United Nations Human Rights Council: 15th Session
Item 4: GD, Oral Intervention
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
20 September, 2010
Delivered by: Ziad Abdel Tawab
Thank you Mr. President
The CIHRS would like to bring to the attention of the council the dire human rights situation in both Syria and Bahrain.
This very statement was supposed to have been delivered today by one of two Bahraini human rights defenders. However, one has been unable to engage with this Council due to imminent threats of reprisals, after he has been labeled a terrorist for his engagement at UN human rights bodies, and the second was stopped at the airport yesterday on her way to Geneva to participate at this Session.
A full-fledged human rights crisis currently exists in Bahrain. During the past month alone approximately 250 political prisoners, including many well known human rights defenders, have been held in incommunicado detention, denied access to lawyers and families, and many have been subject to torture and ill-treatment. Bahrain’s vaguely worded counter-terrorism law (58/2006) is currently being used as a mean to dissolve or severely limit the activities of any and all political opposition and human rights organizations. CIHRS would like to thank the Bahrain government for sending an official response to human rights concerns we have been raising. Unfortunately, this response failed to acknowledge or address the particular violations of human rights documented by CIHRS
At this very moment, Syrian prisons are full of prisoners of conscience, individuals who have peacefully exercised their right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly, or have fought the pervasive persecution and discrimination of the Kurdish population. These citizens are prosecuted regularly in unfair trials before State Security courts, military tribunals, and by the executive-controlled regular judiciary. Complaints of “disappearances” are routine while torture remains rampant in detention facilities.
Thus far this Council, and a majority of member states, have failed to mention the current crises in Bahrain and the perpetually deteriorating situation of human rights in Syria. How many victims must be imprisoned tortured, or murdered before this Council or your government will take the first step towards the improvement of these situations, and acknowledge the seriousness of the problem? The members of this Council have a duty to guarantee the safety of Human Rights Defenders that engage with it, we ask all member states of the UN to urge Bahrain to uphold this duty.
Thank you Mr. President
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