Bahrain to set up first pan-Arab rights court
The Arab League has endorsed a proposal to set up an Arab Human Rights Court in Bahrain.
The decision approved by the Arab foreign ministers late on Sunday in Cairo was hailed by Bahraini officials and human rights activists as “a very positive step forward and a new recognition of the culture of human rights that respects and protects such rights.”
King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa in November 2011 called for setting up the court.
“I will propose to our fellow Arab states that we now move concretely toward the creation of an Arab Court of Human Rights to take its proper place on the international stage,” King Hamad said in an address to the nation.
The Bahraini monarch said that it was time for Arabs to set up the pan-Arab court, in line with other international blocs.
“The nations of Europe are routinely held accountable before the European Court in Strasbourg. That Court, through its hundreds of judgements, has set the standards for modern international human rights,” Hamad said.
“The same is true of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica. The whole world benefits from the jurisprudence of these Courts. Surely, this shows us that there is something missing. Surely, the Arab nations, with our ancient transitions of fairness and justice, also have something to contribute. Surely, we too need to show that our officials are subject to a higher law, and that we can be proud of our traditions of respect for human rights,” he said.
Hamad said that the Arab Charter of Human Rights, supported by Bahrain more than 15 years ago, has not, despite its principles, created a system like those of Europe and the Americas.
Several Arab experts looked into the proposal an ad hoc committee was formed in Bahrain to follow up on the details.
In September last year, the Arab League secretary-general endorsed the Bahraini proposal.
“The court will be a civilised move that will contribute to the efforts of Arab states to support and encourage human rights,” Nabeel Al Arabi said in Cairo.