Commission should receive and follow up complaints Sandeep Singh Grewal Staff Reporter

A lawmaker has proposed the setting up of an autonomous national human rights commission to receive and follow up complaints by residents. The proposal comes at a time when human rights have taken the centre stage in the Kingdom as its rights records will be reviewed at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on April 7. Bahrain is among the first batch of 48 UN members to go under scanner. Bahrain will be under watch for four years. “My proposal aims to set up an independent human rights commission to register and monitor violations. The commission will have 13 members, chosen by the Chamber of Deputies,” Al Wefaq Deputy Jalal Fairooz told the Tribune yesterday. The proposal is based on the 1993 Paris Principle of Human Rights and the commission is similar to those in Kuwait and Jordan. Fairooz said lawmakers would select the commission chairman and vice chairman based on their human rights work. Individuals with criminal background or charges of corruption will not be part of the commission. “The commission will prepare an action plan, outline its role and prepare an annual human rights report,” he said. The proposal could possibly keep out several rights activists who have been detained or arrested in the past for their activities. “Local activists and rights group would be invited to monthly meetings to share views with the commission,” he said. “Several international reports have highlighted human rights situation in Bahrain. If my proposal is approved before April when the Bahrain report will be reviewed, then a member of the commission will take part in the discussions in Geneva,” he said The commission chairman will be elected for a three-year term which can be renewed, and will submit an annual report to His Majesty the King, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, and the Chamber of Deputies. Fairooz’s proposal contains 15 articles. One stipulates that ministers and government officials will have to cooperate with the commission and share information in connection with any registered case. The article says a government official has to be present in meetings over complaints. “Every case filed at the commission will be followed up and legal assistance provided to the victim. We will consult local NGOs for assistance depending on the case,” Fairooz said. The commission will be headquartered in Manama with branches in other areas. Al Mustaqbal Deputy Latifa Al Gaoud and independents Abdullah Al Dossary and Aziz Abul have supported the proposal. “We are facing problems with other blocs to have a green light on the proposal. Our bloc will take up it up in the Chamber of Deputies session on Tuesday,” Fairooz said. He said he would also push for amendments to the Rally Law in the session. The law contradicts international conventions and curbs the freedom of expression, he said.