Bahrain pulls out of UN human rights body election

A view of the skyline of Manama, capital of Bahrain, at night Oct 20, 2010. (HAMAD I MOHAMMED / REUTERS)

GENEVA – Bahrain will no longer run in an election to the UN's top human rights body later this month, a UN website showed.

A UN site showed that Bahrain withdrew its candidacy on Sept 26 to run for a three-year seat at the Geneva-based body, without giving details.

A Bahrain government spokesperson told Reuters in a statement that the deferral of the Gulf Arab state's candidacy "results from ongoing consultation with its geographical group", describing that as a standard practice.

"Bahrain remains fully supportive of the Human Rights Council, to which it has been elected three times, and will continue to work with other UN member states to promote global human rights best practices," the spokesperson added.

A memo circulated among council members by the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy drew attention to allegations of arbitrary detention as well as reprisals against individuals, as cited in a UN report last month.

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The non-profit organization also held a series of meetings with UN officials and diplomats in August to urge states not to support Bahrain.

A scorecard published by the International Service for Human Rights gave Bahrain a green tick for just three of 16 criteria, one of the lowest scores among candidate countries.

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The rights council does not make legally binding decisions but it carries political weight and can authorize investigations which sometimes help international trials. Elections are due to take place later this month at the UN General Assembly in New York.