Damn! Working at the UN must be a version of a wet dream to those acronym aficionados, don’t you think!
Anyway, Bahrain came out with flying colours in the first ever Universal Periodic Review (that’s the UPR part) in Geneva’s HQ of the United Nations (yes you guessed it) at their newly created Human Rights Council (HRC) but in the absence of seven Bahraini human rights non-governmental organisations because – it seems – that they were sidewinded – but good – and been stupid for not securing their positions before going on their jolly to Switzerland.
Well, we can expect those not allowed into the party to complain rather vociferously, as is their right of course, about the mangled procedures of the HRC which one hopes will get fixed soon. The HRC decided that the only way they will listen to Human Rights organisations from a country is for those organisations to gain approval from — wait for it wait for it — their country!
If you had a chance to follow the live broadcast of the session yesterday, you would have noticed the heaped praise put on our beloved country from our dear neighbours and the rest of the Arab and Muslim world, all of whom are paragons of human rights defenders of course; while a couple of decrepit imperialists (shyly) complained about alleged abuses this country suffers from.
Okay okay. I won’t go on about it. Suffice it to say that I am proud that the government has taken this first step in transparency and put out a report which would have sent several hundred to prison had they even thought of its contents only a few years ago. They have also recognised that they have to make amends, voluntarily, to some regulations, laws and legislation to be in tune with international conventions the kingdom has signed and even agreed to remove some reservations it has previously expressed. Bahrain also promised to create a national human rights commission, agreed to diligently work at the problem of human trafficking, allows human rights organisations delegates to visit the country and even strengthen civil society organisations.
Applause. To be sure. But let not that noise swamp the cries of women still fighting for equal rights, for a proper family and personal status law and for abused and battered guest workers and maids or the terrified nightmare screams of the forgotten victims of torture still seeking redress.
We’ve got work to do as a country, and hope that the points identified by the government’s own report does not get entombed in a bottom drawer somewhere but be diligently converted into actionable plans to better this great society.