Bahrain: Impunity Not an Option to Build a Democratic Future

23 Nov, 2011 | Press Releases

Today, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), whose mandate was to investigate into alleged human rights abuses during mass protests in the country in February and March this year, released its report during a public ceremony hosted by King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa in Manama. A No Peace Without Justice Delegation headed by its Secretary-General Niccolo’ Figa-Talamanca attended the ceremony.

Statement by Niccolo’ Figa-Talamanca, Secretary-General of No Peace Without Justice (from Bahrain):

“No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT) welcome the release today of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry’s (BICI) Report. By receiving this Report, the highest political authorities in Bahrain cannot now say that they did not know that their security forces embarked on a systematic campaign of terror against a segment of their own population, including killings, torture, prolonged arbitrary detention, ill treatment and other human rights violations. By accepting the report and the recommendations, His Majesty the King of Bahrain accepts responsibility for leading the country in a genuine process of political reform for Bahrain, to answer the demand for political rights expressed by the Bahraini people, address past violations and prevent the recurrence of future human rights violations.

“For the report to be meaningful, its first recommendation, namely the establishment of an independent and impartial implementing and monitoring mechanism for the report’s recommendations, will be the test of whether the commitments expressed by the Bahraini authorities to ensure accountability and non-repetition of human rights violations will be fulfilled or not. We know from experience that without a monitoring mechanism, driven by local civil society, even the best recommendations are usually worth less than the paper on which they are written.

“Despite continued repression and deterioration of the human rights situation, we believe that the commitment of the majority of Bahrainis to reform geared towards a future based on respect for human rights, application of the principle of non-discrimination, accountability for violations and women’s participation in public and political life gives hope for a better future. As highlighted by recent developments in several countries of the region, supporting active participation of civil society in the political process and its contribution to the identification of political priorities is among the essential requirements for liberal institutions and democracy to thrive as home-grown aspirations.

“Today, it is even more urgent for the international community to demand that Bahrain complies with its responsibilities, implements the report in full under a tight and tightly monitored timetable and ensures that citizens can actively engage in the democratic reform and contribute to the anchoring of their country’s future on democracy, rule of law and respect of fundamental human rights. As a first step, the international community should insist that Bahrain comply with the recommendations of the BICI report, including immediate cessation of illegal detention, reinstatement of students and employees who were expelled for reason of expressing political views and the provision of redress and reparations for victims and their families.

“To succeed, this process cannot be based on granting impunity for violations of human rights allegedly committed against civilians, nor can measures designed to end impunity be carried out by those who have used the judicial system to inflict terror and persecution. Justice and peace are integral to democracy and NPWJ and the NRPTT stand by the people of Bahrain in their effort to secure effective and genuine accountability for the violations committed in Bahrain to date. We urge the international community and the Government and people of Bahrain to ensure that the BICI report is a catalyst for positive change, beginning – rather than closing – this chapter of Bahrain’s history.”

For further information, please contact the NPWJ team in Bahrain: Niccolo’ Figa-Talamanca (English, French, Italian), phone: +32 494 533 918, and Mofeeda Al-Aradi (Arabic, English), phone: + 965 677 077 99 or + 32 491 379 805.