Bahraini authorities block travel of human rights defender
While the most recent series of UPR Info's Pre-sessions (4-7 April 2017) was met with success and enthusiasm by civil society and States alike, a deeply concerning incident arose with respect to the Pre-session of Bahrain. A prominent Bahraini human rights defender was due to speak at the Pre-session of Bahrain on 6 April, but was prevented from boarding a plane in Manama airport to travel to Geneva. UPR Info expresses its concern and disappointment at the actions taken by the Bahraini authorities in preventing one of its citizens from participating in the country's UPR Pre-sessions. The restriction undermines the legitimate role of civil society within the UPR process, and casts a shadow of intimidation over engagement with international human rights mechanisms.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time human rights defenders have experienced repercussions for their engagement with UPR advocacy, as was the case at the Pre-sessions of Sudan and South Sudan in 2016. UPR Info recalls that civil society is an officially recognised stakeholder of the UPR process, and any actions to thwart its engagement undermines the very integrity of the mechanism itself. UPR Info calls on all States to ensure that human rights defenders are both permitted and supported in their UPR activities. With the beginning of the third cycle just weeks a way, UPR Info urges due recognition and inclusion of all stakeholders at the UPR.