Plan to set up Arab Court for Rights welcomed


Manama: Human rights activists from the region and Arab world have welcomed a proposal to set up the Arab Court for Human Rights, but insisted on giving women a fair representation at all levels, including as judges.
Activists taking part in the four workshops at the two-day conference on Sunday and Monday in Bahrain said that they looked forward to the court charter stipulating gender equality through a fair presence of women within the structural organisation of the court and, very importantly, as judges.
Judges should be fully independent and should be appointed to a single term that is not renewable, the activists representing civil society organisations versed in human rights and national rights institutions said.
There should be a clear mechanism for selecting judges who should be fully competent and should not represent their countries, they said.
The independence of the court should be clearly stipulated in the statute, the activists said.
Other recommendations included ensuring the right of all NGOs as well as citizens and expatriates living in the Arab world to file lawsuits at the court.
They said that all trials should be open and that the court should issue periodic reports on its activities and plans.’
The general assembly of the court should include representatives from all member countries, they said.
The court should stipulate in its bylaws that all victims and complainants who file lawsuits should be given proper protection.
One recommendation called for involving young people in the court process as an investment in the future.
According to a Bahraini rights activist, international laws would be taken into consideration while establishing the court. However, some areas that are peculiar to the Arab region will also be highly considered, he added.
Bahraini MP Sawsan Taqawi said in a statement that she supported the Arab dimension in the court to ensure it is endorsed by Arabs.
Arab League officials on Sunday said they expected the court to be established in September.
Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa in November 2011 called for setting up the court that will contribute to international justice and fairness.
“I will propose to our fellow Arab states that we now move concretely toward the creation of an Arab Court for Human Rights to take its proper place on the international stage,” King Hamad said then. “Bahrain was an immediate supporter of the Arab Charter of Human Rights 15 years ago, but in truth this text has not created a system like those of Europe and the Americas.”
The Bahraini leader said that the nations of Europe were routinely held accountable before the European Court in Strasbourg.