Two pieces of international news are hitting our screens regarding Bahrain that deserve a mention: The first is that Bahrain has been elected once again to the Human Rights Council – congratulations! The other is that it has slipped 9 places in this year’s Global Peace Index – commiserations.
The first, though welcome news, needs to be followed up immediately by the government and parliament with concrete steps and actions in order to institute the required changes in our laws and legislation to rise to the level of Bahrain’s legal international commitments. Some of those require changes to our constitution, election laws, and instituting new laws to criminalise discrimination in all its forms. If and when these things happen, Bahrain will become a peace of Heaven for everyone who lives in it, and should make it proud to occupy such an exalted seat.
The worrying part in this is not about Bahrain, but the council itself. I’m not sure if the metrics used to elect members to the HRC conducive to the propagation of human rights globally as some of those elected are clearly not worthy of even being considered to that illustrious panel, one which has been presumably been created to ensure that human rights abuses do not go unpunished. I am quite certain that many will raise their eyebrows when they hear that countries like Pakistan and Gabon, amongst others, have been elected to it. I might even go as far as suggesting the renaming of the Human Rights Council to a currently more appropriate Human Rights Abusers Council.
The second piece of news worth noting is that Bahrain has regressed once again in the world’s perception by 9 whole places, while our compatriots in the Gulf did not fair as badly. Even Saudi’s descent has not been as far as that experienced by Bahrain.
The criteria that the report uses is quite exhaustive, but although a lot of it is subjective, the basis on which it was drawn is solid; hence, this report and its ramifications should be taken seriously and steps must be enacted in order for us to overcome the outlined shortcomings.
Maybe the pending creation of a national human rights organisation at the parliament is one way to go, another is to have the political will and courage to effect anti-discrimination measures – rather than categorically denying their evident existence. Instituting a national reconciliation program to finally put the past behind us will also be much welcome and will go a long way at ameliorating the national conscience.
If these things are considered and enacted, I am fairly certain that all of these detrimental reports will be just another part of our collective history, one we can proudly look back on, because we will have proven to ourselves first and the world too that we can learn from our mistakes and have the courage and determination to rise above them.