The Human Rights Council concluded yesterday 19 September its general debate on Item 4: Human Rights Situations That Require The Council’s Attention.
During the debate, speakers raised their concerns about violations of human rights around the world and encouraged the council to address all these situations.
In his opening statement of the 33rd Human Rights Council, UN High Commissioner Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, expressed his concerns on the “arrests of human rights defenders and political activists”. He referenced Bahrain directly as he identified the use of legislation that enables revocation of citizenship. He recommended the authorities of Bahrain to engage “more productively” with his Office.
The High Commissioner’s statement set the tone for the rest of the days oral statements, with numerous Ambassadors and NGOs giving reference to the tense political situation in Bahrain. Furthermore, many nations which did not mention Bahrain directly went on to express their concerns about issues prevalent in Bahrain, such as arbitrary detention, torture and treatment of human rights defenders.
Denmark reiterates our call for the release of all arbitrarily detained persons in Bahrain, including the Danish-Bahraini citizen Mr. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja; a victim of torture who needs treatment and rehabilitation.
In Russia, we are concerned about growing restrictions on the exercise of freedoms of expression, assembly and association. Human rights defenders, journalists and other independent voices are facing repression and continuous harassment. France is particularly concerned about the implementation of the law on “foreign agents”. France is also concerned about the deteriorating situation in Azerbaijan and Bahrain.
Switzerland is equally concerned by the repression against opposition movements and civil society in Bahrain. The dissolution of Al-Wefaq, the revocation of citizenship of many opposition leaders, the travel bans ordered against human rights defenders by judicial courts and the lengthening of the prison sentence against Secretary General of Al-Wefaq add to the already tense situation in Bahrain. Switzerland calls on this government to respect its international obligations, notably the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Thank you.
We regret that the Bahraini authorities deprive individuals of their nationality and continue the systematic harassment of the prominent human rights defenders such as Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman or religious leader and politician Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim.
Last June this Council sent a strong message of support to civil society. Our continued action in support of the role of civil society organisations is essential given the increased efforts to undermine and intimidate them and to exclude them from UN discussions. Ireland is particularly concerned about restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly and association, aimed at silencing the voice of civil society and human rights defenders in countries including Sudan, China and Bahrain
Norway remains concerned by the shrinking space for Human Rights Defenders, civil society and freedom of expression more broadly in several countries in all regions of the world.
Finally, we also remain concerned about the pressure on human rights defenders and the lack of freedom of expression in countries around the Gulf. (No explicit mention of Bahrain)
Amnesty International is deeply concerned by Bahrain’s ongoing and intensified crackdown on the enjoyment of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, association and movement. We urge Bahrain to take concrete and practical steps to address these human rights concerns, including by releasing all prisoners of conscience, lifting the ban on peaceful protests in Manama, ensuring accountability for past human rights violations, putting an end to the practice of arbitrarily revoking citizenships and forced expulsion, lifting travel bans on human rights defenders, and guaranteeing the right to a fair trial.
Several UN Special Procedures have requested to visit Bahrain and we urge the authorities to facilitate these visits without delay, including those requested by the Special Rapporteur on torture in 2011, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression in 2014, and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in 2011.
We call on Bahrain and other Member States to use the occasion of Bahrain’s third UPR in May 2017 to address key human rights concerns in the country and to ensure effective implementation of the UPR recommendations to strengthen the protection of human rights domestically.
BIRD, BCHR, ADHRB, Al-Salam (1):,
Joint statement issued at HRC33 by four NGOs. Called to attention the repression of Civil Society, political opposition and Shia community. Particular reference given to Nabeel Rajab, Sheikh Isa Qassim and Al-Wefaq. Calls on HRC to elevate concerns in order to prompt establishment of Special Rapporteur on Bahrain.
Link to full statement: http://www.adhrb.org/2016/09/hrc33-adhrb-calls-council-establish-special-rapporteur-bahrain/
BIRD, ADHRB, BCHR, GCHR(2):
Joint statement issued at HRC33 by four NGOs. Calls attention to continued systemic abuse of human rights, particularly concerning prisoners of conscience and human rights defenders. Identifies institutionalisation of abuse since 2011 through arbitrary detention and torture as seen by almost 4000 political prisoners and maintained detention of majority of Bahrain 13, including Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja. Asks council to pass resolution in order to release all arbitrary prisoners of conscience:
Full statement available here: https://twitter.com/ADHRB/status/777859375570493440