Bahrain’s Dossier in Geneva’s next Meeting
In each session of the Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) meetings,
states as well as local and international political forces and human
rights organizations, tend to rally in preparation for human rights
and possibly political battles. Such was the situation for Bahrain,
as well as others, in the twenty-seventh session meetings, which
were held in September 2014.
Prior to the meeting, there was a sense of optimism that Bahrain
is going on the right track. Indicators were reassuring in the sense
that the government has made positive steps, including: the conclusion
of an agreement of technical cooperation with the OHCHR; the government’s
submission of a half term UPR (Universal Periodic Review) report
and the establishment of institutions for the promotion and protection
of human rights (such as the ‘Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission’
and the ‘Ombudsman Office’ affiliated to the Ministry of the Interior).
The role of the National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR) has
been enhanced. A greater degree of openness has been shown towards
the international human rights organizations which have visited
Bahrain, such as Amnesty International and others, where the official
position was characterized with cooperation and transparency.
Unfortunately, however, the occurrence of some practices, such
as the detention of a female activist, has cast a dark shadow over
the positive atmosphere. This was viewed as a human rights setback
by the international community. It led to renewal of the campaign
of critical statements from countries and organizations, including
the UNHRC. But things did return to a state of relative calm, after
the release of the female activist. This time, however, the Human
Rights Council avoided issuing statements, contrary to what has
occurred last June, at the twenty-sixth session, where 47 countries
signed a joint statement raising concern over a number of human
rights issues in Bahrain.
In spite of the absence of an adverse dramatic development against
the government of Bahrain at the UNHRC’s meetings this time around,
it does not mean that the issues of concern will not be raised again
at the next session in March, 2015. The UNHRC‘s member states say
that they want to give Bahrain a grace period to build on and develop
the positive steps taken to address the causes of concern (i.e.
the dossiers of: detentions , human rights advocates and freedom
These dossiers are, in most parts, linked to an unstable political
and security reality. Therefore they are most likely to continue
to prevail for some considerable time. We do hope that Bahrain will
embark on a political solution that would eliminate the root cause
of the problem, and culminate in a national political accord that
would usher a new positive page in terms of the political and human
rights affairs. Only then, will the concern over all the dossiers
disappear and the build-up of international ?pressure cease, giving
the future Geneva meetings a different , and hopefully bright and
positive, perspective of Bahrain and its political forces.