(Tobias Ellwood, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, February 2, 2016): Governance of Bahrain is a matter for all political parties in Bahrain. We encourage all political parties, to engage constructively in political dialogue in order to reach an inclusive political settlement. Although we were disappointed by the opposition’s decision to boycott the 2014 elections, we commended the participation of a broad range of candidates which saw 14 independent Shia candidates win seats, of which three were women. We regularly discuss human rights and reform with the Government of Bahrain including at the biannual UK-Bahrain Joint Working Group meeting which was most recently held in November 2015. more
My Message to
|Hasan Moosa Shafaei|
The relationship between the Government and civil society in Bahrain was short-lived.
Despite the flourishing of civil society at the commencement of the reforms era in 2000, with the emergence of hundreds of civil society organizations in all fields, including human rights; the relationship quickly deteriorated leaving behind a common sense of disappointment.
The government felt that human rights organizations, in particular, turned away from human rights activism by indulging in politics and ultimately over-politicizing human rights work. Furthermore, the government found that emerging human rights organizations were not rational and were not seeking a gradual political and human rights development, despite knowing that the political system is incapable of omitting or transcending stages due to its own special circumstances. more
The international human rights community - including states, official international organizations, NGOs, as well as academic and research centres- adopts various approaches and methods with regard to promoting and improving human rights, and protecting them in the face of violations in various parts of the world. However, the dominant feature of the trends of these human rights entities is the tendency towards vehemence and sometimes confrontations with perpetrators of violations and sharp criticism and calls for strong international actions against the perpetrators that may include the threat of military intervention.
There are some, however, who believe that pressure and confrontations may not yield fruit, and that the quiet diplomacy is more capable of reaching the shore, by safely navigating the raging seas of thorny human rights issues, than the vessels of vilification, threats and intimidation. more
Indeed! Why do we see Geneva and some European capitals becoming the main battleground for human rights’ battles between the Bahraini opposition and the government?
Is it mainly because the human rights centre of gravity is currently located in Geneva, seat of the highest international human rights authority in the world i.e. the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights? Or is it also due to the presence of the UN Human Rights Council, with all its powers, tools and capabilities and international influence; in addition to the presence of the headquarters of a large, unlimited and ever expanding number of the most important international human rights organiz?tions; and the existence in Geneva of a persistent and continuous human rights activity by countries and human rights organizations throughout the year? more
On the eve of the start of its reform project in 2000, Bahrain has opened the door to all international human rights organizations. This attitude was adopted under Bahrain’s belief in the need to cooperate with them, as well as its confidence that it is proceeding in the right direction, as far as human rights are concerned. This openness was also intended to inform the international human rights public opinion on the developments of the situation and the government’s efforts, so that the outcome is refle?ted in the form of balanced and neutral reporting in the reports issued by these organizations. more
Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) report on torture allegations in Bahrain has been based on interviews, conducted by telephone and Skype with 14 individuals, who had been in police detention or in prison, and with several Bahraini defence lawyers. According to HRW, the interviews were conducted in this manner because Bahraini authorities refused to grant visas to HRW team.
The report reviewed the outcome of the activity of the Office of the Ombudsman and the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) concluding that they have both failed to provide proof of their effectiveness, a fact already illustrated when the SIU was sharply criticized in the 2013 annual report of the National Institute for Human Rights (NIHR), which described it as lacking “ the aspired independence and impartiality”. more
On February 3rd, 2016, the Public Prosecution, through Advocate General, Abdulrahman Al Sayed, responded to Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) annual report which covered the developments in the Bahraini human rights situation in 2015. Al Sayed said that the report was based on ‘unofficial and unreliable information’, adding that HRW “has failed to find the truth. This resulted from HRW officials’ methodology of quoting others without taking the trouble to carry out research, scrutiny and investigation, to ascertain the authenticity of the news reported to them. This led to the false conclusions contained in the report”. more
A Conference was held in Doha, Qatar, to discuss “the Role of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Promoting and protecting Human Rights in the Arab region”. The Conference was attended by nearly 250 Arab and international human rights organizations, and more than 43 personalities responsible for human rights dossiers worldwide. Among the participants were 17 delegations representing foreign ministries of Arab countries, human rights commissions or legal committees in parliaments and consultative councils in the Arab region, in addition to the participation of a group of special rapporteurs and international treaties bodies. more
Bahrain in HRW’s
“During this reporting period, the government of Bahrain has taken positive steps to increase engagement with the UN and international NGOs, which demonstrates a level of transparency. We welcomed the visit by Amnesty International in March and the two-month technical visit by the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) in April; we hope Bahrain will agree to accept the full technical assistance package offered by OHCHR. more
On the occasion of the celebration of the international Human Rights Day on December 10th, 2015, the British Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, published an op-ed article in The Independent entitled ‘Promoting human rights is not about who can shout the loudest’. The article is aimed at explaining and defending UK’s human rights policy, in the face of criticism from the Parliament and the press.
The Minister stressed his country’s strong commitment to the protection of human rights, which he said is being approached in three ways:
“First, we are focusing on efforts which get tangible results … Quiet and continued engagement behind the scenes, nurturing a relationship and not being afraid to raise testing issues in private can sometimes achieve surprising results; lecturing people in public doesn’t always work, and can sometimes prove counter-productive”. more
The British ambassador to Bahrain, Simon Martin, met with representatives of human rights organizations in Bahrain on February 3, 2016. Ambassador Martin described the meeting as a “fruitful.”
Human rights activist, Nidal Al Salman, who attended the meeting, emphasized that the meeting was positive, pointing out that the British ambassador stressed the need to reach out to the civil society and indicated that no reform can take place without the exchange of views and discussion to arrive at solutions that suit everyone. more
Activating a memorandum of understanding signed five years ago, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in collaboration with Bahrain’s Interior Ministry, held a training workshop for 33 officials from the General Directorate of Reformation and Rehabilitation (prisons), the General Directorate of Criminal Investigations, the Criminal Evidence Department, and the Office of the Ombudsman among others. more