Bahraini NGOs to submit rights feedback
Manama, August 12, 2014
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Bahrain, including human rights groups, have been given a week to submit their analysis on the country's rights record, which will come under scrutiny in Geneva next month.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry held a closed-door meeting yesterday (August 11), chaired by Under-Secretary Abdulla Abdullatif Abdulla and attended by more than 40 members of different civil societies, ahead of the 27th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
It will discuss the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of certain UN member states, including Bahrain between September 8 and 26.
The organisations were asked to submit feedback on the situation in the country and respond to recommendations made by the council during previous sessions to help officials prepare Bahrain's quarterly UPR report.
"The meeting was held in line with the belief of the government of Bahrain to apply the best international practices, which highlight the need to involve stakeholders in the preparation and setup of the international human rights requirements," said the ministry in a statement.
Bahrain Transparency Society (BTS) president Abdulnabi Al Ekry, who was present at the meeting, said a shadow report was already presented to the council on behalf of the Bahrain Human Rights Observatory (BHRO), which will present a similar document to Bahraini authorities next week.
"The BHRO already submitted our shadow reports to the UNHRC and we will do the same now," he told the GDN.
BHRO consists of 12 groups including the Bahrain Women Union, BTS, General Federation of Bahrain Trade Union and the Bahrain Human Rights Society.
Other groups which attended the meeting were the National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR), the Bahrain Federation of Expatriate Associations and the Migrant Workers Protection Society (MWPS).
"We were given a document by the ministry that had a set of 11 recommendations for Bahrain that were made by several council members in the past," said MWPS chairwoman Marietta Dias.
"After studying them carefully, we listed six recommendations that were related to migrant workers, such as combating human trafficking and others."
The GDN reported last month that rights activists urged the Bahrain government to have a clear agenda as it faces a barrage of critical questions during the top UN meeting.
The NIHR had said 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.
In previous UNHRC sessions, foreign countries have issued damning statements against Bahrain and several NGOs have made allegations of human rights violations.
The UPR provides an opportunity for each state to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situation and to fulfil their human rights obligations.
During his first speech at the UNHRC in 2012, Minister of State for Human Rights Affairs Dr Salah Ali said Bahrain dropped more than 1,000 cases against medical professionals for their alleged role in 2011 unrest and further granted 565 NGOs a total amount of $4 million.
This was when Bahrain was the first country to undergo the UPR process in Geneva. Dr Ali also spoke about restructuring the Interior Ministry with new departments specialising in human rights as part of an overall strategy to develop the security apparatus. - TradeArabia News Service