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Thursday, 12 September 2013 - Strasbourg Final edition
Situation in Bahrain

European Parliament resolution of 12 September 2013 on the human rights situation in Bahrain (2013/2830(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Bahrain of 27 October 2011(1) , of 15 March 2012(2) and of 17 January 2013(3) ,

–  having regard to the visit of a delegation of its Subcommittee on Human Rights to Bahrain on 19 and 20 December 2012 and to the press statement issued by that delegation, and having regard to the Arab Peninsula delegation visit from 27 to 30 April 2013 and its press statement,

–  having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on Bahrain, in particular her statements of 7 January, 11 February and 1 July 2013,

–  having regard to the statements by the UN Secretary-General, in particular that of 8 January 2013, and to the statement of the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of 6 August 2013,

–  having regard to the 23rd EU-GCC Joint Council and Ministerial Meeting, held in Manama, Bahrain, on 30 June 2013,

–  having regard to the extraordinary meeting of Bahrain’s National Assembly, held on 28 July 2013, resulting in the emergency decrees issued by the King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah,

–  having regard to the 2006 Bahraini ‘Protecting Society from Terrorist Acts’ legislation,

–  having regard to the decision of the Arab League’s Ministerial Council, meeting in Cairo on 1 September 2013, to set up a pan-Arab court of human rights in Bahrain’s capital Manama,

–  having regard to the report released in November 2011 by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) and to its follow-up report of 21 November 2012,

–  having regard to the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Rights of Child and the Arab Charter on Human Rights, to all of which Bahrain is a party,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders of 2004, as updated in 2008,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–  having regard to Rules 122(5) and 110(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the human rights situation in Bahrain remains a matter of concern in the wake of the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in 2011; whereas many recent actions of the Bahraini Government continue to violate and restrict the rights and freedoms of segments of the Bahraini people, in particular the right of individuals to peaceful protest, freedom of expression and digital freedom; whereas the Bahraini authorities are continuing their crackdown on peaceful political protesters, including the disproportionate use of violence and torture by security and police forces;

B.  whereas human rights activists are facing ongoing systematic targeting, harassment and detention in Bahrain, some of them being condemned to life imprisonment;

C.  whereas on 1 August 2013, ahead of the peaceful protest planned in Manama on 14 August 2013, the King of Bahrain ordered the implementation of recommendations passed by the Parliament, which include the banning of all sit-ins, assemblies and protests in the capital Manama, further limitations on social media activities, an increase in the detention period and withdrawal of the citizenship of anyone found guilty of committing or inciting an act of terrorism;

D.  whereas the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has stated that, although it welcomes the National Assembly’s recommendation that ‘basic liberties, particularly freedom of opinion, should not be affected to maintain a balance between law enforcement and human rights protection’, it reiterates its concern about the restrictions on public demonstrations and other public gatherings;

E.  whereas, following the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report, the Bahraini authorities committed themselves to undergoing reforms; whereas progress has been made in overhauling the legal and law enforcement systems, reinstating employees who were unfairly dismissed, and setting up a special prosecution unit to investigate abuse claims, as well as in carrying out reforms of the police; whereas, overall, the implementation of the BICI recommendations remains slow;

F.  whereas an official delegation led by the Minister of Human Rights Affairs, Dr Salah bin Ali Abdulrahman, will attend the 24th session of the UN Human Rights Council from 7 to 27 September 2013, and will review, during its meetings, the implementation of the recommendations of the Human Rights Council and the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, as well as the recommendations of the National Assembly, which the Government of Bahrain has pledged to implement in accordance with a timetable and programme of action.

G.  whereas in Bahrain even children have been arrested and kept in adult detention unsuitable for minors, where they have reportedly been tortured and improperly treated;

H.  whereas on 24 April 2013 the government postponed for the second time – this time indefinitely – the visit of Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment;

I.  whereas on 2 September 2013 Bahrain announced that it would host the permanent headquarters of the Arab Human Rights Court following its approval at an Arab League meeting in Cairo;

J.  whereas the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis, visited Bahrain in the scope of the EU-Gulf Cooperation Council Ministerial meeting in June 2013;

1.  Calls on the Bahraini authorities to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, both online and offline, and freedom of assembly; deeply regrets the recent restrictive orders by the Parliament and the King of Bahrain, and calls for a lifting of the ban on the right to peaceful demonstrations and free assembly in the capital, Manama, and a repeal of the orders of the Minister of Justice of 3 September 2013, which are irreconcilable with the government’s commitment to launching reforms and will not help progress on national reconciliation or build trust among all parties;

2.  Urges that the legitimate right of Bahraini citizens to express their opinions freely, organise gatherings and demonstrate peacefully be respected; underlines the importance of free and pluralistic media; calls for full access to the country for international NGOs and journalists;

3.  Welcomes the steps taken by the Bahraini authorities to implement the recommendations by the Bahraini Independent Commission of Inquiry; recognises that some efforts have been undertaken in this respect, but stresses nevertheless that more must be done to improve the human rights situation in the country; calls on the Government of Bahrain to implement fully and swiftly the BICI and Universal Periodic Review recommendations; recommends that the UN Human Rights Council’s 24th Session set up a monitoring mechanism mandated to follow the implementation of the BICI recommendations and the overall resolution of the human rights situation in Bahrain;

4.  Calls on the Bahraini Government to implement the necessary democratic reforms and to encourage an inclusive and constructive national dialogue and reconciliation, including the release of dissidents;

5.  Calls on the Bahraini authorities to put an immediate end to all acts of repression, including judicial harassment, and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience, political activists, journalists, bloggers, doctors and paramedics, human rights defenders and peaceful protesters, including Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Nabeel Rajab, Ibrahim Sharif, Naji Fateel, Zainab Al-Khawaja, Mahdi’Issa Mahdi Abu Deeb and Jalila Al-Salman;

6.  Welcomes the fact that King Hamad Bin Isa al-Khalifa has set up an independent commission for the rights of prisoners and detainees, and calls on this commission to effectively monitor and improve the conditions and treatment of prisoners and detainees;

7.  Welcomes King Hamad Bin Isa al-Khalifa’s setting up of a Ministry for Human Rights and Social Development in Bahrain, and calls on that ministry to act in accordance with international human rights standards and obligations; notes in particular the progressive stance of Bahrain towards women in society;

8.  Notes the formal establishment of a Police Ombudsman by the Bahraini Interior Ministry in July 2013, and expresses the hope that this move will mean that the complaints and grievances of Bahraini citizens can be effectively looked into;

9.  Notes the Bahraini Government’s ongoing efforts to reform the penal code and legal procedures, and encourages this process to continue; calls on the Government of Bahrain to take all necessary steps to guarantee due process, and the independence and impartiality of the judiciary in Bahrain, and to ensure that it acts in full accordance with international human rights standards;

10.  Urges that independent investigations be conducted into all allegations of torture and other ill- treatment, and that the results be made public; takes the view that accountability for past violations is a key element on the path towards justice and genuine reconciliation, which are necessary for social stability;

11.  Urges the Bahraini authorities to respect the rights of juveniles, to refrain from detaining them in adult facilities, and to treat juveniles in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Bahrain is a party;

12.  Believes that arbitrary deprivation of nationality could lead to statelessness, with serious consequences for the protection of the human rights of the individuals concerned; notes that withdrawal of the citizenship of political opponents by the Bahraini authorities is contrary to international law;

13.  Regrets the weak EU response to the ongoing situation in Bahrain and calls on the HR/VP to condemn the ongoing violations of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to impose targeted restrictive measures (visa bans and asset freezes) against those individuals responsible for, and involved in, the human rights abuses (as documented by the BICI report);

14.  Calls on the VP/HR and the Member States to work together to develop a clear strategy as to how the EU will, both publicly and privately, actively push for the release of prisoners of conscience, and calls on the VP/HR to work with the Member States to ensure the adoption of Foreign Affairs Council conclusions on the human rights situation in Bahrain, which should include a specific call for the immediate and unconditional release of those prisoners;

15.  Expresses regret that the visit of the Special Rapporteur on torture was again postponed, and calls upon the Bahraini authorities to facilitate visits of the Special Rapporteurs on freedom of association and assembly and on the situation of human rights defenders;

16.  Welcomes the decision by the Arab League to set up a Arab Human Rights Court in Manama and expresses its hope that it may act as a catalyst for human rights across the region; urges the Government of Bahrain, as well as its partners in the Arab League, to ensure the integrity, impartiality, efficiency and credibility of this Court;

17.  Instructs its president to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice–President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the government and parliaments of the Member States, and the Government and Parliament of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

(1) OJ C 131 E, 8.5.2013, p. 125.
(2) OJ C 251 E, 31.8.2013, p. 111.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0032.

Last updated: 26 January 2016Legal notice