UN Experts Mention Evidence of Stark Contrast between Bahrain Rhetoric and Comments from Other Sources

2018-07-14 - 10:37 م

Bahrain Mirror: The UN Human Rights Committee concluded on July 4th, 2018 its consideration of the initial report of Bahrain on the implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The UN website published some details of the interactive discussion and dialogue that took place at the meeting.

In the discussion, Committee Experts welcomed Bahrain to its first review under the Covenant which was an important moment for both Bahrain and the Committee, even if the report was ten years late.

Experts recalled with concern the turmoil in 2011, and the repression that followed, a challenge to the Bahrain's stated values of tolerance and non-discrimination.

"The majority Shia Muslim population felt discriminated against the Sunni who were in power, an evidence of a stark contrast between the rhetoric of Bahrain and comments from other sources."

Experts were concerned by an increase in oppression and a deterioration of human rights situation, with the repression of dissident voices and any type of opposition, the use of military courts to try civilians, extreme repression of freedom of speech and freedom of association and assembly, and punitive sentences against human rights defenders and trade unionists.

"The death penalty, reserved under the Covenant for the most serious crimes, seemed applied even in crimes such as arson or obstructing a funeral.  Another concern was that the unnecessarily broad definition of the "acts of terrorism" opened up the space for its abuse, as was the violation of fundamental legal safeguards in matters involving national security."

The Expert noted that he had "rarely seen such a contrast between the report of the State party and the information provided by trustworthy sources", and hoped that this dialogue would allow the delegation to explain the differences "without accusing the non-governmental organizations" for defamation and the use of poor information.

Reminding the delegation of the importance of providing accurate and precise answers to questions raised by the Committee, Experts urged the delegation to provide responses on freedom of expression and association, the use of force and torture by police officials, the situation in prison and detention centres, the revoking of citizenship under the terrorism law, and discrimination against the Shia population.

The UN experts further stated that Bahrain imposed travel bans on certain persons, asking for further information on the number of bans issued in the last five years and the legal basis for travel ban; how those were these necessary to protect security and public order; and the detailed reasons for which a person would be prohibited from leaving the country.  Continued discrimination against the Shia population remained an important area of concern - what was being done to fight this discrimination in law and in practice and in particular when it came to the right of assembly.

Concerned about the extreme restrictions to the right to freedom of expression -offending the King, criticizing the royal family or expressing any negative reference to the State or the flag was prohibited - Experts decried the imprisonment of persons participating in demonstrations or other gatherings, and the imprisonment of, and violence against, those individuals who communicated acts of torture.

In their follow-up questions, Committee Experts inquired about Bahrain's military operations in Yemen, in the context of the right to life. Experts insisted that the Committee only used official sources and reiterated that the information it possessed came from reliable sources.

The responses of the government delegation were characterized by a repetition of the same positions and false statements, intolerant of any criticism. The government delegate stressed that Bahrain would not permit talk about the rights of a category of the population which was a "one, united population".  Bahrain rejected any discrimination or any sectarian qualification such as Sunni majority or Shia majority and worked on "eliminating such discrimination, insisted the delegate, noting that any person mentioning such discrimination was referred to the courts."

The Bahraini delegation continued to claim that the State has applied all of the BICI recommendations.

The delegation added that "citizens were not deprived of nationality in an arbitrary fashion and all such cases were carefully regulated by the law - there were legal safeguards in place and nationality was defined by law so it could not be stripped unless for reasons of high treason or other reasons stipulated by law."

From the United Nations platform, the Bahraini delegation once again accused international organizations, indifferent to the warnings of the Committee's experts from taking such a position. The delegation representative said that "many such so-called human rights and advocacy organizations had hidden agendas, because of their radical and extremist tendencies, or for political purposes.  More efforts must be put in the verification and due process for those organizations so that the human rights agenda in Bahrain would not be hampered."

The representative also said that "Bahrain welcomed refugees, who, however, were not called refugees but guests." They enjoyed equal access to health and education as citizens, said a delegate.


Arabic Version


التعليقات المنشورة لا تعبر بالضرورة عن رأي الموقع

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