On behalf of Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR), and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), ECDHR advocacy associate Isabel Cerda Marcos delivered three oral interventions on the human rights situation in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states during the 30th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC).
In her first intervention, Cerda Marcos called on the Saudi Arabian government to implement all of the recommendations included in the Second Cycle of the Universal
Periodic Review (UPR). Until now, Saudi Arabia has not made any significant steps forward in human rights protection, especially concerning the rights of women, still considered subordinate to men. Similarly, there is a lack of improvement in the protection of freedom of expression, so human rights activists and members of civil society are still victims of torture, detention and abuses. Video of the intervention can be found here.
During her second intervention, Cerda Marcos called attention to extraterritorial censorship used by GCC states against activists and human rights defenders. Cerda Marcos reported three cases of human rights defenders punished for acts of free expression made at previous sessions of the UN Human Rights Council:
- Samar Badawi – currently subject to a travel ban imposed by the Saudi Arabian authorities in retaliation against her advocacy in Europe and the Americas;
- Nabeel Rajab – under a travel ban for posting tweets against the Bahraini government while he was attending the 27th HRC session;
- Ahmed Mansoor – suffered intimidation, physical assaults, and a travel ban imposed by the UAE authorities for his human rights activities abroad.
In her speech, Cerda Marcos called on the GCC states to respect its own citizens’ right to free speech, and urged European and American states to protect acts of free expressions act by foreign human rights defenders within their own borders. Video of the intervention can be found here.
In her third intervention, Cerda Marcos called on Saudi Arabia to renew the Technical Cooperation Programme with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). This would provide key support to the progress made during the First Technical Cooperation Programme, which started in 2014. Cerda Marcos asked that the Second Programme extend the parameters of cooperation between Saudi Arabia and OHCHR, including a formal participation of Saudi civil society. Furthermore, the new agreement should provide for the establishment of government bodies for the protection of human rights, in order to create a safe space for human rights defenders and for all members of civil society. Video of the intervention can be found here.