the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD); Amnesty International; Freedom House; the Committee to Protect Journalists; and Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN).

"Until US policy in Bahrain focuses on resolving the consequences of 2011 and pushing for democratic reform, the political crisis in the country will remain unresolved," Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, advocacy director at BIRD, said in a statement.

"We hope that your administration will ensure that human rights are once again placed at the center of US foreign policy in Bahrain and the wider Gulf region," the letter said.