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Rights experts in Arab court push.

HUMAN rights organisations from around the world will convene in Manama today as the International Conference of the Arab Court for Human Rights gets underway.

The two-day conference, at the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa, is set to feature both regional and international human rights experts.

Representatives from the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, the African Court of Human and People's Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are all confirmed to attend.

"The idea for the Arab Court for Human Rights came from His Majesty King Hamad last year," said National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR) secretary general Dr Ahmed Farhan at a Press conference at the hotel yesterday.

"It is part of democratic action and a sign of government openness with society.

"We wanted to establish it and have the headquarters in Bahrain.

"The court is not there to circumvent the law - it should only be approached after all other avenues, including going to the police and to court, have been exhausted."

A set of recommendations will be drawn up at the conference's conclusion, which will be passed to the Arab League secretary general who will in turn present it to the Arab Cabinet when it meets in Kuwait in September, Dr Farhan said.

NIHR vice-chairman Abdulla Al Deerazi said that the aim of the conference was to find the most "practical" recommendations.

"Regional and international experts will be coming to the conference, including the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights vice-president," he said.

"We will be holding workshops and talks to understand how to benefit from their experience.

"It will be attended by judges, legal advisers, human rights activists and non-governmental organisations. These include Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

"It will help enrich our understanding for the Arab Court for Human Rights and we look forward to having practical solutions to enhance human rights in the Arab world."

Mr Al Deerazi added that as yet it was undecided whether complaints from individuals would be accepted.

"There has not been a decision made on whether or not the court will accept individual complaints," he said.

"The European Court of Human Rights was established for a long time before they accepted individual complaints, so the same applies here."

More than 140 participants from abroad are expected to take part.

The GDN reported in September on Mr Al Deerazi's hope that a court set up to tackle human rights violations throughout the Arab world would open in Bahrain within the next five years.

The Arab Court for Human Rights needs to be ratified by at least seven countries before it becomes a reality, but Mr Al Deerazi said that it was encouraging that thus far no Arab country had opposed it.

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Geographic Code:7BAHR
Date:May 25, 2014
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