Respecting Human Rights is the Way to Achieve Stability
Dr. Loai Deeb
|Dr. Loai Deeb
Bassiouni’s report laid the foundation for the principles needed
for the desired changes in Bahrain. The recommendations of the report
created a state of incomplete transitional justice; but also created
a willingness to uncover past violations, promoted civil peace,
reconciliation, the rule of law and democracy.
Bassiouni’s recommendations can be regarded as the first step
towards achieving justice in a way that is suitable for Bahraini
society after the period of unfortunate human rights violations
and violence. When he first ascended the throne, the King of Bahrain
took a historical decision when he initiated the first political
reforms. He also took another important decision when he ordered
the establishment of Bassiouni’s Committee and committed himself
to implementing the recommendations of the report.
The democratic transition in Bahrain should be combined with
steps of transitional justice such as allowing criminal lawsuits,
conducting legal investigations with those responsible of violations,
establishing truth committees, setting up compensation programmes
and reforming security apparatus. All these steps have been taken
by the Government, however, they are incomplete and unsatisfying
and have failed to end the crisis. The reasons behind this are the
lack of political trust, fear of the future and the? existence of
incitement discourses. The steps taken by the Government are very
important and positive; however, the Bahraini scene is still unclear
as there are still many shortcomings which need to be addressed.
There is also a need for creative initiatives in order to improve
the relations of the various social components.
Promoting trust in post-crisis societies requires more interrelated
measures . For without efforts to uncover the truth and compensate
the victims, punishing a few criminals could be seen as a form of
political revenge. On the other hand, uncovering the truth without
prosecuting those responsible of violations and reforming security
institutions could be regarded as words without deeds. In addition
to this, compensating the victims without criminal lawsuits can
be seen as trying to silence the victims (this cannot be applied
to the compensation programmes that the Bahraini Government endorsed).
Moreover, reforming institutions without political partnership will
fail to achieve the desired results.
We believe in the right of citizens to know the truth as equal
as their legitimate right to live free and prosperously. The possibility
of achieving peace, democracy and change differs from one country
to another. However, uncovering the truth is essential whatever
the circumstances as long as decision makers in Bahrain are able
to cooperate with other political parties. This will help in achieving
civil peace, democratic development and avoiding the repetition
of past mistakes. National dialogue is also important for promoting
consociational democracy, co-existence and the rule of the law.
These are the main aims of all Bahrainis who desire to overcome
the current crisis and heal the wounds of the past.
Moreover, there is a grave need for internal dialogue between
on the one hand, all the social components and between political
societies and the Government on the other hand. There is also a
need for the active participation of all parties in the political
process. Good intention if found among political parties is not
enough to solve the problem, it should be seen on the ground.
To avoid more disunity in the society, Bahraini national identity
needs restructuring on solid political and cultural bases, equal
citizenship standards and a state of freedom and law.
Other countries which went through similar crises were able to
move beyond a transitional justice towards a reconciliation justice
through admitting their mistakes, forgiveness, transparency and
placing legislative foundations in order to prevent the repetition
of the past. Despite the importance of punishment as a deterrent
tool, it should not be an objective in itself. The Penal Code alone
cannot create ethics, protect coexistence standards and dignity;
for ethics should come from within and from believing in the rights
of others. The demands of the political movement in Bahrain were
legitimate but were transformed into political and social division,
violence, and sectarian discourses. Sectarianism in the media is
very harmful and should stop in order to prevent further losses.
The Government and opposition are both responsible for Bahrain’s
future and both should be lenient with their demands for the sake
of preserving and strengthening the social fabric, achieving political
and security stability, achieving a balanced development and a genuine
national consensus. It is obvious that some of Bassiouni’s recommendations
point in this direction and implementing them professionally represents
a way out for all. Political parties should benefit from the rich
experiences of others in order to create their own unique experience
of achieving stability.