Bahrain says recommendations being implemented

February 13, 2013

More than 14 months after the publication of a report on the events that unfolded in Bahrain in February and March 2011, the flurry of claims and counterclaims about the implementation of its recommendations reflects the unease that has gripped the Bahraini society.

The report was published in November 2011 by an international commission of five legal experts led by M. Cherif Bassiouni, an authority on international criminal justice who contributed to the establishment of the International Criminal Court, based on four months of extensive field work, thousands of written and oral statements and numerous interviews across the political, social and activism spectrum.

The report also included a series of recommendations to “prevent the recurrence of similar events and how to address them” and included releasing political prisoners, identifying and prosecuting the officials responsible for the violent repression of protests and adopting reforms to the security sector.

King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa accepted the report and called for the implementation of its recommendations under the monitoring of a national commission where the opposition would be represented, as recommended by the BICI.

The national commission was set up by the king on November 26 to track the execution of the BICI recommendations and proposals. However, opposition figures reportedly turned down invitations to join it.

The 19-member commission in its report four months later said that it “had worked hard with the government to reform the justice system, human rights, policing, security services and the media sector in a way that accords with best international accordance”.

The government has maintained that it had implemented most of the recommendations and explained that the remaining ones needed more time “due to their nature that requires changes in the prevailing culture or the development of new strategies and programmes”.

Officials say that Bahrain had gone a long way in implementing the recommendations.

“Concrete changes can be seen now in the laws and procedures,” Shaikh Khalid Bin Ali Al Khalifa, the justice minister, said. “The issue of sacked workers has been closed and independent entities, including an internal ombudsman’s office, have been set up at the interior ministry. A compensation fund for the victims has been established and 500 people were recruited in the community police,” he said in December.

Others refer to the launch of programmes to train law enforcement personnel in the security field on aspects of human rights as well as judges and public prosecutors.

However, the opposition has repeatedly said that the implementation has been “painfully slow” or “non-existent”.

In its statements, it refers to the prison terms against some of the political and religious figures, the lack of accountability for violations by security staff during the unrest and afterwards and the non-reinstatement of sacked employees.

However, the claims have been invariably contested by the government with the arguments that the prison terms were against people who called for toppling the regime and that it had already sentenced officers to jail terms for their abuses.

Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry: 

Commission of Inquiry (BICI) to draft a report on what happened in Bahrain in early 2011 and the consequences of the events.

The BICI launched its investigation on July 20, 2011, and conducted interviews with 5,188 people “for the purpose of collecting statements from witnesses and complainants” and “received 8,110 complaints and statements of various abuses.”

The commission said it conducted 65 primary site visits and held 48 primary meetings with various official agencies and members of political and civil society, with numerous follow-up visits.

On November 23, 2011, the BICI issued its report that offered a narrative of the events that occurred during February and March and their context.

It also gave “a description of the acts of violence that have occurred, instances of alleged police brutality and alleged violence by protestors and/or demonstrators against police and others, including foreigners.”



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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