Foreign AffairsWritten evidence from Mr Abdulla Faisal Al Doseri, President of the Mabadea Society for Human Rights

UK-BAHRAIN RELATIONS AND THE WAY FORWARD

Brief Introduction

This statement is submitted by the President of the Mabade’a Society for Human Rights (NGO), Mr Abdulla Faisal Al Doseri, a human rights activist for over 18 years as well as a Member of Bahrain National Institution for Human Rights (BNIHR) and the Head of International Affairs and NGOs, appointed through Royal Decree by His Majesty The King of Bahrain in 2000. Mr Al Doseri has participated in the Universal Periodic Review and has submitted many proposals.

Summary

1. The action by Bahrain reflects its experience from the Arab Spring protests that divided the country and its people into government supporters and opponents. What initially started as peaceful protests deviated to confrontation when the police attempted to install law and order, then led to attacks and further escalated to threats to the safety and security of citizens’ and public as well as private property. These unwarranted acts of violence and assaults on police servicemen in the line of duty and clashes have resulted in a high number of victims that included protestors, policemen, citizens and expatriate workers and foreigners living in Bahrain.

2. The Mabade’a Society for Human Rights has expressed deep concern over the violence accompanying the recent unrest in Bahrain’s society that has caused deep sectarian rifts and has called for the need for people to exercise self-restraint and pursue a peaceful path when demanding legitimate rights.

3. The Government’s response was an invitation by His Highness The Crown Prince of Bahrain for an open dialogue, had it been accepted when the protest movement began, could have led to significant constitutional, political and economic reforms.

4. Mabade’a Society of Human Rights has backed the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) chaired by Professor M Cherif Bassiouni that was established to inquire into the crisis and has called upon the Government of Bahrain to fully implement the recommendations and their causes, in total transparency, as stipulated in the (BICI) Report, whether against policemen or all those involved in the acts of violence and killings and put them on trial for justice to be done and human rights to be protected.

5. The Mabade’a Society for Human Rights expresses its regret over the slow progress made regarding the protection and consolidation of women’s human rights in the kingdom. The government has not issued the Ja’afari section of the Personal Status Law, like the Sunni one, passed in 2009. This creates a clear discrimination and inequality in applying human rights, stipulated by the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

6. The society believes that clerics and political associations have played a key role in preventing the issuance of the Ja’afari Personal Status Law. The Government of Bahrain must exert more effort and intensify consultations with all sides to draft a Personal Status Law, issue it as soon as possible and inform the Human Rights Council about its progress.

7. During the protests and rallies in Bahrain, children and minors have been harmed in an unprecedented way that subjected them to violence and sexual abuses that constitutes violations of their rights. Mabade’a Society for Human Rights calls upon the Government of Bahrain to investigate these matters and pursue legal justice against all alleged offenders in a swift manner to spread a message that impunity will not be tolerated. This society also calls for the enactment of a law that would impose severe penalties against child abuse.

8. The new innovative media, such as the internet, and the social media, have played a detrimental role in spreading the culture of violence, hatred, rancor, incitement and assault on others, violating their rights and infringing upon their privacy. Thus, it is incumbent on the state to interfere immediately and work towards issuing comprehensive and modern legislation regulating the use of these media to reduce their negative impact on other people. This freedom shall be a priority when issuing a new modern law guaranteeing the exercise of the freedom of opinion and expression in conformity with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international principles and norms. This law shall stipulate necessary legal protection for journalists in accordance with the deontological Code of the Press.

9. Mabade’a Society for Human Rights welcomes the initiative of the Government to establish a special fund to compensate all the victims of the unrest and calls for all the compensations to be paid to their beneficiaries for this issue to be settled.

Factual Information

The Mabade’a Society for Human Rights commends the efforts made by the Government of Bahrain in various areas to promote human rights and equality for the citizens of Bahrain some of which are:

(1)The establishment of the Special Investigations Unit reporting to the Attorney General to investigate police misconduct in order to achieve accountability and will work with the recently appointed independent police Ombudsman.

(2)Organizing human rights training programs for security forces to create awareness as well as implementing a new code of conduct. Establishing an independent Internal Affairs Office, Ombudsman Office and Office of the Inspector General.

(3)Surveillance methods of police departments and interrogation rooms to ensure rights are protected. The Government is building two new forensic laboratories and hiring appropriate personnel experienced in technical matters.

(4)Training courses for judges and members of the public prosecution in the area of human rights to ensure such rights are guaranteed.

(5)A Civil Settlement Office which has already paid USD.2.6 million to the families of the deceased victims mentioned in the BICI Report and allocation of a further USD.3 million for the next phase of compensation.

(6)Since the March Tripartite agreement, the Ministry of Labor worked closely with the representatives of the workers and the ILO to ensure that all dismissed workers are reinstated. Bahrain promotes the organized work of labor unions and while there are number of active unions, the Bahrain Labor Union Free Federation was established as an umbrella and option for unions of major companies

(7)Rebuilding, renovation, construction and allocation of sites for places of worship

(8)Programs developed to achieve a national reconciliation in political, social and economic spheres with the help of NGOs.

(9)Developing new legislations with help sought from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) that criminalizes all acts that call for national hatred, racism or religious intolerance.

Recommendations

1. The United Kingdom has been a close supporter of the Kingdom of Bahrain and going forward these relations are crucial to achieve a situation that leads to a better quality of life for the citizens of Bahrain, ensures safety and security of all residents and promotes peace, human rights, economic progress in Bahrain as well as in the region.

2. The path of reform is a mutual and ongoing process that has to be achieved in a progressive manner and requires the mobilization of all official and national efforts.

3. The Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs has been meeting all political societies to activate a political dialogue, supporting the government’s move for open dialogue, yet, no general consent from all parties on a unanimous agenda or a national dialogue has reached. Mabade’a Society for Human Rights feels it is time for the launch of an open national public dialogue without pre-conditions, with the support of the Government of Bahrain. This process must involve all stakeholders such as civil societies, political NGOs, prominent members of the public and so on.

4. Rationalize activities of all sectors of the media be it television, press or social media, at national and regional levels, from broadcasting content that misleads the public or incites hatred in society and focus on promoting reconciliation.

5. All parties and stakeholders must formally announce a stance against any form of violence especially one that disrupts the lives of citizens and causes damage to public and property

19 September 2012

Prepared 21st November 2013