Bahrainis go to UN in Geneva to discuss their government's implementation of its human rights treaty obligations

Here is a photo of the Bahraini human rights defenders who travelled to the UN Office in Geneva to participate in the Human Rights Council’s discussion, on 21 May, of their country’s implementation of its human rights treaty obligations. This group feel strongly that there should be major improvements:

This photo was posted and announced on Twitter via @DominicKavakeb, who Tweeted tonight:
Great photo outside the Palais Des Nations after the #BahrainUPR #Bahrain”

This group, in fact, brought their “Arab Spring” experience to the international community, in their appearance at the UN Human Rights Council’s “Universal Periodic Review” [UPR] of Bahrain’s human rights performance [vs its treaty obligations].

Al-Jazeera’s report on Bahrain’s UPR, including a Q+A with opposition politician Khalil Al-Maqzooq, is posted Youtube here.

The official governmental delegation of Bahrain was headed by H.E. Dr. Salah Bin Ali Mohamed Abdulrahmah, Minister of State for Human Rights.

It’s interesting that, several weeks before the date of the UPR, the Human Rights Council “selected the following group of rapporteurs (troika) to facilitate the review of Bahrain: Uruguay, Saudi Arabia and Spain”. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have reportedly been discussing some kind of unity. Saudi troops entered Bahrain last year to help quell “unrest”.

During the UPR, the Saudi representative said that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia “commended Bahrain for its efforts in preserving peace and stability for the people”.

According to the draft version of the Working Group report on Bahrain, available online on Wednesday, Bahrain told the Human Rights Council that “the Kingdom does not pretend to be perfect and free from some of the obstacles that hinder the implementation of the recommendations and commitments, but with determination and will of honest work Bahrain will overcome these constraints”.

A violent Bahraini security services repression of a pro-reform demonstration on February 14 became the focal point Bahrain’s “Arab Spring” movement.

The official delegation said in their prepared statement that, in the wake of “events Bahrain underwent during last year in the months of February and March … HM the King initiated number of drastic but gradual steps aimed at restoration of the situation in the aftermath of the events, beginning with conducting a National Consensus Dialogue including various components of the Bahraini community. A complete review was made through the dialogue sessions with respect to a series of important local issues and resulted in a number of demands for reforms in political, social, economical and human rights areas; most important of was the ratification of a number of constitutional amendments and modifications of a number of Bills”.

In addition, the delegation also “briefed on the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) which was formed by a Royal initiative and which came up with a series of recommendations which have been accepted by Bahrain. Then a National Commission was formed presided by the Chairman of the National Assembly to follow up the implementations of BICI’s recommendations in collaboration with all governmental and non-governmental bodies. A large part of BICI’s recommendations have been completely implemented while others are currently being implemented”.

States who are members of the Human Rights Council made comments in a segment of the debate called “Interactive Dialogue”, including the U.S., which said that it “commended the establishment of the BICI [Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry] but was concerned that several of the Commission’s most important recommendations had not been implemented. It remained concerned by the failure of the State to effectively investigate and prosecute alleged human rights abusers and the on-going prosecutions of 20 medical professionals and Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja”.

The delegation noted that “a number of officials who committed violations during the unrest events of 2011 have been referred for accountability, in the meantime 142 ongoing investigations resulted in 9 prosecutions so far. A special investigation unit in the Public Prosecution was established to investigate and consider reports and complaints of alleged torture, cruel and inhuman treatment”.

The delegation spoke about “HM the King’s call for the establishment of an Arab Human Rights Court to deal with all human rights-related cases” … which was as a result of the King’s “firm belief of the political leadership of such court under the successive changes and events the Arab World was witnessing” — meaning, in other words, because of the Arab Spring.

Egypt noted, however, that “Egypt supports all the national efforts undertaken to tackle human rights challenges” — indicating that it did not support the creation of any “Arab Human Rights Court:.

The delegation also noted that Bahrain has established “a Special Compensation Fund for Victims and Relatives of Victims who were affected by the recent incidents”.

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