Today, the world celebrates the rights of children. 20 November is an important date as it is the date in 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
On this occasion, the children in Bahrain do not have adequate benefits to health care and social development, and there is no legislation that provides financial support to their parents to guarantee a decent life for their children. Moreover, the government does not provide any financial aid for parents who have lost their job for some reason. The children in Bahrain also do not receive any financial support for school materials in each educational year, which affects the child psychologically. In most cases, for poor and low income families whose parents are facing long sentences in jails, their children are forced to leave the school and work long hours to provide for their families.
The absence of legislation that ensures children’s rights to social security benefits violates article 26 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states: “(1) States Parties shall recognize for every child the right to benefit from social security, including social insurance, and shall take the necessary measures to achieve the full realization of this right. (2) Subsidies should be granted, where appropriate, taking into account the resources and circumstances of the child and the persons responsible for the child benefit, as well as any other consideration relevant to a request by or on behalf of the child for benefits”.
In addition, a Bahraini mother is not entitled to pass her nationality onto her children if she is married to a non-Bahraini husband and the government still has reservations about that which violates article 9, paragraph 2, of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which states that “States Parties shall grant women equal rights with men with respect to the nationality of their children” in contravention of the Bahraini Nationality Law.
Bahraini children are not granted passports if their parents are behind bars for their political views or in exile. The Ministry of Interior requires the father to be present in person to grant his newborn baby a passport. Several cases have been documented where children have been stripped of their passport because their fathers are serving time in prison or are in exile.
Additionally, the authorities in Bahrain have stripped a large number of children of their nationality for alleged “terrorism activities” after unjust trials. Moreover, underage children have also been charged with terrorism which is used by the authorities in Bahrain target political activists. Mahdi Farhan is one such example. He was sentenced to ten years imprisonment and stripped of his nationality when he was 17 years old. The Bahraini authorities also refuse to grant citizenship to children born to fathers who have been stripped of their nationality which violates the principles, rules and articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Declaration of the Children’s Rights.
Furthermore, Bahrain prisons are packed with children whose confessions were extracted under torture. The child Mahdi Muftah is an example. He was detained at the age of 16 in 2017 and tortured severely. Part of his sexual organs were removed in the Bahrain Defense Force hospital because of the severe torture after a week of detention by the security services. Also, children are not allowed to continue their education and receive appropriate medical treatments.
On this international occasion, SALAM DHR urges the Bahraini authorities to abide to the international conventions that it has signed, as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The authorities have to ensure that children receive social security and access to adequate financial aid to ensure healthy growth. SALAM DHR also urges the authorities in Bahrain to reinstate all the nationalities that were revoked from children, and to amend the legislation to ensure that women are not discriminated and mothers can also pass on their nationality to their children. The authorities should criminalise torture and hold perpetrators accountable.