The UN human rights council started Monday the universal periodic review of the human rights situation in Bahrain. The opportunity was seized by participating countries to demand the release of political prisoners. Bahrain was not an exception in the Arab world: this small oil producing country of the Gulf was also swept by the waves of popular claims triggered by the Arab Spring.
Many human rights violations were then scored in Bahrain. Authorities are still being blamed for these abuses. So, France, through its ambassador, deplored arbitrary arrests and trials of human rights activists, trade union activists and militants just because they expressed their opinions. In his statement, the French diplomat mentioned the case of Nabil Rajab, a human rights activist who had been arrested for “unlawful gathering” and “defamation”.
France also pleaded for a humanitarian solution of Mr. al-Khawaja’s case. Al-Khawaja, along with 20 other opponents, had been indicted in June 2011 for “plot hatching”.
The ambassador of the United States asked Bahrain to reconsider the sentences pronounced against detainees arrested during the demonstrations of 2011, whereas the Danish ambassador pointed out the detention of 13 activists, arrested for having exercised their right to demonstrate peacefully. Nevertheless, all the speakers hailed the setting up of an independent fact-finding commission on the events of 2011.
In response to the wishes expressed by the assembly, the Bahraini Minister of Human rights, Salah Bin Ali Mohamed Abdulrahman, said the implementation of the recommendations of this commission, as requested by the participants, will require some time. He also asserted that no one was sent to prison for having exercised his right to freedom of consciousness or speech.
Anyway, the UN Human Rights council launched an investigation on this matter. Its conclusions will certainly made things clearer.