Bahrain in the UN Human Rights High Commissioner’s Annual report 2012
18. According to information received, reprisals against human rights defenders took place in the context of the universal periodic review of Bahrain on 21 May 2012. Reportedly, a number of Bahraini newspapers, including El Watan and the Gulf Daily News published articles labelling human rights defenders in Geneva who had provided information for the consideration of Bahrain in the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review as “traitors”. Individuals who had been present at the universal periodic review session were described as the “disloyal bunch” whose mission it was to “tarnish Bahrain‟s reputation”.
19. Human rights defenders attending the universal periodic review session expressed fears over their security and possible reprisals upon their return to Bahrain. On 25 May 2012, following the adoption of the report on Bahrain by the Working Group of the Universal Periodic Review, the President of the Human Rights Council expressed concern at the media campaign in Bahrain against human rights defenders who had participated in the review and called upon Bahraini authorities to ensure the safety of those persons upon their return.
20. Reportedly, the Ministry of Interior of Bahrain stated on 26 May 2012 that those returning from Geneva may be investigated for having slandered their country. One prominent lawyer and human rights defender was subjected to a smear campaign upon his return to Bahrain from the session of the Working Group. Another human rights defender was injured by riot police while peacefully demonstrating in Bahrain; allegedly he was targeted because of his previous attendance at the universal periodic review session.
21. An exchange of letters between the Permanent Representatives of Bahrain and of Jordan (in its capacity as Chair of the Arab Ambassadors Council) and the President of the Human Rights Council, in consultation with the Bureau, subsequently took place on this matter. A meeting was also held in this regard.