BHRS Organized Workshop on Human Rights Protection

The Ministry of Social Development has given the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) permission to organize a workshop on defending human rights, with the cooperation of the Geneva based Association for the Prevention of Torture. The Ministry had previously regarded the workshop as engaging in politics which contradicts Article 18 of the Law of Associations. The Secretary General of the BHRS Abdualla Al Drazi said that the Ministry has revised the prohibition decision and annulled it. The workshop was held on 27-29 May 2010 and among the participants were human rights activists from Yemen, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia, in addition to Bahrain.

Drazi revealed a desire to establish a regional alliance against torture in the region, whilst the official spokesman of the Arab Committee for Human Rights, Haytham Al Manna stressed that U.N. mechanisms are not sufficient to deal with torture cases, even if such mechanisms do frighten executors.

The representative of the Association for the Prevention of Torture, Esther Schaufelberger stressed that the prevention of torture ‘requires a wide range of activity including spreading anti-torture culture and the immediate intervention from human rights organizations. When torture takes place, it should be condemned, and this stage is always characterized by confrontation between human rights organizations and the authorities’. She also added that visiting detention centres requires having the mandate and guarantees to visit all detention facilities and obtain access to all documents and detainees. She also added that national institutions for human rights and NGOs are the bodies who should conduct this preventative monitoring. She also pointed to the importance of ratifying the Optional Protocol of the Convention against Torture, which no country in the Middle East and North Africa has ratified, with the exception of Lebanon.