Bahrain volunteers for rights review
MANAMA, September 2, 2014
Bahrain has volunteered to come under international scrutiny during the 27th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva this month, it has emerged.
Minister of State for Human Rights Affairs Dr Salah Ali said Bahrain's rights record was not due for evaluation until 2016, when it will undergo the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process that takes place every four years, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
However, he told the GDN that Bahrain had chosen to present a midterm report this month - aware that it would put the country's record in the spotlight.
“The report is in the final stages and let me tell you this is a voluntary midterm report that Bahrain authorities decided to discuss at this international platform,” Dr Ali said yesterday (September 1).
“We should submit a report every four years.
“Bahrain submitted a detailed report in 2012 and is scheduled to present another report in 2016.”
The voluntary submission will be presented by an official Foreign Ministry delegation to the UNHRC session in Geneva, which is being held from Monday to September 26.
Dr Ali said the decision had been taken to present a report to ensure the international community was aware of developments in Bahrain over the past two years.
He was speaking to the GDN on the sidelines of a two-day workshop organised by the ministry, which commenced yesterday at the Ramee Grand Hotel and Spa, Seef.
Around 50 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) connected with human rights are taking part.
“We have collaborated with the Arab League to organise this workshop to discuss the Arab Charter of Human Rights, strengthening legislation and also empowering groups such as women, the elderly and children in Bahrain,” he explained.
Key recommendations will be drawn up before the workshop concludes today, with a follow-up event planned for next year.
“There will be recommendations and we will study how Bahrain can deal with human rights challenges and improve its record,” said the minister.
He said a key challenge still facing the country was false reports that damage Bahrain's reputation.
“Not everything said on Google is true,” he said.
“We have to differentiate between the facts on the ground and false statements.”
Also present at the workshop yesterday was chairman of the Arab Human Rights Committee at the Arab League Dr Hady Ali Alyami, who called for closer collaboration between the government and NGOs to improve human rights.
“The Bahrain government should get support from NGOs, which is lacking at the moment,” said Dr Alyami
“If we want the human rights situation to improve on the ground then this partnership is important as both parties can work together on shortcomings.”
He said he had reviewed Bahrain's rights record in 2012 as part of an Arab League process to ensure member states adhered to the Arab Charter of Human Rights, which Bahrain was first to sign in 2004.
“We studied national reports prepared by Bahraini authorities and even shadow reports compiled by NGOs during the review process,” said the Arab League official.
“It is my strong wish to see all the Arab states adopt the Bahrain model, which has undergone major changes in a few years to align with international protocols and at the same time maintain the Arab identity.” - TradeArabia News Service