Bahrain Monitor - A Monthly Newsletter on the Human Rights Situation in Bahrain

Relations with International Organizations:

From indifference to interaction

Why is the Bahrain Human Rights Monitor very eager for the Bahraini Government to maintain a good relationship with international human right organizations? A subject we have always raised and is noted by the Bahrain Monitor’s readers.

Improving Bahrain’s relations with these organizations is not only important for the country’s reputation but is also an important step towards developing human rights in Bahrain. These organizations have the expertise and experiences which can be used to avoid future mistakes and violations. It is essential that all citizens should feel proud, free and dignified when obtaining their rights. The political and economic situation in any country affects the individuals’ sense of identity and pride.

However, some view the work of International Human Rights organisations in a negative light; and are therefore not inclined towards working with them. Rather, they see such work as a danger to the sovereignty of Bahrain. Their general idea is that the statements and reports of these organisations are biased and do not appreciate Government efforts, thus we should not respond to them, or deal with them, as the response may give them the status they do not deserve. This view is not only inaccurate but will ?ot benefit the country especially if the Government continues to undermine the power and position of these bodies. The Bahraini Government should deal and cooperate with these organisations effectively and respond to their inquiries. Ignoring their reports reflects a weakness in logic and will increase the level of international criticism and could result in more pressure.

Failing to respond to their criticism gives credibility to human rights organisations. Even if some of what is published is inaccurate and exaggerated, the solution wouldn’t be by ignoring or not replying but rather by taking note, stating the facts and presenting the official perspective and vision. .Of course, these organisations will take into consideration the official responses and will include them in their statements.

There could be other reasons why those overseeing the human right file in the Government refuse to cooperate with these organisations, these may include the following:

Firstly: The general feeling that working with them is useless as it is not possible to change their stance. Communication is also seen as a difficulty as continued work with them is needed to produce an effect. Some may think that a single session, or replying to letters, will change their position significantly. This does not happen. This work is a cumulative one and influence is attained by continuous interactions, and even if this change is not accomplished, perhaps the relationship itself would ease ?he escalation and antagonism which reflects negatively on the human rights situation.

Secondly: The feeling that it is difficult to defend specific human rights cases and therefore it is better not to respond. This is an inaccurate understanding of the objectives of the relationship with these bodies. The purpose of such relations is to understand and address the reasons behind the occurrence of violations and not to present excuses and justifications for mistakes. Also, all efforts should be concentrated on the human rights infrastructure including legislations, mechanism and human rights?institutions. Moreover, denying the occurrence of violations should stop, and be replaced with correcting information and providing evidence.

Thirdly: The lack of relevant information that could answer the questions raised by Human Rights Organisations. This is the reason why responses are often delayed. The bureaucratic system complicates communication and responding. Occasionally, the information exists but presenting it in an acceptable human rights language is difficult due to a shortage in competent workers.

Fourthly: The lack of knowledge of the system and the methods Human Rights Organisations adopt in their work and of how best to interact with them in order to establish a mutual understanding and a better relationship.