Confronting Violence and Respecting Human Rights

Sooner or later, violence and riots will result in confrontation between the Government and those behind it. In the beginning, the Government did not wish to use its legal rights against instigators of violence because it was focusing on the newly established democracy and political process. However, because the violence has stretched beyond the limit and has been continuing for years, the Government has reached the confrontation point and has decided it is time to enforce the law. The recent arrests were expected and can be justified legally. The Government has the right to enforce law and order within its jurisdiction in order to protect its citizens’ interests and the stability of the country.

On the other hand, the security forces’ failure to comply with the law and provide the detainees with their right of a fair trial is unjustifiable and unacceptable. It is clear that there were some violations during detentions such as preventing detainees from meeting their lawyers and delaying the announcement of their place of detention.

Confronting violence and riots has gained consensus in the country. This is clear from the statements of various political parties and civil society organizations, which condemn the escalation of violence and endangering the public interests.

But violating the law in order to confront advocates of violence is a different matter. For it is against Bahraini law and the Constitution and most importantly does not help in putting an end to the street violence. Also, violation of the law by some members of the security forces during riots pushes the public to provide support and sympathy to the rioters, and violation of the law also undermines the Government’s justification to impose law and order.

The law can be imposed without the need for any violations as enforcing the law never contradicts human rights principles. In fact, the law intrinsically protects these principles. It is important to distinguish between firmly enforcing the law and between breaching it, which could lead to even more violations.

We know that Bahrain has suffered from unjustifiable violence for years and that the margin of freedom was exploited in an attempt to ruin the political process. We also know that the Government is looking for solutions for such exceptional situations. But when the Government decides to resort to severe measures, it is important to remember that Bahrain’s strength lies in respecting the law and that the strength of its security will be tested when it confronts violence through the law.

In summary, there is consensus to condemn the continuing violence as well as respecting human rights. However, confronting violence should be only through the Bahraini law and in accordance with human rights principles.