The implementation of Bassiouni’s recommendations under scrutiny
The implementation of the BICI recommendations represents the
core of human rights development in Bahrain and the yardstick by
which Bahrain is monitored by the outside world. The recommendations
were numerous, and it was known from the beginning that implementing
them was going to take a reasonable amount of time. Because the
report has become a point of reference locally and internationally,
Bahrain has made efforts to show its seriousness in implementing
these recommendations. It also sought help from countries and international
institutions and continued to issue periodic reports on the progress
regarding the implementation process. Despite the fact that Bahrain
is being scrutinised with regard to the implementation of this unique
report, some opposition sources still insist that nothing has changed.
The West, international human rights organizations, UN bodies and
Bassiouni himself all admit that Bahrain is serious about implementing
This article will review Bahrain’s implementation in regards
to two aspects: the re- construction of places of worship, and how
well the Ministry of Interior has implemented the recommendation
directed at them. But first let us acquaint ourselves with Bassiouni’s
opinion on the BICI and its report and what has been implemented
so far. Bassiouni was interviewed by Alsharq Al-Awsat newspaper
on 24 March 2013.
The evaluation of Dr. Sharif Bassiouni
|Dr. Sharif Bassiouni
In this interview Bassiouni stated that the BICI had been a unique
venture in the history of international criminal justice. It was
an impressive success story and the commission’s report represented
a model for the quality of inquiry and adopted procedures. He also
believes that the reason behind such success was the support and
cooperation extended to the Commission by the Bahraini Government
such as allowing it to carry out the investigation freely to the
extent that the inquiry team was allowed to visit all prisons and
detention canters without prior notice. He stated that ‘all these
acts had been freely done and without any control or restriction
by the government, which allowed us to perform the duty perfectly’.
However, the success of the BICI will be determined by how influential
it is in solving the political and human rights crisis. Bassiouni
believes that the goal of BICI was restricted to investigating the
events that took place in early 2011. He also stated that there
should be no confusion between the report’s conclusions and the
other actions required by the Government. Bassiouni also stated
that ‘The national dialogue is very important to seek solutions
to the political problems in Bahrain. It is the ideal option and
the only way out of the current situation. Each party should show
goodwill and offer appropriate proposals and solutions to resolve
the crisis without prerequisites or restrictions that could impede
How does Bassiouni assess the steps taken by the Government to
implement the recommendation of his report?
According to his initial assessment in January 2012, ‘the government
had already begun to take important steps and measures that will
seriously help to achieve the recommendation’. Bassiouni also listed
some of the recommendations that were implemented by the Government
such as, reinstating all students to their schools, returning over
98% of employees to their work and convicting policemen accused
of committing excesses and violations. He also praised the Government
for prosecuting officers and police me?bers and for holding some
Another recommendation that has been implemented is the establishment
of an ombudsmen office in the Ministry of the Interior, the establishment
of the Office of the General Inspector, the training of officers
and prosecutors, the replacement of many security leaders in the
ministry and the change in the leadership of the National Security
Agency as well as introducing legislative and constitutional amendments.
Bassiouni also recommended that the Government should conduct
a comprehensive assessment, to determine the extent of the implementation
of the recommendations on the ground, and he also recommended that
that civil society should participate in this process.
He also recommended that when the Government conclude its assessment
of the extent of the implementation, it should determine what future
steps should be taken to satisfy each recommendation and specify
a time limit for the completion of each recommendation. Also, the
Government should continue the processes of developing the justice
system, and the judiciary as a whole , though what it is undertaking
now in the field of training and raising the capabilities of judges
is equally necessary and important.
Implementing the recommendations on the building of places of
This has been one of the most sensitive issues because it is
related to religious identity. The BICI report recommended that
all the 30 demolished places should be rebuilt. This subject was
at the centre of the Government’s attention and in April 2013, the
Ministry of Justice issued a report in this regard:
• The Building of four mosques have already completed with the
coordination with Jafaarite Endowment.
• The construction of six other mosques will begin in 2013-2014,
as part of Government projects.
• The work on the rest of the mosques will be completed in 2015
Implementing recommendations related to the Ministry of Interior
The Ministry of Interior presented its accomplishments vis a
vis the implementation of Bassiouni recommendations, they are as
• An independent Ombudsman’s Office was established in the Ministry
of Interior. The Office is fully funded and has full control over
its budget. Its aim is to receive and record complaints and all
detention cases. The Office hired a sufficient number of qualified
administrative personnel and trained them. The Ombudsman’s Office
also expects to contribute to the enforcement of police professional
standards and the carrying out of legal and sensitive training for
The Ombudsman is also working to put in place protocols with
other agencies such as the Special Investigations Unit to ensure
that all complaints are appropriately examined.
• A new Police Code of Conduct was approved and incorporated
in training and educational curricula at the Royal Police Academy.
The Code was also circulated to all Ministry of Interior departments
for implementation. Senior and experienced international police
advisers, which include former police heads from the USA and UK,
are also now working to ensure delivery of these objectives.
• An overarching curriculum in human and victims’ rights for
all new recruits and cadets was inaugurated at the Royal Police
Academy. Classes with a new human and victims’ rights component
include, “Human Rights,” “Managing Conflict,” “Provide Initial Support
to Victims, Survivors and Witnesses,” “Interview Victims and Witnesses,”
“Arrest and Detain or Report Individuals” and “Interview Suspects.”
Additionally, throughout 2012, professional development courses
were given to senior command staff, superviso?y personnel, trainers
at the Royal Police Academy and non-commissioned officers throughout
• Courses on human rights were also delivered (also in Arabic)
abroad in co-ordination with the International Institute of Higher
Studies in Criminal Sciences (ISISC) in Siracusa, Italy, with the
participation of 49 officers. The course was designed by Professor
Bassiouni to ensure that the lessons from BICI were incorporated
in Bahrain’s training.
• Placing greater reliance on science-based investigations and
evidence where possible, in place of confessional evidence. This
involves the training of investigators on the most up-to-date crime
scene management techniques, and it is progressing hand-in-hand
with the establishment of a new forensic laboratory staffed by fully
trained scientists. The laboratory and training are being developed
in conjunction with New Scotland Yard and the National Policing
Improvement Agency of the UK.
• The Ministry is cognizant of, and sensitive to, the violations
listed in the BICI report that fall under its purview. Many of the
violations occurred along the arrest-to-jail continuum; from the
time the person was arrested up to and including their time spent
in jail. Extraordinary efforts have been undertaken to address deficiencies.
• Detention facilities have been placed under the constant and
effective supervision of the courts and Public Prosecution. Bahraini
law provides that the judiciary authority is entitled to visit and
inspect prisons, detention centres and jails.
• If at any point an interview or interrogation is conducted,
it is done so in a designated room outfitted with audio-visual recording
equipment. In addition, CCTV cameras are being installed in public
areas at police stations and CID as an additional safeguard to ensure
that arrest and detention standards and procedures are met.