On the eighth anniversary of the issuance of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry’s report “Bassiouni report,”

Bahraini organizations call on the government of Bahrain to launch a genuine and comprehensive national reconciliation initiative.

London, November 23, 2019: Today, November 23, marks the eighth anniversary of the release of the BICI report, known as the Bassiouni Report.

Although many local and international parties, with all their different political and rights-based aspects and interests, were counting on this government / UN report and its recommendations to play an active role in achieving national reconciliation, overcoming the political and security crisis and reducing human rights violations in the country, the authority is still evading the implementation of the report’s recommendations eight years after the issuance of the Bassiouni report. We recall here the statements of the Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Mahmoud Sharif Bassiouni, on May 10, 2016, that the government has implemented only 10 out of 26 recommendations, and didn’t deal well with reforms of priority, such as those related to accountability and prisoners of conscience; this is a reality that has not changed since the year 2016 till today.

The committee, composed of eminent international human rights experts, analyzed and verified various violations in Bahrain during 2011 and concluded its work with recommendations to the government on how to prevent such incidents and address their consequences and repercussions. The committee delivered a final report on November 23, 2011, to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The report identified 26 recommendations to the Bahraini Government, which aimed at meaningful reforms to end continued systematic violations.

Furthermore, we at Bahrain Interfaith, the Bahrain Press Association and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, urge the Government of Bahrain to adopt the option of dialogue in order to achieve comprehensive national reconciliation and fix the current crisis, and to commit to the recommendations adopted in the report; in particular Recommendation No. 1725-b, which states the importance of “ the development of a national reconciliation program that addresses the grievances of groups which are, or perceive themselves to be, deprived of equal political, social and economic rights and benefits across all segments of Bahrain‘s population.”

Referring to recommendation 1719 – “to adopt legislative measures requiring the Attorney-General to investigate claims of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and to use independent forensic experts. Such procedures should guarantee the safety of those raising such claims. Furthermore, the legislation should provide for remedies for any person claiming retribution for having raised a claim of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”- we again call on the Bahraini authorities to invite Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, to visit Bahrain and to take the necessary measures against both the Authority on the one hand and the victims on the other.

Moreover, we emphasize the need for serious government’s actions regarding the media incitement issues, as the Committee made the following recommendations (recommendation 1724):

  1. To consider relaxing censorship and allowing the opposition greater access to television broadcasts, radio broadcasts and print media. The continuing failure to provide opposition groups with an adequate voice in the national media risks further polarizing the political and ethnic divide.
  2. To establish professional standards for the media and other forms of publications that contain an ethical code and an enforcement mechanism, designed to uphold ethical and professional standards in order to avoid incitement to hatred, violence and intolerance, without prejudice to internationally protected rights of freedom of expression.
  3. To undertake appropriate measures including legislative measures to prevent incitement to violence, hatred, sectarianism and other forms of incitement which lead to the violation of internationally protected human rights, irrespective of whether the source is public or private.

In light of the importance of the Bassiouni report and its recommendations, and in order to reach a solution to the crisis in Bahrain, we at Bahrain Interfaith, Bahrain Press Association, and Bahrain Center for Human Rights emphasize the following:

  1. Adhering to the 26 recommendations of the report and working on their implementation, including allowing local and international civil society institutions to monitor their progress.
  2. Working hard to open the prospects of dialogue and make way for a genuine and comprehensive national reconciliation in a way that results in the satisfaction of all parties and segments of society.
  3. Allowing the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to enter Bahrain and prepare a detailed report on cases of torture and to compensate the victims. This includes the launching of a national project on transitional justice.
  4. Allowing independent media, visual, print and audio, to be present and work in Bahrain, and monitoring all media outlets and preventing the use of hate speech and incitement to violence.
  5. Reunifying in Bahrain and allowing all its citizens to return to their homeland without any threat or danger, including returning the citizenship to Bahrainis, whose nationalities have been revoked.
  6. Terminating all legal legislation contrary to the two International Covenants and Bahrain’s human rights obligations issued after February 2011, particularly with regard to the abolition of the so-called Political Isolation Law, the dropping of political and civil rights to a broad community, the abolition of Bahraini nationality, and laws restricting freedom of opinion, expression, and the press.
  7. Releasing all political detainees, especially the elderly, women and children.