Rights court in Bahrain 'will fast-track cases'
Manama, May 26, 2014
A human rights court being established in Bahrain is expected to issue verdicts within six months of receiving complaints.
The Arab Court for Human Rights will investigate allegations of torture, discrimination and other violations lodged by Arab citizens, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Plans for the ambitious project, which is scheduled to open in less than five years, were discussed yesterday during a two-day conference at Ritz-Carlton Bahrain, Hotel and Spa.
More than 300 human rights and legal experts attended the event, which was organised by the National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR) under the patronage of His Majesty King Hamad.
Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa was delegated by His Majesty to open the conference.
He hailed the King's initiative to establish a special court for human rights in the Arab world and said the move reflected Bahrain's desire to keep pace with the aspirations of people for reform, modernisation and sustainable development.
"His Majesty's vision is both insightful and progressive," Shaikh Khalid said.
"His initiative aims to strengthen the pillars of the rule of law, justice and equality besides promoting human rights and human dignity.
"It will help all Arab nations deal with human rights issues properly, and prevent the exploitation of such issues as a tool to interfere in the internal affairs of countries."
Shaikh Khalid highlighted Bahrain's human rights strides and said the Arab court will be the "best home for awareness" on all legal and human rights issues.
The minister welcomed the participants and stressed the importance of their contributions in enriching the conference.
"This conference will pave way for the establishment of the Arab Court of Human Rights in Bahrain and will have a judge from each member state of the Arab League including the kingdom," said NIHR president Dr Aziz Abul.
"Complaints can be lodged after all means of litigation are exhausted in the member countries and the time frame to complete the investigation is expected not to be more than six months."
During yesterday's opening session, speeches were made by Arab League secretary-general Dr Nabil El Araby, GCC secretary-general Dr Abdullatif Al Zayani, Arab parliament president Dr Ahmed Al Jarwan and Arab Network of National Institutions for Human Rights president Mohammed Essabbar.
Dr El Araby said the Arab region was witnessing "unprecedented global attention" because of regional challenges.
He also revealed that a draft of the Articles of Association regarding the court was finalised and will be discussed by the Arab League.
"This court is a historical paradigm of shift for Arab countries and ensures their citizens can seek justice when all means fail," he added.
Workshops were also held during the conference where rights experts from Egypt, Morocco, France, Yemen and Libya shared their experiences. The conference will end today with participants releasing a list of recommendations that will be submitted to Dr El Araby.
The creation of the Arab Court of Human Rights Court was initiated by His Majesty King Hamad to safeguard rights under an advanced judicial system and in March last year, during the Arab Summit, officials approved Manama as the headquarters of the body.
The court will also serve as a counterpart to similar institutions across the world including the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, African Court of Human and People and the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights.
Dr El Araby confirmed that the court for Human Rights would immediately "see the light" after the Arab League ministerial meeting in September.
Dr El Araby, on the sidelines of the conference, said the court would be established right after its statute is decided and the approval of Arab leaders obtained.
Meanwhile, NIHR yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding with the Arab Organization for Human Rights.
Under the deal, the two watchdogs would exchange expertise, hold workshops, co-ordinate training programmes and events and take joint stances. - TradeArabia News Service