On 23 March, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy’s Advocacy Associate, Amanda Milani, delivered an Oral Intervention at the 28th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva under Item 8 on human rights in the the GCC region. Please continue reading for full remarks or click here to download a PDF.
الرجاء الضغط هنا لقراءة هذه الرسالة باللغة العربي
Recalling the Vienna Declaration’s commitment to the “enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights,” Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain calls upon States to fulfil this commitment with a view towards achieving the full purposes of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.
With this in mind, we raise the Council’s attention to the increasingly frequent attacks on freedom of expression and opinion in the GCC region. The promotion of free expression in this regional context is of particular importance as we are severely concerned with the systematic use of defamation laws as a regionally enforced instrument to silence dissent.
In Kuwait, this has been observed in charges against a Member of the Kuwaiti Parliament, Abdulhameed Dashti, who has been prosecuted on charges related to his criticism of the Bahraini government. Similarly, in Bahrain, the heavy charges against leading opposition figures Sheikh Ali Salman, Ibrahim Sherif and Hassan Mushaima on charges relating to their freedom of expression and political opinion reflects further failure to live up to international human rights standards.
In Saudi Arabia, restrictions on free expression have also extended to target those who speak before the Council and we will continue to reiterate our regrets that Saudi activist Samar Badawi remains under a travel ban imposed by the Saudi government following her participation in the Council last year. This is particularly discouraging when reflecting on Saudi Arabia’s closing statement at the World Conference in 1993 upon adoption of the Vienna Declaration, which applauded its objectives “to avoid repression, captivity, torture,” and to achieve “comprehensive peace, stability, security, peace of mind and all types of freedom.”
We thus call on the Council to exercise the implementation and monitoring methods emphasized in the VDPA so as to preserve its fundamental purpose to safeguard the principles contained in the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration for Human Rights. We further call on all Member States to align national legislation with these key principles and lift all restrictions on free expression.