Bahrain and Kuwait Human Rights Cooperation

وكيل وزارة شؤون مجلس الوزراء يستقبل مساعد وزير خارجية الكويت لشؤون حقوق الإنسان 3 41c6058f 36bc 4b54 83a8 732a6a3fe9eb

On 9 May 2024, Shaikh Isa bin Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, the Undersecretary of Cabinet Affairs and Deputy Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee, received Ambassador Sheikha Jawaher Ibrahim Al-Duaij Al Sabah, the Kuwaiti Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Human Rights. During this meeting, the Bahrain-Kuwait relations were emphasized along with the hopes to further enhance these ties, despite the countries being well known for their persistent and unpunished human rights violations.

In trying to restore their image in the eyes of the international community, many of their actions work to their disadvantage. For example, in 2023, Bahrain invited members of OHCHR to visit the country but canceled the visit on 13 September, the day before it was to begin. The same day, Bahrain signed a new agreement to bolster military and commercial ties with the USA. On 15 September, Bahraini authorities, at a UK airport, prevented a delegation including leaders from Amnesty International, Front-line defenders, and ActionAid Denmark from boarding a flight to Bahrain. The torture and other ill-treatment, the inhuman conditions of detentions, and many other problems can be evoked here and make sense as to why Bahrain didn’t want Human Rights delegations to step foot in the country.

The same story goes for Kuwait which also regularly violates human rights without changing the situation, especially regarding the status of the Bedoons people, a stateless minority group constantly persecuted. The authorities continued to use repressive laws to suppress freedom of expression when Kuwaitis criticized the authorities. Bedoon human rights activists are always targeted and arbitrarily arrested only for peacefully demonstrating. Migrant workers’ rights are also not respected at all as they suffered from injury resulting from outdoor labor and working in rising temperatures in recent years.

That is why a potential human rights cooperation between those two countries seems unusual, as they are both dealing with massive human rights violations. During the meeting, Shaikh Isa bin Ali reviewed Bahrain’s ongoing efforts in consolidating human rights, affirming the Kingdom’s commitment to initiatives aimed at enhancing human rights and upholding their dignity and freedoms in line with Bahrain’s Constitution, the National Action Charter, and relevant legislation. On the same page, Ambassador Sheikha Jawaher praised Bahrain for its significant international human rights achievements, highlighting key initiatives such as the National Human Rights Plan, the Open Prisons Programme, the implementation of Alternative Sentencing, and the kingdom’s dedicated efforts in combating human trafficking. Kuwait is also engaging itself in reinforcing international cooperation in terms of human rights which can be doubted.

It’s highly probable that, even if those Middle Eastern countries are trying to prove their will in respecting and implementing human rights through multiple UN agencies and new programs, the reality is still far from changing.  Moreover, this pretended collaboration between the two countries takes on shades of hypocrisy as they’re whitewashing each other’s human rights violations by supposedly unifying their links.