UN official under fire over Bahrain comments
Manama, May 26, 2012
A top UN Human Rights Council official has come under fire for comments she made about Bahrain in a statement on the country's human rights review.
UN Human Rights Council president Laura Dupuy Lasserre sparked controversy by suggesting Bahraini individuals not associated with the government who took part in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva had been threatened.
Bahrain's Minister of State for Human Rights Dr Salah Ali branded her comments as "unfounded allegations".
"Bahrain's civil society representatives in Geneva enjoy free rights to travel, may travel from one country to another in all freedom," he said. "They benefit from all their basic rights and enjoy those rights."
He asked to see proof that supported the allegations. "If those parties who have communicated this information to you have any proof of what they are alleging, I would like to look at these allegations myself," he added.
"We reject such allegations; we have entered a new phase in the history of our country, a new era, which respects human rights."
Representatives of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Kuwait and Belarus also condemned Lasserre's comments.
The Saudi representative said her actions were not in keeping with the rules and procedures of the council.
"It is not up to us to address issues, which do not relate to the Universal Periodic Review or the reports submitted to this council," added the delegate from Yemen.
A Kuwaiti representative said the president's comments were unprecedented.
Meanwhile, the Belarusian delegate accused her of stepping out of line. "We also share the concern of the previous delegations and we request that you not interpret your role and speak on behalf of the council," said the representative of Belarus.
"The council is made up of member states, if you have any personal position on any issue then that position should be expressed in keeping with rules and procedures."
Lasserre had claimed a media campaign was reportedly taking place in Bahrain, identifying and threatening representatives of civil society who went to Geneva to participate in the UPR.-TradeArabia News Service