Bahrain's Said Mohammed Al-Faihani has been appointed the Asian Group's representative to an advisory body to the UN Human Rights Council despite growing concern over Bahrain's handling of the protest movement there, reported CNN.
His Saturday election came a day after the Bahrain Center for Human Rights reported the death of a 17-year-old demonstrator, Ali Hussain Neamah, believed killed by riot police as part of ongoing nationwide anti-government demonstrations.
Bahrain's King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, a Sunni monarch struggling to contain largely Shiite-led protests against his rule, was quick to praise Al-Faihani's nomination as one that "represents the international community's confidence in Bahrain's progress in the human rights' field," according to CNN, while the state-run Bahrain News Agency hailed it as a "landmark" for the nation.
Al-Faihani, a member of the country's social development ministry, has denied reports of torture and other abuse believed used by the regime against protesters. He told Human Rights First “everyone who’s been arrested has been shown an arrest warrant and proper documentation and that no one had been taken by masked men from their home.”
Human Rights Watch on September 19 called on Bahrain to "act on its UN human rights commitments," accusing authorities of using torture and other abuse on protesters and repeating calls for the release of political detainees.
Meanwhile, Al-Faihani joins the UN Human Rights Council’s Advisory Committee, a body tasked with providing "expertise to the Council in the manner and form requested by the Council, focusing mainly on studies and research-based advice," according to rights watchdog Freedom House.
The group openly opposed Al-Faihani's candidacy, writing that his "expertise is in presenting the Bahraini government in the ‘most positive light possible.'"
The strategic Gulf nation serves as the headquarters for the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.