Shafaei to Al Arbiya Net:

Bassiouni’s Recommendations will Save Bahrain from Sectarianism and Political Stalemate

What are the difficulties facing the implementation of the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) known locally as Bassiouni’s Commission?

Acceptance of the report by all parties, the Government and the opposition, is the first difficulty that lies ahead. The Government has already welcomed and accepted the report. However, until this moment there is no confirmation that the opposition will participate in the new appointed commission to implement Bassiouni’s recommendations.

The second difficulty is that it is still unclear what mechanisms to be used to implement the recommendations.

The third problem relates to the connection between the political and human rights issues. Some believe in the importance of working on the two levels at the same time in order to re-build the lost trust between various Bahraini political groups. Others think that any progress made in implementing Bassiouni’s report in the human rights field will help build the trust and pave the way for a peaceful and consensual solution to the political crisis. Generally, the solution and the implementation of the recommendations are in the hands of the Executive Authority now.

In your opinion, will the Government implement all the report’s recommendations even those directed to some Government departments?

I think the King who requested the establishment of the Commission, bravely faced its result and publically announced it during international, human rights and media presence. I do not think he is not serious enough to implement these recommendations which I believe are in the best interest of the State and social coexistence. I hope that there is seriousness in the implementation especially since the whole world is watching. It is worth remembering that HM the King took some very important steps even before the issuing of the report such as setting up a compensation fund to compensate those affected by the events. In addition to the issuing of a royal decree to set up a national commission in order to put forward a plan to implement Bassiouni’s recommendations.

Which Government ministries do you think are going to undergo changes in their structure due to Bassiouni’s report?

There is a great need to adhere to the report’s recommendations with regards to ministries and Government apparatus. It is in the interest of Bahrain and especially after this bad experience to revise the performance of its apparatus and take all the necessary steps to improve them for the sake of a better future. This means making administrative, institutional and legislative changes which suit the current phase. This is exactly what was discussed by several officials including HM the King.

How do you assess the Government’s performance in dealing with the crisis since its beginning?

The performance of the Government, the opposition, civil society organizations and the media was disappointing. Bassiouni’s report revealed many mistakes committed by all parties including the Government, opposition and the media. Admitting mistakes is a brave thing, but what is more important is working towards building a better future, trying to improve the situation and avoiding making the same mistakes.

How can we guarantee that the recommendations of the report will be implemented and this will contribute to the development of human rights in Bahrain and solve the political crisis, especially since some groups have expressed some reservations regarding the report?

It was expected that some would have reservations regarding Bassiouni’s report such as the Alliance for the Republic in Bahrain as well as some Sunni groups. The implementation of Bassiouni’s recommendations will save the whole country including the state institutions, opposition and Bahraini people from sectarianism and political deadlock.

The world awaits practical steps to solve the problem and it is obvious that cooperation between the opposition and the Government will facilitate this and help rebuild trust between political parties. In order for the recommendations to be implemented, the street must calm down and the media must also act wisely. The report is not against a particular party and the implementation of the recommendations will not target a specific group. It is necessary to provide a suitable atmosphere and have honest intentions. Perhaps there are foreign parties that reject the report. However, ultimately this matter depends on the performance of the Government and the position of the people of Bahrain with all its social segments.

To what extent will the report convince international human right organizations and how will they perceive Bahrain in the future if it goes ahead with implementing Bassiouni’s recommendations?

International human rights organizations completely supported Bassiouni’s report and any step towards implementing its recommendations because this will result in more human rights respect. It is certain that each step taken by the Government to implement these recommendations will be welcomed by human rights activists inside and outside Bahrain. By doing this the Government will gain more trust and help restore Bahrain’s image as a moderate and tolerant state which respects law and democracy. We hope that this will lead to more trust between the Government and the opposition, a more moderate street and a peaceful and mature solution.

Do you think the report will improve the performance of the Executive apparatus and encourage them to prevent human right abuses in the future?

This is what we hope for, otherwise the report is useless if the situation does not improve, this is something that HM the King stressed in his last speech. The Government, Bahraini people and security bodies went through a difficult experience. Security forces and institutions should learn to adhere to the law and prepare competent staff members in order to prevent the occurrence of human rights violations as stated in the Bahraini Constitution, National Action Charter and international conventions ratified by Bahrain. Anything that takes place that is against the law will corrupt the State and the civil peace.