Rights watchdog vow by Bahraini minister


It has already been approved by the Cabinet, but a decision on whether it should be formed by decree or law is still pending, said Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Nazar Al Baharna.

He vowed that either way it would work in accordance with United Nations (UN) principles.

"The Human Rights Institution will be established very soon and they will look at all violations and be responsible for reporting them," said Dr Al Baharna.

"It will be an independent, non-governmental institution.

"They will publish the violations and send reports to the government, parliament and His Majesty King Hamad."

The institution is one of several initiatives included in a four-year National Action Plan launched last May, which aims to fulfil Bahrain’s pledges and commitments to improve human rights.

Pledges were made as a result of Bahrain’s membership of the UN Human Rights Council in 2006 and 2008, while other commitments were included in its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submitted to the Human Rights Council last year – when Bahrain became the first country in the world to compile such a report.

Another goal of Bahrain’s 49-point human rights roadmap is to fulfil recommendations put forward by the UN Human Rights Council.

Bahrain claims to have achieved more than half of the items on its rights agenda, with the remaining targets either in progress or not yet completed.

It cites a number of new laws and amended legislation among the goals it has already met, along with the organising of rights workshops and conferences and the launching of a UPR website (www.upr.bh) to help activists monitor laws and the human rights situation on the ground.

"We are trying to work in partnership – it’s the responsibility of everyone to work together to develop human rights," said Dr Al Baharna.

"Sometimes putting a law to protect human rights is not enough and there are many countries that have laws and people don’t abide by them.

"The most difficult thing is not putting a law, but making sure human rights are protected – it’s about getting different parties involved.

"Human rights is not a luxury for Bahrain, it is essential."

Dr Al Baharna said various workshops were being held for students, political societies, government employees, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), judges and public prosecutors to raise awareness of human rights.

"You have to train judges how to know if someone is tortured or not, so we are doing this through capacity building – capacity building is the main obstacle we have (to achieving human rights)," he added.

Dr Al Baharna was speaking on the sidelines of the launch of the UPR Progress Report 2009 at the Diplomat Radisson SAS Hotel, Residence and Spa yesterday.

Bahrain should have acted on its pledges and commitments before it next submits a UPR to the UN in 2012.

UN Development Programme (UNDP) resident representative Sayed Aqa said Bahrain had come a long way in the past year, but added further co-operation with all stakeholders was anticipated over the coming two years – increasing awareness of human rights nationally, regionally and further ensuring human rights on the ground.

He revealed this would be undertaken with the support of the UNDP, which would seek specialised support and partnership of UN agencies in promoting human rights in Bahrain.

"The UN system is committed to continuing support, creating networks and mainstreaming human rights in national development goals," said Mr Aqa.

"The successful defence of human rights will require serious self-examination and a willingness on the part of the government to move forward – a commitment Bahrain has repeatedly demonstrated.

"We congratulate the kingdom of Bahrain and the UPR team for their dedication to meeting the voluntary UPR pledges and for their efforts and success in producing a well-elaborated progress report."

Among those at yesterday’s event were government officials, UN representatives, ambassadors, human rights groups and the media.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *