Bahrain has pulled out of the UN top human rights body election scheduled to be held later this month after widespread criticism.
A UN site showed that Bahrain withdrew its candidacy on Sept. 26 to run for a three-year seat at the Geneva-based body, without giving details.
The move follows a widespread criticism of the Bahraini government over its large-scale suppression of human rights activists, dissidents and peaceful demonstrators, thousands of whom are still imprisoned since February 2011.
Bahrain, home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has imprisoned thousands of protesters, journalists and activists – some in mass trials – since an anti-government uprising in 2011.
It says it prosecutes in accordance with international law those who commit crimes, and rejects criticism from the United Nations and others over the conduct of trials and detention conditions.
Rights Groups Welcome the Bahraini decision
In this regard, the London-based the Bahrain Institute for Rights earlier voiced concern over Bahrain’s elections amidst findings they are a “sham”.
A memo circulated among council members by the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) drew attention to allegations of arbitrary detention as well as reprisals against individuals, as cited in a UN report last month.
The non-profit organisation also held a series of meetings with UN officials and diplomats in August to urge states not to support Bahrain.
“It’s a huge relief to see Bahrain withdrawing after our effective advocacy in Geneva against their candidacy,” said Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, advocacy director at BIRD.
He also pointed out that Bahrain’s parliamentary elections held this month ‘should have been an opportunity for its citizens to exercise their political will and have their say in the future direction of the Gulf country. Instead, they took place in a context of fear and intimidation, without any credible political opposition or independent media.’
The Nov. 12 elections provided nothing more than a veneer of democracy, he added.
In its turn, Al-Wefaq Society welcomed the decision and called on the international community to put pressures on Bahrain to repeal its repressive legislation, reinstate forcibly dissolved political societies and release imprisoned opposition figures, human rights defenders and death row inmates.