HRC36 Bahrain Intervention: Item 4 and the Failure of the Council to Act on Bahrain

On 19 September during the 36th session of the Human Rights Council, Sam Walton delivered an oral intervention on behalf of Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain during the Item 4 General Debate. In the intervention, ADHRB expressed concern over the Council’s failure to adequately address Bahrain’s widespread and systematic human rights abuses, and concern that some states, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland are sidelining human rights concerns in the name of economic or security interests. Continue reading for the full text of the intervention, or click here for a PDF of the text.

Mr. President,

ADHRB would like to raise our concern over the escalating human rights crisis in Bahrain, and our regret that this Council has yet failed to adequately address these widespread and systematic abuses. While we welcome statements this session from the US and EU, we are concerned that some of Bahrain’s leading allies are effectively sidelining human rights concerns in the name of growing economic interests or security cooperation.

The British government, for example, has acted to undermine past multilateral efforts to address critical human rights issues in Bahrain, and has insisted on offering a full-throated defense of the failed human rights institutions that the UK continues to fund and advise. Meanwhile, Britain recently took command of a new naval base in Bahrain largely financed by the Bahraini government.

In the United States, Secretary Tillerson recently voiced concerns over the systematic discrimination against Bahrain’s Shia community, and the State Department has called for the release of Bahraini HRDs Nabeel Rajab and Ebtisam al-Saegh. Yet actions speak louder than words. The US also recently announced a $3.86 billion arms package of F-16 fighter jets, with all human right conditions removed.

Finally, we are concerned that increased bilateral relations between Bahrain and Switzerland have resulted in Switzerland’s reluctance to continue its longstanding leadership in addressing human rights abuses in Bahrain before this Council.

We recall each of these States’ support for a joint statement last session calling for greater objectivity in addressing situations of concern, and call on States to renew their collective concerns over the human rights crisis in Bahrain.

Thank you.