UNHRC Opens Review of Bahrain
At the 21st session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, Michael Posner, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor welcomed the Universal Periodic Review of Bahrain. He said, “While official media have reported some initial progress on accountability, including charges brought against police officers announced earlier this week, much more needs to be done. Today Bahrain is at a crossroads. We urge you once again to fully and swiftly implement the Bahrain Independent Commission Inquiry recommendations as well as those generated through the UPR process.” Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid Bin Ahmed Bin Mohammed al-Khalifa defended the country’s human rights record saying, “We welcome peaceful expressions of disagreement, but not incitements to hatred and violence which damage the social fabric of a nation.”
The International Federation of Human Rights released a report identifying wide gaps in Bahrain’s reform initiative. “While certain efforts have been made by Bahraini authorities to address many of the [BICI’s] recommendations, the report concludes that the government continues to deny a majority of Bahraini’s fundamental rights on a daily basis,” said FIDH President Souhayr Belhassen. The Bahrain Center on Human Rights also published its third report documenting Bahraini rights violations since the BICI of November 2011. Like other groups, the BCHR found that there has been a serious lack of action on the part of Bahraini authorities and calls on the international community to ratchet up pressure on the regime.
Ted Galen Carpenter blasts the tepid U.S. response to the uprisings in Bahrain and its continued support for the monarchy. He warns that the lack of pressure on Bahraini leaders to reform risks the perpetuation of cynicism throughout the region. Justin Gengler criticizes the U.S. government’s support for hard-line Sunni rebels and Salafis in Syria, while it simultaneously urges Bahraini leaders to end their cultivation of similar groups within Bahrain. He argues that this double-standard sets a dangerous precedent for uneven policy in the region, further damaging U.S. interests.