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