MANAMA: Bahrain’s ongoing reform process, women empowerment programmes and reinforced legislation has drawn international praise.
This was highlighted yesterday during a UN session in Geneva, where a government delegation challenged the contents of a report compiled on the country’s human rights record.
The delegation also questioned the release of an amended version almost two months after the original report was submitted.
The GDN was the first newspaper to expose the biased content of the UN report, which listed a volley of criticism targeting the judiciary and legislation – but failed to also mention the series of reforms adopted by the government since 2011 and the rise in violent extremism and terrorist attacks.
“We would like to thank officials from different countries for their positive remarks about our country’s reform progress and legislative amendments,” said Assistant Foreign Minister Abdulla Al Doseri, who led the delegation.
“We are proud of our achievements despite facing challenges of external interference, extremism, fanaticism and attempts to politicise human rights.”
He was speaking as Bahrain was the first country whose rights records was scrutinised during the 27th Session of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group, with three separate reports submitted by the government, the OHCHR and international and local NGOs.
During the session, Qatari diplomats praised Bahrain for reforming the training of law enforcement officials and adopting international human rights treaties, while the UK Mission to the UN said it recognised “Bahrain’s progress on its human rights agenda”.
“We continue to work to support Bahraini-led reforms on building effective and accountable institutions, strengthening the rule of law, and justice reform,” added the mission.
Canada also lauded the establishment of the Ombudsman Office, the National Institution for Human Rights, and the Prisoners’ Detainees and Rights Commission.
“We encourage Bahrain to empower these institutions such that they can hold government to account,” said Canada’s Mission to the UN and the World Trade Organisation.
Australian diplomats also acknowledged advances made in the field of women’s rights, including encouragement of women’s workforce participation and economic activity, while Germany lauded amendments made to the Law on Political Societies which stipulates the separation of religion and politics.
In 2008 and 2012, Bahrain went through the UPR process which is a regular examination of human rights performance of the UN’s 193 member states.