UN Report on Bahrain by Outgoing Human Rights Official ‘Shameful’

Bahrain feels outraged by the unwarranted and scurrilous remarks made against the country by the outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. The unwarranted UN Report on Bahrain is typical UN Human Rights Council propaganda. This is the same body the US has withdrawn from, due to its overt intransigent bias.

In his remarks at the 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Mr Al Hussein, who is leaving the organization two months from now, claimed that Bahrain had refused to provide his office with “unconditional access” and “continued to crack down on civil society and [introduce] additional legislation that further restricts the people’s fundamental rights.”

It is not surprising that in the face of such brazen lies Bahrain’s Assistant Foreign Minister had to decry Mr Al Hussein’s performance “shameful,” considering no UN official had contacted the government for information and Mr Al Hussein had tended to ignore some of the worst human rights violations by Iran and the latter’s supply of ballistic missiles to the Houthi rebels in Yemen. “No one has contacted the Foreign Ministry or any of its offices regarding any feedback on the situation in Bahrain ahead of the High Commissioner’s report,” he said.

UN Report on Bahrain by Outgoing Human Rights Official
H.E. Mr. Abdulla Bin Faisal Aldoseri, Assistant Foreign Minister of Bahrain speaks at UN Human Rights Council.

Bahrain’s permanent representative to the UN Dr Youssef Bucheeri also condemned the insinuations as baseless allegations which did not reflect the reality of the rights situation in Bahrain. Far from relying on objective or impartial sources, the UN fell back on inputs from unverified sources – either the NGOs financed by countries with an agenda against Bahrain [notably Iran] or those listed as terrorist organizations. The government was never given a chance to present its side of the story.

It’s not the first time the UN rights body has acted with overt bias. In May last year, its Beirut-based rights office issued a partisan report. When its bias was exposed, the organization was compelled to issue an amended version of a summary of Bahrain’s track record, something unheard-of.

For the record, Bahrain has submitted six reports to the UN Human Rights Council in the last two years – the Universal Periodic Review report, the report submitted to the Committee Against Torture, the Civil and Political Report on Bahrain, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Child Rights report, and the report on disability.

Indeed in the Middle East, Bahrain can be counted as the most liberal state and yet, as outgoing German Ambassador in Bahrain Alfred Simms-Protz said in an interview this week, “One gets the impression that Bahrain is being targeted and treated unfairly. I don’t see why it is being singled out in the region when it is far ahead of its neighbours in terms of human rights and other developments. It is not justified to keep picking on Bahrain.”

These views of an unbiased European diplomat who has spent around three years in the island nation must outweigh any UN report based on hearsay, fleeting visits by the officials concerned, or the NGOs with an agenda to denigrate Bahrain.

Indeed the German envoy went on to assert while addressing other foreign diplomats at his farewell reception that ground realities were often ignored by international organizations and foreign diplomats and that “Bahrain should get the credit it rightly deserves because it is one of the most tolerant and open countries in the region.”

The UN Human Rights Council, stacked with human-rights abusing states, consistently ignores obvious human rights abuses by some of its members, but castigates a small number of others, notably Israel and Bahrain.

Brij Sharma is an Indian journalist and editor based in Bahrain. Brij tells us the interesting stories we don’t usually hear from the middle east country.