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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Pouilly: Bahrain


Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Cécile Pouilly

We are concerned about the recommendations made by the National Assembly’s extraordinary session which was recently held to discuss toughening punishments under the 2006 Law on the Protection of Society from Acts of Terrorism. These recommendations include increasing detention period or revoking citizenship of anyone found guilty of committing or inciting an act of terrorism. They also provide for banning sit-ins, rallies and gatherings in the capital Manama. On 31 July, a royal decree was issued to amend the above-mentioned law in accordance with these recommendations.

While recognizing the responsibility of States to maintain law and order, we remind the authorities that any measure should respect international human rights standards.

We reiterate that the right to nationality is a fundamental right protected by article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provides that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her nationality. Any deprivation of nationality provided for by law must comply with procedural and substantive standards, including the principle of proportionality. We are concerned that arbitrary deprivation of nationality may also lead to statelessness with serious consequences for the protection of the human rights of the individuals concerned.

Although we welcome the recommendation by the Parliament that "basic liberties, particularly freedom of opinion, should not be affected to maintain a balance between law enforcement and human rights protection," we reiterate our concern about the restrictions on public demonstrations and other public gatherings.

We call upon the Government of Bahrain to fully comply with its international human rights commitments, including respect for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and association – and urge all demonstrators to exercise these rights in a peaceful manner.

In response to a question on Bahrain:

In April 2013, the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, to Bahrain - which was scheduled to take place from 8 to 15 May – was postponed for the second time. He has not been able to visit Bahrain since. Discussions are underway to set up new dates for a future visit.

To read the statement issued by the Special Rapporteur on 24 April 2013, please go to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13261&LangID=E

ENDS

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