Bahraini human rights organizations launched a joint report on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at its third session on Bahrain, in which it provided recommendations to the member states of the Human Rights Council as well as the Government of Bahrain to work and stop the deteriorating human rights situation in Bahrain.
The report included several units that addressed the UPR mechanism and a summary of Bahrain’s past experience engaging with this mechanism. That is in addition to the current review, which Bahrain is scheduled for responding to the 175 recommendations made by States at the 27th session held earlier this year.
Through the report, Julie Gromellon, coordinator of international relations at the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), said “Bahrain was invited to respond to the recommendations made by the member states in the first half of this year. Bahrain will have a number of facts that will present a real challenge in its replies as the Bahraini government has for years now clamped down on activists, prosecuted and subjected them to investigation and took measures to prevent travelling abroad, especially to Geneva to attend the meetings of the Human Rights Council. Here we note that about 20 political activists and human rights activists were investigated with under false charges”, pointing out that “the Government of Bahrain failed to respond to international calls for the release of international human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and provide him with full legal guarantees”.
Yahya Al Hadeed, head of the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR), stressed that the UPR is one of the most important events that highlight the deterioration of the human rights situation in Bahrain. This report seeks to learn the recommendations made at previous sessions and examining them through deep substantive study based on international laws and charters. The organizations that prepared the report urged the international community to put pressure on the Government of Bahrain to implement the UPR recommendations and the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) to improve the human rights situation in Bahrain.
For his part, Baqer Darwish, chairman of the Bahrain Forum for Human Rights, said that the increase of violations and the extrajudicial killings of five victims and activating the role of the National Security Agency to target activists as well as the suppression of freedoms are the response of the Bahraini authorities to the recommendations issued by the Human Rights Council. Not to mention the failure of the National Institute for Human Rights (NIHR) in playing an actual role in the promotion of the human rights situation, where we have seen how it works to only justify the serious abuses committed by the government.
The organizations, namely, SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights, Bahrain Forum for Human Rights, Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and the European Bahraini Organization for Human Rights (EBOHR), said that the UPR is an important event and a mechanism that can serve as a balance in assessing and developing the human rights situation in a certain country leading to also improving the relationship between the government and civil society in order to strengthen their cooperation and stronger commitment.
The organizations also pointed out that, in view of the increasing deterioration of the human rights situation in Bahrain, the UPR is emerging as one of the events that independent activists and organizations wait for to strongly raise their voices against the systematic violations and irregularities committed by the authorities.
“There is no doubt that the government is working to polish its record and to appear before the international community as the guardian of human rights. However, activists, human rights defenders and organizations have tried to counter this claim by documenting the facts and actual violations on the ground, and through submitting these evidence to the International Body”, said the organizations.
The organizations called on Member States of the United Nations to follow up on the recommendations made to the Government of Bahrain during the universal periodic review cycle, stressing on the need for accountability and transparency for implementation, if any of the UPR commitments are not met.
It also called on the international community and the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to continue to support concrete steps towards reform and further progress in the field of human rights with a view to achieving international human rights standards.
They called on the Government of Bahrain to effectively implement the recommendations it had undertaken and to provide a transparent timetable for the full implementation of those recommendations.
The organizations said in their statement that states should ask the government of Bahrain to allow activists to return to Bahrain safely without harassment or abuse after their participation in international human rights mechanisms. The international community should also make an enormous effort to hold the Bahraini government accountable for human rights violations. This could be an international platform to encourage real and genuine reform in Bahrain.
In its recommendations, the report called on the Government of Bahrain to frame its recommendations to end all forms of arbitrary detention and to start a fruitful and inclusive dialogue process, including the release of all prisoners of conscience, and to appoint a visit to the UN Special Rapporteur on Bahrain to open an office of the High Commissioner in Bahrain with full powers as well as the accession to several international conventions, such as: The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.