Broader representation for Bahrain rights watchdog

September 11, 2012

Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa on Tuesday widened the scope of representation for members of the National Organisation of Human Rights to include trade unions, social, economic and professional organisations as well as those involved with human rights initiatives.

A decree issued in 2009 had confined the representation on the national human rights body to academicians, consultants and members of civil society organisations.

Under the new amendments, the number of members of the watchdog — which includes the president and the vice-president — was however reduced from 22 to 15. The four-year term can be renewed only once.

King Hamad stressed that the new rules also ensure that the composition of the human rights organisation takes into account due representation of women and minorities.

The human rights team in 2009 included Ebrahim Nonoo, a former member of the upper chamber and representative of the Jewish community and Alice Samaan, the representative of the Christian community who was then a member of the Shura Council, the upper chamber of the bicameral parliament.

Bahrain is a predominantly Muslim country, but it has small Christian and Jewish communities, mainly the sons and daughters of families that emigrated to the island country.

Huda Noono, the current Bahraini ambassador to the US and the only Jewish Arab diplomat in Washington, is among the best-known representatives of her community in modern times. She made history by becoming the first Jewish president of the human rights organisation and the first Jewish woman to sit on the Shura Council.

Within the Christian community, Alice Thomas Samaan has risen to prominence in the last decade after she was appointed to the Shura Council.

In 2005, Alice made history when she became the first woman in the Arab world to chair a parliament session.

In 2011, she was appointed Bahrain’s ambassador to the United Kingdom.



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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