Geneva, Switzerland – 6 March 2014 – Today, Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa addressed the 25th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) to defend the kingdom’s human rights record. Sheikh Khalid characterized Bahrain as having made steady progress on implementing the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) and Bahrain’s 2012 Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) strongly disputes the Bahrain government’s assessment.
In his speech, Sheikh Khalid stated that “[Bahrain’s] stable gradual reform has seen the development of many NGOs and an elected parliament…” and that “…Bahrain has worked resolutely to implement the recommendations of the BICI.”
Sheikh Khalid’s rosy statement stands in stark contrast to reports of human rights violations that continue to occur on Bahrain’s streets, and in its courts and prisons. In the three years since the violent crackdown against peaceful protestors began, Bahrain’s human rights situation has deteriorated considerably. Thousands remain in prison for exercising their rights to free speech and assembly, torture in government custody continues, while journalists, human rights defenders, and civil society continue to face legal restrictions, intimidation, arrest, and ill-treatment. In recent weeks, human rights observers and the U.S. government have contended that Bahrain has made little progress in adequately addressing the dire human rights situation in the country.
“Sheikh Khalid’s statement claiming improvement in the human rights situation in Bahrain stands in blatant contradiction with independent analysis from media on the ground, non-governmental organizations, and the international community,” said ADHRB Executive Director Husain Abdulla. “Furthermore, Mr. Khalid’s praise of ‘gradual reform’ is simply another attempt to justify ongoing abuses. It took the government only weeks last July to propose, approve and implement 22 recommendations restricting Bahraini’s rights to freely gather and express themselves.”
ADHRB calls on the United States and the other international governments present at the 25th Session of the HRC to critically examine the human rights situation in Bahrain and to collectively and actively engage Bahrain on the deteriorating state of human rights in the country.
Please click here for a PDF of this statement.
الرجاء الضغط هنا لقراءة هذه الرسالة باللغة العربي