Bahrain Human Rights Monitor:

Calls for Objective and Calm Dealing with HRW’s Report

Within the context of different views in Bahrain and abroad, and different reactions about the report of Human Rights Watch (HRW) recently issued on 08 February 2010, the Bahrain Human Rights Monitor (BHRM) calls upon all parties concerned to deal with the report with the requisite objectivity and not be hasty in making judgments. The BHRM also calls upon the relevant parties in Bahrain to undertake an extensive and thorough study of the report; form a committee to look into allegations of torture containe? in the report; and address such allegations if proved.

Following a careful reading, the BHRM can make the following points:

  • The report came after a very short time of launching HRW’s annual report in Dubai in the last week of January this year. This does not seem normal to the observer of the work of international human rights organizations. But objectivity requires us to consider it as a matter of coincidence that does not happen very often, and thus dealing with the report in good faith because HRW, though does not have much of the information on Bahrain, is not an enemy of Bahrain or human rights.
  • The report came as a result of a visit by HRW to Bahrain in June 2009 lasted about two weeks, and the Bahraini government allowed them access to interview whoever they want to interview without restrictions or censorship. HRW also met with a few human rights activists and human rights organizations in Bahrain. HRW was even allowed to familiarize themselves with many documents and records of the Bahraini courts, public prosecutor’s office and security forces. HRW also examined the medical reports in relatio? to complaints of ill-treatment. This positive development should be built upon. This point is in favour of the Government of Bahrain, which seemed more confident in dealing with the human rights file, and more willing to deal seriously with international organizations and allowing them to contribute positively to correct and draw lessons from past mistakes.
  • There is need to build on the objective and calm reply of the Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa related to Bahrain’s obligation to consider the allegations raised in the report and referring them to the relevant authorities to take the necessary actions.
  • On the other hand there is need for HRW to be patient until receiving the Bahraini government’s response to its legitimate questions. There is no doubt that the Government of Bahrain was late in submitting their answers to some questions, and Bahrain should be aware that the delay for any reason it is not useful. The clarification of the facts about human rights issues, and trying to address the shortcomings with the formal and informal institutions, should be the end. This requires the Government to speed?up the creation of a mechanism to respond to international organizations within specific period of time.
  • The Bahrain Government, as well as civil society organizations, should be keen to meet human rights organizations visiting Bahrain. Furthermore, the relevant official bodies should provide the necessary assistance to such organization to facilitate their missions and tasks. This approach will help visiting organizations to meet a broad spectrum of relevant actors, and to form a general picture of the situation closer to reality, as well as to provide information for research purposes.
  • BHRM also thinks that Bahraini human rights organizations can carry out its functions through a mechanism that meets periodically to discuss the latest developments in the field of human rights in Bahrain for protection and promotion purposes. Such a mechanism would invite a government official each time to discuss a specific human rights case in order to find solutions.
  • Finally, BHRM considers that the time has come to designate the members of the National Foundation for Human Rights to commence its work, being the best place to deal with such reports.