What the NIHR Can Do in its First Year?
No one doubts the significant tasks entrusted to the National
Institution for Human Rights (NIHR), and the aspirations of the
regional and international human rights organizations, as well as
the hopes of the Bahraini citizen in this institution. Therefore,
the NIHR need to engage as quickly as possible in a well established
work and according to a clear approach and plan. The objectives
of the NIHR, as mentioned in the Royal Decree that had established
it, can not be achieved until a strategic plan and clear, realistic
and achievable objectives are in place.
In an interview with the newspaper al-Ayyam daily newspaper on
23 June 2010, the President of the NIHR, Mr. Salman Kamal al-Din
confirmed the need to develop a national plan for human rights from
which to draw the future features for the NIHR. Kamal al-Din laid
the foundation for the priorities of the next phase for the NIHR
comprising spreading and publicizing a human rights culture as the
primary guarantor to enable citizens to acquire and defend their
rights as well as recognizing their duties.
Given the need to inform the public in Bahrain and involve it
in the future work of the NIHR, and in commitment to the principle
of transparency as far as possible, we have seen in the BHRM to
think loudly about the development of initial national strategy
for human rights that enables the NIHR to work around it for the
upcoming year. What we are proposing here is simply a brainstorm
to build upon and stir discussion around it because of the need
for the plan and the need for the views of opinion makers and human
rights community with a view to initiate public debate with them
about the plan.
The BHRM proposes to focus on four key directions during the
first year of the work of the NIHR, namely: protection and promotion
of human rights in Bahrain; dissemination and promotion of human
rights education; harmonization of all strategies related to human
rights; establishment and completion of the internal structure of
Firstly: Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Bahrain
In this area the NIHR should develop an action plan to improve
the human rights situation. The plan should include the following
- Handling outstanding legal issues which have been a cause of
the tensions, such as: victims of torture file.
- Reviewing articles of the Constitution and laws with a view
to harmonize them with international human rights conventions ratified
by the Kingdom of Bahrain.
- Adopting measures to protect the right of personal security
and protection from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment as well as dealing with all the files relating to torture
- Making sure that the mechanisms of arrest and detention in
Bahrain compatible with the international human rights standards
so as to prevent arbitrary arrest and detention.
- Providing recommendations on practical steps to address the
issue of societal violence against women.
- Providing practical recommendations for the protection of labour
to ensure the application of the principle: the right to work in
appropriate circumstances, adequate remuneration, as well as equality
and non-discrimination, social security, and protect working women
from economic exploitation.
- Providing appropriate treatment through the development of
feasible measures for further improvement of the rights and welfare
of workers, and help trade unions in achieving their objectives.
- Protecting freedom of opinion and expression, and to recommend
measures for the protection and promotion of this right in particular
with regard to the profession of journalism, media and ensure the
personal security of employees.
- Protecting the right of peaceful assembly and peaceful demonstrations.
Secondly: Dissemination and Promotion of a Human Rights Culture
The BHRM fully agrees with the President of the NIHR that to
promote human rights awareness among the various segments of society,
is one of the most important guarantees that contribute to the reduction
of human rights violations. In this context, there are some objectives
that lead to achieve the overarching goal, including:
- The need to focus on the right of political participation in
the management of public affairs and participation in the elections.
The evolution of human rights on the ground depends mostly on what
is available from the political freedoms provided by the political
system, and exercised by the public. Therefore, the vitality of
the political process and protection of human rights are linked,
and that any setback to one of them is likely to cause a setback
in the other.
- Incorporate human rights concepts and principles in the various
educational curricula including university.
- Cooperate with the media and raise its efficiency in the area
of human rights knowledge in order to be able to contribute in spreading
a human rights culture.
- Reach out to youth and women’s organizations and strengthen
their capacity to defend women’s rights in particular, as well as
disseminating and publicizing a human rights culture.
- Provide human rights awareness programs and training to the
legislative institutions, and law enforcement agencies including
the police, prosecutors and regular forces.
Thirdly: Harmonization of all Strategies related to Human Rights
in a Unified Strategy
The BHRM values all the efforts made by various official and
private bodies to develop strategies to protect and promote human
rights in various areas in Bahrain. In the view of the BHRM it is
time to gather the plans and different pieces of legislation adopted
by the societies and institutions in one national strategy. This
means to compile laws, legislation, plans and programs and then
revise them as appropriate. Each society or institution will then
be entrusted to contribute in the implementation of part of that
national strategy. This approach is supposed to serve the following
- Unifying forces, human rights societies and institutions around
agreed visions and common goals.
- Rationalization and better use of resources in order to avoid
dealing with the same subject from multiple views.
- Remove the state of confusion caused by the multiplicity of
similar activities by different actors.
- To facilitate the monitoring and follow-up and evaluation of
the work and activities of human rights.
- Optimum use of the potential of human rights societies and
institutions, each according to their potential human and financial
Fourthly: Internal Structure of the NIHR
Although this topic should be discussed within the internal framework
of the NIHR, but it is important to enlighten the public about the
internal issues of the NIHR. This is also important for openness
and transparency in the work of the NIHR for more trust between
the NIHR and the public. For these reasons we are encouraged to
deal with the topic publicly.
The NIHR must start by establishing an administrative structure
commensurate with the importance of the role assigned to it. The
first step begins according to the Royal Decree to create a (Secretariat)
to deal with the daily work of the NIHR, including the recruitment
of staff members according to specific job descriptions and rewarding
wages, as the case with other national institutions in Arab and
foreign countries. There is no doubt that a lot of talented and
experienced Bahrainis are eligible to take up administrative positions
in the NIHR. The NIHR should also determine the rules of procedure
governing the work of its various committees, functions of its members,
and how to manage meetings.
If the NIHR is able to focus on these four key directions in
its first year, it will make great strides in establishing itself
as a professional institution. And then the second year will be
vital for the NIHR to develop a national strategy for four or five
years following the completion of internal structure.
These are broad lines of a general and on-going plan, which can
be carried over for next year because the objectives cannot always
be fully completed. The NIHR can benefit from the civil society
institutions in proposing and shaping the strategic plan. What the
NIHR needs in its first year is to start quietly, with determination
and clear objectives in order to avoid any unexpected problems.