Bahrain Monitor - A Monthly Newsletter on the Human Rights Situation in Bahrain

Bahrain’s Dossier
in Geneva’s next Meeting

In each session of the Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) meetings, states as well as local and international political forces and human rights organizations, tend to rally in preparation for human rights and possibly political battles. Such was the situation for Bahrain, as well as others, in the twenty-seventh session meetings, which were held in September 2014.

Prior to the meeting, there was a sense of optimism that Bahrain is going on the right track. Indicators were reassuring in the sense that the government has made positive steps, including: the conclusion of an agreement of technical cooperation with the OHCHR; the government’s submission of a half term UPR (Universal Periodic Review) report and the establishment of institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (such as the ‘Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission’ and the ‘Ombudsman Office’ affiliated to the Ministry of the Interior). The role of the National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR) has been enhanced. more

Crown Prince’s Efforts to
End the Crisis

His Majesty the King instructed the Crown Prince last year, 2013, to stimulate the process of national dialogue and lift the country out of the political impasse it entered more than three years ago. Previous dialogue attempts did not yield a fruitful outcome. As everyone is aware, the Crown Prince is a popular and beloved figure who is greatly respected by the opposition and all political forces. Therefore, the Crown Prince’s handling of the issue of dialogue is important to all citizens. Economic activity, same as security and political stability, and civil and political rights is affected by the negative atmosphere and the absence of solutions to the crisis.

The Crown Prince’s role is intended to lift the country out of the political deadlock, as political parties were unable to resolve matters in favour of any of them through their policy of ‘prevalence’. more

NIHR’s Report:

Implementing the recommendations
is a Government Task

NIHR (the National Institution for Human Rights) of Bahrain issued its first annual report for 2013, in accordance with the Decree

establishing it, which stipulates that ““NIHR shall prepare an annual report on its efforts, activities and other works. This report shall incorporate its proposals and recommendations that fall within its mandate, and shall define performance constraints and the solutions adopted to overcome such constraints”.

The report was notably bold in addressing various human rights issues with a high level of transparency, and was also bold in its characterization of the human rights conditions in Bahrain, prior to the submission of its recommendations to the government. more

NIHR’s Independence
Vital for its Success

The annual report of the National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR) has come as a surprise to observers and those concerned in terms of its content, professional tackling of topics as well as its maturity in providing suggestions and recommendations.

Despite containing objective criticism for many of the human rights issues in Bahrain, the report undoubtedly presents a positive image of NIHR and the large margin of independence it enjoys. The report also reinforces NIHR’s credibility at the local and international levels.

We in Bahrain Human Rights Monitor believe that NIHR has made an achievement, not only for the issuance of such a report, but also because it reveals the substantial efforts exerted by NIHR recently to meet its responsibilities according to the statutes of its establishment. The domestic or international public opinion was not aware of those efforts, so learning about them in the context of the report , came as complete surprise for everyone. more

No, to turning our Human Rights
Organisations into Political Parties

Hasan Moosa Shafaei

Hasan Moosa Shafaei

A general screening of the political and human rights arena in Bahrain today reveals the existence of two political camps, each with its own set of political, media, human rights, religious and popular tools. Two dissonant camps, each constitutes a clearly defined solid mass within which the defining lines between political, human rights, sectarian cultural or even ideological aspects are blurred so that within each camp almost one voice prevails over all others in such a way that makes the human rights activist feel that he/she has lost his/her specificity, tools and distinctiveness; and seemed more like a professional politician speaking the language of human rights to attack either the regime or the opposition. In other words the activist has become part of a distinctive political machine. Thus, the matter is no longer a simple mix-up in approach between the political and the human rights aspects. more

Our War on Violence and Extremism

“The battle against ISIS is not America’s alone. It is ours par excellence. Those are individuals that targeted us as nations — that targeted
our people, history, culture and everything...”

Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa,
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister

Nothing occupies the minds in this region and the world nowadays more than the war on terrorism. War drums have rang to counter an expanding threat that spares no country. More serious than the military war itself is its impact and repercussions on the local conditions in each country, triggering many questions, such as: How could we create a clean environment where the viruses of violence and terrorism cannot grow? This leads us to the other arm of the counter-terrorism policy, the part relating to policy? thought and culture.

In essence, terrorism is an enemy of life, especially in the form manifested by ISIS where decapitations and women captivation left no room for preserving any of the human rights, more

Foreign Minister:

Mechanisms to Prevent
Human Rights Abuses in Place

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister was accurate in his characterization of the situation in the Arab region when he said that the region traverses the most difficult phase in its modern history, due to the state of chaos and the savage and bloody wave of terrorism that is unprecedented in our modern times.

The Minister was also accurate in his analysis of the factors behind the emanation of chaos and turmoil, which he attributed to three factors or challenges: the increasing danger of terrorist groups; foreign interventions and the ambitions of hegemony as well as foreign occupation of Arab territory and its consequential threats and wars.

In his speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations (on 29/9/2014), the Minister noted that the terrorist challenge has become global, thriving in our Arab region with greater savagery and callousness. Not only individuals are targeted, but also entire groups through the persecution of ethnic and religious minorities; displacing them and destroying their cultural and civilizational heritage; more

Responses to
NIHR’s Report

His Majesty the King of Bahrain praised the achievements and activities included in the National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR)’s report, aimed at promoting and developing human rights. HM stressed on the importance of consolidating and disseminating awareness of human rights. The King also emphasized that Bahrain is committed to all treaties and international laws pertaining to human rights and that establishing such rights in the community and the state is a top priority.

For his part, the Crown Prince highlighted the role of specialized national human rights institutions which undertake the responsibility of evaluating and monitoring the implementation of human rights standards, in an effective manner. HRH attributed the effectiveness of such national institutions to their complete familiarity with the specificity of local affairs and the appropriate manner of dealing with them.

The Crown Prince noted that the NIRH report included a significant, objective and comprehensive documentation of its functions in the context of full autonomy; evident and transparent cooperation as well as effective communication with the specialized organizations and bodies both internally and abroad. HRH also noted that the report involved monitoring, coordination and continuous follow-up with the official authorities and bodies, and hence it is possible to build on its recommendations. more

Ban Ki-Moon reveals OHCHR’s efforts in Support of Bahrain

The United Nations, through the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), has rendered an important service to Bahrain that was noteworthy for reference in the UN Secretary-General’s report to the Human Rights Council at its Twenty-Seventh session in September 2014. The report included information on the activities undertaken by the OHCHR for the establishment and enhancement of the national human rights institutions and cooperation between these institutions and the international human rights system.

With respect to legal advice, the Secretary-General stated that the OHCHR has “provided legal advice on the draft law to amend the decree establishing a national human rights institution in Bahrain, to ensure its compliance with the Paris Principles”. The amendment was actually adopted by the Bahraini parliament and a law was issued in this regard.

In the area of ​​capacity-building activities, the Secretary-General said that “In cooperation with the national human rights commission of Bahrain, OHCHR organized a series of national consultations on various human rights issues, including a round table in April 2014 on the role of national human rights institutions in promoting and protecting human rights”. more

No Democracy
through Violence

Two international observances of particular importance at the international and regional levels have been celebrated. The first occasion is the International Day of Non-Violence; the second, the International Day of Democracy. Both occasions are organically linked in their final goal, namely the creation of peacefully coexisting democratic communities that are free from violence, exclusion, extremism, dictatorship, discrimination, and deprivation of citizens’ rights.

Practical experience in the so-called ‘Arab Spring countries’ has demonstrated that violence contrasts with democracy, irrespective of whether violence is practiced by the regime or the opposition. It is difficult to build a sound, humane, fraternal and democratically coexisting system through civil wars, or through the barrel of a gun used against existing political regimes. Perhaps we do not need further explanation, as we witness the experiences of Libya, Syria and Iraq, where the much sought-after democracy was lost. Instead of democracy, violence settled and killing has become so widespread to the extent that the fundamental ‘right to life’ was lost, and communities splintered along regional, tribal, sectarian and ethnic lines fighting each other. more

The Opposition’s Stance in a Message to His Majesty the King

In a message written in the name of the national and nationalist opposition, the opposition expressed its stance on the general guidelines presented by the Crown Prince’s letter. The opposition’s message indicated that Bahrain is affected by the troubled regional situation, which is expected to see more turmoil due to the excommunicating terrorism. This, concluded the message, calls for rallying of internal ranks and ending the political divide, by agreeing at the very least to manage it in a civilized manner. The message added that: “if we go to the elections of 2014 without a national, political consensus, it will increase divisions and perpetuate crisis”. more