32 Nations Slam Bahrain’s Human Rights Record

SHAFAQNA - In a letter read out to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday, the 32 governments said, “…the human rights situation in Bahrain remains an issue of serious concern” to them.

The letter, which was read out by Swiss Ambassador to the UN Alexandre Fasel, regretted the fact that the Bahraini government had failed to provide enough guarantees for a fair trial of prisoners, while it slammed the detention of minors who took part in demonstrations.

“We are concerned there is insufficient accountability for human rights violations,” said the letter, which was also signed by the United States, a close ally of Manama.

Bahrain has been gripped by an uprising since 2011 when people began to take to the streets to demand more freedom and more of a say in the closed ruling system. The demonstrators later demanded the ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa regime. Nearly a hundred have died in protests or under custody while hundreds more are also behind bars for taking part in peaceful demonstrations.

The Monday letter criticized the government for its intolerance of people’s peaceful rallies, saying such gatherings should not be met with harassment.

“We are concerned about reports of harassment and imprisonment of persons exercising their rights to freedom of opinion and expression and of peaceful assembly and association, including human rights defenders,” the letter said, urging the government “to appropriately address all reports of torture and ill-treatment of detainees and ensure full investigation and prosecution of these cases.”

The statement also called on Manama to agree to a visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture for a probe into repeated cases of mistreatment in the regime’s prisons. The UN investigator was denied one such visit in 2013.

Bahraini officials reacted to the letter, saying the smaller number of signatories compared to last year’s 47 proves a recognition of the kingdom’s efforts in improving the human rights situation.

Rights advocacy groups, including the Human Rights Watch, slammed some governments, including Italy and Spain, for their lack of support to the statement, saying they “put politics before rights.”

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