International Reactions to Saleh’s Report:
Affirming Political Dialogue and Welcoming Achievements

International reaction to Saleh’s report was generally positive, and called for continued transparent implementation of BICI’s report. Despite its importance in promoting trust in the political system and as an indicator of Government commitment to human rights and reforms, whilst ensuring that the mistakes of the past are never repeated, the international community did not see implementation as Bahrain’s final goal. Instead both Bassiouni and Saleh’s reports should represent the foundation and reference point for promoting human rights in the country, which would ultimately lead to a stable political system through constitutional amendments and national reconciliation.

It is obvious that Bahrain’s crisis was first triggered by demonstrations and then by violence and confrontation on the streets, which developed into breaches and human rights violations investigated by Bassiouni and tracked by Saleh’s commission. The political issue which was at the core of the crisis (and its repercussions) remains unaddressed.

As was mentioned in previous issues of the BHRM,two aspects must be addressed to alleviate the : one legal, legislative and human rights related, and the other concerns political reconciliation between the opposition and the Government. This would determine the final picture of a new Consensual political system under the umbrella of the monarchy, without which progress in the human rights field and political/security stability will be undermined. International human rights organizations and political research centres realize this, which explains their constant emphasis on political dialogue and national reconciliation as the primary solutions to the crisis. This represents an ideal political vision for societies which are riddled with ethnic, sectarian and national divisions.

Both the Government and the opposition agree on the importance of political dialogue and national recociliation and call for it. The important question now is when will this dialogue begin and what are its mechanisms? Also, to what extent are participants in dialogue prepared to compromise in order to reach consensus and establish a sustainable political situation which protects all groups in society? A situation where unity is restored and national consensus is regained, after being badly affected by the crisis and its repercussions.

The following are some statements and international directives:

The United States:

1- On 9 February 2012, the Department of State spokesperson Victoria Nuland said that: ‘The United States commends the Bahraini Government for moving quickly to implement the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry Report recommendations. An essential element of promoting national reconciliation is ensuring the confidence of Bahrain’s citizens in their government’s commitment to, and compliance with, international human rights obligations. We urge the Government of Bahrain to act quickly on the other recommendations of the BCI, and we call on all parties in Bahrain to create and support a climate conducive to reconciliation.’

2- US Department of State Spokesperson Nuland on 7 January 2012: ‘The United States is deeply concerned by continuing incidents of violence in Bahrain between police and demonstrators. We strongly urge the Government of Bahrain to undertake a full investigation to determine if excessive force was employed by police. In general we urge all demonstrators to refrain from acts of violence and for police and security forces also to avoid excessive use of force. The Government of Bahrain has taken significant steps to implement recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, and we urge it to complete this important undertaking without delay and continue the work of comprehensive reform. We encourage all the citizens of Bahrain to join in this effort, which can be the foundation for genuine reconciliation and a renewed spirit of national unity’.

3- U S Department of State on 13 January 2012: ‘The key to Bahrain’s future, as we have been discussing with officials in Bahrain, is a real dialogue among Bahrainis which will serve as the foundation for reconciliation and a renewed spirit of national unity’.

4- U S Department of State on 27 January 2012: ‘We have and will continue to use our security assistance to reinforce reforms in Bahrain. We have seen some important initial steps from the Bahraini government in implementing the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry’s (BICI) recommendations, but more needs to be done. We urge the government of Bahrain to take action on the full range of recommendations that we believe will help lay the foundation for longer-term reform and reconciliation’.

5- Assistant Secretary Of State Michael Posner on 9 February 2012: ‘My discussions focused on the implementation of the recommendations made in the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report. As my government has said, it is a great credit to King Hamad that he initiated the BICI process, accepted its recommendations and appointed a national commission to coordinate implementation of those recommendations. It is commendable for any government to invite and participate in an independent examination of its human rights record. The United States views the BICI report and its follow-up as a bold measure by the government to begin to rebuild confidence with the Bahraini people. Implementing these recommendations is not an easy task, and we commend the efforts undertaken so far to realize the goals of the BICI process. Ultimately, the goal of the BICI and implementation of its recommendations is to create a path toward genuine political dialogue and national reconciliation. We renew our call on all parties, including the government, political societies and others to engage in dialogue and negotiation in which all elements of society have a real voice. This must be a process led by Bahrainis themselves. It will not be easy. And it can only succeed by building a greater degree of mutual respect and mutual trust’.

6- Victoria Nuland, spokesperson for the US Department of State on 14-2-2012: ‘The United States reiterates its commitment to the three core principles that we support in Bahrain and across the region: commitment to the universal rights of all citizens, including freedom of speech and assembly; support for political and economic reform; and opposition to the use of violence on any side. We call on the Bahraini Government to work with the opposition and other groups to establish a process leading to real meaningful political reform there’.

7- US congressman Jim Hims on 3 April 2012: The first steps taken towards implementing BICI recommendations have been positive, but full implementation will take time. He added that it remains necessary that the implementation process continues and is explained in a transparent manner.

United Kingdom

1- A Downing Street spokesperson said after meeting the King on 12 December 2012: discussions focussed on the King’s plans to implement reforms in the country, following on from the protests earlier this year and the report from the Independent Commission of Inquiry. He urged the King to deliver swiftly on the commitments he has made to implement the recommendations from the Inquiry and to drive forward reform and reconciliation in the country, engaging with the opposition as part of that process.

2- Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt on 13 December 2011: ‘I look forward to discussing the steps it has taken so far, making clear the importance of swiftly implementing the report’s recommendations, and finding ways that the British Government can provide practical assistance. I urge all groups in Bahrain, in particular the opposition, to engage fully to seize this moment for reconciliation and broader reform’.

3- The British Embassy in Bahrain on 13 February 2012: During a visit to Bahrain, Dr Christian Turner, British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Director for the Middle East and North Africa, called for restraint, political dialogue and the effective and early implementation of all (BICI) recommendations. He said: ‘The United Kingdom supports the right to peaceful protest, an essential element in any democracy. We welcome the fact that the government has authorised various political gatherings in recent days. However, we call on all sides to reject violence and to do so publicly. This would be an important confidence building measure’.

4- The Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt on 22 March 2012: ‘I welcome the National Commission’s report on implementing the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI). As the Foreign Secretary said at the time the BICI report was published, the Commission’s findings were deeply worrying and we have consistently encouraged full implementation of its recommendations. Reform and reconciliation are vitally important if Bahrain is to achieve sustainable stability. I am therefore pleased to see the progress the Government of Bahrain has made so far in responding to the report, in taking steps aimed at preventing future abuses of human rights. Introducing a police code of conduct, placing cameras in interview rooms and establishing a media oversight body are all important steps. It is also encouraging to see the establishment of a Special Investigations Unit with a mandate to bring to justice those who have perpetrated human rights abuses. We look forward to seeing the effect of these measures. But this is a long-term process and there is more to do. It remains critical that the Government of Bahrain continues its work to implement the Commission’s recommendations, in particular ensuring that recent agreements are honoured, addressing issues of accountability and changing behaviour and culture. This should go hand in hand with an inclusive, constructive and realistic political dialogue between the government and political societies. The UK, as a friend and ally, will continue to give its support to these processes’.

5- The Foreign Office statement on 3 April 2012: Minister Alistair Burt met Bahrain Minister for Follow Up at the Royal Court of Bahrain Sheikh Ahmed bin Atiyatallah Al Khalifa. They discussed the current situation in Bahrain, UK/Bahrain relations and the progress made since the Independent Commission of Inquiry published its report in November 2011. They discussed plans for a political dialogue, the security situation, specific human rights concerns and areas where the UK could provide assistance. The Minister for the Middle East emphasised the importance of reform and reconciliation if sustainable stability is to be achieved in Bahrain. He said: ‘We have consistently encouraged the Government of Bahrain to implement in full the recommendations from last year’s Independent Commission of Inquiry. We hope that the steps taken so far by the Bahraini Government will provide the basis for further reform and will help prevent future abuses from being committed. Reports of ongoing violence and street protests in Bahrain make clear this is long-term process and more needs to be done. The Bahraini Government should continue to make progress on a political dialogue that is inclusive, constructive and realistic, but I also encourage all other parties to take the necessary steps to achieve this as a matter of urgency. We are ready and willing to provide assistance to Bahrain to help them implement these reforms’.

The European Union

1- Statement by the spokesperson of High Representative Catherine Ashton on the anniversary of the unrest in Bahrain on 13 February 2012: ‘On the eve of 14th February, High Representative Catherine Ashton calls upon all parties in Bahrain to exercise calm and restraint, especially during the planned demonstrations, which she trusts will take place in a peaceful manner. The High Representative also stresses that it is indispensable that all sides contribute constructively to the national reconciliation process, including by implementing the recommendations of the report issued by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry. The EU reiterates its support to this process’.

2- The European Parliament on 15 March 2012: Parliament urges the Bahraini authorities to achieve national reconciliation through a comprehensive and constructive dialogue. This is crucial for the democratic stability of Bahrain’s diverse society, and dialogue must guarantee equal rights for all citizens through the practice of the Law. The Parliament also urged the respect of human rights and the implementation of required reforms swiftly and in full. It also called for impartial and independent investigations to be made into human rights violations by the police and security forces, and reiterated the call for immediate and unconditional release of all peaceful demonstrators, political activists and human rights defenders.


The German Federal Foreign Office on 23 March 2012: ‘The international Bassiouni Commission, established to investigate the events of spring 2011, presented its final report in November 2011. Bahrain has not yet completed implementation of the Commission’s recommendations. The German Government is firmly of the opinion that only meaningful dialogue between all players in Bahraini politics can lead to national reconciliation, and it encourages the Government and opposition groups to seek such dialogue’.


The French Foreign Ministry on 26 March 2012: ‘We have taken note of the submission of this report; we noted with interest the efforts of the Bahraini government to respond to the Bassiouni Commission’s recommendations. We hope that the announced measures will now be implemented within the framework of an inclusive process of reform and dialogue which will bring together all components of Bahraini society and political life. We urge all parties to take advantage of the opportunities for dialogue afforded to them, in order to find a solution that will respond to the aspirations of all Bahraini citizens and to ease tensions over the long term’.