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Press briefing notes on Bahrain, Democratic Republic of Congo and Egypt

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location: Geneva
Date: 23 November 2012
1) Bahrain
2) DR Congo
3) Egypt

1) Bahrain

At the invitation of the Government of Bahrain, the High Commissioner for Human Rights is sending a team of four human rights officers to Bahrain from 2-6 December to conduct a needs assessment mission.
Among the areas agreed with the Government, the team will discuss the judicial system and accountability for present and past human rights violations and abuses, as well as the measures undertaken by the Government to implement the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, and those agreed at the recent Universal Periodic Review of Bahrain by the Human Rights Council in Geneva. This is a long-awaited follow-up to a preliminary mission that took place last December. The team is scheduled to hold discussions with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Justice, Interior, Human Rights, Health, Labour, and Education, as well as with the National Human Rights Institution and civil society organizations.
The High Commissioner regrets the decision taken by Bahraini authorities on 7 November to revoke the nationality of 31 citizens for “having undermined state security”. Such a decision may leave around 16 of them stateless. She urges the Government to reconsider this decision, which stands in clear violation of article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that, “everyone has the right to a nationality” and, “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality.”
States are expected to observe minimum procedural standards in order to ensure that decisions concerning the deprivation of nationality do not contain any element of arbitrariness. In particular, States should ensure that a review process can be carried out by a competent jurisdiction of an administrative or judicial nature in conformity with national law and the relevant international human rights standards -- in particular those provided in legally binding instruments such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Bahrain has been a party since 2006.
The High Commissioner is also deeply concerned about the restrictions on public demonstrations and other public gatherings declared by the authorities in Bahrain on 30 October 2012. Bahrain should fully comply with its international human rights commitments, including respect for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and association.
She is also concerned by the sentencing of 23 medical professionals on 21 November, and reiterates her call on the authorities to release all individuals who have been detained or sentenced simply for exercising their right to demonstrate peacefully
2) DR Congo

Because of the security situation in the wake of the fall of Goma to the M23 rebel group, the UN human rights team in Goma is not surprisingly facing considerable difficulties verifying human rights abuses. Nevertheless they have managed to gather information on a number of alleged incidents that reportedly occurred before, during and after the fall of Goma. These include the following:

Alleged violation by the M23 include: The killing of four civilians, including a pregnant woman and a baby, and wounding of at least 50 civilians, during armed clashes between the FARDC and the M23 in and around Goma between 18 and 20 November; the killing of at least five women and wounding of at least 17 civilians during fighting between M23 combatants and FARDC in Sake (about 20 km West of Goma) on 22 November; the wounding of three men, ill-treatment of a pastor, abduction of 14 civilians, including two women and seven children, and looting and destruction of villages by M23 combatants in Kibumba, in Rutshuru territory, on the night of 16 to 17 November, and the killing of a judicial inspector of the military auditor’s office (Auditorat militaire de garnison) by M23 in Goma on the night of 20-21 November.

Alleged violations carried out by FARDC soldiers include: the wounding of six civilians, including a child, in the Majengo quarter of Goma on 18 November; the wounding of a man by a FARDC soldier, in Mugunga, in Nyragongo territory, North Kivu , also on 18 November; and the looting and burning of houses by FARDC soldiers in Goma, on 19 November.

In response to a follow-up question on targeting of government officials in Goma:

Yes, we are very concerned about a number of journalists, human rights defenders and local government official who are still in Goma. Many of theme have received death threats, and as mentioned earlier one local official -- the judicial inspector -- has apparently been targeted and killed already

3) Egypt (in response to a question about Thursday's declaration by the President)

We are obviously very concerned about the possible huge ramifications of this declaration for human rights and the rule of law. We also fear this may lead to a very volatile situation over the next few days. We may make a longer comment on this later, once we have had a chance to analyse the possible impact.


For more information or media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Cécile Pouilly (+ 41 22 917 9310 /cpouilly@ohchr.org)

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