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Cabinet Issues Statement in Preparation for the BICI Report
05 : 11 PM - 21/11/2011
Information Affairs Authority, Manama, 21 November 2011: In preparation for the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report due on November 23, the Cabinet issued the following statement today:
We anticipate the submission of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry’s (BICI) report to His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa this Wednesday.

The report is the embodiment of many months of intensive work as well as His Majesty’s absolute commitment to determine the truth even if that means highlighting mistakes made by the state and its apparatus. BICI has been given every opportunity to fulfil its mandate for truth with distinction.

No question has been left out of its scope of inquiry into the events of this year. It is comprised of internationally eminent commissioners having vast relevant experience and no links to Bahrain.

The Commissioners and their staff work under the protection of full legal immunity so that they carry on their work without any apprehensions. And the Government has opened its doors to the Commission and its staff.

All the while BICI has carried out its work, the Government has carried out its own assessments and conducted its own investigations. These investigations have revealed things to praise as well as things to deplore.

Regrettably, there have been instances of excessive force and mistreatment of detainees.

This was in violation of government policy. 20 prosecutions against the officers involved have been initiated. This is in no way the limit of the steps that will be taken.

Our police forces have generally shown admirable restraint when faced with great provocation. Every civilian casualty is a defeat for the government. The extremists know this, and have engaged in reckless provocation.

The police have suffered 846 injuries since the beginning of the events; 4 deaths; innumerable threats and insults– especially to their families.

The Government does not seek to excuse any wrongdoing.

The BICI has stated publicly that it has investigated the instances of mistreatment.

We can expect that its report will be very critical of these occurrences and the Government’s responsibility for failing to prevent them. The Government expects such criticism. We cannot condone mistreatment and abuses by our officials. There will be no impunity. All those responsible for abuses will be held accountable.

Over the past several months, we as a government and as a nation have already taken significant steps to address and remedy injustice within our society.

We have established a Special Fund for Victims to ensure that those who suffered in any way from the violent events of February and March are rightly compensated.

There are also before Parliament amendments to the law that would greatly enhance freedom of expression in accordance with international human rights laws.

The right to speak freely is to be protected and not criminalised.

At the same time, through the National Dialogue, the authority of our elected leaders has been increased, placing them at the centre of our legislature.

By giving them the power to accept or reject the government or its programmes, MPs are now better placed than ever before to scrutinise the work of His Majesty’s Government, ensuring greater openness and accountability.

There is more work to be done.

We have already begun to draw up proposals and initiatives on the basis of our own investigations which will advance our reforms and enhance the protection of human rights of our citizens.

Today we announce two sets of amendments to our laws that were agreed by the cabinet.

The first set of amendments changes our penal code so that all forms of torture will be criminalized.

These amendments will be accompanied by stricter sentencing for those that commit torture, together with the lifting of the limitation period for claims of torture.

These amendments will bring our laws on torture in line with international human rights standards. The second set of amendments agreed by the cabinet will result in the establishment of a National Human Rights Institution that will be truly independent of the Government and which will be tasked with promoting and enhancing human rights within the Kingdom.

These amendments mean that this institution would be set up in accordance with the Paris Principles, which represent the international standard against which independent human rights institutions are assessed.

We look forward Wednesday to an independent and honest assessment of the events our country has witnessed. This is what is required for the Government to appraise its performance, to learn from our mistakes, and to enact reforms that serve Bahrain and all the Bahraini people.


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