Bahrain urged to have clear agenda at UN talks
Manama, July 13, 2014
Bahrain needs to have a clear agenda when it faces a major UN rights meeting, a top official has said.
The kingdom's rights record is scheduled to come under scrutiny in September during the 27th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
However, the National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR) has expressed doubts about whether officials are properly prepared to face a barrage of critical questions that are likely to come their way.
It has warned that any failure to adequately respond could result in a resolution being passed against Bahrain - saying a lack of homework and co-operation between government bodies could undermine Bahrain's position.
"My fear is that authorities are not prepared for this upcoming session, which could result in a resolution against Bahrain by the Human Rights Council," said NIHR vice-chairman and complaints monitoring and follow-up committee head Dr Abdulla Al Deerazi.
"We need to have a clear agenda of what should be done in Geneva that requires inter-ministerial co-operation at different levels, which is lacking," he said.
Bahrain's rights record will be on the UN agenda in just two months, with the HRC session running from September 8 to 26.
"The delegation will be questioned by 47 member states regarding steps taken to implement the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry recommendations, as well as those (measures) in the UN Universal Periodic Review accepted by the kingdom," said Dr Al Deerazi.
In past HRC sessions, foreign countries have issued damning statements against Bahrain and non-governmental organisations have made allegations of human rights violations.
MP and parliament's human rights committee chairman Ahmed Al Sa'ati admitted Bahraini officials at previous events had been unprepared.
"All of us should do our homework rather than waiting until the last moment," he said.
"When we as MPs attended such sessions in Geneva, we did not have a single paper provided to us by the authorities and this shows how well we are prepared."
He said a contentious topic expected to come up was the jailing of Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, who has both Bahraini and Danish citizenship.
Al Khawaja is among 13 men jailed for life after they were convicted of being part of a foreign-backed coup, trying to overthrow the monarchy, violating the constitution and having ties to a terrorist organisation.
"Denmark and its allies have repeatedly attacked Bahrain in such sessions and we expect them to do it again," said Al Sa'ati.
"I have spoken with Foreign Ministry officials in Bahrain and Denmark about extraditing Abdulhadi Al Khawaja and letting him serve his remaining sentence there.
"This is not a pardon, but extradition that will settle this issue so that Denmark and the European Union will stop attacking us on such international platforms." - TradeArabia News Service