Alsaleh: Some Recommendations have already been Implemented whilst Others Need Time to be Realized

On 20 March 2012, the President of the Shura Council and the Chairman of the National Commission Ali bin Saleh Al-Saleh delivered a speech before the King, in which he explained the workings of the Commission and how it has tackled the issues under review, as well as highlighting the recommendations which have been implemented. He added that the Commission’s first steps were as follows:

1) Studying closely the recommendations of BICI.

2) Consulting with the Government and leading experts on the means of introducing suitable procedures and mechanisms, to guarantee full implementation of the recommendations.

3) Ensuring that the implementation of the recommendations coforms with the very best international standards and practises.

With regards to the recommendations, Saleh noted that there are differences in the requirements for their implementation. He explains this point as follows:

a) Some recommendations require specific and clear procedures, and can be implemented immediately through legislative or administrative procedures, or through the Judiciary.

b) Other recommendations require a structural change in the relevant institutions or building of capacity through training or rehabilitation.

c) The third part of the recommendations requires cultural changes and developing programmes and strategies, which require time for their effects to be felt on the ground.

With regards to how the recommendations will be implemented, Saleh stated that ‘the Commission created three teams to study the recommendations and to implement them. These teams are responsible for covering legislative affairs, human rights affairs and national reconciliation. The Commission held many meetings including meetings with Government’s representatives. The Commission also received the chair of the BICI, Professor Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni and other leading experts in two separate meetings’.

Saleh also praised the Government’s cooperation and its response to the recommendations and proposals laid out by the Commission. He also explained the content of his Commission’s report, and the extent to which BICI’s recommendations have been implemented. These details were also published on the National Commission’s website, which contains all passed or proposed legislations, mechanisms, procedures, strategies and reports.

Saleh explained in detail the achievements of the Commission, especially with regards to human rights:

1) The Government has taken positive steps towards reinstating employees in the public and private sectors, as well as resolving the cases of dismissed students and reinstating them.

2) As for the places of worship issue, 12 locations have been allotted and construction work has already begun on some. Progress is on-going on the rest of the locations indicated in the [BICI] report, in coordination with relevant agencies.

3) In the area of security, the scale of the implementation has been comprehensive and far-reaching. The National Security Agency has been transformed into an intelligence-only agency. In the police and other security forces, wholesale training programmes have been developed and are now being delivered. It will of course take time for all members of the security forces to complete their training, but in the meantime the advice and guidance of international policing experts along with the publication of a police code of conduct, has helped to further improve security procedures. Importantly, new mechanisms to improve oversight and transparency within the security sector have also now been put in place, the most significant of which is the office of an independent ombudsman at the Ministry of Interior, which will allow the public participation in monitoring the police performance.

4) The Commission applauds the decision by the Attorney General to order all charges related to speech activity to be dropped.

5) The Commission has verified the training programmes of judges and public prosecutors. The Commission also commends the decision to transfer all investigations into the allegations of torture to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Public Prosecution, by establishing a Special Investigation Unit concerned with accountability. The Commission also appreciates the review of all judgments by the National Safety Courts, whether through the ordinary courts or through the Committee established by the Supreme Judicial Council.

6) In the field of education, steps were taken to ensure that more tolerance and diversity are promoted. In the coming months, together with UNESCO, these themes will be incorporated into school curricula.

7) A more open and free media is also part of the vision of the BICI report, and the Commission can report that the Information Affairs Authority has developed a comprehensive plan, following the advice of French media experts, that will help to achieve these aims.

8) The Commission has also given focus to the Civil Settlement Initiative, which has been formulated in light of the Commission’s proposal. Under this initiative, victims can settle their claims in a consensual manner without prejudice to their right to resort to the civil court, and without prejudice to criminal responsibility.

Some of these achievements have been made clear and others need more time, as Saleh put it: ‘the process of implementation and the path of reform are an ongoing journey. The changes that these measures will bring about will, in some circumstances, take time to be felt on the ground’