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CAT Questions Seriousness of Bahraini Govít Invitation to High Commissioner to Visit Country in UPR Session

2017-04-21 - 11:58 p

Bahrain Mirror: The Bahraini governmental delegation convened with the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) last Friday (April 21, 2017) in a session to discuss Bahrain's periodic review pertinent to implementing the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

During the session, vice chairperson of CAT, Alessio Bruni, demanded the Bahraini delegation to demonstrate a clarification concerning the call to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zaid bin Raad al-Hussein to visit Bahrain without restriction. The Bahraini Council of Representatives made this invitation weeks ago.

Bruni noted, "A month ago media outlets addressed the Parliament's invitation to the High Commissioner to visit Bahrain. The High Commissioner expressed readiness to undertake this visit. This invitation is important in line with the implementation of the Convention against torture."

"Do you confirm the seriousness of this invitation on an official note? Or is it just a general invitation without specifying a date for the Commissioner to visit Bahrain? We require a specific answer in this regard," Bruni went on to say.

Moreover, the vice chairperson of CAT wondered, "The Special Rapporteur on torture also wants to visit Bahrain. In its report submitted to the committee in March 2016, your government said the Rapporteur's request came in an inappropriate time. Now, after a year passed, do you still think that the time is inappropriate for this visit?"

On the other hand, Bruni asked the Bahraini delegation in Geneva to provide a clarification regarding the recent constitutional amendment linked to the military judiciary.

"I received information from my sources in NGOs, stating that the Parliament amended the Bahraini constitution last March, allowing civilians accused of terrorism to be tried in military courts. These sources believe that this contravenes with Recommendation no. 1720 of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry", the UN official further addressed the Bahraini delegation.

"I also received information from other sources that this constitutional amendment is to confront terrorist attacks on military facilities and personnel. That is why I need a clarification from the Bahraini delegation on this level," he further added.

On her part, CAT member Ms. Felice Gaer asked the Bahraini delegation about the total number of recommendations implemented by the government from the BICI recommendations.

"In May 2016, the Bahrain News Agency reported on behalf of head of BICI Mahmoud Sharif Bassiouni that Bahrain implemented 26 recommendations, while Bassiouni said his statement was tampered, and that Bahrain only implemented 10 recommendations," Gaer clarified.

For his part, CAT member Mr. Abdelwahab Hani believed that they cannot take into consideration Bahrain's establishment of the Committee on the Rights of Prisoners and Detainees as a national mechanism for the prevention of torture. He clarified that "it was not established in the context of acceding to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment."

Furthermore, Ms. Essadia Belmir expressed worry from legal accountability in Bahrain. "Children between 7 and 15 years of age cannot be subject to legal accountability, and we fear that juveniles aged 15 to 18 are treated as adults."

"Bahrain's experience in law enforcement training is an example to countries in the regional, but we cannot say we are satisfied with Bahrain's efforts in this regard," Belmir noted.

"We ask the government, why hasn't it reached yet the results we hoped it reached as a result of these efforts? Why is there need for more time to achieve these results?" she further asked.

Head of the Bahraini governmental delegation Deputy Foreign Minister Abdullah Al-Dossari, promised that he would answer all questions addressed to his delegation during the discussion session to be held Monday (April 24, 2017).

"We will respond with great care and attention to the questions addressed to Bahrain, and to all unclear and vague information," Al-Dossari said.

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