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 concern.

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 of views.

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 cooperation.