Bahrain rejects non-respect of recommendations allegations

May 20, 2013

Bahrain’s Attorney-General has rejected allegations that the recommendations by an international fact-finding team to drop charges overlapping with freedom of expression had not been implemented.

“The media report about the non-implementation of the recommendations by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) to drop the accusations overlapping with freedom of expressions did not reflect the reality on the ground,” Abdul Rahman Al Syed said. “It did not acknowledge the measures taken by the public prosecution in the cases being investigated or being reviewed at the courts either,” he said in a statement carried by Bahrain News Agency (BNA).

The BICI was established by King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa in June 2011 to look into the events that occurred in Bahrain in February and March in that year and their consequences.

The international fact-finding panel, chaired by legal expert Sharif Bassiouni, issued a report after four months of field work and interviews that included a series of recommendations to ensure there would be no repeat of the dramatic events that sharply divided the country, often along sectarian lines.

The government accepted the report and set out to implement the recommendations. However, the opposition has often said that the implementation lacked enthusiasm.

On Sunday, a local newspaper published a feature in which lawyers claimed that the recommendations on freedom of speech had not been implemented.

However, for Al Syed, the claims amounted to a misinterpretation of the facts.

“All the facts on this issue have been stated by the public prosecution and there can be no interpretation of the truth,” he said.

“The public prosecution has dropped all the accusations overlapping with freedom of expression and opinion and it has stated this fact both orally and writing before the courts.”

The Attorney-General said that 334 defendants benefited from the decision to drop the charges.

Al Syed added that Bahrain had amended the Penal Code articles in line with the BICI recommendations, but insisted on the need to “distinguish between lawful acts that are not the object of controversy and those that constitute crimes under the law”.

“There is a huge difference between licensed rallies, and gatherings that are illegal and organised with the intent to commit crimes of arson, vandalism, assault on individuals and public and private property, and banditry and to prevent people from conducting their everyday affairs normally and safely. Such gatherings are, without the slightest doubt, punishable crimes, and no-one can, under any justification, say that they fall within the exercise of freedom of opinion and expression,” Al Syed said.

The Attorney-General said that the defendants sentenced to long terms in prison “had not been convicted for exercising their freedom of expression or for stating opinions.

“They were punished for serious crimes that included the attempt to overthrow the political regime by force, collaboration with people working for a foreign country to commit hostile acts inside Bahrain and other associated crimes,” he said.

In January, the Cassation Court, Bahrain’s highest court, upheld life sentences and jail terms for 20 opposition figures on charges of plotting to overthrow the regime.



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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