Bahrain’s Day in Geneva
A Review of The Bahrain’s Second UPR
On 21 May 2012, the human rights situation in Bahrain was discussed
by the Human Rights Council during the UPR which takes place every
four years. The interactive discussion includes all the countries
and is as follows:
The concerned government presents a human rights report which
covers all human rights fields: women; children; workers; political,
economic and civil rights; and other legislative, judicial and executive
aspects. The report explains the challenges and the difficulties
facing the government in developing human rights. The government
also presents in the report future plans and recommendations which
could be adopted by the Human Rights Council in order to evaluate
the human rights situation in the concerned ?country after four years.
Civil society organisations in the concerned country present
their own account of the human rights situation in their country.
International human rights organisation can also present their own
reports and recommendations to the Human Rights Council.
The UN and its agencies present a similar report which evaluates
the human rights situation in the concerned country and their proposals
The concerned government studies these recommendations, responds
officially to the Human Rights Council and presents implementation
plans and mechanisms.
During the discussion, official representatives such as the Human
Rights Minister Salah Ali were present as well as a number of civil
1/ Slovenia commended Bahrain for acceding to the ICRPD and regretted
that despite the recommendations made during the first review, reservations
to CEDAW have not been removed and the Optional Protocol was not
2/ Spain commended Bahrain’s efforts in implementing Bassiouni’s
recommendations and recommended the signing of the Optional Protocol
to the Convention Against Torture and the second Optional Protocol
to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which
aims to abolish capital punishment.
3/ Sudan supported the efforts of Bahrain and the positive approach
taken since its first UPR. Sudan reiterated that the UPR should
not be a forum to put states on trial.
4/ Sweden commended the activities of civil society organisations
and their role in enriching discussions regarding human rights.
It also criticised the Minister of Human Rights’ restriction on
these organisations and recommended that all restrictions on the
work of human rights defenders should be removed.
5/ Turkey commended the reforms made so far in the fields of
security, judiciary, media and education in line with the BICI report.
It mentioned, among others, reforms towards transformations to a
complete civilian legal order, institutionalisation of an independent
Ombudsman’s Office and establishment of an independent body to review
the applications of the victims regarding their allegations of torture.
6/ The United Arab Emirates recommended that Bahrain provides
suitable education opportunities for the disabled.
7/ The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland welcomed
promises to implement reforms based on BICI’s recommendations. The
UK was deeply concerned by reports of human rights violations that
continue to occur. It looked to the authorities to ensure that convictions
in military courts were reviewed and prisoners detained for exercising
freedom of expression released.
8/ The United States of America commended the establishment of
the BICI 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.
9/ Uruguay recommended that the Government carry out democratic
reforms through national dialogue which includes all Bahraini social
10/Algeria appreciated the availability of protection for foreign
workers in Bahrain in accordance with the new Labour Law.
11/ Argentina welcomed the delegation and paid tribute to Bahrain
for the creation and implementation of the National Plan of Action
related to its commitments under the UPR.
12/ Australia acknowledged Bahrain’s efforts to address reported
human rights violations during and following the 2011 unrest and
welcomed the setting up of the BICI and the National Commission
to this effect. Australia also welcomed the issuing of the Police
Code of Conduct, re-trialling prisoners sentenced to death and reinstating
dismissed workers. It also recommended that Bahrain carries out
political reforms which protect the rights of all citizens.
13/ Austria recommended that the Press Law be amended in order
to remove all restrictions on freedom of expression and that the
demolished mosques be rebuilt.
14/ Azerbaijan commended the measures taken to combat human trafficking
and called upon the Government to continue its coordination with
the UN with regards to human rights measures.
15/ Qatar commended Bahrain’s efforts to promote and protect
human rights given the recent constitutional amendments aimed at
enhancing participation and empowering reforms and the democratic
16/ Belarus urged Bahrain to adhere to presenting its periodic
reports with regards to international agreements.
17/ Belgium recommended that Bahrain strive to achieve national
18/ Canada requested information on the processes established,
methods used and results achieved with respect to human rights sensitivity
training for police officers and security forces.
19/ Chile called for the empowerment of women socially and politically
and the issuing of the second part of the Family Law.
20/ China recommended that Bahrain continues its endeavours to
improve its capacity in the area of human rights.
21/ Costa Rica called for Bahrain to respect the right of peaceful
22/ Finland hoped that Bahrain’s local legislations coincide
with its international commitments.
23/ Indonesia welcomed the establishment of a National Human
Rights Institution. It also appreciated the initiatives undertaken
in the area of domestic workers.
24/ Italy welcomed measures taken by the authorities to implement
the recommendations in the BICI report which is of great importance
for national reconciliation. It also called for the rebuilding of
demolished mosques and the abolishing of capital punishment.
25/ Japan recommended that draft press law should not to be unduly
restrictive on freedom of expression.
26/ Jordan commended Bahrain’s efforts to establish an Arab court
for human rights.
27/ Ireland called for the investigation of torture allegations
and bringing those responsible to justice.
28/ Kuwait called Bahrain to continue the implementation of the
recommendations of the BICI and putting procedures regarding accountability
and compensation into practice.
29/ Lebanon called for the participation of civil society organisations
in the national work plan.
30/ Libya called for the inclusion of human rights principles
in school curriculums.
31/ Malaysia called Bahrain to take more steps towards promoting
human rights awareness through education programs.
32/ Mexico called for a dialogue that includes all national parties
and criticised the delay in the issuing of the new Press Law.
33/ The Netherlands called for the adherence to international
standards during arrests, showing arrest warrants and allowing independent
bodies to scrutinise trials.
34/ Nicaragua acknowledged commitments undertaken by Bahrain
at empowering women and questioned the mechanisms of the previous
35/ Norway asked for a time frame for the implementation of Bassiouni’s
recommendations and continuing the reforms.
36/ Pakistan commended Bahrain’s efforts and expressed its support
for national dialogue.
37/ Palestine commended Bahrain’s efforts in establishing a compensation
fund for the victims.
38/ The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia commended Bahrain’s efforts in
implementing Bassiouni’s recommendations.
Members of the official delegation in Geneva responded to the
questions, recommendations and criticisms made by the countries
with regards to the human rights file:
The Minister of State for Human Rights, Dr. Salah Ali stated
that his country has no prisoners of conscious: ‘Bahrain has no
political prisoners or prisoners of conscious and if this was the
case I would be the first to defend them until they are released.
However, there are criminal cases waiting for decisions by the Judiciary.
We have all the trust in the Judiciary even if they are found to
be innocent.’ He also denied the accusations regarding the use of
excessive force by security forces. He also added that a gradual
mechanism was adopted in order to protect civil rights.
With regards to the torture allegations, Dr Saleh stated that
national laws prohibit and criminalise the use of torture and that
no one is above the law. He continued ‘if you hear about any torture
cases these have already been investigated by the judicial authority.’
He also stated that Bahrain has signed a memorandum of understanding
with the Red Cross which confirms Bahrain’s adherence to international
standards in dealing with prisoners. The representative of the public
persecutor discussed the torture? cases and stated that it received
142 complaints and listened to 120 individuals. He added that 60
officers and members of the police force were questioned and nine
cases were referred to the court. He stated also that the Public
Persecutor has already started investigations on torture and fatal
beating allegations - these investigations are ongoing. With regards
to preventing foreign journalists and the representatives of human
rights organisations from entering the country, the Minister stated:
‘there are no restrictions on journalists and organisations. The
number of journalists who have entered the country is 397 which
proves that there are no such restrictions’. However, a number of
journalists had failed to adhere to Bahrain’s laws and regulations
and added: ‘we welcome all those who respect the laws of the country’.
With regards to freedom of press, Dr. Salah Ali stated that a
bill regarding journalism and media is already being discussed by
the legislative authority in line with international standards.
He also highlighted that this Act has been amended through the suspension
of the imprisonment of journalists. He added that ‘its only a matter
of time that this Act will become a national law which guarantees
the protection of the rights of journalists’.
With regards to incorporating all social segments in the Ministry
of Interior he said that ‘the Ministry is promoting the role of
community police by allowing all sects in Bahrain to work in the
field without any restriction’.
With regards to the demolition of religious places the Minister
stated that Bahrain is proud to have places of worships that belong
to all religions. He also highlighted that the number of Muslim
places of worship is more than 2,000 and those demolished were 12,
five of which have already been reconstructed and the work on the
rest is still continuing.
The Under Secretary of the Ministry of Human Rights, Sa’eed Al
Fayhani also stated that ‘Bahrain is about to join the Convention
for the Protection of all Person from Enforced Disappearance and
is currently is taking legal procedures for this. Bahrain is also
adopting a gradual policy and is open to all other international
agreements; however, at the same time, it also takes into consideration
its constitutional regulations. He also added that ‘Bahrain is in
contact with special rapporteur, responds to their inquires, cooperates
with OHCHR and conducts mutual visits and meetings with the Council’.
Nawaf Al Maawda of the Authority of Media Affairs responded to
all questions regarding freedom of expression and the Press law
and stated that Bahrain is in the process of issuing a comprehensive
law which covers visual and aural media. He also pointed to its
efforts to establish a supreme media council to scrutinise the media
and prevent sectarian incitement.
MP Dalal Al Zayed commented on issues regarding granting the
Bahraini nationality to the children of Bahraini women married to
non Bahrainis stating that ‘ due to the absence of a law that regulates
this issue, Bahrain has taken some measures which can provide help
and facilitation to this group’. She also stated that the Government
has established a joint committee specialised in looking into the
possibility of granting the nationality to the children of Bahraini
women, -many of which have already been granted the nationality.
She also added that the new Child law states that ‘the children
of Bahraini women enjoy all rights like other Bahraini citizens
especially with regards to government services’.
With respects to national dialogue, Al Zayed stated that ‘many
constitutional amendments were made in order to increase legislative
and regulatory powers. Most important of these is the law which
states that the elected Council should be the only body with all
regulatory powers, and has the power to question ministers in the
Council public meetings’.
With regards to the issue of foreign workers, the delegation
pointed to many government procedures which prevent and combat human
trafficking. He also pointed to the right of workers to move freely
through a new Bahraini law. Also, she highlighted that the State
is in the process of issuing a national legislation regarding domestic
Troika, recommendations and the Government’s response
At the end of the interactive dialogue and listening to the response
of the official delegation, the Human Rights Council selected the
following group of Rapporteurs (troika) to facilitate the review
of Bahrain: Uruguay, Saudi Arabia and Spain. This is in order to
put forward recommendations for the Government of Bahrain for the
next four years. On 25 May, the Human Rights Council issued 176
recommendations for Bahrain, most of which derive from the recommendations
of the states which discussed Bahrain’s file.
With regard to the official response, Dr. Salah stated that the
recommendations are positive and that some require studying and
an implementation plan. He also said that these recommendations
will be studied with an open mind and a feeling of national responsibility
by the concerned authorities and with the participation of all relevant
parties. He continued stating that his country is going to respond
as soon as possible.
The Government of Bahrain has established a committee in order
to respond to the recommendations of the Human Rights Council headed
by the Minister of State for Human Rights and with presence of government’s
On 18 June 2012, the follow up committee stated that it will
complete its work next August before the allocated time in September
by the Human Rights Council. On 3 July 2012, the President of the
Committee said that the first draft of the proposed answer has been
completed and been referred to the Prime Minister’s office. He also
added that the Government completely supports the work on the implementations
of most of the recommendations, stressing that the response to all
recommendations will be positive and interactive, especially seeing
as most of them have already been implemented on the ground or in
the process of being implemented.