HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST — BAHRAIN: NO MORE EXCUSES–TIME FOR RADICAL CHANGE 1
This report briefly examines the response of the BahrainGovernment to the release and recommendations of theBahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI)published on November 23, 2011, including the continuedprosecution of the notorious case of 20 medics. Ithighlights some emblematic cases of those who continueto be prosecuted or detained by the Bahrain regime,including a group of policemen who refused to join thecrackdown against the democracy protestors earlier thisyear. It also features the cases of teacher Mahdi AbuDeeb and the treatment of Human Rights DefenderAbdulhadi Al Khawaja in detention.It summarizes Human Rights First’s findings, andevidence presented by the BICI, showing complicity of theBahrain Defence Forces (BDF) in the crackdown. Aproposed $53m weapons sale from the U.S. to arm theBDF is currently on hold, pending the U.S. Government'sassessment of Bahrain's human rights performance.
Poor Response to Its Own Report
The room hushed when Cherif Bassiouni stepped to thepodium in one of the royal palaces in Bahrain to deliver hissummary of the long-awaited Bahrain IndependentCommission of Inquiry (BICI). It was 3.30 pm onWednesday November 23. He had led the commission inits work over the previous five months after beingappointed by King Hamad bin Al Khalifa of Bahrain toinvestigate the crackdown and associated events earlier inthe year. The commission was paid for by the king.
The report was awaited with some anticipation by theBahrain authorities, international media and othergovernments, not least the U.S. Government, which haddeclared that it would wait for the report before decidinghow to proceed with a proposed $53m arms sale toBahrain. “The [State] Department will review theCommission’s findings carefully and assess the
The investigation was paid for the by Bahrain government, which hadallocated $US1.3m to its bank account. According to the BICI report,Bassiouni was paid $US22,500 a month, the other four commissioners$US1,00 per day for work done in Bahrain.
government of Bahrain’s efforts to implement therecommendations and make needed reforms. We willweigh these factors and confer with Congress beforeproceeding with additional steps related to the recentlynotified arms sale,” it said in a letter dated October 18 toSen Ron Wyden (D-OR) in response to his concerns—andthose of other Senators—about the wisdom of arming theBahrain regime.Bassiouni stood in front of the King of Bahrain and largelyconfirmed what the world’s leading international humanrights organizations and media outlets had been saying formonths:
thousands of people were illegally arrested,
many were tortured;
detainees were subjected to unfair trials;
several people died in custody;
dozens had been killed in the streets;
thousands of workers and students were dismissed forperceived association with the democracy protests;
there were some attacks on expat workers;
there had been a series of attacks on Shi’a places ofworship.A series of recommendations followed his hefty, 500-pagereport which King Hamad promised to implement.However, in the days since the report's release theBahrain regime has not significantly altered its behavior.Police continue to attack protestors and funeral mourners.Those imprisoned after being convicted on the basis oftortured confessions have not been released. Those whoappear to be detained on the basis of peacefully exercisingtheir freedoms of expression or assembly are stillimprisoned.King Hamad has ordered the establishment of acommittee to “follow up and implement” the BICIrecommendations. It is expected to report by the end ofFebruary and to make suggestions “including therecommendations to make the necessary amendments tothe legislation and the application of therecommendations.” It includes the Minister for Justice, andhuman rights activists told HRF some of those on the