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UN team to visit Bahrain to discuss human rights abuses

Posted on Nov 24, 10:57AM | IBNS

A United Nations assessment team will head to Bahrain in early December, at the invitation of the Government, to discuss the judicial system and accountability for present and past human rights abuses, it was announced Friday.

"This is a long-awaited follow-up to a preliminary mission that took place last December," Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told reporters in Geneva.

As agreed with the Government, the four-member team that will travel to Bahrain from Dec 2 to 6 will also discuss the measures undertaken by the authorities to implement the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, and those agreed at the recent Universal Periodic Review of Bahrain by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The Commission of Inquiry was established by the King of Bahrain in June 2011 to investigate incidents that occurred during unrest in the country last year.

The human rights team is scheduled to hold discussions with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Justice, Interior, Human Rights, Health, Labour, and Education, as well as with the National Human Rights Institution and civil society organizations.

Colville added that High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay regrets the decision taken by Bahraini authorities on Nov 7 to revoke the nationality of 31 citizens for 'having undermined state security,' which may leave around 16 of them stateless.

"She urges the Government to reconsider this decision, which stands in clear violation of article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that, 'everyone has the right to a nationality' and 'no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality.'"

States are expected to observe minimum procedural standards to ensure that decisions concerning the deprivation of nationality do not contain any element of arbitrariness, added Colville.

Pillay is also "deeply concerned" about the restrictions on public demonstrations and other public gatherings declared by the Bahraini authorities on Oct 30. "Bahrain should fully comply with its international human rights commitments, including respect for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and association," said Colville.

"She is also concerned by the sentencing of 23 medical professionals on Nov 21, and reiterates her call on the authorities to release all individuals who have been detained or sentenced simply for exercising their right to demonstrate peacefully."