Justice Minister Warns of Tampering with Security

In an interview with Al Hayat newspaper on 13/10/2010, the Bahraini Minister of Justice, Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa, said that

the main purpose of holding elections is the belief that they are central to any democratic process. He added that elections form the basis of dialogue in constitutional institutions, and when probed on the question of transparency, he asked: ‘why bother holding elections, if we do not want citizens’ voices to be heard? Especially when these choices affect the citizen’s present and future’.

The Minister said that no political society was prevented or obstructed from participating in the elections, and that political societies did not at all differ from national political parties. In fact, a law regulating political societies had been ratified by Parliament. Hence, all these societies had taken advantage of the wide margin of freedom available, and had participated in the elections.

Sheikh Khalid also denied that what happened to the BHRS was aimed at controlling the elections, asserting that current legislations give all national civil societies the right to send their representatives to oversee the elections. In response to the blocking of some party-affiliated websites, the Minister said that ‘the sites in question have nothing to do with freedom of expression, which is a basic human right. Rather these websites were blocked because they contained scandalous material, which is at odds with the values of our society’.

The Minister also refuted that the recent arrests had anything to do with the elections or their timing, saying that Bahrain depends on a global banking system, and that there are 400 banks in the country. He continued by saying that 57% of our income comes from the services sector, which means that Bahrain cannot afford any acts of terrorism which may threaten our safety or stability.

Finally, regarding claims of setbacks in the status of human rights in the country, the Minister answered: ‘in my opinion there are no setbacks, and assurances exist for all those accused in any case, whether they are Bahraini or foreign citizens. As for any accusations and judgements made here or there, these are unfounded and negate the principle of justice. He continued: ‘I am content with the procedures of Bahraini laws related to the agreements signed by Bahrain. Moreover, I cannot give my opinion on a case, which is currently at court, as it is for the judge to decide the fate of the accused, and each of them is innocent until proven guilty in a final ruling.