HR Organizations Issue Statement Demanding GoB to Allow Activists Attend UPR Session in Geneva
2017-04-29 - 3:44 am
Bahrain Mirror: Bahraini and American human rights organizations strongly condemned the judicial harassment of human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, and other members of civil society attempting to attend international human rights mechanisms such as the UPR, calling on the Government of Bahrain to immediately lift all restrictions on them.
In a joint statement, the organizations noted that the Bahraini authorities have initiated a new campaign of reprisals against activists ahead of the kingdom's third cycle of the United Nations Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) beginning on 1 May 2017. It added the Bahraini government has targeted at least 32 activists, human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, and other members of civil society for reprisal, including criminal summons, interrogations, and travel bans.
The organizations said that the Government of Bahrain has refused to formally engage with independent civil organizations in the UPR consultation process, indicating that the authorities have outright banned domestic human rights groups like BCHR and declined to cooperate with international organizations like ADHRB and BIRD.
ADHRB directly contacted the government requesting to participate in the national consultation process, and was rejected. Meanwhile, the authorities claim to have consulted with several "associations concerned with human rights," but they have not disclosed these organizations or if they included government-organized NGOs (GONGOs), which are funded and/or sponsored by the state.
"The Bahraini government has almost entirely failed to fulfill its commitments under the UPR, including its obligation to consult with civil society organizations and facilitate their participation in the process," said Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of ADHRB. "Now the authorities are - yet again - actively preventing activists from leaving the country in order to maintain the illusion that there's been progress on Bahrain's human rights situation. This wave of reprisals itself demonstrates that there hasn't."
At the end of the statement, the signatories, including Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy and European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights, called on the Government of Bahrain to lift all travel bans and end any other form of interference in the work of independent civil society actors, specifically urging the authorities to facilitate the attendance of these actors at the upcoming UPR in May and to genuinely commit to the UPR reform process.
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