Interior minister rules out tension with HRW, but rejects “foreign tutelage”

February 16, 2010

MPs discuss rights situation with interior minister - BNA

Bahrain’s interior minister has ruled out the existence of tension or disputes with a New York based human rights watchdog following the release of a controversial report. However, the minister said that Bahrain, while welcoming cooperation with international organizations, rejected “foreign tutelage.”

“There is no confrontation or dispute between us and Human Rights Watch. In fact, we agree with the organization as long as the objective is to secure the highest standards of human rights,” Shaikh Rashid Bin Abdullah Al Khalifa said. “Bahrain is deeply committed to international agreements to promote human rights, including the Universal Declaration for Human Rights and the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,” the minister told a parliamentary committee.

Human Rights Watch issued in Manama last week a report in which former detainees have reportedly said that they had been tortured to exact confessions on security-related murder charges.

The report, as expected, caused a rift within the Bahraini society, but the foreign ministry said that Manama would look into the allegations and would take the appropriate action.

However, the report waded into further controversy after Abdullah Al Durazi, the secretary general of the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) who helped organize the meetings of the HRW team in Manama as well as the press conference, said that there were doubts about the names of the torturers mentioned in the testimonies.

Pressure from BHRS members as well as from other political formations led Al Durazi to hand in his resignation, two days after issuing the statement.

But, the university instructor on Saturday denied there had been pressure to give up his position and threw out claims that he had been promised rewards by the authorities if he contradicted the report.

Al Durazi’s resignation and rumours about pressure from political formations have prompted a debate on the relationship in Bahrain between political societies and human rights organizations.

The interior minister said that the two entities should be completely separate.

“Members of NGOs should not be at the same time members of political societies to ensure that their activism is not affected by political ideologies. This is particularly true of organizations dealing with human rights,” he told the lawmakers.

On Saturday, BHRS board member Zainab Al Durazi said that the society was working on promoting the culture of human rights in society and insisted that there had to be a clear separation between political action and human rights activism. Bahrain has 17 political societies, ranging from deeply conservative to openly liberal, and several human rights organizations.




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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