WASHINGTON, DC – April 23, 2013 – Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) strongly condemns the decision by the Bahrain government to postpone a visit by United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez, originally scheduled to take place May 8-16. This is the second time Mr. Mendez’s trip has been pushed back by the Government of Bahrain. His request to visit Bahrain has been pending since 2011.
“This marks the second time since February 2012 that the Government of Bahrain has asked the special rapporteur to postpone his visit to Bahrain,” said ADHRB Director Husain Abdulla. “These ongoing attempts to keep UN officials, international human rights organizations, and journalists out of Bahrain lends to the growing suspicion that the government has something to hide.”
The delay closely follows the release of the US State Department’s 2012 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Bahrain, which provides an assessment of ongoing human rights violations in Bahrain, including the use of torture against detainees.
“If the government has nothing to hide, it should allow Mr. Mendez immediate and unobstructed access to Bahrain,” said Abdulla. “Likewise, it should also allow representatives from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Bahrain later this year, as planned. Continued obfuscation of the truth will only confirm suspicions that the Bahrain government does indeed have something to hide.”
Please click here for a PDF of this statement.
UPDATE (4/24/2013): UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez issued a statement on Wednesday condemning the “unilateral” decision by the Bahrain government to effectively cancel his trip to Bahrain at short notice. In a statement issued by the Government of Bahrain yesterday, the government attempted to suggest that the decision to postpone the trip was made by Mr. Mendez. The UN expert responded to that insinuation, explaining that “it is not the first time the Government has tried to avoid responsibility for the postponement of my visit, which was originally supposed to take place over a year ago.”
During its Universal Periodic Review last year, Bahrain agreed to allow the special rapporteur to visit Bahrain. Mr. Mendez called upon the Bahrain government to uphold that commitment, noting that continued attempts to put off his visit do not “enhance transparency with regard to the situation in the country nor demonstrate a commitment to redress impunity regarding any violations.” Underscoring this point, Mr. Mendez also noted that “[d]ue to the sensitivity of [his] mandate there will never be a perfect time for [his] visit.”
The UN expert promised to continue reviewing violations brought to his attention, and to monitor the situation in Bahrain with respect to torture, ill-treatment, and rehabilitation for victims.