The Need for a Modern Law of Associations
Human Rights Watch issued a detailed report regarding the restrictions
on the establishment of associations in Bahrain. The report, entitled
‘Interfere, Restrict, and Control’ examined the draft law of associations
as well as the current one. There are several points that should
First- it is important and beneficial
for Bahrain to have a law of associations, that conforms to international
standards and Bahrain’s international obligations under the agreements
and conventions it has signed. The most important step is that the
law should be modern, adheres to international standards and does
not cause controversy inside and outside the country.
Second- Bahraini authorities can implement
this law vigorously if it complies with international standards
without fearing any objections or criticism. If the law is not amended,
Bahraini civil societies will be forced to work in accordance with
international standards and not the local law, and will be legally
supported locally and abroad.
Third- whatever the level of restrictions
imposed on political or civil societies by any law, the most it
can achieve is a partial restrain of the natural development of
Bahrain. It will also cause many social, political and security
problems in the future.
Fourth- Bahrain cannot produce a law
for itself with its own standards, and then wait for it to be accepted
locally and internationally. Contrary to this, any such law would
only cause problems with human rights organizations and UN bodies.
It could also cause problems with the countries allied to Bahrain
because all these parties depend on their evaluations of the political
and human rights situation in any country on international standards
Fifth- we believe that a new law of
Association should not be passed without the participation and the
acceptance of the civil society as it was initially planned. Civil
society should exert more effort before the passing of this law
by working with the authorities and the legislators in order to
convince them to amend it and bring it into conformity with international
Finally- it is also necessary that
the concerned ministries and Parliament should study the HRW report
and respond to the points of concern it raised and the solutions
it presented regardless of the official position towards the organization.
Bahrain will be criticised again by all the countries and international
human rights organizations if it fails to amend this law. Fortunately,
there is still time for the amendment to take place especially now
that Bahrain’s political, security and human rights situations are
improving and the law should be designed for the future.