Last edited: February 2006
Summary and Analysis
Bahrain acceded to the Convention on the Rights of Child (CRC) in February 1992. Article 37 of the Constitution of Bahrain stipulates that a treaty shall “acquire the force of law after its conclusion, ratification and publication in the Official Gazette, which endows it with the same legal status as any of the country's other laws.”
Having thus become part of Bahraini law, the provisions of the Convention can be invoked before the national courts. However, Bahrain does not apply the system of adoption as mentioned in the Convention, since the country's laws make provisions for the system of fosterage in accordance with the Islamic (Shariat) Law.
The Law of Judicial Authority (2003) establishes the jurisdiction of the Lesser Shariat Courts “to rule in rights of custody, protection, and relocation with the child to another country.” Since the Shariat accepts the authority of the Koran, these laws are binding upon children of all Muslim sects. However, the Bahraini judicial system takes into consideration the differences between the Sunni and Jaafari branches of Islam. Bahrain also has secular Civil Courts whose jurisdiction includes the “personal affairs of non-Muslims.” In 1998, non-Muslims constituted 18.2% of the country's population.
Islamic (Shariat) law is not codified and hence does not prescribe any particular procedure to be followed so as to pay special attention to the preferences of a child. However, because the application of the Shariat law is interpretive, there exists the possibility that it can be interpreted in a manner favorable to respecting the views of a child.
In the past few years, the Government of Bahrain has established organizations such as the National Committee on Childhood to further the rights of children. In 2002, the Bahraini Government, along with the local telecommunications network, set up Bahrain's first helpline for children. This helpline, called “Be Free,” aims to promote awareness of child rights among children and to protect them from abuse.
However, as the Committee on the Rights of Child noted in its concluding report in 2002, traditional attitudes towards children in society limit respect for their views.  Children are also not systematically heard in court and administrative proceedings on matters that affect them. As the Committee also concluded, Bahrain's un-codified system may be subject to arbitrariness and lack of uniformity between different judges. Judgments and procedures may also vary for different Islamic sects and the secular courts.
Thus, Bahrain today faces many structural and grassroots challenges to providing children with a special protective system that takes their views into consideration. However, the past few years have seen significant positive development and respect for child rights has become a part of Bahrain's social, political and judicial reform agenda.
Despite our best efforts, we were unable to find a contact person for this jurisdiction.
Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)
Convention on the Rights of Child
1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.
Website of “Be Free,” Bahrain's child helpline:
 Law of Judicial Authority (2003), Part 2, Article 17, available at
http://www.arabjudicialforum.org/ajf_bahrain_judicial_law.html, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.
 Summary record of the 769th meeting: Bahrain. 04/02/2002. CRC/C/SR.769, Section ttt, available at
http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/d71a9052a986416bc1256b5a003961bc?Opendocument, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.
 Law of Judicial Authority (2003), supra note 3, Part 1 Article 6.
 Report Submitted to the Committee on the Rights of Child by the Kingdom of Bahrain, CRC/C/11/Add.24. (2001), Part 1, Section A5, Article 24, available at
http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/44969d49c6f79b0ec1256ae2004f05e6?Opendocument, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.
 Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Bahrain, CRC/C/15/Add.175 (2002), Section D3, Article 33, available at
http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/0/1888017232928146c1256b59004e9cba?Opendocument, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.
 Concluding Observations, Section D1, Article 5, supra note 7.
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