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Navi Pillay

Bahrain raps UN rights chief's comments

Manama, September 10, 2013

Bahraini legislators have lashed out at "one-sided" comments by the UN human rights chief, who directed criticism at the country during the 24th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, a report said.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay claimed there was a lack of co-operation between the UN body and the Bahraini government, which she accused of not implementing recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), according to the report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

However, parliament's human rights committee chairman MP Abdul Hakim Al Shammari described her comments as being "dictated by opposition groups".

"The comments by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights are clearly one-sided and should not be given any importance," he told the GDN.

"It seems these comments are dictated by opposition groups as they completely ignore the reality on the ground."

He highlighted the fact that several countries had acknowledged human rights progress in Bahrain.

"Any negative comment about Bahrain that is not supported by credible evidence is of no value and does not require any attention," he added.

"We were in parliament and worked on several legislations related to the BICI recommendations. How can they say nothing has been done? Information should spread facts. With this in mind, why is no-one talking about the killing of 136 people in Iran after elections in which President Hassan Rouhani was elected?"

The legislator said Bahrain is in much better position than Iran, Iraq and Syria.

"We strengthened our position globally against the opposition groups by signing key human rights agreements, which even the US is not signatory to."

He also said Bahrain's "open-door policy" had been abused.

"Those hired to prepare negative reports about Bahrain and target it for no reason, ignoring all the progress made, are not welcome," he said.

Pillay provoked anger as she delivered her opening remarks at the Human Rights Council yesterday.

"Bahrain remains an issue of serious concern: The deep polarisation of society and the harsh clampdown on human rights defenders and peaceful protesters continue to make a durable solution more difficult to secure," she claimed.

"I reiterate my call on Bahrain to fully comply with its international human rights commitments, including respect for the rights to freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association.

"The cancellation of the scheduled visit of the Special Rapporteur on Torture is regrettable and important recommendations made by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry have still not been implemented.

"I also wish to express my disappointment that the co-operation with the government of Bahrain, which started fruitfully with the deployment of an OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) team in December 2012, has not developed further and an OHCHR follow-up mission has been stalled since then."

MP Jamal Saleh and Shura Council member Hala Ramzi Fayez are both taking part in the session in Geneva, which continues until September 27.

They called for more efforts to highlight Bahrain's achievements in freedom of expression, as well as exposing "fake" human rights activists with hostile agendas.

MP Saleh said Bahrain allowed authorised rallies that met legal requirements and described the opposition's use of Molotov cocktails, blocking of roads and targeting of security forces with homemade weapons.

He also highlighted the establishment of the Commission of the Rights of Prisoners and Detainees and said that many BICI recommendations had actually been implemented.

During the Human Rights Council session, its 47 members will also hear presentations of the latest report of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Universal Periodic Reviews of some countries and discuss gender integration and the rights of children whose parents are sentenced to death or executed.

Bahrain's National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR) vice-chairman and complaints monitoring and follow-up committee head, Dr Abdulla Al Deerazi, told the GDN that Bahrain should respond positively to the speech by Ms Pillay.

Allegations

"I think we need to look into these allegations seriously as it is not good for Bahrain at such a global event," he said.

"There have been developments in Bahrain by the government, which cannot be ignored, and a political solution by the National Dialogue will help solve key issues."

Dr Al Deerazi said the NIHR continued to urge the government to arrange a visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to silence critics. "We need to respond seriously and positively," he said. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | United Nations | Human rights | National Dialogue | NIHR |

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