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Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry Report Recommendations
10 : 10 AM - 20/03/2012
Manama, March 20 (BNA) -- On Nov. 23, 2011, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) released its report on the events surrounding the unrest in Bahrain during February and March 2011. Given an unprecedented mandate in the Middle East, the commission undertook a comprehensive investigation of all allegations stemming from this difficult period in Bahrain’s history.

Chaired by renowned international law expert Dr. Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni, the commission interviewed thousands of individuals and considered thousands of testimonies in an effort to construct a unified narrative of events that would provide the basis for a comprehensive reconciliation process in Bahrain.

The government of Bahrain (GoB) has accepted the report, pledged to hold those implicated in wrongdoing accountable, and is committed to implementing the recommendations contained in the report by the end of February 2012.

1715: To establish an independent and impartial National Commission consisting of personalities of high standing representing both the GoB, opposition political parties and civil society to follow up and implement the recommendations of this commission.
On Nov. 26, 2011 HM King Hamad established a 19-person independent National Commission to oversee the implementation of the BICI report recommendations. The commission members represent a broad cross-section of Bahraini society and have been granted full authority to comment on the government’s progress on the implementation process. Al-Wefaq continues to rebuff an invitation to participate in the commission. Despite this unfortunate stance, the GoB continues to keep the invitation open for Al-Wefaq to join at any time. The commission had its first meeting on Dec. 8, 2011 and will hand its report to His Majesty.

1716: To establish a national independent and impartial mechanism to determine the accountability of those in government who have committed unlawful or negligent acts resulting in the deaths, torture and mistreatment of civilians with a view to bringing legal and disciplinary action against such individuals.
A team comprising Sir Daniel Bethlehem QC, Sir Jeffrey Jowell QC, Professor Adnan Amkhan, Professor Sarah Cleveland and David Perry QC (external legal experts) provided their advice on implementing this recommendation through the establishment of a special unit within public prosecution that is dedicated to the task of determining accountability (Special Investigations Unit). The features of this unit would be as follows:
• It would be led by a senior public prosecutor.
• It will be supplemented by experienced and independent criminal investigators and forensic experts.
• The unit will have available to it a newly created senior independent investigations counselor (appointed by the Supreme Judicial Council), experienced in prosecuting and investigating crimes; this person will also be familiar with international standards on human rights investigations.
• Guidance will also be provided to this unit on how to apply the principle of Superior Responsibility, which is already part of Bahraini law.
The public prosecutor continues to investigate any unlawful acts resulting in deaths, torture and mistreatment with a view to commencing legal and disciplinary actions. To date, the public prosecutor is pursuing 107 cases of deaths, torture and mistreatment of civilians, so far involving 48 officers. At the time of the BICI Report this number was 20.

1717a: To place the office of the Inspector General in MOI as a separate entity independent of the ministry’s hierarchical control, whose tasks should include those of an internal “ombudsman’s office”.
Lawyers Sir Jeffrey Jowell QC and Sir Daniel Bethlehem QC will formulate a plan for the way the office of Inspector General in the MOI can be established. For this ombudsman role, various examples from around the world are being studied. Technical assistance will also be sought from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the U.N. office with the exclusive mandate for criminal justice. An agreement is currently being finalized with the UNDOC to provide such assistance. Legal and sensitivity training will be provided conforming to the highest international and comparative standards.

An independent ombudsman for policing is being established as part of satisfying the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) recommendations. The Ombudsman, which will be entirely independent from the Ministry of Interior, will have the responsibility of conducting investigations into allegations made against the police and other issues that relate to public confidence in policing.

A new Internal Affairs Department will also be established within the Ministry of Interior (MOI), which will be responsible for disciplinary reviews. The Internal Affairs department will also oversee the new Police Code of Conduct

1717b: The office of the Inspector General in the Ministry of Interior (MOI) should promulgate and enforce police professional standards and carry out legal and sensitivity training for police officers.
The MOI has also finalized a police manual (the Manual) setting out the duties of police officers, including procedures to be followed when arresting persons. The pocket sized manual will be issued to all officers; and will be made part of the training program for police officers.
A new program for human rights and legal training (on the procedures) has already begun for new police officers. Existing officers will also be trained in this program, which will now be enriched by the new code and the manual. A program is being developed for sensitivity training by John Timoney and John Yates. Training of officers will always be updated from the lessons learnt by the Ombudsman. The new decree contains a provision that obliges the Ombudsman to “assist the police to ensure that any relevant lessons learned are incorporated into existing policies or training, as the case may be.”

1718b: The NSA should also have an independent office of inspector general to carry out the same internal ― ombudsman functions mentioned above with respect to the MOI.
The team of international legal experts referenced in recommendation 1716 will study the best way to establish the police Inspector General (see recommendation 1716).

1718a: To amend the decree establishing the National Security Agency (NSA) so the organization is an intelligence gathering agency without law enforcement and arrest authorities.
This was implemented by decree on Nov. 28, 2011. As a result of this decree, the NSA is now an intelligence gathering agency with no law enforcement and arrest powers.

1718c: Legislation should be adopted to provide that even during the application of a State of National Safety the arrest of persons should be in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure.
In response to the request of the National Commission, the cabinet approved legislative amendments that ensure that even in the State of National Safety arrests of persons will be in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure.

1719: To adopt legislative measures requiring the attorney general to investigate claims of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment with independent forensic experts.
At the recommendation of the National Commission the cabinet approved the following legislative amendments on Jan. 8, 2012;
• Give the attorney general the exclusive jurisdiction to investigate claims of torture and other forms of inhuman treatment.
• Protect people from any retribution for raising a claim of torture or other forms of cruel or inhuman treatment.
• Technical assistance regarding this recommendation will be provided by:
o The UNODC
o International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences
o American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI)

1720: To review all convictions and sentences rendered by the NSA courts in ordinary courts, where there is prompt and full access to legal counsel and inadmissibility of coerced testimony.
All live cases are being reviewed in ordinary courts to ensure fair trial rights have been complied within cases before the National Safety Courts (NSC). On Jan. 2, 2012, the Supreme Judicial Council announced that it had formed a committee to review all final convictions that were rendered in the NSC to ensure the accused was provided with a fair trial.

1722a: To conduct effective investigations in accordance with the Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions of all the deaths that have been attributed to the security forces.
These codes on investigating deaths and torture are being implemented by the external legal experts have advised that the AG can fulfill the role of the “independent and impartial body,” provided there is sufficient training on conducting effective investigations. To that end GoB has agreed an extensive program of training for prosecutors with the International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences (ISISC), based on Syracusa, the program will be delivered by an experienced Arab speaking faculty, with examples drawn from BICI.

1722b: To establish a standing independent body to examine all complaints of torture or ill-treatment, excessive use of force or other abuses at the hands of the authorities.
The external legal experts (see recommendation 1716 above) have advised on the establishment of an Independent Ombudsman, outside the MoI, to oversee and conduct investigations in the most serious allegations made against the police and serious issues affecting the public confidence in policing.
Additionally, a new Internal Affairs Department in the MoI with internal responsibility for first order disciplinary review. The relevant decree establishing both the Ombudsman and the Internal Affairs department was issued on Feb. 28, 2012. The decree, taking inspiration from the UK ombudsman model, was drafted by the external legal experts in consultation with John Yates and John Timoney.
The UNODC will also provide technical assistance with implementing this recommendation, by both providing input not only commenting on the proposals of GoB and also providing the relevant training (see 1717).

1722c: To implement an extensive program of public order training for public security forces, the NSA and the Bahrain Defense Force (BDF), in accordance with U.N. best practices.
• On Jan. 18, 2012 the Minister of Interior approved a new Code of Conduct for Bahraini Police. The Code of Conduct was drafted in consultation with Mr. John Timoney, as well as legal and policing experts, and is based on various international policing codes, including the U.N. Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the European Code of Police Conduct. It adopts the “principles-based” approach, setting out the broad duties of police officers in relation to various aspects of their work, including the use of force, respect for human dignity and maintaining the rule of law. As the introduction states, the code constitutes a new social contract between the police and the Bahraini community.
• The MOI has now begun to work on supplementing this code with a more detailed book of police regulations, and is consulting international experts on the matter.
• The NSA began a comprehensive program of training for its personnel on Jan. 22, 2012. The courses will take place during revolving periods of six months, and will include classes on basic human rights, appropriate professional conduct and how to interact with members of the public.
• The Minister of Interior signed an order on Dec. 22, 2011 instructing the Chief of Public Security to facilitate the following with the aid of international experts and specialists:
• To design and carry out legal training course for public security personnel in order to enhance the protection of human rights, especially in the context of public order, detention and interrogation.
• To prepare and issue the police Code of Conduct in compliance with U.N. best practices, including the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.

1722d: To avoid detention without prompt access to lawyers, as well as holding detainees incommunicado. Detention should be subject to effective monitoring by an independent body and guarantee the right to due process and the rights of detainees.
• Minister of Interior signed an order on Dec. 22, 2011 instructing the Inspector General to take all necessary steps, including any necessary training of officers and amendments to the procedures for arrest and detention, to guarantee the rights of all suspects including their right to:
• not be held incommunicado;
• be shown a warrant upon arrest;
• be given prompt access to their lawyers; and
• allowed family visits in accordance with the Bahrain Code of Criminal Procedure.
• A number of models in use worldwide are being studied to ensure such monitoring takes place and is effective.

1722e: To establish urgently, and implement vigorously, a program for the integration into the security forces of personnel from all the communities in Bahrain.
The Minister of the Interior signed an order on Dec. 22, 2011 in which: the ministry was instructed that it should, as a matter of urgency, recruit 500 men and women into the police force from all communities in the five governates, and jobs will be open to members of all sects.

1722f : To train the judiciary and prosecutorial personnel on the need to ensure that their activities contribute to the prevention and eradication of torture and ill-treatment.
GoB has agreed to implement this recommendation through a training program developed with the International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences (ISISC) in Syracusa. ISISC enjoys special consultative status with the United Nations and the Council of Europe. ISISC has also a special cooperation agreement with the United Nations Office in Vienna (UNOV), and it is one of the 18 organizations comprising the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Program Network. The network assists the United Nations Program and interested member states in strengthening international cooperation in crime prevention and criminal justice.
This not-for-profit institute has developed a program with Professor Bassiouni and features internationally recognized experts from the Arab world and Arabic language materials on human rights law and international criminal law. The curricula will also contain real case studies from BICI.
A particular feature of the program is that it takes an integrated approach so all relevant actors involved in the investigation and prosecution of torture and ill-treatment are exposed to each other, which encourages better coordination.
Accordingly, training will be in small groups comprising members from the judiciary, public prosecution and police.

1722g: There should be audiovisual recording of all official interviews with detained persons.
Sixty cameras have been ordered from Germany, twenty of which have now been delivered. Work has commenced on Hoora and it is expected to be finished on track. Audiovisual equipment will be fitted in 33 interrogation rooms within two months.
The interrogation rooms will then be fitted with the new design (new glass, walls, furniture etc) at a rate of five every 1.5 months, aiming to complete the project within a maximum of eight months.
With respect to interrogations conducted with public prosecutors, on Feb. 28, 2012, the attorney general confirmed that the Public Prosecution Office had contracted to purchase audiovisual recording equipment from the same company that sold equipment to the Ministry of Interior. Equipment has been purchased for 60 interrogation rooms, which will also be fitted with special insulation. It is estimated that that the 60 rooms will be fully fitted with the equipment within the next two months.

1722h: To review convictions and commute sentences (or drop charges) of all persons charged with offences involving political expression, not consisting of advocacy of violence.
On Dec. 24, 2011, the attorney general confirmed that all charges relating to free speech will be dropped, with cases only being pursued against those persons accused of violent crimes. This decision benefits 343 people.
On Jan. 2, 2012, the Supreme Judicial Council announced that a committee of civilian judges will review all convictions with a view to commute sentences of all persons charged with offences involving political expression, not consisting of advocacy of violence.

1722i: To commute the death sentence imposed for murder arising out of the events of February/March 2011, in the light of the preference of Article 6 of the ICCPR for the abolition of the death penalty and the concerns regarding the fairness of trials conducted by the National Safety Court.
A final death sentence has not been passed in any case arising out of the unrest. If such a sentence is confirmed by a final judgment, the government will consider this recommendation.

1722j: To compensate and provide remedies for the families of the deceased victims in a manner that is commensurate with the gravity of their loss.
A decree was issued on Jan. 26, 2012. It creates a national victims’ compensation fund which will be managed by a new committee which will be composed of five individuals appointed by the Supreme Judicial Council.
The decree is modeled on international best practices for victim’s funds around the world and the United Nations Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to Redress and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law.

Mechanisms have been established in response to the recommendation of the National Commission to expedite access to compensation:

• The Supreme Judicial Council announced on Feb. 27, 2012 the establishment of Special Compensation Courts (SCC). The compensation fund requires a criminal judgment against an individual before compensation can be sought. But for complaints against the state (where no one individual is identified) a civil judgment would be required against the relevant agency, which could take considerable time. The SCC will expedite such claims against the state.

• To expedite claims outside the court by way of a quick settlement, the Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs launched the “Civil Settlement Initiative”. Under this initiative applicants can settle their claims quickly and in a consensual manner. The initiative is aimed at families of deceased victims and those who were injured last year and who would otherwise have to rely on civil court judgment against the state to obtain any sort of relief. The aim is to settle such claims as quickly as possible within months.


1722k: To compensate and provide remedies for all victims of torture, ill-treatment or prolonged incommunicado detention.
A decree was issued on Jan. 26, 2012. It creates a national victims’ compensation fund which will be managed by a new committee which will be composed of five individuals appointed by the Supreme Judicial Council.

The decree is modeled on international best practices for victim’s funds around the world and the United Nations (UN) Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to Redress and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law.

Mechanisms have been established in response to the recommendation of the National Commission to expedite access to compensation:

• The Supreme Judicial Council announced on Feb. 27, 2012 the establishment of Special Compensation Courts (SCC). The compensation fund requires a criminal judgment against an individual before compensation can be sought. But for complaints against the state (where no one individual is identified) a civil judgment would be required against the relevant agency, which could take considerable time. The SCC will expedite such claims against the state.

• To expedite claims outside the court by way of a quick settlement, the Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs launched the “Civil Settlement Initiative”. Under this initiative applicants can settle their claims quickly and in a consensual manner. The initiative is aimed at families of deceased victims and those who were injured last year and who would otherwise have to rely on civil court judgment against the state to obtain any sort of relief. The aim is to settle such claims as quickly as possible within months.

1723a: To ensure that the remaining dismissed employees have not been dismissed because of the exercise of their right to freedom of expression, opinion, association or assembly.

In the public sector, all employees (a total of 180) dismissed for free speech activity were reinstated.

1723b: To use all its powers to ensure that public and private employers who dismissed employees for failure to appear for work at the time of the demonstrations treat them in a way that is at least equal to that provided by the GoB to civil servants.
On its self-imposed deadline of Feb. 29, 2012, GoB completed an intensive and multi-agency process to advance national reconciliation through the reinstatement of private sector workers in Bahrain. The efforts by the government have resolved over 76 percent of the cases in the private sector overall and 93 percent for state invested enterprises, with the remaining cases being transferred to the courts. A detailed breakdown can be found in the statement by published in by the Ministry of Labor.

1723c: To reinstate all students who have not been criminally charged with an act of violence and to put in place a procedure whereby students who were expelled on legitimate grounds may apply for reinstatement after a reasonable period of time; and to adopt fair standards for disciplinary measures against students applied in an impartial manner.
• All students that have not been convicted with acts of violence have been reinstated. Student charged but not convicted have also been reinstated. If students are convicted, both the University and the Polytechnic will have procedures in place to readmit students after a reasonable period of time.
• On (c), both the University and the Polytechnic will review their byelaws and methods of investigations to ensure that absolute best practices are followed with respect to disciplinary procedures. Help here will be obtained from outside experts.

1723d: To rebuild at GoB expense, some of the demolished religious structures in accordance with administrative regulations.
As the Report recorded, a committee has been formed to review the question of reconstruction of religious places (paragraph 1681). On Jan. 12, 2012, the government announced that 12 mosques would be rebuilt. Construction work has already begun on five, which had both a Royal decree and a building permit. Construction on the remaining seven will begin shortly.

1724a: To consider relaxing censorship and allowing the opposition greater access to television broadcasts, radio broadcasts and print media.
• GoB, with the Information Affairs Authority taking the lead, has instructed French media experts who will provide the Bahraini government with proposals regarding, amongst other things, the establishment of professional standards for Bahraini media and the amendment of Bahrain’s regulatory system to bring its media laws into line with international standards.
• The experts are drawn from globally recognized media consultancy IMCA and are being led by Pascal Josèphe, a highly experienced regulator who has occupied senior positions, including executive vice-president and program director at TF1, Radio France, and France Télévisions. Josèphe will be supported by Didier Sapaut, the former vice director of the French Ministry of Communications and Secretary General of France Télévisions. The team will include regulatory specialists in new digital technologies, radio broadcasting, and audience measurement and analysis.
• IMCA has assisted a number of countries transition their media regimes to an open access framework. In particular, IMCA worked with 11 Eastern and Central European Governments to reform their laws and administrative schemes to bring them in accord with the best international standards.

1724b: To establish professional standards for the media and other forms of publications that contain an ethical code and an enforcement mechanism, designed to uphold ethical and professional standards in order to avoid incitement to hatred, violence and intolerance, without prejudice to internationally protected rights of freedom of expression.
The IAA, in consultation with the French Experts, has set out its detailed plans on implementing this recommendation in its public plan. The highlights include the creation of a professional journalist card. Furthermore, one of the major tasks of the newly created HMB will be to monitor and sanction (through warnings and fines) content that incites hatred etc.
An ethical code was promulgated by the Bahrain Journalists’ Association (BJA) on January 2012.
The IAA has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Management Consulting Center of Excellence to prepare a Media code of conduct for Bahrain Radio and TV, to ensure the respect of a media code of conduct, within a framework of pluralism, neutrality, credibility, rule of law, and preserving national unity. The IAA has already signed training contracts with international media outlets (BBC and Radio France).

1724c: To undertake appropriate measures to prevent incitement to violence, hatred, sectarianism and other forms of incitement which lead to the violation of internationally protected human rights, irrespective of whether the source is public or private.
The international media experts will also put forward proposals on how to implement this recommendation (See notes in 1724(a)). GoB is considering with international experts proposals for a new law, based on Article 20 of the ICCPR, on preventing incitement to violence, hatred and sectarianism.

1725a: To develop educational programs at the primary, secondary, high school and university levels to promote religious, political and other forms of tolerance, as well as to promote human rights and the rule of law.
The Ministry of Education, beginning in November 2011, has been coordinating efforts with several national, regional and international organizations and specialized agencies to both update its curriculum and introduce new training for teachers and students. To this end, a memorandum of understanding was signed between UNESCO International Board of Education and the Ministry of Education on Jan. 17, 2012 allowing the ministry to receive help and advice on its reforms to school curriculums from UNESCO. UNESCO will help develop programs for governments schools, private schools, religious institutes and universities. The process has already begun and the first UNESCO delegation will arrive in Bahrain on March 8.
The MoE has already held various workshops on human rights for children in December and January 2012 including:
• A workshop entitled “A Games Package for Human Rights,” administered by the Arab Network for Citizenship and Human Rights, held from Dec. 26 – 29, 2011.
• Beginning in February 2012, the MoE plans to cooperate with UNDP in order to introduce an intensive training program for teachers on education for human rights.
The MoE is planning further training programs in February and March 2012, including programs for children. These include:
• A workshop entitled “A Games Package for Human Rights” for 200 girlscouts from January 25 – 29, 2012.
• Four training workshops on “differences” during February 2012.
• Two workshops on “dealing with each other” and “the value of dialogue” for in March 2012.
Furthermore, the University of Bahrain has approval from the National Curriculum Council to introduce a compulsory human rights and rule of law module for all students. The unit is being developed in conjunction with the University law school.

1725b: To develop a national reconciliation program that addresses the grievances of groups which are, or perceive themselves, to be deprived of equal political, social and economic rights and benefits.
GoB is firmly committed to a broad and continuing program of reconciliation. The Ministry of Human Rights and Social Development has prepared a national campaign to support the national cohesion and citizenship.
EM

Number of readings : 2413        Last updated : 10 : 44 AM - 20/03/2012

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