Bahrain has participated virtually in the high-level meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on February 28 – March 2.
In his speech, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani reviewed Bahrain’s efforts to promote and protect human rights within the framework of the comprehensive reform approach led by HM King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and the follow-up of HRH the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
Al Zayani noted the grave consequences of wars and conflicts in the Middle East, which deprived millions of young people of education, health care, shelter, peace and security.
He highlighted the Kingdom’s efforts in supporting peace in the region and the world, maintaining international security, developing international relations and achieving international cooperation.
The efforts are guided by the United Nations Charter and relevant international and regional conventions based on HM’s approach which calls for promoting tolerance, peaceful coexistence, brotherhood, cooperation and peace among all the peoples of the world.
In this regard, he noted the establishment of King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence, the launch of the Shaikh Isa Award for Service to Humanity, the issuance of the Declaration of the Kingdom of Bahrain, and the establishment of the King Hamad Chair for Interfaith Dialogue and Peaceful Coexistence at the Italian University of Sapienza.
The minister stressed that following the directives of HM the King, the government of Bahrain, under the leadership of HRH the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, focused on addressing this pandemic in a constructive and effective manner, taking into account all health, economic, social and educational aspects.
The government placed at the forefront of its priorities preserving the health and safety of citizens and residents alike, and provided health isolation centers, testing, treatment and free vaccination for all citizens and residents and without discrimination.
The minister highlighted that the national vaccination campaign in Bahrain, thanks to the societal awareness and demand for vaccination, has achieved great success, with the percentage of those who received the first and second vaccination doses reaching 96% of the total eligible to take the vaccination from 18 years of age and over.
The percentage of those who received the booster dose reached 85% of the total qualified people of the same age group.
He indicated that the Kingdom has succeeded in terms of vaccinating children, as the vaccination rate for the age group from 12 to 17 years reached 92%, and the number of adults aged 3 to 11 who received the vaccination reached more than 24,000, while the number of those registered so far has reached more than 30,000.
The minister affirmed that Bahrain’s constant efforts to develop the human rights system, and its advanced steps in the field of care and support for human needs, are closely linked to its relentless endeavors to implement Bahrain Vision 2030 and achieve the sustainable development goals of the United Nations.
They are also linked to reaching high levels of human development and well-being indicators, and supporting women’s effective participation in the development process.
The minister stressed that the government was able to include 78% of the United Nations sustainable development goals in the Government Plan 2019-2022, and the national plan to implement Bahrain Vision 2030.
The Cabinet also assigned ministries and government agencies to match their respective goals, plans and policies in the government’s current work program (2019-2022) with the sustainable development goals.
The minister indicated that Bahrain considers environmental protection and combating climate change a main objective in the process of promoting and protecting human rights, so the Kingdom deals with the outcomes of the (COP26) conference by continuing to develop its climate system.
This will enable it to address the effects of climate change and its direct impact on the right to live in a healthy environment that stimulates work and production.
The minister affirmed that the government has continued its efforts in developing the legislative system related to enhancing the protection of human rights, with a law on alternative sentences and measures being issued in 2017, and amended in 2021.
This constitutes a pioneering step in the field of reforming and rehabilitating those convicted of offences, returning them to their social environment and their normal life.
He added that the number of people who benefited from the application of this law has reached 3,826, 60% of whom have completed the alternative sentence decided for them by the judiciary, which is a significant indicator of the success of this humanitarian program.
He also underscored that the government has given great care to the rights of the children and to ensure they belong in a safe environment enhanced by modern and advanced laws and legislation and in a manner that ensures their sound upbringing in the various stages of their lives.
A law was issued in 2021 on restorative justice for children and protecting them from ill-treatment, according to which courts called Restorative Justice Courts for the Child are established to adjudicate criminal cases arising from crimes committed by children who are over the age of 15 years but not over 18 years at the time of the crime.
A special prosecution unit for child crimes was also established.
The minister noted that this law constitutes a qualitative addition to the modern legislative and judicial system and executive procedures that guarantee the rights of children and protect them from abuse, exploitation, or moral, physical, and spiritual neglect, and take care of their health and education, as children represent the country’s hope and future.
The minister stressed that Bahrain continued its great progress in combating trafficking in persons. It was designated for the fourth consecutive year within Tier 1 in the annual report of the US State Department on Trafficking in Persons, which is the highest annual international classification in this regard, making the Kingdom unique in this achievement among countries in the Middle East and North Africa region.
Al Zayani underscored that efforts to support the advancement of women in Bahrain have witnessed a qualitative leap that began two decades ago with the establishment of the Supreme Council for Women, which developed national policies and qualitative plans to enhance women’s rights, most notably the National Plan for the Advancement of Bahraini Women.
They were approved by His Majesty the King, which with the cooperation of all national partners, resulted in many qualitative strategies in the areas of empowering women, raising the percentage of their contributions to the national economy, and protecting them from all forms of discrimination.
Al Zayani said that women’s rate of participation has increased steadily in national development until it reached an advanced stage in which women are on an equal footing with men in the fields of work.
The percentage of women in executive positions in the government sector reached 46%, in the private sector 34% and in the boards of directors of private companies 17%.
He said that Bahrain, through its Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Bahrain in Geneva, contributed to presenting a joint statement during the 48th session of the Human Rights Council entitled Enhancing the Role of Women in Peacemaking and Multilateral Diplomacy, which more than 60 countries joined.
The minister added that, believing in the importance of cooperation with the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council and treaty bodies concerned with human rights, Bahrain continued its positive cooperation with these mechanisms and bodies.
He referred in this regard to the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, under which the Kingdom submitted three national reports approved by the Council, in addition to three voluntary mid-term reports showing the extent that the accepted recommendations of that mechanism have been implemented.
The Kingdom is currently working on finalizing its fourth national report, which will be reviewed in November, and reviewed its national reports on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
He added that the Government of Bahrain, believing in the importance of continuing to strengthen the human rights infrastructure in the Kingdom, and in addition to the national plans and strategies adopted by many official bodies in various human rights sectors, translated the principles into the National Action Charter and the Constitution.
It prepared the plan of the National Committee for Human Rights, in cooperation with all stakeholders from various official and civil bodies, as a phased framework to achieve its goals of the Kingdom, and in line with the national and international commitments.
He noted that in order to reach the highest levels of quality, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed a declaration of intent with the Office of the Resident Coordinator of United Nations Activities in the Kingdom of Bahrain to advise on the preparation of the national human rights plan.
The minister said that Bahrain continues its efforts to promote and protect human rights at all levels, within the effective partnership between its governmental and official institutions and civil society, in constructive cooperation with the Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and looking forward to intensifying joint efforts to achieve lofty goals.