1/04/2012

The Government in its response to the National Commission: Public

Manama-Jan3 (BNA) The National Commission charged with the
recommendations cited in the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry
(BICI) reviewed in its meeting held today a number of letters received
from the Bahraini Government on recommendations submitted by the
Commission to the Government implement the recommendations cited in
the report.
The Government’s response included the attachment of a detailed
schedule showing progress achieved on all recommendations, as well as
the latest developments over the recent period, including the
successful visit by the delegation of legal experts, who, following
their meeting with members of the National Commission, expressed their
admiration of the Commission’s commitment to implement recommendations
expediently to the highest of standards.
The Commission pointed out that the Government has stated in its
correspondence that Public Prosecution is following up 107 cases of
death, torture and abuse of civilians, with 48 law enforcement
officers investigated to date. This – as stated in the Government’s
response – represents an increase in the number of judicial inquiries
from a total of 20 inquiries at the time of preparation of the BICI
report. Meanwhile, on the implementation of the recommendation
contained in Paragraph 1722(E) of the Directive issued by H.E.
Minister of Interior to recruit 500 police officers, men and women,
from all community segments in the five governorates.
The Government also provided the Commission with the Ministerial
Resolution issued by H.E. Minister of Interior on 24 December 2011, on
the implementation of Recommendation 1722-D requiring the Inspector
General to take all necessary steps to assure the rights of the
accused, and the amendments introduced by the directive related to
arrest and detention procedures and required training of police
officers, in response to the Commission’s resolution in its previous
meeting, whereby the Commission wrote to the Government on providing
it with that directive.
On his part, the Commission’s Chairman H.E. Ali bin Saleh Al Saleh
stated that the Government’s letters in response to the Commission’s
correspondence and the procedures to implement the recommendations of
the BICI report, provide assurances that actions are being taken to
implement all recommendations as soon as possible. He confirmed that
communication continues with the Government to ensure implementation
of all recommendations in accordance with international standards.
Following review of action taken to implement Recommendation No. 1718,
the Commission proposed in a letter relayed to the Government the
amendment of Decree Law No. 14 for 2002 on the establishment of the
National Security Agency, to include the establishment of an
independent Inspector General’s Office to take on the same functions
of the Complaints Office of the Ministry of Interior. On action taken
by the Government in response to the recommendations contained in
Paragraphs (c) and (g) of Recommendation No. 1722, the Commission
wrote to the Government’s team recommending the continued provision of
legal training courses to public security officers to enhance the
protection of human rights, and to provide the Commission with the
Rules of Conduct of police officers when completed, to be assessed
against best practices issued by the United Nations. This in addition
to taking all required steps to implement Recommendation No. 1722-G,
on investigations conducted by Public Prosecution with persons
arrested and detained.
In the course of discussions of the proposals of the National
Reconciliation Team, and following review of the contents of the
schedule provided by the Government to the Commission on the progress
made on items (a) and (b) of Paragraph 1724, requiring the Government
and the Information Affairs Authority to conduct advanced discussions
with international experts with broad experience in working with
governments on media liberation, to assist in the formulation of
proposals to implement those items, the Commission, in its emphasis on
the importance of coexistence and pluralism, resolved as follows:
I) On recommendation 1724-A, which addresses “consideration of
reducing censorship of media and allowing the opposition greater use
of television, radio and press usage. The continued refusal to allow
the voice of opposition groups to be heard in national media carries
risks which can lead to increased rifts and political and ethnic
division”.
The Commission resolved to commence working immediately on the following:
1. To ask the Information Affairs Authority to develop an overall
national information strategy based on consolidating common national
values and calling for national unity of all the constituents of the
people of Bahrain, in the best interest of the country and its
development.
2. To adopt a fair, professional and balanced information policy in
dealing with the opposition, through the media’s adoption of points of
view related to expediting report at the legislative and executive
levels, and responding to more living requirements of the citizens.
Programs in official media institutions should be aimed at gaining the
confidence of citizens. This cannot be achieved without allowing all
the political and social forces which constitute the Bahraini society
to appear in the official local media.
3. To diagnose and treat any discrepancy in the Government’s treatment
of all citizens through television and radio programs.
4. To cover seminars and events organized by political associations,
and to emphasize their themes in the media and present them for
objective discussion. This is apt to hold all parties responsible for
such presentation, subject to the provisions of the articles of the
Constitution and applicable Bahraini laws.
5. To rehabilitate media and information staff to gain skills in
accordance with international standards, and to develop specialized
media expertise, focusing on staff concerned with political and social
affairs over the coming period to ensure their neutrality and mature
performance.
6. To stop all actions which could incite sectarian feuds and
conflicts in official media.
II) On recommendation 1724-B, which addresses “the development of
professional standards for the media and other forms of publications,
including rules of conduct and an implementation mechanism aimed at
maintaining professional and ethical standards to avoid inciting
hatred, violence and intolerance, without prejudice to the
internationally protected rights to freedom of expression”.
The Commission resolved as follows:
1. To expedite the process of issuing two draft laws on the regulation
of the print. audio and visual printing and publishing industry, both
traditional and electronic, to consolidate the constitutional
principle guaranteeing the freedom of expression, without prejudice to
the unity of the people, and without inciting sectarian division,
taking into consideration the events which took place in Bahrain and
resulted in the existing sectarian prejudice, in which information and
social media played a role.
2. To urge the Bahrain Journalists Association to formulate and adhere
to a media code of ethics designed for the national reconciliation
phase, to encourage writers to promote public opinion calling for
reconciliation and tolerance and rejecting division and extremism.
3. To emphasize joint causes which consolidate national unity and call
for sectarian tolerance, shedding more light on such causes in all
programs and reconciling differences.
4. To re-organize official media agencies, and attract information and
media talent capable of building a media organization to international
standards in this field.