UN Committee Concerned Over Bahrain’s Intimidation and Harassment of Human Rights Defenders

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UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights | Concluding Observations on Bahrain

Summary of Key Concluding Observations published 4 March 2022

The Committee made the following observations and recommendations to the government of Bahrain:

  • The National Institute for Human Rights (NIHR) is not independent:
    • [Paragraph 6] “the Committee is concerned that the institution [NIHR] has not yet attained the independence to perform its functions.”
    • [Paragraph 7] “The Committee recommends that the State party continue to strengthen the independence of the National Institution for Human Rights to ensure its full compliance with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (the Paris Principles) and is able to carry out its mandate fully, effectively and independently.”
  • There is continued repression of rights defenders in civil society and Bahrain should take swift measures to ensure the safety of imprisoned human rights defenders, particularly Dr Abduljalil AlSingace, Abdulhadi AlKhawaja, and Naji Fateel:
    • [Paragraph 8] “The Committee is concerned about the reports of harassment, intimidation and reprisals against human rights defenders, including those working on economic, social and cultural rights and social justice, and that they face retaliation such as nationality deprivation, suspensions and downgrading of professional positions in the public and private sectors, as well as police and judicial harassment, including arbitrary detention.”
    • [Paragraph 8] “The Committee is particularly concerned about the lack of information regarding the situation of several human rights defenders, including Mr. Abduljalil Al Singace and Mr. Adbulhadi Al-Khawaja, whose detention was declared arbitrary by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and Mr. Naji Fateel, all of whose immediate release was requested by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders.” 
    • [Paragraph 9] “The Committee recommends that the State protect human rights defenders from harassment, intimidation and reprisals, and that it guarantee an enabling environment for civil society organizations engaged in the promotion and protection of human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights, including by carrying out information and awareness-raising campaigns focusing on the importance of their work.”
    • [Paragraph 9] “The Committee invites the State party to take measures as soon as possible to ensure the effective protection of the rights human rights defenders including of Mr. Abduljalil Al Singace, Mr. Adbulhadi Al-Khawaja and Mr. Naji Fateel, and to fully cooperate with the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders on the matter.”
  • The Shia community in Bahrain faces discrimination:
    • [Paragraph 14(c)] “​​Despite the constitutional prohibition of discrimination on the basis of religious affiliation, the Committee is concerned that members of the Shia community and stateless persons including stateless Bidoon as well as those who were deprived from their citizenship, reportedly face discrimination in education, employment as well as the exercise of their cultural rights.”
    • [Paragraph 15(c)] Bahrain should “take effective measures to eliminate discrimination on the basis of religious affiliation in the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, including by enhancing its efforts to address the discrimination faced by members of the Shia community in education, employment and in the exercise of their cultural rights”
    • [Paragraph 48] “Despite the constitutional prohibition of discrimination based on religious affiliation, members of the Shia community reportedly face discrimination in education, employment and in the exercise of their cultural rights. The Committee is concerned about the reported restrictions on access to a number of religious and cultural sites for the Shia community, in addition to reports on demolition of some of their religious sites. It is also concerned about the reports of harassment, intimidation, arrests and detention of religious and cultural figures (art. 15).”
  • Prisoners are held in poor, overcrowded conditions:
    • [Paragraph 38] “The Committee is also concerning at the conditions in which persons in detention are held, including reports of overcrowding”.
    • [Paragraph 39(b)] Bahrain should “Address the overcrowding in detention”.
  • Prisoners face barriers in access to healthcare services:
    • [Paragraph 40(b)] “Limited access to healthcare and services, including access to COVID-19 testing, treatment and immunization, by disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups, in particular persons deprived of their liberty, stateless persons and migrant workers (art. 12).” 
    • [Paragraph 41(b)] Bahrain should “Take effective measures to identify and address different barriers faced by disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups in accessing healthcare and services, including, person with disabilities, persons deprived of their liberty, stateless persons and migrant workers”.
  • There is insufficient protection for detained children with regards to legal aid, access to lawyers and family members following arrest and education whilst in detention:
    • [Paragraph 32(b)] “Ensure the provision of qualified, free and independent legal aid to children in conflict with the law from the beginning of the investigation and throughout the legal proceedings, and grant access to a lawyer and to family immediately after arrest.” 
    • [Paragraph 46] The Committee “is also concerned about cases of children deprived of their liberty being denied access to education in detention facilities.”
    • [Paragraph 47] “The Committee recommends that the State party take all measures necessary to guarantee in law and in practice non-discriminatory access to compulsory and free-of-charge primary and secondary education to all children, in particular disadvantaged and marginalized children, including but not limited to children of migrant workers, stateless children, children deprived of their liberty and children with disabilities.”

Full details on the Committee’s consideration of Bahrain’s implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights can be found here.

Take Action & Email Your MP to ask that they support the case of Dr Abduljalil AlSingace by signing EDM 107

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