Sandeep Singh Grewal Staff Reporter

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs plans to broadcast live the three-hour session when Bahrain National Report on Human Rights will be reviewed at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva in April. “We have launched a hotline and e-mail to receive feedback from the stakeholders and the public. There is a six-member team at the ministry which is presently collecting feedback of the human rights situation on the ground,” Dr Nizar bin Sadiq Al Baharna, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs told the Bahrain Tribune yesterday. The hotline set up by the Ministry to receive feedback is 17225666 and the e-mail is Al Baharna was speaking on the sidelines of a workshop organised by the Ministry where UN expert Clarence Dias discussed the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the report held at the Diplomat Radisson yesterday. The UN council will review 48 countries in three batches of 16 each this year. Bahrain is among the first group of 16 states to submit its report on February 25. Al Baharna said the report will be made available to the stakeholders consisting of non-governmental organisations (NGO), national human rights institutions and the Press. “It’s been three weeks since we started preparing the report. We want to ensure transparency and are preparing an action plan for the next four years when Bahrain will be monitored by the United Nations,” said Al Baharna. The minister said that they have received feedback from ‘few’ NGO’s. “The 20-page report will be consultative with information collected from the stakeholders. Bahrain will be the first country to be reviewed and will be the first to undergo the Universal Periodic Review setting examples for others to follow,” said Al Baharna who heads the working group to prepare the report. The workshop was attended by legal experts, ambassadors and NGOs. Dias spoke about the reviewing process Bahrain has to undergo in Geneva. “Bahrain was randomly selected by one-third majority among those countries which have one year term with the council,” said Dias. He said that Bahrain is adopting the ‘best practice’ to support and protect human rights. “This is not a usual report that Bahrain is preparing. They have scrutinised all documents related to human rights and are having interactive surveys from the government and NGOs. It is a compilation of collected facts and not a judgmental report,” he said. Dias explained that when the Council receives the National Report on Human Rights, the documentation step starts. “The report submitted by Bahrain will have its challenges and recommendations. The 20-page report will be summarised by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights where the findings of the report will be under scrutiny,” he said. He said that the Commission will also review all the shadow reports they receive from Bahrain and will summarise it in five pages, which will be attached to the National Report. Three UN rapporteurs will then be randomly selected to review this report. “The three members will study this report and prepare a series of questions which the council will ask the Bahraini delegation when they come face-to-face on April 7 in Geneva,” said Dias. Bahrain will receive the final “outcome document” after the review before April 18. Dias indicated that when the Bahraini delegation receives the document, the Kingdom will be under watch for the next four years. “Bahrain will have to work on the recommendations of the report. They can report to the council three times a year on the developments of the report,” said Dias. UNDP Bahrain resident representative, Sayed Aqa also delivered a speech where he stressed that from 2008-2011, they have agreed with the government on the application of a human rights-based approach (HRBA).

Table- February 25- Bahrain will submit a 20- page National Report on Human Rights at the United Nations Council in Genva. April 7- A three-hour interactive dialogue between UN members and Bahrain delegation which will be broadcasted live in Bahrain. April 7-18- An ‘outcome document’ with recommendations or conclusions will be prepared by the Council with feedback from stakeholders which will be presented to Bahrain delegation.