Oral Statement- Bahrain- UPR September 2012

Press release

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisations in Bahrain - the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Bahrain Human Rights Society - welcome the pledges of the Kingdom of Bahrain to finally support most of the UPR recommendations, in particular those corresponding to the issues raised by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), which our organizations find to be of particular importance. However, while certain efforts have been made by the Bahraini authorities to address some of the BICI recommendations, the FIDH report released yesterday concludes that the government continues to deny a majority of Bahrainis their fundamental rights on a daily basis, and that it uses government institutions to attack or control the population, creating an atmosphere of mistrust and fear. Our organisations strongly support the establishment of an international monitoring mechanism with the mandate of monitoring the implementation of the BICI recommendations as well and the overall resolution of the human rights crisis in Bahrain.

Despite the Government of Bahrain’s pledges, excessive use of force and tear gas by police forces has been regularly documented, in direct violation of BICI and UPR recommendations. FIDH also received testimony from witnesses and families of victims of the repression who had been attacked in order to silence them.

Furthermore, local and international NGOs have documented a rise in the repression of human rights defenders and activists since the interactive dialogue that took place during the last UPR session, as the Bahraini authorities are increasingly punishing people for expressing their opinions and highlighting human rights violations. This upward trend of repression is undeniable when one considers the escalating criminalization of human rights defenders, such as Nabeel Rajab, who was sentenced to three years imprisonment on August 17th for his participation in peaceful protests. In this case and others, independent monitors have also recently recorded irregularities and a lack of transparency in the legal proceedings even before civil courts..

Cases of torture and inhumane treatment have also been documented since the last UPR review, and allegations of confessions obtained under torture remain un-investigated, highlighting the Government of Bahrain’s flagrant disregard for the pledges it has made. Our organisations are particularly concerned about this issue, since Bahrain has refused to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, and a visit to Bahrain by the Special Rapporteur on torture has not yet been organized.

Bahrain’s cooperation with UN mechanisms and independent monitors including international media and NGOs remains limited. Our organisations call upon the Government of Bahrain to effectively cooperate with these bodies and lift all restrictions on access and movement in the country, as stated in the UPR recommendations the Government has pledged to implement.

Lastly, while our organisations welcome Bahrain’s pledges concerning gender equality and women’s rights, we regret that the Government will not agree to withdraw its reservations to CEDAW. Our organisations insist on the urgent need to reform all laws that discriminate against women, including those pertaining to family life, and to ensure the full compliance of all legislation with international conventions, particularly CEDAW.

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