Adhering to Human Rights Standards
A Battle to Gain the Trust of International Human Rights Organizations
Developing the human rights and political situation is a battle
that must take place within Bahrain itself and not outside it. This
is because the main political players are in Bahrain and it is the
Bahraini people who will benefit from the development and improvement
of the situation.
The reactions of the outside world are merely a symptom of the
root of the problem. Therefore, all efforts should be directed at
solving the domestic problems and issues.
The political crisis which erupted two years ago has had a negative
effect on the Human Rights situation and put Bahrain in the spotlight
of foreign media and international organizations. Both parties,
the opposition and loyalists, are trying hard to lobby the world
behind their respective points of view. To achieve this end, they
are prepared to present exaggerated or even fabricated information
in order to mobilise international public opinion and gain support
for their political positions.
We were hoping that political disagreements will be dealt with
locally and that the concerned parties will exert serious efforts
in order to reach a political solution to the crisis, as opposed
to moving their disagreements abroad in order to score points against
The conduct of both the loyalists and opposition elements during
a meeting in Geneva in September 2012 was an example of the lack
of respect for the opinions of others. The situation even necessitated
the interference of UN security and this negatively affected their
credibility. Each party also filed a complaint against the other.
The BHRM believes that the problem in Bahrain is a political
one that has human rights implications. Hence all efforts should
be concentrated on solving the political issues inside the country.
The failure to find a political solution resulted in the problem
being transferred abroad within a Human Rights concept. International
organizations have become –at least in the eyes of some- part of
the political disagreement as they are seen to be supporting one
side against the other.
Bahraini delegations abroad failed to adhere to human rights
standards in dealing with representatives of International Human
Rights Institutions and Organisations by either providing incorrect
and exaggerated information or inaccurate analysis. For instance,
the statements of some international bodies were manipulated in
order to make use of them politically. This in turn affected the
credibility of these delegations.
On February 15th 2013, during a visit to France, a Bahraini parliamentary
delegation met the President of the International Federation for
Human Rights FIDH, Mrs Suhair Bal-hassan. The meeting took place
at the organisation’s Headquarters with the purpose of discussing
the situation in Bahrain. On 19 February 2013 the Bahrain News Agency
issued a statement by the Parliament which stated that (The president
of FIDH expressed the appreciation of the International Human Rights
Organisations of the serious and effective steps taken by Bahrain
in implementing the BICI’s recommendations as well as the latest
On the 21st of February 2013, the FIDH, issued a statement denying
that quote attributed to its president and stating that the latter
has actually expressed concern over the ongoing grave and systematic
human rights violations, and over what she views as a failure to
effectively implement both Bassiouni’s and the UPR’s recommendations..
FIDH kindly advised the authorities to allocate the State’s resources
to addressing the deep human rights crisis rather than to misleading
The same scenario was repeated after a meeting on February 18th
in Brussels with EU Parliamentary member, Marietje Schaake, a Dutch
politician. On 20 February, Schaake posted on her website a statement
in which she stated that she agreed with the delegation that the
meeting would be off the record. , but was stunned when news of
the meeting were reported in Bahrain with a false and fabricated
account of what was actually deliberated. She added that even though
she believes in transparency but due to the fa?t that she had in
the past experienced a number of cases where Bahraini media published
articles that were untrue, she wanted to avoid any publications.
According to the EU Parliamentarian, this incident has undermined
her meeting with the Bahraini delegation.
Several points can be derived from the above case:
- It is obvious that both sides of the conflict are seeking
to employ the human rights card on the International level as
part of their domestic political battle. Each side wants to
highlight its successes and its opponents’ losses and failures.
To do this, some parties find themselves tempted to exaggerate
their achievements and use the media to do this. However, all
political players should remember that as a result of the communication
revolution, all statements are readily available for anyone
and anywhe?e. Also, human right organisations monitor what is
- These kinds of mistakes highlight the fact that the root
of the problem is political, and that the Human rights work
is fairly new to these political parties that lack the experience
in this field. If these parties had abided by the rules of the
human rights community, such mistakes would not have been repeated.
Whoever wants to be involved in human rights work should become
very careful regarding misinformation, especially when dealing
with foreign bodies. The party that adheres the most to the
standards?of professionalism will be more able to convince international
organizations of its point of view.
It would not detract from their status or efficiency if, rather
than resort to the practice of sweetening the outcome of their meetings
abroad, official or parliamentarian delegations could follow a more
appropriate route by issuing statements following such meetings
that are credible and more in line with the facts , such as stating
that they took note of the issues raised during the meetings regarding
human rights in Bahrain and that they did their best to explain
all the steps that has been taken to im?rove the situation and reassure
the International Community of Bahrain’s continued commitment to
cooperation with international organizations in order to redress
past mistakes and improve human rights. Such kind of discourse would
be closer to the truth, promote trust and build credibility, as
opposed to a discourse that falsely claims that the international
organizations were given all the facts and had apologized for misunderstanding
the local situation; or that Bahrain has become an oasis for human
righ?s and grand unprecedented achievements, as this involves exaggeration
and fabrication. Such kind of discourse is outdated and could undermine
the positive efforts of the Government.
It’s most unlikely that international human rights organizations
will be changing their stances soon. Both time and effort are needed
to develop the human rights situation locally. This will also require
a considerable amount of transparency, flexibility, honesty and
openness. These qualities are crucial if you want to build a relationship
with the international organizations based on credibility and trust.