The Inextricable Link Between Security and Human Rights
One of the basic issues in addressing human rights violations
in Bahrain is fundamentally linked to the cultural term of reference
and the legal and legislative standards that provide the legal and
logical umbrella that determines the manner by which the problem
is addressed. For example, despite the fact that protesters in Bahrain
are able to obtain permits that allow them to protest legally, they
choose not to do so, under the pretext that what they are doing
conforms to international standards. They believe that having no
permits should not prevent them from expressing their opinion or
exercise their rights to assemble. On the other side, the Government,
which has joined international conventions and agreements that oblige
Bahrain to adapt its laws to conform with these conventions, tends
however, quite often , to enact its own local legislations and ignore
these international agreements and standards. This is why the Government
finds itself unable to convince the international community of its
administrative and legal procedures.
Many incidents that took place in Bahrain involved the breaking
of the law as well as the committing of human rights violations.
These two issues have posed a great challenge to the State’s institutions,
civil society and active political parties. Theoretically the consensus
was against breaking the law and in favour of the protection of
Human Rights, but practically maintaining human rights has, to some
degree, clashed with the considerations of maintaining security.
Nevertheless, in our opinion, it is realistically possible to provide
security and stability without compromising human rights principles
Maintaining security is a necessity for human rights but by no
means an alternative to it. Security should not be maintained at
the expense of human rights. It is difficult to strike the right
balance especially when political situations are tense. On the one
hand, the authorities stress the importance of security and view
it as the priority, while pro democracy and human rights advocates,
on the other hand, believe that lack of respect for human rights
and the persistence of violations would only lead to the breaking
of the law and disturbance of the peace. It is a conundrum no doubt.
Instability and unrest directly impact human rights as they affect
the right to life, freedom and physical safety. The lack of security
emanating from unrest is a basic factor in undermining the civil
society as an entity and the role it plays, either by restricting
its activities , or by politicising it . On the other hand, unrest
threatens social and economic development and would subsequently
have a direct effect on the ability of the community to enjoy its
human rights in its broad and comprehensive sense.
Same as many other countries, Bahrain has faced the challenge
of adhering to human rights standards, during political crises and
their resulting social and security upheavals. This challenge includes
the possibility of infringement on the security of individuals,
a basic Human Right, which could entail the perpetration of some
violations such as ill treatment, restriction of the margin of freedom
of expression and imposition of sanctions on civil society organizations
in general. Such practices would have its impacts on the rule of
law, good governance and human rights.
This confirms the fact that respecting human rights and maintaining
security are inextricably linked, for you cannot maintain one without
the other. Without security, human rights cannot be protected and
without human rights security cannot be achieved. For this reason,
international human rights law urges countries to adopt the necessary
procedures to protect security, not only through the use of reasonable
force, but also by confronting social, economic, cultural and political
problems which can cause instability and encourage unrest.
Giving priority to maintaining security is the correct course
of action in the general sense because it means the protection of
the lives, honour and dignity of people. But such course of action
should only be conducted within the discipline of the law and the
human rights binding obligations, otherwise it will have the opposite
effect at the expense of a durable and sustained stability. In other
words, the desired benefit from giving priority to security will
not be felt on the ground without respecting human rights. Any human
rights violations will have a negative impact on the security situation.
It is the duty of the Government to provide both security and
respect for human rights simultaneously i.e. to protect security
and to provide political and economic rights and services for citizens.
This can only be achieved by respecting human rights principles.
The Government should also ensure that the conduct of law enforcement
institutions conform to both national and international laws. This
should be taken into consideration even during major crisis. There
is no conflict between the adoption of effective measures to enforce
law and order and provide security, in the one hand, and the protection
of human rights, on the other. As a matter of fact, both compliment
and reinforce each other.