Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly:
- On March 11-15, Bahrain hosted the 146th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The conference was themed: “Promoting Peaceful Coexistence and Inclusive Societies: Fighting Intolerance.”
- The IPU was established in 1889 to promote democratic governance and cooperation among national parliaments and includes 178 members today.
- Several declarations and resolutions were adopted.
- The Manama Declaration pledges to promote peaceful coexistence and inclusive societies through rights-based economic and social policies. It also advocates for Sustainable Development Goals to be implemented by 2030.
- A resolution on “Cybercrimes: The New Risks to Global Security” exemplifies the need for international cooperation in addressing cybercrimes. It cited the aim of upholding peace and security, while protecting human rights such as freedom of speech.
- An emergency resolution calls for awareness and action on the humanitarian crises in Afghanistan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, Yemen and other countries. The resolution calls on the international community to implement humanitarian assistance through legal and policy measures at the national level.
- Almost 140 countries approved the United Arab Emirates proposal on “Partnerships for Climate Action: Promoting access to affordable green energy, ensuring innovation, responsibility and fairness.”
- Notably, an Israeli Knesset delegation participated in the assembly, marking the first such visit to Bahrain since the signing of the Abraham Accords.
Human Rights Concerns in Bahrain:
- On March 8, Bahraini authorities revoked visas of two Human Rights Watch employees who planned to attend the IPU conference.
- Human Rights Watch (HRW) is a permanent observer of the IPU and regularly attends their biannual conferences.
- This move came after a letter, released by 22 organizations including Human Rights Watch, urged IPU Assembly delegates to “to publicly raise concerns regarding the dire state of political freedom in Bahrain, including the ongoing detention of two former members of Bahrain’s parliament.”
- Several HRW officials and experts from the United Nations had called on Bahrain to drop charges against four people detained after 2021 protests against Israeli normalization.
- HRW also expressed concern over the arrest of four other individuals who had called for parliamentary reform via social media.
- According to Human Rights Watch Acting Executive Director Tirana Hassan, “unilateral reversal of Human Rights Watch’s access to the IPU conference is a blatant example of its escalating repression” against political opposition and civil society.
- Hassan also asserted that members of the organization have been barred from entering Bahrain since 2012.