5th Sep, 2013 –

The setting up of an independent commission in Bahrain to monitor the treatment of detainees is an important reform and a further step towards full implementation of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry recommendations.

There have been continued complaints from detainees about abuses in Bahraini prisons, so this is a good move for verifying the credibility of these allegations and advising what action should be taken.

We are pleased to note that it appears that this body will be independent and will have real powers to make inspections at times of its choosing without interference from the authorities. In addition to other recent measures like the installation of CCTV in detention centres and continuing action to investigate allegations of abuses this will help the actions of the security services to become more transparent and accountable.

We hope that the opposition will be willing to work constructively with this commission so that complaints can be followed up appropriately and so that the findings of this commission will be taken seriously. We also hope that recommendations from this body be acted on decisively by the authorities, to help create a culture in Bahraini prisons where human rights are given their due priority.

In a similar context we also commend the setting up of a pan-Arab human rights court in Manama, after several years of efforts by Bahrain’s Government to attain the necessary support. In a region where human rights often have not been allowed to enjoy their full expression, we hope that this court can prove that is is a serious and credible body with the mandate and powers to investigate and take action on difficult cases regarding abuses in all nations across the Arab world.

It is a big step forward to have a regional body staffed by those who understand the issues faced by this region, but who are also willing and able to put the rights and freedoms of Arab citizens to the forefront. We wish it every success.

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