Guidelines for the Fact-Finding Committee
In February 2011, Bahrain witnessed large demonstrations
that were met with excessive force by the security forces against
protesters and resulted in several deaths. The events shocked Bahrainis,
human rights organizations and civil society institutions, which
condemned the disproportionate reaction of the security forces and
demanded an immediate investigation and to hold those responsible
The following are some suggestions of how to deal with the situation
from a human rights perspective. These points, though not comprehensive,
provide general guidelines and can assist the Bahraini authorities
in conducting a comprehensive investigation:
■ There is need to establish an independent committee in order
to investigate the February incidents. The committee members should
be independent and free from any political or sectarian affiliations.
Such members should include human rights activists, civil society
organizations, medical doctors and healthcare workers, experts in
international human rights law and international criminal law, security
and military personnel. Participation of non-Bahraini expertise
to provide technical advice should also be welcomed.
■ The committee should have clear and practical mandate, as well
as a specific timeline for presenting its final report and recommendations.
The Government of Bahrain is strongly advised to take into consideration
the recommendations of this committee.
■ Concerned parties such as human rights organizations and civil
society institutions should participate in defining the mandate
of this committee.
■ The committee should be given real powers, so that it can perform
its duties without any restrictions including contacting the families
of the victims and witnesses.
■ The committee should have easy access to information from Governmental
bodies including files and medical reports of those killed and injured.
The committee should also have access to files relating to the law
enforcement bodies, especially the orders that were given to them.
These bodies should provide access to this information without any
delay or bureaucracy.
■ Device a protection plan for victims and potential witnesses
in order to ensure their protection from any acts of threat and
retaliation especially those employed by the Government e.g. doctors,
health care workers and law enforcement officials.
■ The committee should be mandated to interrogate policemen and
law enforcement officials who were involved in the shooting, or
in inflaming the situation regardless of their position. The committee
should also have the right to ask the Bahraini authorities to suspend
those under investigation from work until the investigation is completed.
■ The committee should have the power to determine the proportionality
of the force used by the police, security force and law enforcement.
It should also monitor Bahraini security forces’ adherence to international
human rights law and the UN’s basic principles regarding the use
of force and firearms. The law states that “law enforcement officials
shall not use firearms against persons except in self-defence or
defence of others against the imminent threat of death or serious
injury. They should also exercise restraint in proportion with the
■ The committee should decide whether Bahrain’s legal framework
complies with international standards, which demand that Governments
must ensure that arbitrary or abusive use of force and firearms
by law enforcement officials is punishable as a criminal offence
under their law.
■ The committee should be mandated to look into allegations that
doctors and health care workers were prevented from providing medical
treatment to those injured and transfer them hospitals. It should
also look into allegations regarding attacks on healthcare workers
who were trying to assist those injured.
■ The committee’s report and recommendations should be made public
so that those responsible be brought to justice in accordance with
international standards and the Bahraini law. The report should
also be published in local, regional and international media.