UPR 27th session convenes in Geneva

The UPR 27th Session convened in Geneva on Monday 1, 2017 and reviewed Bahrain’s human rights record. It is to note that the session was held in the absence of all Bahraini human rights activists as they were banned from leaving the country to take part in Geneva’s session.

Bahrain’s Assistant Foreign Minister Abdulla Al-Dosari attended the session representing the country and delivered a speech in which he slammed the UN High Commissioner and international human rights organizations that criticized his country’s human rights record, accusing them of being “politicized and unauthentic”. Al-Dosari claimed that his country dealt positively with 2012 Geneva recommendations and that Bahrain represents a model in ensuring complete practice of religious rituals, adding that impunity has no place in Bahrain.

Several countries, including Bahrain’s key allies US and UK, presented a number of recommendations to the Bahraini government in the session in order to enhance its human rights record and maintain its citizens’ rights and freedoms.

The US recommended Bahrain to reverse the measures taken against Al-Wefaq and Wa’ad societies and accept the UN high commissioner and special rapporteurs’ visit. It also demanded Bahrain to remove obstacles on freedom of assembly and association and to hold a political dialogue and reconciliation. The US urged the government to annul the verdicts issued against citizens who peacefully expressed their opinions and expressed regret over the travel bans imposed on human rights defenders.

However, UK recommended Bahrain to proceed in the reforms so it would be a sample in the region through promoting independence and transparency of regulatory agencies. It also regretted Bahrain resorting to policies of death penalties and citizenship revocations.

Germany expressed concern over the ban that prevented Bahraini rights activists from traveling to Geneva to take part in the UN Human Rights Council session. It also demanded that Bahrain investigates torture and ill-treatment allegations and called it to abolish all laws that limit right to freedom of assembly and association and amend laws that allow citizenship revocations.

France expressed concerns over resorting to implement the death penalty in Bahrain, calling on it to immediately and unconditionally abolish this penalty. It recommended that Bahrain adopts measures to guarantee rights to peaceful protest and assembly and urged it to respect right to freedom of expression and press.

Angola, Argentina, Finland and Norway recommended Bahrain to immediately cancel all death penalties against citizens as an introduction to terminate it.

Belgium, for its part, demanded the government of Bahrain to stop arbitrary citizenship revocations against citizens and to fully implement the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI).

However, Australia expressed concern over Bahrain’s execution of death penalties, demanding it to revoke this penalty, and implement the recommendations of the BICI. It recommended Bahraini government to suspend death penalties and comply its legislations with the international human rights law. It, moreover, urged Bahrain to achieve its people’s aspirations, return to the reconciliation process, implement the BICI recommendations, include everyone in the political process and protect the right to freedom of expression and assembly.

Switzerland regretted that Bahrain has not implemented all recommendations of the BICI report and criticized what it called reprisal measures against Human Rights activists and banning their travel to Geneva. It recommended Bahrain to conduct investigations into cases of ill-treatments and violations, particularly torture allegations of three young Bahrainis who were executed in January.

Sweden demanded Bahrain to halt dissolution of opposing political societies, lift restrictions on freedom of association and assembly, especially among Shiite citizens, eliminate death penalty and ensure the independence and integrity of control mechanisms.

Spain also made an intervention in the UPR session and demanded Bahrain to develop a national machinery to combat torture and completely cancel death penalty. It called the Bahraini government to develop national machinery to combat torture and train police not to use excessive violence in peaceful protests and places of detention. It urged Bahrain to freeze death penalty, not to intimidate human rights activists, journalists and representatives of civil society institutions and lift restrictions on freedom of expression.

Netherlands recommended Bahraini government to cancel the latest constitution amendment that allows military courts to try civilians, expressing regret for slow progress in human rights in Bahrain since 2011. Meanwhile, Luxembourg condemned the Bahraini authorities’ execution of 3 dissidents early this year, demanding it to immediately stop the execution of death penalties. It added that Bahrain should adopt necessary measures to protect activists and journalists, and not adopt reprisal measures against activists who cooperate with the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Lithuania, Italia and Ireland took part in the session. Lithuania demanded the Bahraini government to stop its policy of stripping journalists of their licenses and allow them to carry out their work. Italy demanded Bahrain to prosecute all those involved in the violation of human rights in Bahrain and Ireland called on Bahrain to respect trade unions freedom, and that of peaceful assembly.

Uganda recommended Bahrain to quickly adopt legislations to address the problem of stateless people. Turkey demanded Bahrain to increase the number of women in leading posts and inquired about the measures taken in this regard. In the same context, Tunisia urged Bahrain to promote women’s rights and fight discrimination forms against them. Thailand also called on Bahrain to keep on empowering women and protect children through issuing relevant laws.

Indonesia recommended Bahrain to keep on promoting human rights, while India recommended it to extend an open invitation to the special procedures in the UN. Honduras demanded the government of Bahrain to fully cooperate with the Officer of High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) and send an open invitation to the UN Special Rapporteurs to visit the country. In the same context, Guatemala demanded the government of Bahrain to invite UN Special Rapporteurs to visit the country and to end sectarian persecution

Iceland demanded the government of Bahrain to abide by its international commitments and to engage in an inclusive reconciliation process. It called for the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience who were imprisoned for practicing their right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and protest. It called on Bahrain to allow rights organizations to visit the country and work in it without any restrictions.

Republic of Ghana demanded Bahrain to end discrimination against the Shiite majority citizens, recommending it to abolish all kinds of discrimination, especially against the Shiite majority, ratify the Convention against Torture, adopt national preventive mechanism and ratify the convention to protect individuals of arbitrary disappearance and convention on protecting refugees.

Nepal urged Bahrain to exert more pressure to guarantee equality between both sexes and empower women. Myanmar recommended that Bahrain takes needed measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, calling for guaranteeing the participation of women in political fields.

New Zealand demanded Bahrain to respect rights of all groups participating in political activism and remove obstacles to freedom of expression and assembly, urging it to broaden the authorities of human rights institutions. Meanwhile, Slovenia demanded Bahrain to set a timetable to implement HRC recommendations.

Austria demanded Bahrain to immediately halt death penalties and allow the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to visit the country. It said that human rights status in Bahrain deteriorated, expressing regret about execution of death penalty.

Brazil demanded the government of Bahrain to adopt measures to combat intolerance, discrimination and incitement of violence on the basis of religion and belief.

Botswana expressed deep concern over the persecution of Shiites and the repression of Human Rights activists in Bahrain, while Mexico urged Bahrain to cancel citizenship revocation laws, adopt a law to protect human rights defenders, especially the e-activists, and protect children from physical punishments.

Over a hundred recommendation were proposed in the UPR session urging Bahrain to enhance its human rights status and engage in political process. However, the question remains, “Is Bahrain going to implement any of these recommendations? Will it engage in a political dialogue that comprises all Bahraini components?”


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