“Investigation” as a Way Out of the ‘Allegations Crisis’

There are several allegations regarding the Government’s violation of the rights of its citizens. For as soon as an incident occurs or a controversial issue is stirred up, the Government is usually blamed for it. And in all these circumstances, international human rights organizations demand that the Government undertakes independent investigations in order to unravel the truth. The Government, from its part denies committing any violation and sometimes justifies its position or blames other parties. Occasionally, it also conducts investigations which remain unpublished or only published in part without any details keeping the rest of the information to itself.

Due to the numerous allegations and accusations filed against the Government, (despite the fact that some of them have been proven to be politicized or even false), and in addition to the constant complaints by human rights organizations regarding specific incidents, the Government has no choice but to confront the challenge of overcoming its fears and taking steps to convince both local and foreign human rights organizations of its position. The case of Jaffar Khazim Ibrahim demonstrates the above where we can see that the allegations against the Government were proven to be lies. However, the latter did not publish a great deal of information regarding the case due to the sensitivity associated with issues of honor and individual privacy. International human rights organizations have issued hasty statements and wrote to the Government demanding an investigation. However, due to the publishing of the victim’s pictures, which was one the reasons for the issuing of the public statements, some of these organizations are still not convinced by the information provided by the Government, despite the fact that local public opinion is convinced of the honesty of the Government’s position. In other words, these international human rights organizations still demand an independent investigation regarding the allegations of the Ibrahim’s case; for they are still convinced that some violations have occurred in other cases. Due to all of this, there seems to be no other foreseeable solution but conducting the investigation as only this guarantees revealing the truth.

The constant problem facing the Government is that it does not possess any mechanism that can be relied on to conduct independent and impartial investigation. And there might not be any specific and independent or official body that can undertake the task of investigating the allegations which can gain the trust of both parties- the Government and the human rights organizations. These organizations see the necessity of the investigation being conducted by an independent body outside the state’s establishment, such as, the Lawyer’s Society, Human Rights Society or a group of civil society institutions. The question here is: why is the Government apprehensive of independent investigation?

There are various reasons for this, the most important of which are three. The first is related to the Government’s insistence that state institutions should be referred to in all cases. The second is linked to the Government’s distrust of unofficial and impartial institutions and perceives that at least some of these are politicized. The Government also questions the competence and expertise of these institutions in conducting investigations. The third relates to the feeling that institutions and state figures cannot be questioned by unofficial bodies. It is thus reasonable to ask: what would happen if civil society institutions were found to be incompetent for the task of conducting investigations? Would not this increase the gap in the relationship between the Government and civil society institutions? And would the Government accept such institutions to undertake this task in the future?

However, there is no other solution than the Government accepting to conduct investigations, agree with the concerned parties on strict guidelines for the investigations, take responsibility for any outcome, participate in developing trust in human rights organizations and support the latter in order to strengthen its local expertise.

Hasan Moosa Shafaei
President - Bahrain Human Rights Monitor