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Donahoe: U.S. Continues to Engage with Bahrain on Human Rights Issues
June 28, 2012

Statement by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe
U.S. Representative to the Human Rights Council

June 28, 2012

The United States continues to engage in candid bilateral discussions with the Government of Bahrain and a cross-section of Bahrainis, and these discussions include human rights. We believe that this process is the most productive way for us to engage on human rights issues, and so we did not join the recent Item 4 joint statement in the Human Rights Council (HRC).

Bahrain has hosted a delegation from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, plans to host an HRC mandate holder, and has continued to engage with the High Commissioner’s office. They also established the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), which produced a comprehensive report on the domestic unrest in Bahrain, along with recommendations that the Government of Bahrain has committed to implement. As part of our bilateral engagement, we continue to encourage Bahrain’s cooperation with the High Commissioner’s office and with the HRC. Most recently, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Michael Posner visited Bahrain for the fifth time in the last year and a half in support of this dialogue, and we remain committed to this process with Bahrain.

As we noted in our intervention during Bahrain’s session in the Universal Periodic Review on May 21, the Government of Bahrain has taken some important first steps in laying the foundation for dialogue and for reconciliation in Bahrain, but more remains to be done on the full range of BICI recommendations. That includes prosecuting those responsible for the violations identified in the BICI report, dropping charges against all persons accused of offenses involving nonviolent political expression including freedom of assembly, and ensuring fair and expeditious trials in appeals cases.  It also means continuing work to professionalize and diversify Bahrain’s security forces to reflect the communities in which they serve, and to work to implement the recommendations of the BICI in an inclusive way.

We continue to call on all parties in Bahrain to help each other move toward a comprehensive political dialogue that includes the diverse views of Bahraini society in a genuine negotiation.  And we continue to stand ready to support Bahrain in this process.