A Joint Solution to Both the
Political and Human Rights Files
Any observer to the Bahraini scene would not fail to notice how
its political and human rights files are so intertwined, not only
in the minds of the local political stakeholders, but also as perceived
by the international political circles and human rights organizations.
The conclusion is that the two files are inextricably linked and
reflect each other.
Under political stability and with the existence of a political
process and ongoing reforms, it is important to emphasise the dire
need for a complete separation between political and human rights
issues particularly in relation to the activities of the local civil
society organisations, on the one hand,and the political societies
on the other. Without such distinction neither the work of human
rights organisations nor that of the political societies would develop,
as each has its own separate tools, targets, discourse and professionals.
Those who want to take part in political activities they can do
so through the relevant societies, while existing laws allow those
who want to pursue human rights work to either join already existing
institutions or apply for the establishment of new human rights
organisations. We have been stressing this point well before our
country has been rocked by its latest political crisis. This same
view is also shared by almost all international human rights organizations.
The events that have taken place in Bahrain three years ago have
blurred the dividing line between political and human rights issues
in the eyes of both the local and international observers. The human
rights issues have become part and parcel of the political ones
and vice versa. Today we cannot isolate the activities and declared
positions of the human rights organisations, including the High
Commission for Human Rights, from the policies adopted by governments
within the international community towards Bahrain in general and
not just towards its human rights file in particular.
That is why we notice that the political demands and those associated
with human rights are intertwined. This was clearly illustrated
by the fact that the political issues have featured substantially
in both Bassiouni’s report and the recommendations issued by the
human rights council in June 2012, within the framework of the Universal
Periodic Review. Furthermore, Bahraini officials tend to update
the international human rights circles on the latest developments
in the political arena because they are aware of how these developments
affect the human rights situation. For example, a statement issued
by the Bahraini Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the meeting that
took place between the Minister and Navi Pillay in January 2014,
indicated that the Minister updated the High Commissioner on the
latest political and human rights developments including the Crown
Prince’s meeting with the parties participating in National Consensus
Dialogue, and that he reviewed the new phase of the dialogue affirming
that it would be characterized by credibility and conducted with
a responsibility that puts the national interests above all other
On the other hand, political discussions between Bahrain and
other states are not just confined to the political crisis, but
they also touch on the human rights issues, and this is always reflected
in the statements these States usually issue after meeting with
It is also noticeable that human rights have become a major issue
in the political scene and as such they have their considerable
impact on Bahrain itself:
Bahrain’s political relations within the international community
have suffered because of the human rights issues, so has its reputation
and its media image.
We have noticed that many countries coordinate their human rights
policies and conduct them in a way as if they are political in nature.
An example of that is the coordination between the US and the EU
where certain countries adopt and others endorse initiatives and
criticism aimed at Bahrain.
There is a prevalent conviction among many countries and international
human rights institutions that the problem in Bahrain is political
in essence, and that the human rights violations were a consequence
of the conflict and the political instability. That explains the
reference to a political solution in most of the reports and statements
issued by international circles.
To stress how pivotal the political issue is, Western countries
tend to meet with international human rights organisations to coordinate
and trade information and to determine how to deal with the Bahraini
So we conclude that the entanglement between the political and
human rights files means that no solution to the political crisis
can be reached, through the process of national dialogue, without
confronting the most sensitive aspects of the human rights file.
We believe that any progress in the national dialogue would benefit
the human rights front, and that any setback in the process would
have its negative impact on the human rights situation and on the
international’s community’s responses. The world is watching Bahrain’s
human rights situation with political eyes, willing for the dialogue
to succeed and the basic problem to be solved.