To Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the UN Human Rights Council
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) writes you to urge your delegation to address the lack of accountability for ongoing violations in Bahrain and to contribute to prevent further human rights violations in the country, in the framework of the Council’s mandate, during the upcoming 33th session of the UN Human Rights Council. In light of the ongoing crackdown on free voices and dissents in Bahrain, on a level unprecedented since the 14 February 2011 pro-democracy movement in Bahrain, it is crucial for the Human Rights Council to step up its ability to monitor the serious human rights violations that are committed in Bahrain and prevent a further deterioration of the human rights situation.
In September 2015, 33 States signed a joint declaration in which they emphasized the need for the Government to substantively address human rights violations. More recently, both, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Bin Ra’ad, and the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng have expressed serious concerns over the human rights situation in Bahrain. They called on the Bahraini authorities to de-escalate the situation to prevent the further increase of tensions. On 16 August, a group of five Special Procedures has urged the Government to stop systematic harassment, arbitrary arrests, and summons of peaceful dissidents, human rights defenders and Shia clerics and “to enter into dialogue with all relevant parties in order to prevent unnecessary conflict and violence”.
Meaningful Human Rights Council action on the crisis in Bahrain is long overdue. In the face of the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation, the Human Rights Council should speak out strongly against the current crackdown and adopt a resolution during its upcoming 33th session to:
- fulfil its preventive mandate and express its deep concerns over the deteriorating human rights situation in Bahrain
- request the High Commissioner to update the Council at its 34th session on the human rights situation in Bahrain
- call on the Government to fully implement accepted UPR recommendations and other human rights commitments taken by the Bahraini authorities and reporting to the Council on their implementation
- recognize the role of Bahraini civil society andhuman rights defenders to promote human rights and dialogue in the country
- call on the unconditional release of Nabeel Rajab and urge the Bahraini authorities to take all necessary measures to guarantee his physical and psychological integrity and security.
Daily reports received by BCHR clearly indicate that the situation is deteriorating for all Bahraini citizens and that the Shia population continue to experience systematic persecutions: Freedom of expression and association are compromised, human rights defenders, opposition, journalists and activists are increasingly imprisoned on baseless charges. Human rights defenders and activists, including those seeking to cooperate with the Human Rights Council, have been the subject of escalating harassments, travel bans and reprisals. Women’s rights have been also restricted in the last months with increased targeting of women right’s defenders and new regulations adopted that contains provisions that would restrict women from leaving the country without their guardian's’ permission.
As the High Commissioner noted “Repression will not eliminate people’s grievances; it will increase them”. It is the Council’s responsibility to bring attention to human rights violations occurring in Bahrain. We urge your delegation to echo the call of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and to ensure that a monitoring mechanism will be established to respond to the current crisis in Bahrain.