Historically, the Kingdom of Bahrain has been the cradle of an ancient civilization built on peace and harmony. Its history, geographical location and human heritage shaped the Kingdom into a land that embraces the coexistence of people of different religious and cultural backgrounds and, from the same vein, the Kingdom has always promoted values of tolerance and respect for human dignity.
The reform project of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, which was launched in 2001, reaffirmed that the promotion and protection of human rights as an essential part of the Kingdom’s strategy in developing state institutions and national legislation. This is exemplified in the National Action Charter and the constitution of 2002 and the subsequent constitutional amendments which were approved by the legislature in 2012, in response to the outcomes of the National Dialogue that took place from the 2nd of July 2011 to the 25th of July 2011.
Moreover, national legislations such as those concerning freedom of opinion, religious freedoms, labor laws, support of civil society organizations and unions, and the criminalization of trafficking in persons reflect the growing respect for rights and liberties in the Kingdom.
Moreover, the Kingdom of Bahrain signed and ratified a number of regional and international agreements and conventions including The Arab Charter on Human Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).The Kingdom also ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Convention Against Torture (CAT), the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child with regard to child involvement in armed conflicts, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child regarding child sale, prostitution and pornography, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The Kingdom of Bahrain established itself as a role model in transparency and integrity by further developing the instruments of political participation, and adopting a dual system consisting of Parliament and Shura Councils.
Furthermore, the Kingdom developed its human rights mechanisms by ensuring the independence of the National Institute for Human Rights in line with the Paris Principles, establishing the Ombudsman office in the Ministry of Interior, establishing the Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission, and establishing the Special Investigations Unit in the Public Prosecution Office as well as ensuring the independence of the Ministry of Interior’s Complaints Bureau.
In addition to the National Institute for Human Rights, the Supreme Council for Women continues its active role in empowering women and ensuring gender equality in line with the Kingdom’s constitution and national legislations.
Additionally, the Bahrain Institute for Political Development (BIPD) also plays an important role in political education and in bolstering the practice of rights and protection of liberties.
The Kingdom of Bahrain cooperates with the United Nations and other international governmental and non-governmental organizations in various fields including:
• Interacting with the United Nations Human Rights Council within the framework of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism where the Kingdom submitted two annual reports in 2008 and in 2012 and the third report is set to be submitted in 2017.
• The development of a number of procedures through technical cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences. This in turn led to the establishment of strict laws criminalizing acts of torture, cruel and inhumane treatment, adopting a new code of conduct for security forces based on international policing laws, and ensuring the independence of the judiciary.
Bahraini entities concerned with human rights do not limit their efforts to legislations; they branch out into the economic, developmental and educational spheres. These efforts, moreover, operate within the guidelines of the government’s policies and within the framework of the Bahrain vision 2030.
The Kingdom of Bahrain carries out educational and media initiatives and programs aimed at reinforcing the spirit of tolerance, national unity, and peaceful coexistence between people with different religions, sects and cultures. The Kingdom also criminalizes the incitement of hatred, sectarianism, violence and terrorism in all media and religious podiums, in line with its constitution, national laws and international conventions.
The Kingdom of Bahrain will not break its stride in its democratic, rights-oriented and progress-driven journey and will continue to employ legal and practical means, which gained recognition by objective international entities, to further develop its reform project.
Bahrain is also keen on moving forward to reinforce cooperation between the executive and legislative branches, support the judiciary and continue constructive cooperation with the United Nations’ Human Rights Council as well as to benefit from the expertise of the United Nations and its agencies.
We must recall here the statement of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in which he stated that “Democratic values and respect for human rights will remain the two wings that will move with Bahrain to the future; two cornerstones of the reform project that reinforce constitutional rights according to national and Islamic values and in line with the people’s will.”
The Kingdom of Bahrain firmly believes that the international community’s efforts in the human rights arena must be based on objectivity and credibility, avoid being biased or selective, steer clear of politicization and differentiation and respect the rule of law.