International Reactions to the BICI Report

Welcomes and Calls for the Implementation of the Recommendations and National Reconciliation

The purpose of the establishment of the BICI was to improve human rights and put an end to violations as well as finding solutions to the political crisis in Bahrain. All countries, as well as human rights organizations, have welcomed this step because they believe in the values of justice, stability and democracy. They are also convinced that there is need for an initiative for improving the political, social and human rights situation in the country. The political leadership in Bahrain realises that the establishment of the BICI is the first step in dealing with the political and security crisis for the sake of rebuilding a unified and stable Bahrain.

The BICI report met the expectations of Bahrain’s friends in the areas of transparency, impartiality, objectivity and professionalism. As expected, King Hamad bin Esa Al Khalifa accepted all the recommendations, pledged to implement them and ordered that an immediate mechanism for the implementation be put forward.

The report received unprecedented welcome and the reaction of all Bahrain’s friends reflects their desire for a free and prosperous Bahrain.

All Arab and foreign governments supported the report and agreed that it represents a new chapter in Bahrain’s history. They stressed the importance of both implementing the recommendations and national reconciliation. On 12 November 2011, King Hamad announced during his visit to the UK that he decided to invite all political parties including the opposition to discuss national reconciliation and reforms which hopefully will put an end to political disagreements.

The following are the positions of some countries regarding Bassiouni’s report and their visions, which do not differ from the vision of the political leadership in Bahrain.


1- The statement of the White House on 23 November 2011: ‘We welcome today’s report by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, which provides a thorough and independent assessment of events in Bahrain since protests first erupted in February. King Hamad’s decision to establish the Commission was a courageous one, and we commend him for it. We commend the chairman of the Commission, Cherif Bassiouni and the other commissioners for their thorough and painstaking efforts over nearly 5 months. The report identifies a number of disturbing human rights abuses that took place during this period, and it is now incumbent upon the Government of Bahrain to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and put in place institutional changes to ensure that such abuses do not happen again.

We welcome King Hamad’s commitment to carry out the report’s recommendations and will closely follow the implementation process. More broadly, we believe the Commission’s report and subsequent steps taken to implement its recommendations can serve as a foundation for advancing reconciliation and reform. Bahrain is a long-standing partner of the United States, and we urge the government and all parties to take steps that lead to respect for universal human rights and to meaningful reforms that meet the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis’.

2- The statement of US Department of State 0n 23 November 2011 stated that ‘the United States welcomes the release of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report, and we commend King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa’s initiative in commissioning it.

It is essential for Bahrainis themselves to resolve the issues identified in the report and move forward in a way that promotes reform, reconciliation, and stability.

We are deeply concerned about the abuses identified in the report, and urge the Government and all elements of Bahraini society to address them in a prompt and systematic manner. The Government of Bahrain has committed to establish a follow-on committee to implement the report’s recommendations, and we urge full and expeditious implementation of these recommendations.

The United States will continue to promote the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all of Bahrain’s citizens. We believe the BICI report offers a historic opportunity for all Bahrainis to participate in a healing process that will address long-standing grievances and move the nation onto a path of genuine, sustained reform’.

3/ Deputy Department Spokesman Mark Toner on 28 November 2011; was asked whether the US Department of State think that the report was fair, impartial and honest. He was also asked whether the Bahraini Government is taking serious steps to hold those responsible of confronting the protesters accountable and whether ultimately the report would lead to national reconciliation. Toner said that the report was credible and transparent and that the Government still studying it. He also stressed that there is a credible and transparent process which took place through the BICI and added that ‘we commend the king for his initiative in allowing this commission to work in a free and unfettered atmosphere’. He also said that Washington is still waiting and monitoring the developments, adding that the Bahraini Government has set up a committee to implement its recommendations and welcomed this step. He also said that ‘We think it’s a good first step, and we would just urge the government to meet the high standards of transparency and accountability that were recommended by the report’. With regard to the national reconciliation and the steps taken so far, Toner said that when the implementation committee takes the required steps this ‘would help move that process of national reconciliation forward’. He stressed the importance of implementing the recommendations considering that the King has made an effort to address some problems resulted from that period. He continued ‘ We need to see a national reconciliation process emerge from this, that addresses, I think, the aspirations of the Bahraini people’ adding that ’ we very much want to see the democratic aspirations of the Bahraini people met by the government. Ultimately, that’s the goal here. They, i.e. the Government, need to take further steps to address some of the incidents that took place last spring and try to move the country on a better path towards reconciliation’. In his answer regarding continued demonstration he said that ‘it is important that they allow peaceful demonstrators to peacefully demonstrate, adding that the USA will not accept human rights violations’.

United Kingdom

1/ Foreign Secretary, William Hague on 23 November 2011, welcomed the King of Bahrain’s initial response to the report and the Government’s commitment to implementing the recommendations, ensuring accountability for past human rights abuses and putting in place mechanisms to prevent future abuses. He added that: ‘the world will be watching to ensure that Bahrain acts decisively in the coming days and weeks to address the serious abuses identified. This will be crucial to Bahrain’s future stability’. He also added that “ Government of Bahrain bears a primary responsibility for this, as the report acknowledges. The report offers an important opportunity to rebuild trust and confidence and promote reform and reconciliation.’ he added that ‘We also urge all opposition groups to act on the report’s recommendations, demonstrating their commitment to reconciliation and contributing to the process of renewal. The UK stands ready to offer Bahrain assistance in this critical work.’

2/ William Hague addressed the Parliament on 28 November 2011: said that ‘Members on both sides will have studied the long-awaited report of the independent commission of inquiry set up by King Hamad of Bahrain. The report confirms shocking and distressing abuses, including the use of excessive and unnecessary force against protestors, deaths in custody as a result of torture, the “systematic practice of physical and psychological mistreatment” of detainees, the “deliberate terrorising” of the families of suspects, arbitrary arrests and many other violations of international and Bahraini law. It also points the finger of blame at some protestors who targeted the Bahraini security forces.

The commission has set out clear steps for the Bahraini Government to take, including the establishment of an independent national committee to oversee implementation of its recommendations, an independent committee to hold to account those who broke the law, an independent investigation into deaths caused by the security forces and into allegations of torture and abuse, a permanent new anti-torture organisation that would also oversee human rights training for security forces, the recruitment of Shi’as into the security forces and pardon or acquittal of all those convicted of crimes relating to freedom of expression. The commission called on the Government to publish a timetable for implementation of those and its many other recommendations.

We condemn the behaviour described in the report and call for the implementation of the inquiry’s recommendations in full. We also acknowledge the groundbreaking nature of the commission. This is the first time that any Government in the region have set up an international investigation into allegations of abuse, and we welcome King Hamad’s pledge to use the report as a “catalyst for change” to overcome the country’s divisions. I spoke to the Foreign Minister of Bahrain immediately after the issuing of the report, to urge its implementation and offer British support for that objective. Now is the time for Bahrain’s Government and opposition groups to engage constructively, to promote tolerance and reconciliation and to demonstrate a shared commitment to a peaceful future for Bahrain’

Discussion in the House of Commons

Ann Clwyd, the Labour Party, said ‘I welcome the King’s initiative to set up this commission and to allow for the full publication of the report’s 500 pages. It presents a detailed and balanced account of events surrounding the Bahraini protest movement, the context in which it occurred and the response by Government agents. Bahrain is at a crucial crossroads and can redeem itself in the eyes of its citizens and the international community by ensuring that, first, the rule of law and then wider democratic reforms prevail. I trust that the UK Government will, as I think the Foreign Secretary has indicated that we will, as a friend of the Bahraini Government, encourage and persuade them to do what is right in the longer term, however difficult that is in the short term, for the people of Bahrain, the region and the wider international community’.

3/ Martin Horwood, the Liberal Democrats Party, said that ‘the fact that the report has been published at all is a very positive development that we must try to hold on to. The fact that it was robust and that it did not pull any punches is quite a testament to the potential for openness and accountability in Bahrain. The test is, of course, what happens next. As Amnesty International has said, it is the “speed, extent and seriousness” of the Government’s response that is the real test in this case’.

Laura Sandys, the Conservative Party, said that ‘I believe that the timely publication and the ability for people to see the transparency will be important steps in the reconciliation between the Sunni and the Shi’a in Bahrain.’

Stephen Philips said that ‘It is important that the pressure continues to mount on Bahrain to bring to justice those responsible for these appalling human rights abuses. It is also important to recognise, however, that no other Arab ruler has voluntarily invited such scrutiny of an Arab Government. For that reason, the Government are taking, in my judgment, precisely the right actions on Bahrain’.


On 24 November 2011, the French Foreign Ministry spokesman Barnard Valero praised the release of the BICI report, which was established in June in order to uncover the circumstances around the unrest which took place since February. He also welcomed the King’s speech on the day the report was released, the determination of the King to implement the report’s recommendations and punishing those involved in human rights violations. He also called upon the Bahraini authorities and all parties to implement the recommendations and agree on reforms in order to prevent future violence and violations. He added that it is important that the authorities and opposition engage in dialogue, encourage national reconciliation and reduce tension in light of human rights respect and democracy.


On 28 November 2011, the German Foreign Minister Westerwelle and after meeting the Crown Prince Salman al-Khalifa said that ‘It was now important to implement the independent Bassiouni Commission’s conclusions and to credibly address the documented human rights violations. The key to resolving Bahrain’s domestic problems lies in a peaceful reconciliation of interests, respect for human and civil rights and political reforms’


The Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on 25 November 2011, welcoming the BICI report and said that Japan is closely monitoring the work of the Commission which has been appointed to follow on the implementation of the recommendations. It also stressed the importance that past incidents do not re-occur. The statement expects that the Government of Bahrain will implement the recommendation as soon as possible in order to make radical developments in reforming the country.


On 28 November 2011, the spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry welcomed the King’s speech on the occasion of the releasing of the BICI report. He added that, his country looked into the report and welcomed the King’s comments, and hoped that the report will contribute in promoting reform and stability in the country.


On 24 November 2011, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton said that: ‘I take positive note of today’s publication of the report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), appointed on 29 June 2011 to investigate the human rights violations which occurred in the country in February 2011. I call upon all sides in Bahrain to do their utmost to implement the recommendations of the report, in a timely and complete fashion. The European Union is ready to assist Bahrain in this effort, fully recognizing that it must be Bahraini-led, and Bahraini-owned. I sincerely hope that the BICI report will help Bahrain to open a new chapter in its history, driven by an inclusive process of national reconciliation, founded on peaceful and constructive dialogue’.

United Nation

On 24 November 2011, UN Spokesperson Martin Nesirky said that ‘The Secretary-General and his senior advisors, including the High Commissioner for Human Rights, will closely study the report and its follow-through. The Secretary-General calls on the government to ensure the implementation of its recommendations as a meaningful step in addressing serious allegations of human rights violations. He hopes the report’s issuance and implementation would help to create the conditions in Bahrain for all-inclusive dialogue, reconciliation and reforms that will meet the legitimate aspirations of the Bahraini people’.