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Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Bahrain Coordinating Committee Supports UN Human Rights Council Recommendations for Bahrain


Bahrain reformsBahrain Coordinating Committee 

The DC-based Bahrain Coordinating Committee announces its support of the recommendations proposed to the Kingdom of Bahrain by the United Nations Human Rights Council.

UN Human Rights Council issues recommendations to Bahrain at Universal Periodic Review
Sixty-six delegations from around the world, including the U.S., made statements and recommendations at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for Bahrain on May 21, 2012. The recommendations were informed by 18 reports from nonprofit and non-governmental organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights First, and Front Line Defenders, among others. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner submitted a report documenting numerous human rights violations and transgressions against international law.

Included among the UPR recommendations were that Bahrain
  • Restore peace and ensure the respect of all human rights in view of recent events (protests and security force crackdowns), and events associated with protests in February and March 2011.
  • Respect the rights of all citizens to freedom of expression and assembly.
  • Release prison detainees imprisoned in connection with the freedom of expression.
  • Conduct new trials of all defendants convicted in military courts as soon as possible.
  • Prosecute security agents who tortured protesters and create new laws ensuring the accountability of security forces for human rights violations.
  • Establish a standing body to investigate all acts of torture.
  • Accept the visit of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, who was scheduled to observe in March 2012 (his inspection was postponed by the government).

U.S. calls for release of peaceful protesters
The statement from the U.S. mentioned concern about "ongoing detention and trials of hundreds who participated in peaceful anti-government protests." The statement also referred to the prosecutions of twenty medical professionals and the human rights activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja.

Bahrain refutes human rights abuses, despite evidence
The Bahrain delegation refuted many of the well-documented human rights abuse claims. They maintained that the government had not used excessive force against protesters, and that there were no detainees for freedom of expression.

Bahrain delegation claims freedom of the press in Bahrain, contrary to reports
The delegation claimed there were no restrictions on journalists. However, restrictions have been legion, including the instance reported by the Committee to Protect Journalists when journalists from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Al Jazeera, BBC, and Christian Science Monitor were denied entry to the country. The delegation also claimed that no journalist had been detained since 2002. However, several journalists have been arrested and detained, including a U.S. reporter for the Wall Street Journal. A U.K. Channel 4 news crew was arrested and deported in April 2012, and a Bahraini policewoman is facing criminal charges for arresting, detaining, and torturing a France 24 reporter.

UNHRC President Lasserre angered by reports of threats against delegates
Controversy arose during the UPR session when United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) President Laura Dupuy Lasserre called on the Bahrain delegation to ensure reprisals were not taken against 14 Bahraini human rights defenders attending the UPR session. "I wish to remind you that we are all duty bound to ensure that nobody is persecuted on his return to his country for having participated in meetings of the human rights council or other bodies," stated Lasserre. The Bahrain delegation denied any involvement.

About the Universal Periodic Review
The 13th session of the Universal Periodic Review took place in Geneva, Switzerland. Information about the session may be obtained at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

About the Bahrain Coordinating Committee
The Bahrain Coordinating Committee is a Washington, DC-based grassroots movement that works to obtain U.S. support for democracy and human rights reforms in Bahrain. For more information, please visit http://www.BahrainCoordinatingCommittee.org

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