Bahrain Mirror Publishes Most Important Points in UN Response to Bahraini Government
2018-08-08 - 9:58 م
Bahrain Mirror-Exclusive: Bahrain Mirror reports on the most important points in the United Nations Human Rights Committee's report in which it assessed Bahrain's commitment to the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Committee also replied to the first voluntary national report on the goals of development that the Bahraini government submitted on the 17th of last July.
The report included the United Nation's request of Bahrain to stop its human rights violation as well as religious and racial discrimination. In addition, the government was asked to abolish the death penalty especially since many death penalties come as a result of confessions acquired under torture.
The report also stated that Bahrain claims to have fully implemented the recommendations featured in the report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry which was tasked with investigating and reporting on the events witnessed in Bahrain in February and March 2011. The Committee also noted with concern that the primary reforms that it recommended haven't been implemented yet.
The Committee notes with concern the amendment to the Constitution of April 2017, which grants military courts jurisdiction over civilians outside of a declared state of emergency. The committee also requested that the state party review its amendment to the Constitution of April 2017 to ensure that military courts are prevented from exercising jurisdiction over civilians.
The Committee regrets the lack of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation covering all the grounds prohibited under the Covenant. It is also concerned about the lack of information on effective remedies for victims of discrimination. The State party should take all the measures necessary to ensure that its legal framework: (a) provides full and effective protection against discrimination in all spheres, including the private sphere, and prohibits direct, indirect and multiple discrimination; (b) contains a comprehensive list of grounds for discrimination in line with the Covenant; and (c) provides for access to effective and appropriate remedies for victims of discrimination.
The Committee acknowledges the State party's need to adopt measures to combat acts of terrorism. However, it is concerned that the Act on the Protection of Society from Acts of Terrorism provides for an overbroad definition of terrorism that is susceptible to wide interpretation and which may result in violations on the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
The Committee is also concerned at reports of the extensive use of the Act outside the scope of terrorism, including against human rights defenders and political activists.
The Committee notes with concern that the State party lifted its moratorium on the death penalty in January 2017 and that, since then, the number of death sentences are reported to have increased.
The Committee is further concerned about allegations that death sentences have been imposed on the basis of confessions obtained under duress or torture, or otherwise in the context of trials that did not meet the standards of article 14 of the Covenant.
The Committee regrets that the State party has not provided information on the current number of inmates on death row. The State party should reinstate the moratorium and consider abolishing the death penalty and acceding to the Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant.
Extraterritorial Military Operations
The Committee regrets the lack of information on measures taken to protect the right to life on extraterritorial military operations conducted by the State party, particularly in Yemen, and information on the mechanisms in place to ensure accountability for the loss of life resulting from such operations.
The State party should ensure that extraterritorial military operations fully comply with its obligations under article 6 of the Covenant, including, in particular, with respect to the principles of precaution, distinction and proportionality in the context of an armed conflict. The State party should also conduct independent, impartial, prompt and effective investigations of potential violations of the right to life and bring to justice those responsible.
Reports of Excessive Use of Force
The Committee is concerned at reports of excessive and disproportionate use of lethal force and at reports of enforced disappearances, torture, arbitrary detention and threats against civilians involved in peaceful demonstrations for political and democratic change in 2011.
The Committee notes with concern reports indicating an increase in the use of violence by law enforcement officials during peaceful demonstrations during recent years, including reports indicating six fatal incidents during demonstrations and ten other extrajudicial killings in 2017. The Committee also notes with concern reports indicating that demonstrators injured during demonstrations were questioned in medical facilities about their participation in demonstrations and deprived of medical assistance.
Prohibition of Torture and Ill-Treatment
The Committee is concerned at allegations that torture and ill-treatment are often practiced by law enforcement officials including as a means to elicit confessions and that, despite the prohibition in domestic law, confessions obtained under duress have been used as evidence in court and allegations made by defendants in this respect have not been adequately investigated.
The Committee is also concerned about reports of torture in prisons, particularly in the Jaw prison. It notes with concern the lack of information on investigations carried out and convictions handed down vis-à-vis the number of complaints of torture and ill-treatment registered.
Treatment of Prisoners
While noting the efforts made by the State party to build new prison facilities and the information provided that the Office of the Commissioner for the Rights of Prisoners and detainees undertake unannounced visits to detention facilities, the Committee is concerned about reports of inhuman prison conditions, including serious overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, inadequate access to drinking water and unhygienic toilet facilities, particularly in the Jaw prison.
The State party should take effective measures to eliminate overcrowding in places of detention, including by resorting to non-custodial alternative measures to detention.
Independence of the Judiciary and the Right to a Fair Trial
The Committee is concerned about reports indicating that, in practice, the judiciary is neither fully independent nor impartial. In particular, the Committee is concerned about the fact that judges are appointed by a Royal Order and several of them have renewable employment contracts of one to three years, which jeopardize the security of tenure. The State party should take all measures necessary to safeguard, in law and in practice, the full independence and impartiality of the judiciary. The State party should guarantee that the judiciary can carry out its functions without any form of political interference.
Freedom of Movement
The Committee notes the explanation provided by the State party on the domestic lawnapplicable to travel bans, but it is concerned about the high number of reports indicating that journalists, opposition politicians, human rights defenders and lawyers are subjected to travel bans in retaliation for engaging in their professional activities.
In particular, the Committee notes with concern allegations that travel ban has been used to prevent human rights activists from attending the session of the UN Human Rights Council.
Freedom of Religion
The Committee is concerned at reports that Shia population have been subject to restrictions of their rights to worship and practice their religious belief and that liberty of conscience is not effectively guaranteed. The State party should decriminalize blasphemy and guarantee that all people within its territory can fully enjoy their right to freedom of conscience, religion or belief enshrined in article 18 of the Covenant.
In particular, it should eliminate discriminatory practices that violate the right to freedom of religion or belief, including by raising its efforts to achieve a balanced representation of Shia population in the public and political spheres.
Freedom of Expression
The Committee is concerned about the serious restrictions imposed on the freedom of expression and the high number of arrest and prosecutions of individuals criticizing State authorities or political figures, including through social media. In this regard, the Committee notes with concern the cases of, among others, M. Nabeel Rajab, Mme Zainab Al-Khawaja, Ghada Jamsheer, M. Qasim Zainal Deen, M. Ahmed Al-Fardan and M. Faisal Hayyt. The Committee is also concerned about reports that the State party has targeted the Al-Wasat newspaper, which was said to be the country's only semi-independent newspaper, including by suspending its print and online publication, leading to its definite closure in 2017.
Freedom of Assembly
The Committee is concerned that the right to freedom of assembly is severely limited, and notes that the holding of public gatherings and marches are severely restricted. The Committee is also concerned about reports that the State party regularly use the "illegal assembly" offense as grounds to violently disperse protests and arrest activists, human rights defenders and members of the opposition.
The State party should ensure that the right to freedom of assembly is guaranteed to all individuals without discrimination. The State party should also ensure the prompt, effective and impartial investigation of threats, harassment, and assault on members of these groups, and, when appropriate, prosecute the perpetrators of such acts.
Freedom of Association
The Committee is concerned at reports that authorities have constricted and, in some cases, dissolved human rights organizations and opposition groups
The Committee notes with concern a high number of reports of reprisals against human rights defenders and journalists because of their work, particularly when such individuals collaborate with UN treaty bodies and the UN Human Rights Council.
Despite the information provided by the State party's delegation, the Committee received a number of allegations of cases of reprisals against journalists and human rights defenders, including continuing reports of imposition of travel bans, harassments or intimidation, death threats, violence, arrests and arbitrary detentions, which appears to have escalated in the last years.
The Committee notes with concern the cases of, among others, Mr. Yusuf Al-Hoori, Mr. Al-Wadaei and Ms. Ibtisam Al-Saegh, who were alleged victims of reprisals.
The Committee is concerned about a number of persons who had their citizenship revoked, for some rendering them stateless and being deported to other countries or at imminent risk of deportation. The Committee notes with great concern the number and broad circumstances in which domestic legislation allows for revocation of citizenship, including for any individual who "aids or is involved in the services of a hostile state" or "causes harm to the interests of the Kingdom or acts in a way that contravenes his duty of loyalty to it".
Right to Take Part in the Conduct of Public Affairs
The Committee is concerned at reports that Shia population is underrepresented in political and public life, including in the National Assembly. It is also concerned that opposition parties Al-Wefaq and Wa'ad have recently been dissolved, and that their leaders and members have been prosecuted. The Committee is also concerned about allegations of gerrymandering and voter's fraud during elections. Despite the existence of the National Audit Office, in charge of investigating cases of public corruption, the Committee regrets that high-ranking officials suspected of corruption are rarely punished.