Bassiouni’s Recommendations:
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 recommendations.

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 Prosecution.

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 Justice.

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.

Investigating Violations

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 medical checkups.

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 have jurisdiction.

The ratifications of Legislative Amendments to Support Freedom of Expression

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.

National Reconciliation

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 and co-existence.

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 sectarian incitement.

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.

Religious Sites

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.