Bahrain sets up detainees’ rights commission
Bahrain has set up an independent commission of the rights of prisoners and detainees.
The 12-member commission, to be chaired by the ombudsman, will monitor the conditions and treatment of prisoners and detainees to ensure that they meet international standards, the decree issued by King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa said.
The members, who represent all segments of Bahraini society, are entitled to visit all prisons and detention centres, talk directly with the prisoners and detainees, report cases of torture or mistreatment and issue recommendations to improve conditions and treatment.
Under Article four of the decree, the commission defines its own line of work independently and without the interference of any party. It decides on the time to visit prisoners and detainees and on whether the visit will be announced or unannounced.
People who provide the commission members with information on the conditions or treatment of prisoners or detainees must not be subject to any punitive measures, the decree issued late Monday said.
All officials in charge of prisons and detention centres must enable the commission members to carry out their missions and provide them with the information they request regarding the prisoners or the detainees.
The commission may request assistance from experts on any issue it wants to discuss or research, but they are not given the right to vote.
A report is to be drafted following each visit to a prison or detention centre and observations and recommendations should be included in it. Concerned parties are requested to respond to the report “within a reasonable period of time”, the decree said.
The work of the commission is to be funded from the budget allocated to the ombudsman, formally launched on July 4 in the capital Manama.
Bahrain has adopted a series of measures to boost a culture of human rights in the country following the publication in November 2011 of a report by an independent international fact-finding commission that looked into the events that occurred in the kingdom in February and March 2011.
The report by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) included a series of recommendations that, when implemented, would help heal the country’s wounds and would ensure that the dramatic days that divided the society politically and socially would not be repeated.
The ombudsman, the first of its type in the Gulf, was launched by the interior ministry in July to look into complaints and grievances against its uniformed and civilian personnel.