Human Rights Watch Held Meetings in Bahrain
On 1-4 June 2010, the Middle East Program of HRW organised its
annual conference in Manama. The Conference discussed several human
rights files in the region, including the situation in Gaza.
The organization’s delegation, headed by the Director of the
Middle East Program Sara Leah Whitson and her Deputy Joe Stork,
met with a number of officials and ministers. This was in order
to follow the latest developments in the human rights situation
in Bahrain including the report issued by HRW on torture, which
triggered controversies regarding its credibility.
The delegation also met the Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs,
Ambassador Abdul Latif Abdullah, and discussed with him the issue
of protecting migrant workers and human trafficking. The delegation
was briefed of the Government’s measures. They also met the Undersecretary
of the Ministry of Interior, and discussed with him issues of mutual
Moreover, Joe Stork met the Foreign Minister, and discussed possible
ways of cooperation between HRW and the Bahraini Government. The
Minister briefed him about the latest human rights developments,
and stressed that Bahrain respects and protects fundamental freedoms.
The Minister also pointed to the Government’s revision of laws to
bring them in conformity with international standards.
On 7 June 2010, both Sarah Whitson and Joe Stork met with the
Minister of Interior, who stressed that the revision and editing
of information in HRW’s report lacked objectivity. The Minister
explained that what was mentioned in the report with regards to
discrimination in Bahrain was incorrect. He also objected to the
use of the phrase “second class citizens”. Furthermore, he stressed
that his Ministry is committed to human rights principles, both
verbally and on the ground, demanding at the same time, that international
organizations be fair and just in their assessment of various points
Finally, on 7 June 2010, HRW’s delegation met with the Minister
of Labour, and discussed the rights of migrant workers and the developments
in the labour market reform project. The Minister stressed that
the International Labour Organization has chosen Bahrain as one
of eight countries in the world which are committed to a decent
work program, and provide a working environment, which meets international
standards. Furthermore, Joe Stork demanded that necessary legislations
be introduced to protect the rights of domestic workers.
Finally, the delegation met the president of the NIHR Salman
Kamal Al Deen, and discussed with him the possibilities of joint