On 17 March 2017, Michael Payne, International Advocacy Officer for ADHRB, delivered an oral intervention at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council under Item 5. In his intervention, he addressed some states’ persistent failure to constructively engage with national and international human rights mechanisms, including the Human Rights Council. Please continue reading for his full remarks or click here for a PDF of the intervention.
We welcome the work of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, and call on all states to openly and actively cooperate with all human rights bodies. Unfortunately, we are deeply concerned by some states’ persistent failure to engage constructively with national and international human rights mechanisms.
For example, despite perennial statements of support for the work of the Office of the High Commissioner, the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms, the Kingdom of Bahrain has repeatedly demonstrated that it lacks any political will for effective cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms. Despite repeated requests from almost a dozen mandate holders, Bahrain has not accepted a visit by any of the Special Rapporteurs or Working Groups in over a decade.
Meanwhile, the Bahraini government has worked to establish various national human rights mechanisms like the Ministry of Interior Ombudsman’s Office and the National Institute for Human Rights. However, in the latest Joint Communications Report of the Special Procedures, these UN human rights experts expressed their concern regarding, “the Ombudsman’s Office, whose earlier investigations raised serious doubts regarding their independence, professionalism and thoroughness.” Likewise, the NIHR’s recent statements commending the government’s execution of three victims of torture raises similarly profound concerns.
We are deeply troubled by states’, like Bahrain’s, widespread disregard for national and international avenues for redress for victims of human rights abuses. We therefore call on Bahrain and all governments to fully and openly cooperate with the mechanisms of this Council, and to fully empower independent and credible domestic human rights institutions.