Bahrain suspends human rights group
Manama, September 9, 2010
The board of a human rights group in Bahrain has been suspended for allegedly failing to represent all sections of the kingdom’s society.
The Social Development Ministry issued the order against the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS), appointing a temporary director to be announced soon.
The decision follows various legal and administrative violations that proved the BHRS had steered away from objectively promoting the views of all sections of society, the ministry said in a statement.
It said the move followed complaints from a group of Bahraini journalists, who claimed that there were insulted by society members after they requested officials to be objective and represent all sections of society.
The order stipulates that the new temporary director would review and work on the society's financial and administrative records. It also calls for an open membership for everyone to register to be followed by a general assembly meeting to appoint a new board of directors.
The ministry said that the action taken against the BHRS was according to Article 50 of the Civil Societies Law for 1981.
It stipulates that the minister concerned had the authority to dissolve or temporarily suspend the board of a civic organisation for a period not more than 45 days for violating the law.
The civic organisation has the right to appeal the decision at the High Civil Court after it is published in the Official Gazette within 15 days.
The BHRS was on Tuesday hoping to clear its name by having an urgent meeting with Social Development Minister Dr Fatima Al Balooshi, following accusations that it only serves one part of the community.
The comments were made during an appearance by Dr Al Balooshi on Bahrain TV last Thursday, when she included them among human rights societies allegedly breaking the law by practising discrimination.
Her comments followed a Press conference called by the society on August 28, during which journalists claimed they were insulted and even attacked - a claim denied by the society.
Members of the Press claimed they were insulted when they asked why the society had not condemned an attack on the managing editor of a Bahrain newspaper critical of escalating street violence.
The journalists also accused the society of failing to condemn acts of arson, sabotage and firebomb attacks on innocent victims -claims also denied by the society.
Organisers of the Press conference insisted the event was only aimed at highlighting the "suffering" of suspects arrested for rioting.
The ministry said yesterday that following the incident, it started surveying all societies concerned with human rights.
The aim was to find out if they were only serving a section of society and ignoring others, resulting in legal and administrative violations, it added.
"The results of our reports revealed that the BHRS had steered away from objectively representing all sections of Bahrain's community," said the ministry.
BHRS secretary-general Abdulla Al Derazi said that he was initially contacted for a meeting to be set up based on the society's request.
"It was on a short notice and I was unable to attend the meeting. I requested the official to postpone the meeting until after Eid," he said.
Al Derazi said that the official later informed him over the phone that according to a ministerial decree, the board of directors was suspended and a temporary director would be appointed.
"This is a backward step considering the current situation and is against human rights principles," he said. "We still have no further information provided by the ministry regarding the suspension of the board of directors."
BHRS members were scheduled to meet last night to discuss their right to appeal the decision and other ways to urge officials to reconsider.
BHRS was set up in 2001, following wide-ranging political reforms by the Bahraini government to allow the operation of independent human rights groups.
It has a prisons monitoring committee and was the first human rights group to be accorded the right to visit the Jaw prison for men in 2005 and women's prison last year. The BHRS also launches an annual human rights report on various sectors in the country. – TradeArabia News Service
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