THE Ministry of Human Rights and Social Development yesterday reaffirmed its respect for the work of human rights organisations and their role in promoting human rights.
The ministry, in reply to a statement issued by the Freedom House on Thursday, said that Bahrain has hosted 10 NGOs since the beginning of the year and will continue to do so in the future.
It said in a statement that the ministry received a request on April 5 from the International Freedom of Expression eXchange network (IFEX) for its members to visit the kingdom from May 6 to 10.
The ministry initially welcomed the visit, but found that certain necessary documents were missing and IFEX was requested on April 11 to provide the necessary documents.
On April 19, the NGOs Committee was notified of the request for the visit by IFEX, of which Freedom House is a part. On receiving all documents, an urgent meeting of the NGOs Committee was called and at its meeting on April 26, the committee examined the request and found that it contained requests for visits by more than one NGO.
To give ample time for the visit and to be able to liaise with government officials with ease, the committee adopted certain guidelines, one of which is to limit the visits of NGOs to one visit. Hence a letter of clarification was sent to the Freedom House asking each organisation to apply separately for the visit.
The ministry informed the Freedom House that this was merely an organisational issue in order to be able to deal with the request at a manageable level and not a denial of entry.
The ministry said yesterday that the response to the request was merely a capacity issue and intended to serve NGOs better. It was ready to look into the requests of the five NGOs should they apply separately, the ministry added.