Geneva – The decision of Bahrain’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa to establish the National Human Rights Committee will be a positive step if it is accompanied by practical measures, said Euro-Med Monitor in a statement.
The establishment of the National Human Rights Committee is required for Bahrain to meet its international human rights obligations, and should not be seen as a replacement for the role of the National Institution for Human Rights, which is supposed to work independently to promote and protect human rights. The job of the National Institution for Human Rights is to ensure that Bahraini authorities apply human rights standards in various matters concerning domestic and foreign affairs, issues, and policies.
The Crown Prince issued Resolution No. (35) of 2023 on Tuesday, 11 April, establishing and forming the National Human Rights Committee and assigning it several tasks. The majority of the tasks focus on monitoring Bahrain’s human rights obligations by coordinating and cooperating with human rights organisations inside and outside of the country, and responding to their inquiries about human rights issues.
The Committee’s work must be conducted seriously and professionally if its goals are to be achieved, as it is expected to effectively increase the efficiency of officials dealing with human rights issues in the Kingdom. It is expected to take all possible measures to end the country’s copious violations of the rights of individuals and entities, particularly practices and policies related to civil, political, and religious freedoms. Euro-Med Monitor cautioned that the Committee should not support government practices that violate human rights principles, and should not play any role in covering up human rights violations or justifying policies and practices that undermine individuals’ and entities’ legitimate rights.
“The decision to establish the National Human Rights Committee in Bahrain will only be a positive step if it is accompanied by practical measures to improve the Kingdom’s human rights situation, and put an end to all violations and illegal abuses against opponents and opinion-holders,” said Ramy Abdu, Chairman of Euro-Med Monitor. “Prisoners of conscience in Bahrain and those who have been stripped of their nationality as a punishment for their political activities should be the first to see the tangible results of the Committee’s work. Its efforts to implement the National Human Rights Plan (2022-2026) entail providing specific recommendations to end all forms of persecution against dissidents.”
The Committee must deal objectively with rights organisations’ requests to conduct field visits to Bahrain, and allow these groups to visit any place necessary to properly assess the legal and human rights conditions inside the Kingdom. Visits to prisons and detention centres in particular are important, as is their ability to conduct fieldwork and personally meet with victims of violations.
Euro-Med Monitor emphasised that the Committee must ensure that Bahrain’s domestic laws, policies, and practices are consistent with its international human rights obligations, particularly the conventions it has ratified, including the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
To bring an end to all forms and manifestations of human rights violations in the Kingdom, Bahraini authorities must provide all possible means for the National Human Rights Committee’s work to succeed, and strive to ensure that the goals for which it was formed are met. Euro-Med Monitor urges the authorities to put their good intentions into action and take immediate steps to improve the country’s human rights situation by releasing political prisoners of conscience, ending the policy of stripping political opponents of their nationality, and lifting all restrictions on individuals’ enjoyment of all of their rights.