2017 HRC UPR Working Group on Bahrain Issues Draft Report; Another Set of 176 Recommendations

2017-05-04 - 2:37 am

Bahrain Mirror - Exclusive: The Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Twenty-Seventh session issued an unedited version of its draft report on Bahrain, on Wednesday (May 3, 2017). The 2017 recommendations seem to mirror the 2012 UPR recommendations, as both sets line up to 176 recommendations.

The report consists of an introduction, a summary of the proceedings of the review process, including the Bahrain delegation's presentation, and the interactive dialogue and responses by the state under review, which are still to be completed. It most importantly includes the conclusions or recommendations presented to Bahrain, mainly based on recommendations made by member-states during the discussion session on Monday (May 1, 2017).

"The recommendations formulated during the interactive dialogue/listed below will be examined by Bahrain which will provide responses in due time, but no later than the thirty-sixth session of the Human Rights Council in September 2017," the report read.

Ratification of Human Rights Instruments

The first recommendation on Bahrain to "Ratify the main human rights instruments to which Bahrain is not yet party, and adapt its national legislation to these (...)".

According to the 2nd and 3rd recommendations, as presented by Estonia, Uruguay, Ireland, Portugal, and Angola, Bahrain is recommended to "Ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and abolish the death penalty."

One of the main recommendations, reiterated extensively during the round of criticism Bahrain received in the discussion session on Monday (May 1), was that Bahrain "Accedes to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment." This was reasserted in articles 4, 5, 6, 94 and several others, after it was presented by more than a dozen HRC member-states including Denmark, Ghana, Portugal, Czech Republic, and Germany.

Recommendation 11 stressed Bahrain's need to "Ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance," while article 13 noted the need to "Ratify the Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity."

Calls to halt Citizenship Revocations, Religious Discrimination

Due to reports on the citizenship revocations recently increasing in Bahrain, many UN member-states lashed at the Bahraini delegation to halt its revocations and to "Accede to the 1954 convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons," as stated in recommendation 16 of the UPR working group's draft report on Bahrain.

"End the practice of revocation of citizenship and adopt legal and institutional safeguard to prevent discrimination against members of religious minorities and provide effective remedy for victims of arbitrary arrests, detention, summons or travel bans," Recommendation 175 of the UPR working group draft report read.

Cooperation with UN Mechanisms, Invite Special Rapporteurs to Visit

Echoing calls for further cooperation with the United Nations mechanisms to promote human rights, recommendations 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 33 and several others asserted the need to extend cooperation with the UN organization and special procedures, and invite them to visit the island kingdom, as recommended by many countries such as the UK, Ireland, Netherlands and Bulgaria.

France's call on Bahrain to "Accept the request of the Special Rapporteur on the Torture and the Special Rapporteur on peaceful assembly and of association" to visit the country was reiterated in recommendation number 29 of the draft report. Recommendation 34 stated the USA's recommendation to "Accept a visit from the High Commissioner or a UN special rapporteur to identify steps to strengthen human rights institutions."

Protection of Human Rights Defenders & Institutions, Implementation of BICI Recommendations

Recommendations 37, 58, 59, and 126 noted the need to "Ensure the full implementation of all recommendations from the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry."

Many recommendations, among them 57, 97, 98, 100, 119, and 124 stressed on the importance of protecting and ending the harassments and persecution against human rights defenders.

"Immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience imprisoned only for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly," recommendation number 112 demanded, based on calls made by Iceland and other HRC member-states.

Calls to strengthen the presence of human rights institutions and NGOs in the country were stressed upon by recommendations 34, 38, 42, 83 and others.

Protection of Rights to Freedom of Press, Assembly and Association

"Amend the Penal Code and the Press Law to remove criminal penalties for alleged libel and insult offences, as accepted by Bahrain during its last universal periodic review," Recommendation 105 read, based on the verbal recommendation presented by Canada during last Monday's discussion session.

Other recommendations stressing the independence of Press law and media were 106, 107, and 108.

Recommendation number 109 stressed the need for Bahrain to "Take measures to guarantee the exercise of the right to freedom of association and peaceful manifestation and to promote and facilitate the activities of the NGOs."

"Modify the legislation to repeal criminal responsibility for the activities which fall within the legitimate exercise of the exercise of the freedom of expression, particularly on the Internet and twitter," recommendation 110 stated, based on France's verbal recommendation.

"Repeal or amend all laws which restrict the freedoms of expression, association or assembly, including Decree 31 of 2013, Law 34 of 2014, and Law 26 of 2015," Recommendation number 111 stated based on Germany's demand.

The draft report holding in its pages 176 recommendations is still to be edited and modified in the upcoming days before adopting the final version of the report on Friday (May 5, 2017).

To read the full recommendations traced in the draft report of The Working Group on the UPR 27th Session on Bahrain, click here.

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