Lobbying - ABC of civil society

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The benefits of civil society for Bahrain and for you

What is lobbying?

Lobbying means persuading individuals or groups with decision-making power to support a position which you believe is right.

Lobbying means attempting to influence business and government leaders to create legislation or conduct an activity that will help a particular organizations further its own interest or inhibit those of opponents; or arguing an individual’s or organization’s point of view.

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British support for upskilling Bahraini police

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On 13 August, the Observer newspaper published an article entitled “Role of UK police in training Bahrain’s forces ignores abuses”.

The Guardian, Observer and Independent newspapers have a long track record of condemning the British government for facilitating the training of security forces in other nations. These newspapers may give lip service to opposing most forms of discrimination; but still there is a strong underlying racist element in such reporting which is virulently against any sort of dealings with these nasty “Arab regimes”. Their hatred is particularly sharp for the GCC monarchies.

This readiness to attack the governments of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia at the smallest provocation rules out any consideration for how these “regimes” can improve their human rights record without support from the likes of the United Kingdom. In many case the facts of the reporting are taken in their entirety from London-based opposition sources with whom many of these journalists enjoy an uncomfortably close relationship.

These reports completely miss the point that over the past five years the Bahrain security forces have undergone a transformation unprecedented in almost any nation. In 2011 it was painfully clear to many of us here on the ground that the police were woefully unprepared for managing wide scale outbreaks of public disorder (and let’s not believe that this is simply an “Arab” phenomenon; in recent weeks and years we have seen major outbreaks of rioting and disorder in American cities, in European capitals and even in London in 2011).

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US State Department reviews BICI implementation

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On 21 June, the US State Department submitted an extensive report reviewing implementation of the 26 recommendations of the 2011 Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry.

In its opening summary, the State Department said: “The Government of Bahrain has made progress towards implementing the reforms recommended by the BICI following the 2011 unrest. The Bahraini Government has rebuilt demolished religious structures; reinstated employees dismissed in 2011; investigated claims of torture, which led to convictions in numerous cases; and compensated families of victims of state violence. Police and security forces have undergone human rights training. However, more work needs to be done.”

Although the State Department recommends a number of additional measures to consolidate the achievements in implementing the BICI, the report demonstrates that at least 20 of the recommendations have been completed according to the criteria set out by the BICI. In several areas the Government has already gone beyond what was stipulated.

There were only three main areas where work is still ongoing to fully deliver on the BICI, as acknowledged by the Government itself:

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NGOs - ABC of civil society

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What are NGOs?

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are entities which are independent of governmental influence. NGOs are non-profit-making organizations and are usually primarily run by volunteers who share a common agenda.

NGOs can have a local, national or international role. NGOs can be charities or social organizations; or they can have a political role, for example, overseeing the activities of governmental institutions, overseeing elections, monitoring human rights issues or lobbying on issues of concern to the public.

NGOs may be self-funding, although some NGOs may accept funds from governments in accordance with their founding charter and in a manner which doesn’t compromise their independence.

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