International Human Rights Organizations Welcome the BICI Report

and Ready for Co-operation with Bahrain

The establishment of the BICI and the release of its report were both welcomed by international human rights organizations who urged the Bahraini Government to implement its recommendations through a transparent, credible and comprehensive mechanism. They also hoped that the report will open a new chapter in their relations with Bahraini official bodies. Moreover, they expressed their willingness to put their expertise in the service of Bahrain in order to improve human rights and the rule of law.

It is worth mentioning that these international human rights organizations were invited to attend the release of the report on 23 November 2011, and meet Government officials and representatives of the civil society organizations.

Amnesty International, 23 November 2011: issued a statement entitled ‘Bahrain: Critical report should spur human rights ‘turning point’. In the statement, Amnesty stated that it hopes that ‘Bahrain’s Government will view this landmark report as a turning point in how it responds to human rights violations, and will use its recommendations to lay the foundations for far-reaching reform.’ Philip Luther, Acting Director for the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International said that ‘the pattern of abuse documented by the BICI – including mass arrests of peaceful demonstrators, widespread torture in detention and dozens of flawed military trials of activists and professionals – must be relegated to the past and Bahraini authorities must fully establish the rule of law and deliver justice to the victims.’ He added that ‘the King’s appointment of the BICI was a landmark development, as the commission’s findings and recommendations testify and that the true test now will be the speed, extent and seriousness with which the Government follows through with BICI’s recommendations. In particular, the Government must now deliver justice, ensure national laws are adequate to protect rights and work with civil society and opposition leaders to establish a truly independent and effective national body to monitor human rights according to a clear timetable.’

Physicians for Human Rights, on 23 November 2011: welcomed the release of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry Report and said that the ‘Government of Bahrain must now make substantive and irreversible human rights improvements’.

Human rights Watch, on 23 November 2011: briefly discussed the report and highlighted the main human rights violations presented in the report. It added that the findings of the BICI confirm the reports of HRW and other organizations.

Front Line, on 24 November 2011: discussed the recommendations of the report and the violations which took place and added that Front Line welcomes the launch of the report of the Government appointed Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) and calls for those responsible to be held accountable.’

The Arab Network for Human Rights Information, on 24 November 2011: praised the statement of the President of BICI, Professor Cherif Bassiouni in which he discussed all kinds of violations Bahrain had witnessed. The Network welcomed the positive response of the King regarding the recommendations of the report and his determination to see them implemented as well as allowing international organizations to follow on the implementations arrangements. The Network hoped to see the implementation by the Bahraini authorities of the recommendations related to the release of the prisoners who were tried in exceptional courts, reinstate all workers and compensate victims.

The international Freedom of Expression Exchange ( IFEX) said that seven human rights organizations visited Bahrain on 20 - 30 November 2011 including, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Front Line ( Ireland), Gulf Centre for Human Rights (Ireland/ Lebanon), Index on Censorship (UK), International Media Support (Denmark), International Pen Committee (UK) and IFEX. Delegations from all these organizations attended the launching of Bassiouni’s report and met the Human Rights Minister. On 30 November 2011, they issued a statement in which they demanded the implementation of the recommendations of Bassiouni’s report especially with regard to punishing those involved in the violations. In addition to this, they presented some recommendations to the Government of Bahrain regarding freedom of expression, trials and the release of human rights activists.

Human Rights First, 23 November 2011, stated that ‘Bassiouni’s Commission today confirmed what Human Rights First and other leading international human rights organizations have been saying for months’. It also added that ‘the onus is on the Bahrain Government to stop and show that it has stopped attacking its population’.