Bahrain: First anniversary of popular uprisings

14/02/2012
Report
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While thousands of Bahraini people are expected to meet on 14 February 2012 to mark the first anniversary of the start of pro-democracy protests, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is publishing a position paper on the situation of human rights since the release of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report on 23 November 2011 [1]. On the basis of the information received from reliable sources [2], FIDH points out that key recommendations in the BICI report have not been effectively implemented, and human rights violations recorded in the said report continue unabated.

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An a la carte implementation of the BICI’s recommendations and ongoing violations of human rights standard

This report strongly questions the commitment of the King of Bahrain, who declared at the occasion of the release of the BICI report “we are determined, (...), to ensure that the painful events our beloved nation has just experienced are not repeated, but that we learn from them, and use our new insights as a catalyst for positive change.” This statement was reassuring as the BICI had documented 45 killings, 1,500 cases of arbitrary arrest, and 1,866 cases of torture.

Since that date, the Government of Bahrain (GoB) has made other comforting declarations and has set up several follow-up and implementation mechanisms, among them, a national Commission which is mandated to review the laws and procedures adopted in the wake of the February and March 2011 events. This Commission is also mandated to make recommendations to the legislative body to amend existing laws and to adopt new legislation. Among the 18 commissioners, mostly members of the Shura council, are occupying governmental position. Only one, Mr. Abdulla Al-Derazi, former president of BHRS, is a civil society activist, undermining the recommendation No. 1715 [3]. The Commission should complete its mandate before the end of February 2012.

However, these pledges and initiatives have yet to be translated into concrete actions. Indeed, large-scale human rights violations continue to be committed on a regular basis as protests are still ongoing. Use of excessive force against peaceful protesters, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture and ill-treatment of detainees, ongoing judicial harassment, impunity, obstacles to independent monitoring, etc., as documented in the FIDH position paper, continue to be recorded.

In the run-up to the 14 February anniversary, reports of military troops in the area of the Pearl Roundabout (the symbol of the Bahraini uprising) and barbed wire being used to close streets around this area, and the increased number of check points are of particular concern and can be viewed as a clear warning message to the population to desist from protesting. This tendency has been confirmed by the developments of the past days during which new arrests and violations to freedom of peaceful assembly were reported.

FIDH considers that the ongoing repression defeats the purpose of the BICI and its recommendations. FIDH recalls the authorities’ obligation to comply with the international human rights instruments ratified by the Kingdom of Bahrain, and the GoB’s pledge to effectively implement the recommendations of the BICI report, especially No 1722, with regard to “the use of force, arrest, treatment of persons in custody, detention and prosecution in connection with the freedom of expression, assembly and association”. FIDH considers that any further breach of these commitments and duties should lead to the establishment of an independent Commission of Inquiry under international mandate.

FIDH calls upon the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally put an end to the ongoing repression against protesters and more generally, against the Bahraini population which reportedly led to the death of 18 civilians since the release of the BICI report.

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