02 : 24 PM - 20/03/2012
Manama, March 20 (BNA) -- On 23 November, Professor Cherif Bassiouni presented the report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry.
The findings were the result of months of intense work by a team led by Bassiouni and comprising the world’s leading international human rights and international criminal law experts, including the former UN Special Rapporteur on torture and the first president of the International Criminal Court. His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and the Government of Bahrain accepted the Commission’s recommendations and ordered their full implementation.
The Government carefully studied the recommendations and received leading international legal, policing, media and other experts, to advise decision-makers on the most appropriate way for Bahrain to implement the structural and legislative reforms necessary.
The Government has sought to put in place long lasting, internationally recognized systems to ensure that the implementation complies not just with the letter of the recommendations, but also with the spirit. The implementation of the recommendations contributes to Bahrain’s goal of being an inclusive, fair and transparent state, committed to the practical realization of the universal application of human rights for all of its citizens and residents.
Implementation of the recommendations covered five broad and overlapping themes: Security Sector Reform, Judicial Reform and Due Process, Social Policy, Education and Media, Accounting for Past Actions and Reconciliation. In under 120 days since the publication of the report, the following has been actioned.
Security Sector Reform
Police and security sector reform aims to ensure that security is managed in a responsible, professional manner that upholds the rule of law and has respect for the human rights of the citizen. The Government has:
• developed and published a new Code of Conduct for the police based on various international policing codes, including the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the European Code of Police Conduct;
• made significant progress towards finalising a police manual which will set out the duties of police officers, including procedures to be followed when arresting persons;
• introduced comprehensive training programmes across the security services to embed respect for human rights and due process;
• begun recruitment of 500 police officers from all parts of Bahraini society;
• improved transparency and accountability through the establishment of an Internal Affairs Department in the MoI, an Independent Ombudsman for the MoI and a new Office of the Inspector General in the NSA.
• begun the installation of audio-visual recording equpiment both MoI and Public Prosecution interrogation cells – to be completed within six months with respect to the MoI, and within two months with respect to the Public Prosecution;
• agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Committee for the Red Cross to access detention facilities and inspect them on a weekly basis;
• drafted legislation establishing a National Human Rights Institute to oversee human rights in detention facilities; and
• reformed the NSA into an intelligence only agency by stripping it of the power of arrest.
• improved training of the police and updated police documentation to ensure appropriate procedures are followed at the time of arrest.
Judicial Reform and Due Process
Ensuring that our Justice system is properly equipped to provide justice and fairness for all is an essential part of any modern state. To implement the recommendations of BICI the Government has:
• transferred jurisdiction over all investigations into deaths, torture, abuse and mistreatment from the MoI to the Public Prosecution and an independent body within the Public Prosecution has been established to oversee these cases;
• enabled the ordinary civilian judicial system to review all trials that took place in the National Safety Courts;
• granted an extraordinary retrial to medical workers convicted before the National Safety Courts. The Attorney General also decided that he would not pursue criminal accusations against 15 (out of 20) accused, who would instead be answerable to a medical ethics board for violations of the code of ethics (such as holding protests inside the hospital, encouraging the media to film patients and their confidential identification cards, and discriminating between patients based on sect);
• dropped all charges related to free speech benefitting 334 people;
• developed a bespoke training programme for prosecutors with the world renowned International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences and the American Bar Association to train prosecutors in how to handle and prosecute cases involving human rights abuses and allegations of mistreatment;
• partnered with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime to assist the Government in the use of independent forensic experts, procedures and remedies; and
Social Policy, Education and the Media
The Government has sought to ensure that, through implementation of the BICI recommendations, social policies and media are fair and inclusive of all parts of society. In the same spirit, the Government aims to ensure that future generations of Bahrainis are taught the values of tolerance, acceptance and dialogue in a way that will contribute to the lasting stability of Bahrain. The Government has:
• tasked a committee to amend University by-laws on disciplinary measures to ensure they meet international standards - these will subsequently be rolled out in private institutions;
• worked closely with national, regional and international experts to update the school curriculum and introduce training for teachers and students that promotes tolerance and human rights;
• signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Education and the UNESCO International Board of Education to allow the Ministry to receive help and advice on its reforms to the school curriculum. The delegation made its first visit to Bahrain on 8 March 2012;
• delivered a range of workshops for children on human rights;
• accepted the proposals of independent French media experts to reform media governance and training; and commission programmes to increase participation of all political groups;
• announced plans to establish a Higher Independent Media Board, to regulate media content following the Moroccan and French models; and
• encouraged the introduction of an ethical code for journalists by the Bahrain Journalists’ Association (published recently), and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Management Consulting Center of Excellence to prepare a Media code of honour for Bahrain Radio and TV.
• Signed training contracts with the BBC and Radio France.
Accounting for past actions
The Government is committed to ensuring that there is full and fair accountability for the actions and events of February and March 2011. With the advice of international legal experts, the Government has now:
• created a special investigatory unit within the Public Prosecution to determine the accountability of those in Government who have committed unlawful or negligent acts that resulted in deaths, torture and mistreatment of civilians;
• empowered the new Unit to hold people responsible under the international standards of superior responsibility and supported the unit with a senior public prosecutor, independent criminal investigators and a newly created senior independent investigations counselor;
• pursued cases via the public prosecutors in 121 cases of deaths, torture and mistreatment involving 48 officials;
• created a National Victim’s Compensation Fund to receive requests for compensation for those affected by deaths, torture, mistreatment and other issues;
• established a Special Compensation Court to expedite cases where the complaint entails state responsibility;
• launched the “Civil Settlement Initiative” aimed at families of deceased victims and those injured last year to settle claims within months;
• restructured the Ministry of Interior and National Security Agency through the creation of the Ombudsman, and Inspector General offices to ensure better oversight;
The Government is committed to addressing grievances of all parts of Bahraini society through acts and programmes to promote lasting reconciliation. The Government has:
• begun construction of 12 places of worship;
• reinstated all public sector workers;
• successfully encouraged private sector companies to reinstate the majority of all dismissed workers with a success rate currently of close to 100% for state invested companies;
• Adopted a tripartite process on reinstatements that involved the Union and ILO, leading to a breakthrough agreement on issues of reinstatement;
• reinstated all students not convicted of violence and put in place procedures to allow re-admittance of those with criminal convictions;
• developed a National Social and Economic Reconciliation programme which so far has made $500,000 available to NGOs working on social reconciliation as well as implementing World Bank recommendations to target cash transfers to most deserving families; and
• launched other social reconciliation initiatives such as the “wi7da wa7da” (in Arabic, “Wihda Wahda”, meaning “One Unity”) campaign, a four-phase campaign that encompasses social and cultural events, psychological support, and programmes aimed at engaging Bahrainis in society.
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Last updated : 02 : 24 PM - 20/03/2012