Ombudsman Office: More Professionalism & Transparency
The Office of the Ombudsman has issued its third annual report
on its activities, which specifically relate to the investigation
of complaints received against the practices of Interior Ministry
The Office of the Ombudsman has been established on the basis
of the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of
Inquiry (BICI), known as the Bassiouni Report. In this capacity,
the Ombudsman Office is a key element in addressing the effects
of the 2011 events. It is also seen as one of the important institutions
involved in the protection of human rights in Bahrain.
The new annual report of the Ombudsman Office, provides an opportunity
to examine the activities it undertakes, as well as the progress
made in terms of establishing itself and improving Its services.
Perhaps the first thing that draws attention in the report, is the
notable increase in the number of people submitting grievances or
seeking assistance from the Ombudsman Office, which indicates increased
confidence in the Office’s role and activity within the Bahraini
Perhaps, this is primarily due to the clear attention shown by
the Ombudsman Office with respect to developing its mechanisms,
upgrading the capacities of its staff, in addition to increasing
the level of coordination of its activities with those of relevant
official institutions, such as the Ministry of Interior, the Public
Prosecution, the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) and the Prisoners
and Detainees Rights Commission (PDRC).
The Ombudsman Office has recently been keen on strengthening
ties with relevant regional and international bodies and institutions
and seeking to benefit from their expertise by organizing various
events. The Office has also been keen on creating closer links with
civil society and international human rights organizations, as well
as responding to their concerns in a manner that reinforces confidence
in the Office’s efficiency and independence. This includes follow
- up of the cases raised by these organiz?tions, even in cases where
the aggrieved parties do not submit their grievances.
This year’s Ombudsman report, included statistics on the nature
and number of complaints and assistance requests received by the
Office during the reporting year. The report also identified the
nature and number of actions taken regarding these issues, such
as referral to relevant bodies, shelving for lack of evidence or
The report outlined 12 sample cases investigated by the Ombudsman
Office, including the steps taken for fact finding and the actions
taken to address the issues subject of the complaints or grievances.
Of course, it was not possible, in legal terms, to mention the names
of the complainants in those cases. However, the presentation was
characterized with a high degree of transparency, which provides
practical evidence of the Ombudsman Office’s high level of professionalism
in conducting the tasks entrusted?to it.
As to deaths in detention centres which amounted to 7 cases during
the reporting period, the ombudsman Office for its part, has conducted
the required investigations, within its mandate, and provided an
elaborate account of the outcome of investigation for each case.
Based on its experience in this area, the Ombudsman Office issued
several recommendations for reform and rehabilitation centres, with
a view to upgrading their efficiency and providing them with the
necessary resources to make them better equipped and prepared to
It is hoped that this open-door approach would be reassuring
and allay the concerns raised by various international human rights
entities, including governments, formal international organizations
and NGOs, in relation to various aspects of the human rights dossier
in Bahrain. It is also hoped that increased transparency and professionalism
will strengthen confidence in the Office of the Ombudsman and ultimately
lead to addressing the shortcomings in Bahrain’s human rights dossier.