Washington, D.C. – Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) welcomes a joint statement by 44 countries today publicly condemning the ongoing human rights violations in Bahrain. The statement was announced by Switzerland before the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC). This statement—the second to be introduced before the HRC in as many years—received cross-regional support from countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas, including the United States. No Middle Eastern countries supported the statement. A similar statement introduced last year was signed by only 27 states; the United States was not one of them.
“We welcome the joint statement by this group of nations, and are particularly pleased to note that the United States has joined other countries this year in publicly condemning the human rights violations in Bahrain,” said ADHRB Director Husain Abdulla.
In the statement, signatories raised concerns regarding the continued harassment and imprisonment of individuals who have exercised their rights to free speech and expression, and the lack of due process in the trials of political activists. They also expressed their disappointment that police and high-ranking officials continue to enjoy impunity for human rights abuses, and with the decision by the Government of Bahrain to revoke the citizenship of 31 Bahraini citizens—including ADHRB Director Husain Abdulla—leaving many of the 31 stateless.
The 44 countries urged the Government of Bahrain to protect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and to “exercise restraint” in reaction to public gatherings. They also called upon the government to implement recommendations made during Bahrain’s Universal Periodic Review in 2012, as well as recommendations made by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), a body appointed by Bahrain’s king following the outbreak of protests in 2011. Bahrain’s leaders continue to assert that the majority of the BICI’s recommendations have been implemented, despite reporting by several human rights organizations, including ADHRB, that very few of the BICI recommendations have been fully implemented more than one year after the BICI report was issued.
The signatories to the statement urged Bahrain’s leaders to allow for “fully comprehensive collaboration” with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and to permit the Special Rapporteur on freedom of association and assembly and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, as well as other Special Rapporteurs, to visit Bahrain. Bahrain has not permitted these experts to visit Bahrain, despite repeated requests, since the outbreak of protests in 2011.
“This joint action reflects an increased awareness among UN member states that the human rights situation in Bahrain is not improving, that the pace of reforms in Bahrain is not increasing, and that the Government of Bahrain’s attitude toward change remains one of indifference,” Abdulla said. “We urge the Government of Bahrain to acknowledge the concerns of the international community and to enact swift reforms to bring an end to the conflict in Bahrain.”
Please click here for a PDF of this statement.