Dozens of member states at The United Nations today pressured the Bahrain government on their human rights records.
In a 3-hour session at the organizations Universal Periodic Review process in Geneva a high number of representatives expressed deep concern at the treatment of the Bahraini people.
This included the representative of The United States of America who noted their concern that Bahrain has yet to implement the most important recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry.
She also highlighted that Bahrain should hold to account all officials responsible for the violations highlighted in the report. In addition USA called on the release of Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, along with delegations from Switzerland, Denmark and France.
Of all the delegations that spoke, around 80% were openly critical of Bahrain’s rights record with a general acceptance that Bahrain is nowhere near a respectable standard of human rights.
It marks a shift from the international community in their language on Bahrain, who have previously been more muted.
Importantly a number of delegations called on Bahrain to ratify the International Criminal Courts Rome Statute, which would open the door to criminal cases being brought against Bahraini officials.
In response the Bahraini Minister of State for Human Rights, Dr. Salah Ali tried his best to defend his government but it was difficult to hide the facts.
On the question of allowing press into Bahrain he argued that they allow all media to enter the country. He then immediately contradicted this statement by saying some journalists attempt to ‘infringe upon the sovereignty of Bahrain’.
After the UPR session 2 very important side events took place, with speakers covering both the lack of freedom of expression in Bahrain and also the impunity of officials.
Amongst the speakers were Maryam Alkhawaja, Jalila Al Salman, Syed Hadi Al Musawi, Dr. Nada Dhaif, Lamees Dhaif, Dr. Taha Al Derazi and others.
Speakers from across Bahraini society highlighted the wide-ranging abuses taking place against Bahraini’s, including doctors, teachers, lawyers, journalists and activists.
We hope that this important event will work to highlight the issues facing Bahraini’s and apply some much needed international pressure to force Bahrain into reform.