Bahrain: Supporting Capacity Building of human rights violations monitoring of Civil Society

Revive the Momentum of BICI recommendation's monitoring

In February and March 2011, there were mass demonstrations in Bahrain, seeking political reform and protesting against a variety of human rights violations, which were violently repressed. In June 2011, the King of Bahrain established an Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), headed by M. Cherif Bassiouni, to investigate those events and their consequences. The BICI released its report on 23 November 2011, following a chequered history of operations that were criticised by many, particularly by human rights activists and opposition groups in Bahrain, who also criticised the recommendations as being partial and falling short of what was required by the facts revealed in the report itself. Since its release, the Government has repeatedly declared that it has accepted the report and its recommendations, and has begun to implement them under the supervision of the National Commission. Despite this, sporadic violence continues in Bahrain. Therefore supporting and mentoring the Bahraini civil society and reviving the momentum of this implementation provide an important opportunity to interrupt a dangerous cycle of violence. To maximise the positive impact of the report and to support the reforms already undertaken, it is essential that civil society plays an active role in shaping further social reforms, i.e. by monitoring the continued implementation of the BICI report recommendations.
NPWJ’s work in Bahrain aims at supporting civil society capacity to act as a positive and constructive force, by undertaking its own work with respect to monitoring and documenting past and present human rights violations and abuses therefore constitutes the essence of this project. Specific objective is to support the ongoing social cohesion and interrupt the cycle of violence in Bahrain by:
1) Building capacity of local actors, including human rights, women’s and youth organizations and activists;
2) Enhancing the capacity of human rights organizations and activists to monitor, report, document and keep track of past and ongoing violations and abuses;
3) Keeping the momentum of human rights organizations and activists for the implementation of the BICI report recommendation. This would ensure the positive, sustained impact of the BICI report and its recommendations, by enabling civil society to build on the work undertaken by the BICI and develop its capacity to approach their work accordingly, i.e. by documenting ongoing and future violations, identifying root causes, build a strong network of organizations in Bahrain and developing their own recommendations that address their findings.
Specific Activities
The project foresees the development of activities through two phases. The first phase aims at fostering the development of a network of actors from across Bahrain’s entire civil society spectrum to promote coordination of work, to share know-how and practices and to identify the availability of information about human rights violations that could be pooled and stored in a systematic way. This bringing together of local actors is designed to enhance their capacity, especially regarding reporting and documenting of violations, and to facilitate and promote their participation in the longer-term implementation of the BICI report recommendations. The first activity undertaken within this phase was the significant engagement with Bahraini civil society undertaken by NPWJ at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Bahrain at the 21st session of the Human Rights Council on 19 September 2012.  Amongst other activities and mentoring, NPWJ, in coordination with a range of Bahraini civil society organisations, hosted a side event entitled ‘Towards Justice for Bahrain’.  In accordance with the objectives described above, this event brought together a strong network of organisations working to pressure the Government of Bahrain to implement the BICI report recommendations, and facilitated an exchange of the organisations’ respective approaches towards monitoring the continuing human rights violations. 
During the meetings held in Geneva the need for a Strategy Meeting with key civil society members was highlighted. NPWJ will be coordinating, in cooperation with the network developed, this event which will be held in The Hague, in November 2012, on the margins of the 11th session of the Assembly of States parties to the ICC. This meeting will also provide an opportunity to launch an ongoing campaign which will seek to focus international attention on a range of specific human rights abuses continuing in Bahrain, such as restrictions on peaceful assembly and the use of pellet shots against peaceful protestors.  This event will also provide a further opportunity to foster the civil society relations between Bahraini actors established in Geneva as well as to further identify priorities and undertake strategic planning for entry into phase two of NPWJ’s project.
In its second phase, the project aims at providing general capacity-building training of the Bahraini civil society and mentoring in strengthening their specific capacity of monitoring, reporting and documenting past and present violations and abuses, as well as on the analysis of all the gathered information, with a specific view on issues reported in the BICI report. The topics addressed in this capacity building will be informed by local actors’ needs as become apparent through ongoing discussions with Bahraini civil society actors and from the strategic planning previously undertaken.  The technical training provided will allow for rejuvenating the momentum of the implementation of the recommendations of the BICI report with adequate tools and capacities. Participants will be selected together with Bahraini partners to ensure a mixture of established civil society actors from across Bahrain’s social, sectarian and political spectrum, and the participation of underrepresented groups in Bahraini society such as women, children and young people, and actors who command respect within their communities will be ensured.  In addition to the technical skills acquired, the capacity building training will allow actors present in the activities undertaken in the first phase to further their interaction with one another, and in doing so increase the sense of unified objectives within Bahraini civil society.
Press releases

List of specific activities

Previous press releases

For further information, please contact: Alison Smith, NPWJ International Criminal Justice Program Coordinator (on; +32-(0)2-548 39 12).