The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with the National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR) and the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the United Nations Office in Geneva, held a panel discussion on the sidelines of the 54th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC 54).
The session, which focused on the establishment of the post of Child Rights Commissioner at the NIHR, was attended by a number of heads and representatives of permanent missions to the UN Office, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), representatives of the relevant UN agencies, and the secretariat of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, in addition to a group of human rights jurists participating in HRC 54.
Ali Ahmed Al Derazi, NIHR Chairman, Ambassador Dr. Yusuf Abdulkarim Bucheeri, the Director-General of Legal Affairs and Human Rights at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Houria Hassan, Child Rights Commissioner at the NIHR, Professor Carmen Parra Rodriguez, Director of UNESCO Chair on Peace, Solidarity and Intercultural Dialogue, and David Fernandez Puyana, Ambassador, Permanent Observer of the United Nations University for Peace (UPEACE) to the UN in Geneva, Permanent Delegate of UPEACE to the UNESCO in Paris, attended the symposium.
The panel discussion focused on the role and competencies of the Child Rights Commissioner at the NIHR, and highlighted the progress made by the kingdom towards the actual implementation of the recommendations of the universal periodic review by creating this effective type of national mechanism.
Al Derazi reviewed the kingdom’s keen interest in issues related to children through the issuance of the Restorative Justice Law for Children and Their Protection from Maltreatment, in addition to its accession to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols.
He indicated that the establishment of the post of Child Rights Commissioner is in line with the jurisdiction stipulated in the NIHR’s law, given its utmost importance in preserving children’s rights and preventing any violations that may affect their life and upbringing, expressing hope that the move will support efforts to consolidate and protect children’s rights in Bahrain, which would contribute to achieving the NIHR’s vision and mission aiming to establish the culture of human rights as a lifestyle for the citizens and residents.
Ambassador Dr. Yusuf Abdulkarim Bucheeri asserted that the NIHR’s decision to set up the post of Child Rights Commissioner is the first of its kind in the Arab world, noting that the move is the fruitful outcome of the kingdom’s ratification of the 1992 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and the two Optional Protocols to the CRC on the involvement of children in armed conflicts, sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
It is also the outcome of Bahrain’s accession to many other international agreements, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which enabled the kingdom to create frameworks and develop national programmes, policies and legislation that are consistent with the international standards set by these agreements in the field of protecting and promoting children’s rights, he said.
The Director-General of Legal Affairs and Human Rights at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirmed Bahrain’s keenness to cooperate with the contractual and non-contractual mechanisms of the UN and implement their final recommendations related to policies and measures aimed at promoting children’s rights at the national level.
He indicated that the issue of the Commissioner for the Rights of the Child was raised by a number of international entities, including the fourth session of the Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights in 2022, noting that the NIHR’s decision confirms Bahrain’s seriousness in implementing the recommendations of the contractual and non-contractual committees and its sincere desire to cooperate with them.
Dr. Houria Hassan highlighted the jurisdictions of the Child Rights Commissioner, which stem from the same competencies assigned to the NIHR in Law (26) of 2014 on its establishment, amended by Decree-Law (20) of 2016.
In this regard, she said that the Child Rights Commissioner at the NIHR has a mandate to represent the opinions of children and youth and defend issues related to their rights, as well as study national legislation and verify its compatibility with relevant international agreements.
It is also responsible for following up on issues facing children and protecting their interests, as well as following up on new policies and legislation to verify their impact on their rights, in addition to conducting research and studies related to the rights, opinions and best interests of children, she added.
The Child Rights Commissioner also has the mandate to receive children’s complaints and work on resolving them, provide the necessary support and assistance when needed, and enhance close cooperation among the Commissioner, government agencies, civil society institutions, and relevant regional and international non-governmental organisations in this regard, she also said.
The attendees lauded the kingdom’s establishment of the Child Rights Commissioner, and gave recommendations aimed at consolidating the kingdom’s experience in this regard.