Sandeep Singh Grewal Staff Reporter

The government is depriving a large number of people of their rights and opportunities and forcing their exodus to other GCC nations, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights says in a report. The observation is based on shadow reports by 12 stakeholders, including Bahrain Haq Movement of Liberties and Democracy and a joint report by the Bahrain Human Rights Society and the defunct Bahrain Centre for Human Rights. Citing the opening of Bahrain employment offices in Qatar and the UAE, the final draft report says the deprived members of the Bahraini society were migrating to other Gulf states. The UN Human Rights Council will review rights records of 48 countries in three batches of 16 each next month. Bahrain is in the first batch. Last month, the Bahrain government submitted its human rights report for review. The council will discuss this and the final draft report. The three-hour interactive deliberations by UN officials, Bahrain delegation and local NGOs will be broadcast live on the Internet. The UN report says there is a demographic imbalance in the distribution of the constituencies in the Kingdom. Relying on the shadow report submitted by the Asian Centre for Human Rights, a stakeholders, the UN report says some segments of the Bahraini society were being discriminated against in land allocation, education, civic services and job opportunities. It also highlighted the demographic imbalance because of naturalisation. The HAQ movement has claimed in its shadow report that a housing crisis loomed over Bahrain because of unjust distribution of land and wealth. The UN report has taken a serious note of claims by the Bahrain Human Rights Society and Bahrain Centre for Human Rights in their joint report that the Ministry of Interior has never investigated torture allegations. Both have referred to Al Malkhiya protests last year to support their claims. The US-based Human Rights Watch, which is a stakeholder, expressed concerns over the enactment of the death penalty in Bahrain and harassment of human rights defenders. Women receive wages lower than men, the report says, adding that the average wage preference of men over women is BD63 in the public sector and BD147 in the private sector. The UN report also highlighted the delay in the setting up of the National Human Rights Council and in enacting a codified Family law and the absence of laws to ensure access to information as well as minimum wages in the private sector.

End Internet gag’ Bahraini journalists have more freedoms compared with counterparts in several Gulf countries, according to a Reporters Without Borders report released yesterday. The international organisation’s report says no journalist was imprisoned in Bahrain since March 1999. However, the report says restrictive laws and veiled pressure from officials have forced journalists to enforce self-censorship. The organisation called on the Ministry of Information to end broadcasting monopoly and exercise restraint in the censorship of Internet which it said should be regulated by courts. The report is based on talks a Reporters Without Borders team held with officials, mediapersons and NGOs during a visit to Bahrain last month.