Follow ups and Implementations
It is clear that the Government is keen about implementing
Bassiouni’s recommendations and this should reduce political
tension and reflect on the level of trust in the Government. It
is also obvious that to some extent the opposition and perhaps
international human rights organizations are both ignoring these
efforts. It is true that there are still some unsettled issues
but appreciation and encouragement will help in accelerating the
implementation process of the recommendations. This is in
addition to settling many human rights issues is related
in one way or another to other social and political issues. Appreciating
Government efforts is not to say that there are no remaining controversial
issues; however it is also unfair to say that nothing has been achieved
so far and to claim that the Government is not serious in implementing
The unit in charge of following up the implementation of the
recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry
(BICI’s Follow Up Unit), has announced a number of ongoing procedures
and programs for various ministries and concerned government departments
in its first Interim Report issued on 12-15 July 2012. These programs
are concerned with the promoting and developing of the judicial
authority, accountability, compensations, places of worship and
freedom of expression,
Training of Judges and members of the General Persecution
Dana Al-Zayani, Head of the BICI Follow Up Unit, stated that
in implementation of Recommendation 1722 (F) on the training of
judges and members of the Public Prosecution, the Government signed
a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Italian International Institute
for Higher studies in Criminal Sciences, aimed at providing technical
assistance to members of the judiciary through a number of training
courses in the fields of protection of human rights, and the international
and regional mechanisms of criminal justice and human rights. The
agreement also provides for conducting a number of field visits
to international agencies active in the field of protection of human
rights in Italy, Switzerland and France.
The first training course took place during the period 1–21 May
at the headquarters of the Institute in Siracusa, Italy, with the
participation of 20 judges and public prosecutors who met with a
group of international experts for a period of 10 days. During that
time, they visited a number of law enforcement agencies in South
Italy, followed by a field tour to a number of European capitals
starting with Rome, where they visited the headquarters of the General
Public Prosecutor, the Supreme Court, and the ?forensic Evidence
Directorate. Thereafter, they proceeded to Geneva where they visited
the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights and the International
Commission of the Red Cross. They then proceeded to Strasburg, France,
where they visited the European Court for Human Rights and the Council
of Europe. The second training course is scheduled to begin early
next month with the participation of 20 Judges and members of Public
To enhance the competency and abilities of judges in all fields
of contemporary criminal sciences, judges are continuously delegated
to participate in training seminars abroad. A female judge participated
in a specialized training session at the University of Nottingham,
United Kingdom from 19th to 30th of March 2012, addressing the subjects
of implementation of international conventions on human rights.
A second female judge participated in the International League Conference
of Female Judges held in London this past May, in addition to judges
who have participated in a number of conferences held in Egypt,
UAE and Kuwait.
On in-house training in the Kingdom, and in addition to regular
training sessions organized by the Judicial and Legal Studies Institute,
the Public Prosecution received over the period from 23rd April
to 3rd May, five legal experts from Germany who trained 30 members
of the Public Prosecution over a period of 7 days in two workshops
addressing the basic rights of individuals, as well as the German
experience in the implementation of the European Standards of Criminal
Moreover, on May 1st and 2nd the Public Prosecution received
the Egyptian Attorney General and Assistant Attorney General who
met with 25 public prosecutors over a period of two full days in
a seminar on criminal investigations and protection of the rights
of individuals in criminal procedure.
The Public Prosecution also received two experts from the Kingdom
of Morocco who met with 50 members of the Public Prosecution on
combating contemporary forms of organized crime.
The Government has also identified a group of international experts
in the field of development of judicial systems, and charged them
with the study of the existing conditions and submitting their proposals.
An international expert was appointed as a permanent advisor
to the Higher Judicial Council, to develop Bahrain’s judicial system
as a whole and put together a comprehensive strategy including the
development of the Public Prosecution. The expert is scheduled to
submit a preliminary study in August covering all challenges and
best practices. This expert also participates – in a consulting
capacity – in the activities of the Committee for Follow up of Implementation
of the BICI recommendations.
The Ministry of Justice also requested the American Bar Association
(ABA) provide advice and technical assistance by dispatching an
international expert to review the current status and submit proposals.
The expert commenced his task in collaboration with a prominent
US judge. They filed a comprehensive report that is currently under
review to implement its recommendations.
Al-Zayani pointed out that on the issue of accountability of
offenders regarding violations which occurred during the events
of last year (2011), and as determined by Public Prosecution, the
Special Investigation Unit (SIU) received 122 cases which were referred
to it by the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and the National Security
Agency (NSA). In addition, it directly received forty-five complaints.
Fifty complainants were referred to forensic medical examiners for
Moreover, 77 of the accused were questioned directly at all levels
of responsibility. Investigations resulted in charges made against
21, including officers. Investigations also resulted in the referral
of 13 cases to relevant courts, including all murder cases, which
were referred to SIU by the MOI and NSA. They were all re-investigated
and cases are ongoing.
On the legislative side, Al-Zayani said that the Government prepared
necessary amendments to the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal
Procedure, to ensure that perpetrators of such crimes do not escape
punishment. The most significant amendment was the definition of
torture, criminalizing acts of inflicting severe pain or suffering,
whether physical or mental, on a detained person by, or under the
control of, a civil servant or a serving officer, for the purpose
of obtaining information, extracting confession, inflicting punishment,
or terrorizing or coercing the detainee or any other person. The
amendment also emphasized that the statute of limitations does not
apply to crimes of torture.
On the right of every citizen to claim compensation for injury
sustained, an article was added to the Code of Criminal Procedure,
allowing any person who alleges that he / she has suffered a vengeful
act as a result of a previous claim of torture or any other form
of inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, to file a civil
action suit versus the accused while evidence is being gathered,
during investigation or before the court trying the criminal case,
whichever the case may be, if such vengeful act is deemed a crime.
If the vengeful act is not a punishable felony, civil courts shall
The ratifications of Legislative Amendments to Support Freedom
On aspects related to freedom of expression, the Head of the
BICI Follow Up Unit stated that, prior to the issuance of the BICI
Report, the Government had prepared a draft amendment of a number
of penal code provisions related to the regulation of freedom of
expression. Those amendments were passed by both Houses of Parliament.
The most important outcome of those amendments is the placement
of constraints on the implementation of Article 168 of the Penal
Code, which provides for punishment for broadcasting false news,
on condition that such an act is deliberate, and results in harm
to national security, public order or public health. The new amendment
also stipulated that such an act shall have to cause injury in order
to be valid. As for undermining national security, the amendment
provided that it must be related to incitement ?f violence, or could
cause incitement of violence, and with a direct link to the occurrence
or possible occurrence of violent acts.
To further emphasize the necessity of providing full protection
of citizens’ right to free expression, a new article was added to
the Penal Code emphasizing that the interpretation of restrictions
on the right of free expression in the Penal Code or in any other
code remains within the necessary framework of a democratic society.
It also emphasized that exercising the right of the freedom of expression
within this framework is exempt from punishment.
To emphasize this aspect, the Public Prosecution, prior to ratification
of those amendments, dropped all existing charges that overlap with
the right of expression and freedom of opinion, involving 334 cases.
Reinstatement of Dismissed Workers
According to updated statistics gathered by the Labour Ministry,
most dismissed workers have been reinstated to their original positions
and that the Government took the initiative by ensuring that reinstated
workers continue to receive the same amount of salary and enjoy
their previous job scale and remuneration.
The Government’s commitment to restore things back to normal,
under a genuine spirit of national reconciliation, pointing out
the Government instructions to private companies to restore all
2462 demobilized workers of whom 92% have already been reinstated
in their former positions.
The percentage can be summarized as follows:
-1765 of the dismissed employees work in companies which are
partly owned by the Government and have been reinstated in most
cases. Twelve workers were rejected and have filed lawsuits.
- 697 employees work in the private sector and the Government
has contacted these companies and encouraged them to reinstate those
workers. Until now 160 have been reinstated and 370 have been employed
in other countries.
- 42 employees were rejected by some companies and hence filed
lawsuits and are currently waiting decisions from the Bahraini courts.
With regards to national reconciliation efforts, many political,
social and economic programs have been put into place. The help
of international expertise has also been used to settle the problems
resulting from the crisis. These efforts include promoting the principles
of national reconciliation in order to decrease the effects of the
crisis and promote trust between the various social components.
These steps also include the initiative of the Ministry of Social
Affairs to allocate half a million dollars for civil society organisations
which participate in social reconciliation programs. There have
also been some initiatives which are concerned with supporting the
unity of Bahraini society by promoting the ideas of citizenship
Due to the importance of the role of religious discourses in
promoting national unity and avoiding violence, extremism, sectarianism
and hatred, the Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs and Endowments
issued decision No 23 for the year 2009. This decision states a
number of restrictions which should be followed during speeches,
lessons and religious lectures based on the principles of citizenship,
co-existence, sectarian sensitivity, respecting diversity and avoiding
The National Committee has also requested a definition of the
term ‘inciting hatred and sectarianism’ in line with internationally
accepted standards. Due to the Government’s desire to deal with
this issue in line with the requirement of Article (19) of the International
Covenant for Civil and Political Rights, the Government is working
with experienced international bodies in order to put forward a
law that criminalises all calls inciting hatred, racism and violence.
In order to implement this, the Minister of Justice and Islamic
Affairs has set up programs for religious preachers during this
year and the coming one. The Ministry aims to improve the level
of religious discourses through: increasing awareness regarding
the importance of updating religious discourses, supporting inter-cultural
dialogue, promoting the principles of tolerance and respect for
others, resisting extreme ideas, avoiding hatred and violence and
emphasizing the principles of equality and citizenship. These courses
will include teachers of both genders, students of Islamic studies
and religious preachers in mosques and centres. The Ministry has
urged that education curriculums include the values of diversity
and co-existence. Participating in the setting up and organistion
of these courses are the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, both
Sunni and Jafari Endowments, the Supreme Council for Women, the
Ministry of Education, religious scholars from all sects, intellectuals,
and representatives of the Arab League, human rights organizations
and civil society organizations. These programs are also organised
with the cooperatio? of non-profit institutions specialised in youth
affairs in Scotland. Moreover, a number of programs are also being
organised for the youth on national reconciliation. These programs
emphasize the importance of involving the youth in many activities
under the supervision of specialists of many fields in order to
encourage them to debate, participate in discussions and come up
with beneficial ideas.
Compensating the victims
Based on the Royal Directive which highlights the importance
of settling the cases of the victims as soon as possible, a civil
settlement was adopted by the Council of Ministers based on the
proposal of the National Committee which was established to follow
up the implementation of Bassiouni’s recommendations.
The Head of the BICI Follow Up Unit, Dana Al- Zayani, stated
that the Civil Settlement Office in the Ministry of Justice and
Islamic affairs received a number of compensation claims applications.
The Office settled 17 cases with two million and six hundred thousand
dollars- without affecting criminal investigations.
In line with the related laws, Bassiouni’s recommendations and
according to the head of the Follow Up Unit, the reconstruction
of five religious sites is almost complete. Moreover, fences have
been built around eight other sites. The total number of all sites
that have been reconstructed is 22 and eight other sites remain
under study. These procedures fulfil the needs of all areas for
religious sites in a legal and safe manner which protects the sanctity
of these religious sites.