Bahrain amends human rights law to allow watchdog more power

Changes come after the National Institution for Human Rights was given improved ranking by the ICC
Bahrain amends human rights law to allow watchdog more power
(Getty Images)
By Staff writer
Sun 16 Oct 2016 07:55 PM

Bahrain has amended the law governing its main human rights body to increase its power.

The move came after the National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR) was awarded a B rating by Geneva-based International Co-ordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions (ICC) earlier this year.

As part of the changes made by King Hamad last week, the NIHR will be allowed to make unannounced visits to detention centres, undertake operational restructuring and further engage with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), reported Gulf Daily News.

The ICC revealed it did not grant the NIHR an A rating due to six reasons including its obligation to give notice before conducting prison visits, its lack of engagement with other NGOs in Bahrain and its appointment process of board members, four who are MPs.

NIHR vice-chairman Dr Abdulla Al Deerazi said the four existing MPs on the NIHR’s board will become non-voting members to ensure decision making is not influenced.

The ICC’s B ranking makes the NIHR uncompliant with the Paris Principles which relate to the functioning of human rights groups. It also prevents it from speaking or voting at Human Rights Council meetings.

“We can reapply anytime and especially with amendments to the law following a Royal Decree we are looking forward to getting an A rating in the future,” said Al Deerazi.

In the GCC, Qatar is the only country to have a human rights group with an A ranking by the ICC.

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