MP's Response to 'an Arbitrary Directive'
MP Abdul Hussain Al-Mitghawi has responded to a directive issued
by Sheikh Ahmad bin Attiatullah Al-Khalifa, Minister of the Cabinet
Affairs, in which workers in the public sector are banned from participating
in (unauthorized) protests and demonstrations, and threatens them,
among other punishments with potentially losing their jobs. Al-Mitghawi
commented that the directive is 'unconstitutional, goes against
the National Action Charter, and limits freedoms…it is also in contradiction
with international agreements and conventions, which according to
article 37 of the Bahraini Constitution become part of the local
law when they are approved and published in the Official Gazette
(this includes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International
Labour Agreements and article 21 of the International Covenant [on
Civil and Political Rights])'.
Al-Mitghawi stressed that the directive opposes the separation
of authorities as stated in article 32 of the Constitution, as it
bypasses both legislative and judicial authorities. The Constitution
also states in article 20 that an accused is innocent until proven
guilty and has the right to a fair and just trial; he added that
article 65 of the Civil Service Law prohibits the implementation
of punishments until trials of the accused are completed.
Al-Mitghawi also believes that the language used in the issued
directive is too vague which allows for widely different interpretations,
threatens the dignity and stability of the civil worker, instils
paranoia and fear and has a negative effect on the work environment
and its productivity in general.
The directive had been discussed in the Parliament, media and
civil society organisations, and the government had clarified its
position by saying it has no intention to sack anyone as long as
their participation in protests and demonstrations is within the
confines of the law, and that the directive only applies to participation
in violent and illegal protests.
It is worth mentioning that a protest was organised by opposition
political societies on 30 January 2009 where around 30,000 persons
took the streets to denounce what they called 'political naturalization'
and no problems occurred due to the fact that the protest was authorized