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 of expression).

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.