Published: 1st February 2008

BAHRAIN has been criticised in a global report for allegedly not doing enough to further human rights.

The annual report by the global Human Rights Watch organisation raps several countries it says are continuing to violate basic rights, but get away with it because the West sees them as fledgling democracies.

The report comes two days after activists claimed they had missed a chance to submit a report to the UN on the human rights situation in Bahrain, because government officials failed to inform them.

Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society said last Tuesday was the first time they had been informed of a deadline of November last year to submit a 10-page shadow report to the UN on human rights in the country.

The claim came on the sidelines of a workshop announcing the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which was held at the Diplomat Radisson SAS Hotel, Residence and Spa on 29th last month.

The UPR is a human rights report that Bahrain will submit to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on February 25. The 20-page government report will be reviewed by the council on April 7.

The report is being prepared in consultation with non-governmental organisations dealing with human rights issues, labour unions, human rights committees and the women's societies.

Bahrain is the first country to compile the report, which is expected to set a precedent for other countries.

But the global Human Rights Watch report released yesterday does Bahrain no favours.

It says authoritarian rulers are violating human rights around the world and getting away with it largely because the US, European and other established democracies accept their claims that holding elections makes them democratic.

By failing to demand that offenders honour their citizens' civil and political rights and other requirements of true democracy, Western democracies risk undermining human rights everywhere, says one watchdog.

Still, Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch's executive director, wrote in the report "It was a sign of hope that such countries have come to believe that the route to legitimacy runs by way of democratic credentials."

Among countries named as major violators of their democratic credentials last year are Kenya, Pakistan, Bahrain, Jordan, Nigeria, Russia and Thailand.

The report summarises human rights shortcomings in more than 75 countries.

Among other countries listed as abusers are Chad, Colombia, Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Libya, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.

The report also alleges abuses by the US, France and Britain, along with Pakistan, in the name of a "war on terror."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and other European leaders were criticised for their reluctance to allow Turkey to join the EU, despite its improved human rights record.

The report said the EU "lost leverage itself and diminished the clout of those in Turkey who have cited the prospect of EU membership as a reason for reform."

The report's emphasis, however, was the allegedly false democracies and the countries that enable them.


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