Manama: The role of the legislative branch in protecting and promoting human rights and preparing the National Human Rights Plan was highlighted at a forum organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The virtual forum, held under the patronage of Speaker Fawzia bint Abdullah Zainal and Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, saw the participation of Shura Council Chairman Ali bin Saleh Al Saleh, members of parliament, the UK Ambassador to Bahrain Roderick Drummond, and the Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme Stefano Pettinato.
In her remarks, Zainal said that Bahrain has achieved numerous successes at the legislative and institutional levels and in taking measures that have contributed to the consolidation of human rights as a culture, a principle and a practical commitment, under the leadership of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and HM’s comprehensive development plan that led to the National Action Charter and to the 2002 Constitution and its amendments.
“In their core, there were ambitions and strategic plans as well as the consolidation of human rights values as the link for all stages of development and a basic foundation for the comprehensive progress enjoyed by Bahrain today,” she said.
Promoting human rights principles is given special attention by the Council of Representatives due to its close association with democratic practices and with the commitment to reinforcing progress in reforms, modernization and prosperity in Bahrain, she added.
“It is also important that we strengthen joint action and coordination to document Bahrain’s pioneering human rights experience in developing the human rights, legislative and institutional infrastructure. We do hope that this important workshop will result in visions, perceptions and recommendations that bring us closer to setting the national human rights plan and strategy, and support the national comprehensive development process under the leadership of HM the King.”
Al Saleh said that HM the King’s wide reform approach guaranteed rights and freedoms for all and contributed to multiple human rights achievements that made Bahrain a pioneer in the field of human rights.
“The Kingdom’s efforts in protecting and promoting human rights, spreading their culture in society, promulgating national legislation and ratifying international agreements represent the commitment of Bahrain under the leadership of HM the King and a firm belief in the importance of promoting rights and freedoms and ensuring that all people enjoy them,” he said.
The legislative branch has a prominent role in protecting and promoting human rights through its inherent competence to regulate them by putting into practice the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the constitution, and by clarifying them and their goals, he added.
“The Shura Council has set up a specific committee for human rights to undertake research and study drafts and proposals of laws related to human rights and their harmonization with ratified international conventions and treaties. It also provides the other Council’s committees with opinions on issues closely related to human rights and freedoms.”
Al Zayani expressed Bahrain’s particular pride in its numerous achievements in protecting human rights, the application of the principles of the National Action Charter, the Kingdom’s constitution and laws, and its commitment to the goals of the United Nations, whose charter emphasizes the importance of respecting and protecting human rights.
“HM the King’s civilizational initiatives in promoting human rights are a distinguished example that demonstrates Bahrain’s keenness to move forward with strengthening the foundations of the state of justice, law and the consolidation of the principles of preserving human rights as the goal of development and the basic way to achieve it,” he said.
“It also coincides with the efforts of the government headed by His Royal Highness the Prime Minister and the follow-up of His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister, to move forward by assigning the competent agencies to take all appropriate and necessary measures to guarantee human rights.”
Bahrain has accomplished remarkable achievements in the field of human rights, thanks to its advanced legislative system, the establishment of national human rights bodies, the establishment of the Ombudsman’s Office, the development of rehabilitation and reform centers, the adoption of alternative penalties, the strengthening of efforts to combat human trafficking, and its recent election to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Al Zayani added.
“Today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs inaugurates a new phase in the good efforts by working on the National Plan for Human Rights and with its endeavor to continue its national efforts to achieve many effective achievements and initiatives to promote human rights in the Kingdom at all levels. This is in cooperation and effective partnership with all relevant governmental and civil agencies and institutions in order to fulfill HM the King’s directives and the government’s objectives.”
In his remarks during the first session, Assistant Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Faisal bin Jabur Al Doseri stressed Bahrain’s commitment to encouraging respect and protection of human rights, saying the principle is highlighted in the Kingdom’s National Action Charter, Constitution, legislation, international commitments, government policies, programs and keenness to develop and intensify efforts to encourage respect and protection of human rights in legal texts and reality.
Bahrain’s commitment and respect for human rights stems from its identity, heritage, civilization and in its belief that respecting these rights is a national and an international commitment that constitutes the firm basis for respecting the dignity of the individual, the prestige of the country and the development of society, he added.
Al Doseri highlighted the importance of preparing through shared action a clear and comprehensive national plan for Bahrain that will be a new tool for the promotion and protection of human rights.
The plan focuses on civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights, and the rights of women, children, persons with disabilities and the elderly.
UK Ambassador to Bahrain Roderick Drummond stressed the depth of the cooperation and relations between Bahrain and the United Kingdom.
He said that the UK supports Bahrain’s steps to promote and consolidate human rights and noted that the National Institution for Human Rights in Bahrain has made real progress in sharing the human resources education program with the government and civil society.
The diplomat also indicated that the countries’ response to the spread of the coronavirus (Covid 19) has a great relationship with human rights, which has worked to unify efforts, communications and sharing among the public and private sectors.
Pettinato said the United Nations was looking forward to continuing working with the government and other partners in Bahrain to promote human rights,
The national consultation process for the National Action Plan for Human Rights is an institutional initiative and a very important tool that would provide the basis for further cooperation in the field of human rights in the Kingdom, he said.
The National Human Rights Plan is another evidence of Bahrain’s long-term commitment to leaving no one behind, and a mechanism to foster a meaningful dialogue on human rights, he added.
The workshop sessions discussed the importance of the national plan for human rights and the related international standards, the role of the legislative branch in contributing to the preparation of the plan, the significance of rights committees in the parliament, and the impact of legislation and laws related to their protection and consolidation.
The sessions also reviewed regional and international experiences in the preparation of national plans and parliament strategies to support human rights and sustainable development.
Several members of the parliament, experts and media people participated in the workshop, the first of a series concerned with preparing the national plan for human rights that the foreign ministry has lined up from August to November.
The ministry is embarking on wide consultations with national authorities in the Kingdom as well as with international and regional institutions to exchange ideas and learn more about the most important experiences in preparing national plans and strategies.
Source: Bahrain News Agency