ADHRB joined 13 organizations today in a letter urging US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to oppose the Government of Bahrain’s nomination of Saeed Mohammed al-Faihani for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council‘s Advisory Committee, a body tasked with providing human rights expertise to the Council. Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution 5/1 provides that “[i]ndividuals holding decision-making positions in Government or any other organization or entity which might give rise to a conflict of interest with responsibilities inherent to the mandate shall be excluded.” The HRC also requires that candidates be independent and impartial.
Saeed al-Faihani has held a number of positions within the Government of Bahrain, including the Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Human Rights. In August 2011, he was appointed by the king to serve as an “agent” in the Ministry of Human Rights and Social Development. At every level, al-Faihani has supported government-led efforts to downplay and deny human rights violations. During his service at the Bahraini Ministry for Social Development, al-Faihani denied that Bahrainis were being unlawfully arrested or tortured by security forces–a claim that was proven entirely false in a government-sanctioned report issued by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) in November 2011.
Al-Faihani’s current position and career within the Government of Bahrain undermine his credibility as a human rights expert, and would also discredit the important work of the Advisory Committee and the Council. The appointment of any government representative to the Advisory Committee would violate necessary barriers to conflicts of interest, and would also threaten the credibility of the Council and the Committee. The Government of Bahrain’s continued repression of free speech and assembly, its ongoing use of excessive force, and its refusal to hold high-ranking government officials accountable for torture and ill-treatment ought to disqualify it, and its representatives, from securing a position on any human rights body.